Matt Pesendian, the man of the hour, has been practicing hatha yoga since 1989. And while the cover finds him seated in a cozy lotus pose, his chiseled biceps tell another story. He practices Shadow Yoga, which blends asana, dance, and martial arts. The idea being that “the appropriate combination of these activities with suitable rhythm and positioning brings about the unfolding of the inner powers hidden in the individual.” A youtube video shows Pesendian giving a Shadow Yoga presentation, and WOW! He’s fluid, he’s strong, he’s flexible, and he’s got a mean peacock pose!
While it’s no secret to many of us that men are an integral part of the yoga community, the world at large still holds onto the idea that yoga is just for ladies. Never mind Yogi Bhajan, Iyengar, or Bikram, Jason Crandell or Rodney Yee. Never mind all of the professional athletes who praise yoga for the increased flexibility and strength it provides. When all people see are svelte women in skin-hugging clothing on the covers of yoga magazines and dvds, it’s hard to change minds.
We still have a long way to go before yoga is considered just as manly as weightlifting or football. Putting Matt Pesendian on the cover of Yoga Journal was a step in the right direction, but once every 8 years isn’t enough. There are countless men out there doing yoga, and I hope we get to see more of them soon. While we wait to see if Yoga Journal obliges, let’s think about what we as individuals can do to make yoga’s image more gender inclusive.