In the ever evolving world of occidental yoga, “broga” is making a thrust for the hairier sex with a longing to loosen up. Yes, those guys who call each other “bro“, probably knocking fists as they do so, are starting to understand why one can’t transition from a youth filled with high-intensity competitive sports like football (both varieties), rugby, hockey etc to a sedentary job behind the screen or the wheel and not find ones legs calling out for respite. Good, I am glad that they are on the lookout. Here is the Independent’s tale of Broga in the UK:
Now, before I look at the article, I will address the name. Broga. BRO-ga. brOOOO-gah. Hmmm. The Urban Dictionary link above definitely casts this term as pejorative. It sounds like a So-cal version of redneck. So, I ask myself, who would have coined the term Broga and then had the balls to actually go out and market it? Apparently, Broga LLC, that’s who. They are Robert Sidoti and Adam O’Neill. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Sidoti says:
People see the name ‘Broga’ and they think it’s just a bunch of idiots. But there’s integrity.’
Later, in what might be seen as a slight contradiction to the term “integrity”, we learn:
“What we want to do is start training more guys, basically cloning Rob and having instructors in other cities who can teach it,’’ O’Neill says…He bristles at the term franchise, but that’s essentially the idea they’re exploring. That way a Broga class in Dallas will be the same as a Broga class in Los Angeles.
Um, yeah. But, anyway, that’s the marketing. I am not going to jump to conclusions, but I don’t know if that many men self-identify as bros, if they’re not. Ya get my drift? And cloning your business partner. Umm, that’s kind of far-fetched, isn’t it? Perhaps the humour doesn’t come across in print.
OK, so back to the article in the Indy.
Let’s start with the instructor. He isn’t a clone of Rob. Maybe their technology has yet to catch up. Instead, he is a fitness guy who “fell into” the “sport” of yoga way back in 2011, after being named a Lululemon ambassador. Yep. Go back and read it again. A more glowing recommendation for a yoga teacher I cannot imagine.
So, you turn up at buff guy’s class and he yanks you into the bridge pose, (“We attempt the assisted wheel…with sweaty-ankle man supporting my shoulders as I rise, and Miller pulling up my hips, I make it.”) which leaves you hurting for two days afterwards (“Two days later, when it aches to type these words”). Sthira-sukha anyone? In YS II-46, Patanjali says:
Which, at the risk of offending any “… physically active man who understands very well the benefits of the downward dog but would sooner cultivate his horribly stiff hamstrings than walk into a room full of girls spouting mystical Sanskrit.”, translates to “asana should possess two qualities: attention and relaxation.” Yeah, that’s dandy Patanjali, but what about the SWEAT???
Did these people miss the point that one moves more deeply into yoga poses, not through muscular force but through muscular relaxation? I guess if you’ve only been practising for two years, you might not have reached a true understanding of this concept that is oh-so-foreign to western mindset. Yoga is an experiential science – follow the formula, observe the results. If you are unsure of your results, repeat the experiment until you are convinced. Proceed.
I really don’t want to trash Broga, or any, er, bro, who decides that yoga might help his hamstrings. And I really do hope that this first brush with yoga will set him on his path. And yes, yoga begins its work on the gross, physical plane, then gradually expands into the subtler planes of the breath, mind and purusha. But, I think that eliminating the philosophical parts of yoga steers us off course. The codes of behaviour, the deep psychology of yoga, it sets us free. I believe that the world needs more kind people, not more worked-out people. But, to keep my mind untroubled, I choose to trust that the Universe is unfolding as it should, and that all that we encounter in our path is there to teach us. I trust that yoga will do its work, yoga entrepreneurs notwithstanding.
Let us yog. The Guru is in you.