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Does This Yoga Journal Cover MAN Make You Want To Do Yoga?

in YD News

Because it’s impromptu dude week after all! There are some spirited stirrings over a MAN on the cover of Yoga Journal March ’11. One commenter went so far as to declare “There is a guy on the cover! The times, they are a changing…” Well.

Meet LA yoga teacher and George Clooney’s cousin’s doppelganger, Matt Pesendian. Rumor has it this is the first time in 8 years a male yogi has graced the glossy face of YJ.  Congratulations! Men are yogis, too, even if some still think ‘that shit is hard.’

Yet, as another commenter deftly pointed out, this yoga thing is also about accessibility. Matt doesn’t teach a separate “meat and potatoes” dude yoga, but he is, essentially, a man who practices yoga. A helpful thing when yoga culture in the West is fem-dominated. (it is. see Yoga Journal)

So sure, it’s easy to pick on YJ, being the biggest publication of yoga representation, currently, and in all fairness, we have certainly seen men featured within the pages here and there, and naturally we admire this gent, but you tell us, does this help you men out there more inclined to get the yoga-ing?

By the way, we appreciate the demure lotus. Especially when he can do this:

——

Earlier

48 comments… add one

  • Meri

    It’s great that they put a man on yoga journal but I think that times would be a changin’ if they put a man on the cover more often. Maybe even regularly. Sure, men see another man on the cover once in 8 years, that won’t encourage them to hop on a mat. It’s the repetition that will allow them to see that it’s acceptable and encouraged.
    So, great job YJ but keep it coming. Once just won’t cut it.

  • I am not so sure what the big deal is here. How many of our gurus and internationally accomplished yoga teachers are male? Really, who cares if a teacher or yogi is male or female ? It is just the body we are in, the socialized/culturalized personality we are, not our spirit.
    I am glad to see more men coming into the yoga studio. Yoga offers so much to everyone. Isn’t it more important that people do yoga than who appears on the cover of a journal or in an advertisement? Letting the media dictate to us what is the norm in any aspect of our life, leads us down a path I do not wish to go.

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  • I find it interesting that men in yoga is such a big deal when yoga began as a practice done primarily (if not exclusively) by men. Funny how things come full circle!

  • Yowza!

  • He’s gorgeous.
    I always assumed they used beautiful women because it sells more magazines. But today I thought, well if it is a gorgeous guy and their target market is women, it would stand to reason that a guy would be a good choice. Would be fun to know how it affected sales.

  • Jennifer

    Heard from the YJ editor: it was the worst-selling month on the racks. I think it sold something like 1/2 or less.

  • david

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think the navel-gazing about how to get dudes to do yoga is going to get dudes to do yoga – or even help anyone figure out how to get dudes to do yoga.

    Issue #1 – ahimsa. Western culture teaches men that this is not a value. Even health-conscious guys that work out thing in terms of how hard and how far they can push. Western man is socialized to violence and by violence. Obviously this is not true for individuals (as I wait for the dissenting voices), but it is generally true.

    Actually, there are several others of the yamas and niyamas that are antithetical to masculine culture in the west, but, being a dude, I can’t really be arsed to get into it now, I’ve been putting off my asana practice all afternoon :)

  • Well, yogis are men. Women are yoginis. In the old times women didn’t practice yoga, but now the JY magazine makes everyone believe that yoga is for women. Yoga is for everyone and it doesn’t look like the pretty pictures of this overrated magazine. This guy on the cover might be the breakthrough to bring men back to Yoga and to remind us of the harmony between male and female energies “shiva and shakti” .
    I personally believe that there should be more men teaching yoga. Just to even out the ridiculous amount of female teachers looking good in their lulu lemon outfits. They have gone crazy about Yoga

  • Neal Pollack

    He just makes me feel fat and old.

  • Snowyogi

    Haha awww…. See that’s how most of us women usually feel looking at YJ covers!

  • nathan

    Genevieve Rohan – I totally agree with you that media standards shouldn’t matter. And that yoga really isn’t about following what media outlets and cultural norms are telling us is good for us.

    That said, the average person in the U.S. (and other places certainly) is influenced by media and facets of pop culture. That’s just how it is. Learning to turn inward, to trust things greater than a talking head on TV or an image in a magazine takes time, and practice.

