This is one yoga class you and your partner will want to attend again and again. By Estelle Low
Photos: Virgin Active Singapore
How many times have you walked into a yoga class that’s dominated by females, with a few men clustered in a corner? The benefits of yoga extend to everyone, whether you’ve got balls or boobs.
For one thing, it’s a great form of bodyweight training, and also improves body awareness as you move through poses with your breath.
Sadly, yoga is often portrayed as being about backbends, handstands, arm balances and splits, alienating those without a strong core or flexible limbs. Search #yoga on Instagram and you’ll get the idea.
No wonder men – mostly stiff everywhere – shy away from yoga studios, preferring to lift weights at the gym.
With Broga though, the tide is about to turn.
An amalgamation of “bro” and “yoga”, Broga was created and co-founded by Robert Sidoti in 2009, to encourage more men to take up yoga.
“Yoga is widely seen as a feminine sport for those who are flexible. How it’s being offered isn’t super appealing to the men I know. Every guy thinks ‘I can’t go to yoga, ’cause I can’t touch my toes’,” he says.
With that in mind, Robert designed a fitness routine that incorporates fundamental yoga poses, functional training as well as high-intensity interval training, and coined it Broga Yoga.
Since then, Broga Yoga has taken off, with just as many women signing up for classes as men.
“Broga is like a bridge to yoga. Many students like it because it’s so straightforward and non-abstract. It gives them the confidence to enter a mind-body studio eventually. Some of my students have gone from 'Uh-uh, yoga is not for me' to becoming full-time yoga teachers.” says Robert.
For the first time in Singapore, the trademarked Broga Yoga will be offered at Virgin Active gyms from March 2017.
Here’s why you should sign up for it, with your partner of course.
1. Broga is super non-intimidating.
Forget binding yoga poses that look like body contortion. In Broga, you will be able to do every move from start to end. Robert says: “Students come in knowing that they are building strength and flexibility through very accessible postures. In Broga, they will be able to do everything. There’s no need to take a break until the next doable pose comes.”
The session kicks off with a few minutes of mindful breathing, just like in any yoga class. You’ll then do a couple of basic Hatha poses like forward fold, plank and downward dog, before progressing to a faster sequence with more bodyweight exercises like lunges and squats. Simple balancing poses like tree and warrior 3 are included, followed by gentle cool-down exercises.
2. Broga is a legit workout.
There are people who equate sweat with an effective workout. Not all yoga sessions will result in sweat, but Broga will. After warming up, you’ll do a series of poses in a flow, similar to Vinyasa yoga. High-intensity interval training exercises are done at the halfway mark, so you’ll be jumping, squatting and doing burpees, just like in a HIIT class. This segment is not long enough to wear you out, but you will definitely break a sweat. Robert estimates that each hour-long class burns up to 500 calories, depending on how hard you push yourself.
3. Broga moves are taught in simple language.
The instructions are delivered straightforwardly in English. For instance, you will be asked to do push-ups instead of chaturangas, and do a chair pose instead of utkatasana, the Sanskrit name. You will not be asked to “open your heart”, but instead “stretch your chest”. The benefits of each move are stated, like “This is going to strengthen your core, back and thighs,” to motivate you. There’s not even a “Namaste” at the start or end of the class. No spiritual connotations. Nothing to decode.
4. Broga is not just about yoga.
There’s a part on functional training too, through exercises that involve pushing, pressing, squatting, rotating and bending. These improve your mobility that’s essential for daily movement.
5. Broga can be as tough or as simple you like.
For every move, the instructor will show at least three levels of progression, from the easiest to the hardest, so there’s something to challenge you. Essentially, broga is a multi-level class, so anyone from a fitness newbie to a seasoned yogi can take part without feeling out of place.