Yogahaven Clapham, Broga

THE BASICS: Broga is simple: yoga for Bros. “What” I hear you ask “is a girl like you doing in a yoga class that is clearly designed for men? And how can yoga even be labelled by the gender of those who attend it?!” All will be revealed in due course, my friend (and no, I am not about to grow a mustache and start calling myself Dave).

For the time being, all you need to know is that I dragged my bleary-eyed self from Shoreditch down to Yogahaven Clapham early on a Saturday morning, ready to investigate what on earth goes on in a yoga class specifically devised for boys. 9am, drop-in class ยฃ16, intro and membership offers available.

THE BITCHES: Carly

THE CLASS: I arrived with minutes to spare (why do I even bother writing this fact anymore, we all know I’m going to be late to every class. Sigh). As I dived into the studio and took the final spare space, our instructor Matt was telling the class about the Plenish Cleanse juice detox he was currently doing. I felt slightly bad about the bacon sandwich I had already promised myself when I got home later that morning.

Upbeat music went on and I had a look around the room- more men than women but only just. Hurrah! I had been worried I would be the only girl hiding int he corner, but as the Broga website says- female athletes who are up for a challenge are always welcome.

Yep, that would be me then, a female athlete.

PAH!

I decided not to worry too much about my lack of athleticism, and enjoy learning a new form of yoga practice.

Matt is a Goliath of a man but was incredibly welcoming and made the class feel at ease. He announced that today was “leg day” – this was probably the first indication as to how Broga was in fact aimed at the male brain. I know that a lot of women will have the concept of a “day” where they isolate and work on a specific area of the body in the gym, but I think as a woman I can say that more of us tend to exercise the body holistically when working out. The concept of isolating muscle groups is definitely a more male thing. I was just happy he didn’t say it was “arm day” because last time I checked I couldn’t lift myself up from a press up without collapsing weakly.

We started with strong salutations, moving through lunges, warriors, squats and balancing. Each series was flowing and took on board the principles of yoga, but as we began each new series, Matt would take the time to adjust our bodies through words. So, for example, we’d be in warrior 2 (legs apart, front leg lunging, arms out at either side and turning your body to look across the lunging leg) and he would get us to stop and think about our positioning.

He’d remind us to tense our bellies, to align our hips, to feel the stretch, tighten the quads…. and this again is something I could imagine was done with the male yogi in mind. Things like a focus on technique, a focus on the the “why” behind the movement, a focus on the muscle groups- all seemed carefully designed with the bro in mind. I was more than happy to learn and it made for an interesting class, but I could definitely appreciate that this was another element that specifically made this class yoga for guys!

The final obvious difference I noticed between Broga and, say, a flow class, was the reps. After moving through a sequence, we’d come to a final pose, and them complete reps in this pose. So, for example, in warrior 2, we squatted down low for 3 counts of 10 seconds. This burned like you wouldn’t believe, and isn’t something that happens in too many classes I have attended. This was definitely a stylistic Broga element that had been incorporated with the male yogi in mind. This element of the class definitely felt more like a workout than simply a yoga class.

With a sweaty brow and shaking legs, we settled down for a savasana (corpse pose) and as the class ended, I was feeling pretty smug with how hard I’d worked by 10am! Time for an impromptu brekkie after class with a few of the yogis, where we talked juice diets and their effect on the…. um…. digestive system. Yep, definitely boys involved!

THE VERDICT: Broga is choreographed with the male in mind. I can see how it would appeal to a man more than other forms of yoga, and I can also see how the sequences and poses have been specifically chosen to help open up and stretch areas of the body that men no doubt find get tight when they do other sports.

The reps, the explanations and the fact that each class concentrates on a certain area of the body (although you do keep the whole body moving)- all for the boys. Girls will benefit from and enjoy this class too- if only to experience something a little different from a Vinyasa flow. Definitely worth a go!

THE EXTRAS: If you have a dude in your life who you regularly drag along to yoga classes, then I’d definitely encourage you to get brave and think about going to a Broga class together- it’d be a fun experience to try out together. My housemate rolled in at 7am on Saturday morning and I was SO tempted to knock on his door an hour later to get him up for yoga! Next time….

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