Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blue Collar Yoga – for Men!

Here’s an interesting story (from the Wall Street Journal) that goes to show that yoga is for everyone and that you really do not even have to have a mat to practice. 

San Francisco based Allan Nett used to be a construction contractor.  In 2004, he changed paths to teach yoga.  His niche: bringing yoga to the field and to the San Francisco Department of Public Works.  He offers “Yoga with Your Boots On” to construction workers, giving them the opportunity to practice in their everyday uniforms as he leads them through a few basic postures that are specifically chosen to address areas of the body where builders often experience pain, such as the lower back.

Photo by Ramin Rahimian for The Wall Street Journal
For a while, Nett was teaching regularly for a building company and the class was gaining popularity.  Then the housing market crashed and he was cut from the payroll because the owners couldn’t justify laying off other employees while keeping the yoga teacher. Sadly, since then, demand for the classes has been weak.  

This story is still noteworthy considering that the building company recognized that if their employees were practicing yoga, they might have healthier employees and consequently, reduced workers’ compensation costs.  The nitty gritty of the message is that it also helps address some stigma and false generalization out there that yoga is mostly for women or people with money to spare.

I live in Los Angeles, California so it’s a lot easier for me to speak from this platform given that out here, yoga is everywhere and there are even plenty of male practitioners and from all income levels. But another idea that this story addresses is that yoga is strength building, restorative and can improve health and help to reduce pain, for any one of any age, gender, fitness, income level or profession.  The fact that such a resource is available to help all people, but not tapped in to because of misperceived public perception is a little bit of a travesty.  It’s only through stories like these that awareness will spread, that perception will shift, and that demand will grow.

In closing, here’s my note to Mr. Nett:  Thank you for what you are trying to achieve and to help other’s achieve. Please keep at it because it really does make a positive difference.  And, thanks for showing that yoga is for everyone!

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