If we view yoga through a conventional lens of perception, it is understood as a form of physical fitness, a stretching program, spectacular practices resembling gymnastics, or an exercise system for toning the body. It is often considered to be a more feminine, nourishing approach to health and well-being, and a pursuit that is reserved mainly for women. And indeed, women make up the great majority of participants in classes and courses today.
It is a bit of a stretch (pun intended) for modern-day yoga to appeal to men. However, when it is derived from authentic traditions, yoga has a very strong and powerful masculine influence. Looking into the ancient roots of this great spiritual system, it’s interesting to note that the earliest well-known yoga practitioners and teachers were men and they stewarded a whole path under the yogic umbrella which was reserved strictly for men.
The essence of authentic yoga has been lost, and so have quite a few of its potent energetic results and renowned effects.
The modern approach we see taught in yoga studios, schools, and retreats around the world today leads people to believe that this ancient technology may be reduced to a set of physical postures, or asanas, combined with some breathing techniques. The goals are predominantly physical and fitness-oriented.
Unfortunately, this simplified adaptation is not for the better. The essence of authentic yoga has been lost, and so have quite a few of its potent energetic results and renowned effects. Many devoted yoga followers nowadays are led away from its true heritage and complex, systematic nature. A whole and complete spiritual system, with thousands of years in lineage and history, has become known as just another trendy way to stay fit and keep in shape.
In truth, yoga – and specifically the tantric form of yoga which focuses on energy – is in fact a comprehensive system which holds the spiritual evolution of the human being as its main objective. When a genuine lineage and bona fide teachings are involved, it is a guaranteed path toward growth and development.
As mentioned, yoga has a strong, masculine legacy with a history of hardcore, devoted yogis who engaged in austere and rigorous practices – not for the faint of heart. Tantra Yoga for men is an ideal approach for a modern man to define and refine himself into a vira, a true spiritual hero.
In the tantric and yogic traditions, authentic masculinity is the embodiment of the yang energy, the energy of control and emissive force.
Contemporary masculinity is often conflated with displaying aggressive, war-like attitudes and signs of the “alpha male” typology – machismo, toughness, and emotional aloofness. Manliness is considered the quality of a world leader, military commander, or successful, savvy businessman. However, these are very limited and superficial forms of masculinity which are often clouded by egotistical and self-indulgent tendencies.
In the tantric and yogic traditions, authentic masculinity is the embodiment of the yang energy, the energy of control and emissive force. Practically it manifests as focus, centeredness, solidity, decisiveness, detachment, and objectivity as well as the ability to internalize and interiorize at will. Additionally, a man sincerely rooted in veritable masculinity will act from a place of selflessness, spiritual responsibility, compassion, and altruism – action carried out for a noble greater good, not any promise of fame, fortune, or ego gratification. In sum, Tantra Yoga is a path for men to transcend the ego and find meaning and purpose in something much greater than themselves.
True masculinity, according to tantric yogis, is panoramic, expansive, and far-reaching, touching every aspect of a man. Through Tantra Yoga a man learns how to rebuild himself from the ground up or, in this case, from the inside out. He develops a genuine masculine spirit by unleashing the inherent qualities that already exist inside of him. He comes to understand the core of who he really is and realizes that his nature is interconnected with cosmic consciousness.
Tantra Yoga’s approach to a man’s spiritual development is systematic and precise. There are definitive, verified practices and techniques that help to shape and mold the male construct, which cultivates a full-ranging masculine approach to life. Somananda Tantra School calls this “Global Masculinity.”
This type of yoga is energetically based. It is a more meditative style of practice which requires practitioners to interiorize and dwell deep within, focusing the mind and willpower to cultivate, assimilate, activate, accumulate, and direct energy – both innate and universal energies – in a precise way.
Here is what you can expect in a typical Tantra Yoga class:
1. First, six warmup exercises are executed to clear vital energy channels and prepare the body for the asana practice.
2. Next, a series of asanas are practiced. The chosen asanas can vary from practitioner to practitioner, and even from day to day. Each asana contains within it secret and esoteric effects which are unlocked during the practice. Asanas are not mere physical postures – they are, in fact, mystical shapes that resemble sacred geometry, and their power and potential should not be undermined. The longer an asana is held, the more energy is generated and the more impressive it becomes. The practiced asanas can be selected according to individual needs. For example, a man may wish to develop more courage or willpower. In Tantra Yoga there are asanas specifically for that. If a man suffers from a disease or health issue, there are asanas that can provide healing and rejuvenation to specific organs, muscles, and the spine. The possibilities are limitless.
3. To conclude, a practitioner should seal his practice with a dedicated final period of relaxation. This is an essential part of any Tantra Yoga practice and is not to be skipped. The practice of relaxation ensures that the energy channels are secured, and the energetic effects can then safely continue to take root, even after a yoga class is complete.
Through the discovery and practice of yoga, especially the tantric style, a man experiences a complete transformation – physically, emotionally, energetically, sexually, mentally, and spiritually. Yoga for men can produce the following benefits and effects:
No scientific or medical studies have been conducted to demonstrate whether yoga increases testosterone in men or in women, for that matter. What yoga for men does do, however, is balance and harmonize the entire structure and substructure of a man. In other words, through Tantra Yoga, because it is an energetic practice, it can “remodel” a man’s entire being, including the physical, mental, emotional, energetic, sexual, and spiritual levels. It is inevitable that on the physiological level a man will experience a resetting of all biological processes, including hormone production.
Generally, men should wear simple and comfortable clothing that allows for a wide range of motion when practicing yoga. Since Tantra Yoga is not an especially dynamic or sweaty practice, and nor does it involve extreme postures of flexibility, no specific attire, fancy workout clothing, or supplemental accessories are necessary. It is recommended that you remove any metallic objects, jewelry of any kind, watches, and piercings during the practice to avoid any unwanted interference with the intended energy flow that each asana can produce.
Flexibility is not required in order to practice yoga, despite common assumptions to the contrary. Flexibility only becomes a factor in modern-day yoga that is structured purely as gymnastics and/or a stretching practice.
There is a rich history of great yogis – among them Swami Sivananda and Yogananda – who reached enlightenment, the pinnacle of spiritual success, and were recognized as beacons of spirituality and divinity, and yet they were completely inflexible and not even physically fit. However, their spiritual aptitude far surpassed that of modern practitioners such as Iyengar and Bikram, both of whom were known for their extreme flexibility but not necessarily any spiritual accomplishment.
Authentic spiritual yoga has no such requirements. This should be great news for the men out there who have a keen interest to study and practice yoga but are reluctant to do so due to perceived physical limitations and inflexibility. Tantra Yoga is accessible to anyone regardless of age, gender, physical ability, or previous experience. All that is required is an earnest desire to learn, an open mind, and a humble attitude. With this, magical doors will open, and men will discover a whole untapped universe that exists within.
One of the most effective ways to practice Tantra Yoga is to attend an intensive retreat.
Authentic yoga for men is hard to come by these days. It is unlikely a true seeker will be able to find a local yoga studio or school that offers the type of yoga we describe here.
One of the most effective ways to practice Tantra Yoga is to attend an intensive retreat. With such an immersion, you will gain a wide spectrum of yogic knowledge and wisdom, as well as a multitude of techniques including asanas, purification methods, and powerful meditations. A participant will undergo an extensive transformation, cultivate deep spiritual aspiration and motivation, and instill new beneficial habits into his daily life. A home practice can then be developed with this new spiritual toolbox.
As a practitioner becomes more and more adept at this initial level of practice, the next level of study can then be learned, and a new home program can be developed with more advanced techniques and practices. We humbly believe this is the most profound way to apply and integrate the Tantra Yoga knowledge, and that it paves the way for spiritual success.
Once we move past our convoluted archetypes surrounding yoga, Tantra, and masculinity, we come to realize what yoga for men truly represents – a gateway to a new paradigm, a pathway toward authentic living, and an antidote for the common struggles of modern men. It forms a bridge toward spiritual awareness and development and gives the practitioner a treasure chest of knowledge and practices for understanding the deeper meanings of life.
Founder and Head Teacher
Spiritual yogi, lecturer, teacher and author, Somananda is the founder and head teacher of Somananda Tantra School.
A powerful training for serious men