    So, even though a magazine like Yoga Journal shouldn’t be driving who practices yoga and why, it’s impossible to ignore it’s influence. I was quite happy to see Matt on the cover, and hope he’s the first of many more. In fact, while they are at it, they could branch out even further and have transgender models, butch lesbian models, more people of color models, senior models, and other current outliers that do yoga.

    In the end, it’s up to each of us to dive into practice and make it our own, but it’s sure nice to see someone who looks like us being upheld as an example.

  • Embee

    I’m a woman, but this is my favorite YJ cover for ages. I’m not ogling him, either (he’s beautiful but that’s not really my “trigger” for attraction). He looks so serene and composed. It makes me remember how good I feel after I practice, and so I will prioritize rolling out the mat ASAP this evening…

  • The classes I take are predominantly female, but the men in them (about 10-20%) are rocking it just as hard as we are. Some go with their wives… I wish my husband would go with me… le sigh.

  • 8 years! That’s crazy. There are so many big name male yoga teachers out there (just look at the list of certified Ashtanga teachers!). I find it really surprising that YJ has overlooked this for many years. They have really limited their demographic by this oversight. Also, as Emma mentioned, I find it so interesting that this mostly male tradition has become dominated by female practitioners in the West. My partner is a yoga teacher and a beautiful yogi himself. Although our local Ashtanga studio has a majority of women students, the guys who practice there regularly (and our two male teachers) are definitely appreciated and they have strong, powerful, inspiring practices!
    Check out my blog on yoga, health and creative living!
    http://athayoganusasanam.wordpress.com/
    Thanks!
    Blessings.

  • If you want to find the guys – try ashtanga yoga. Or bring your honey to ashtanga – especially a class that has a 70-year man doing jump-backs and jump thrus…see what a daily yoga practice has to offer!

  • I teach a yoga class specific to CrossFit athletes and it is mostly male. None of them seem to find it feminine at all. They seem to recognize the benefits it can have for them after a week of heavy deadlifts and pullups!

  • Eight years?! How is that even possible! Tsk tsk. They really need to branch out. I remember Jason Winn being on the cover doing standing bow pose… was that more that 8 years ago already??

    I’m with Nathan. Let’s see a little diversity! The yoga community is SO diverse. It’s silly that our diversity is not reflected by YJ in general – all they ever show on the cover is skinny white ladies. Way to perpetuate a stereotype…

  • I want the yoga babes back…next thing you know they will have Sadhus on the cover!

  • I think its great.

    As a male and a subscriber, I enjoy reading YJ, most of the content (- ads) are pretty gender neutral. The articles, practice hints, tips, etc. are invaluable for both my home and studio practice.

    Will a dude on the cover keep women from purchasing this issue at the check stand? I don’t know probably not.. Will a dude just getting into yoga be more likely to pick it up and take it home because there’s another dude on the cover? Maybe.

    I think a dude on the cover might just get more dudes subscribing (of course, healthy, attractive women on the cover didnt prevent my subscription, yep, had nothing to do with it.. )

    YJ has an opportunity to lock down the male audience, that is until I publish Men’s Yoga Journal. They probably have that locked down.. How about Men’s Yoga Quarterly?

    I bet YogiToes would be happy to purchase ad space in a Male targeted yoga magazine and get some more life out of Budig’s photos… ;)

  • I just got that issue today and, really, I was so relieved not to be looking at another pretty blonde doing a major backbend… I don’t care that the issue is thin thin thin I’m so happy a man was one the cover, in one of the practice articles (the ever lame and always on the cover ’10 Poses to blah blah of the month’).

    As for 1 guy on the cover in 8 years, written right in the editor’s letter…I’ll believe times are changing when they repeat this move and balance out the cover gender more. They’ve had great male practitioners in the articles for years and I could never figure why they didn’t do a couple extra images and toss one on the cover. There was a John Schumacher shoot showing him in some of the most beautiful asanas, not a year ago. It was in the back portion, for the advanced peeps. I don’t remember the cover at all but I am still jiving off his images, hidden away from the general public walking by the magazine rack.

  • Does this Yoga Journal cover man make me want to do yoga? Umm, yes, I believe he does… :)

  • Amy

    Finally. A man on the cover. Now YJ should graduate to a Black Man on the cover. Then a chunky man (think Erick Schiffman). then whatever they want…

  • Kim

    It is nice to have a man on the cover, but what I’d really like to see is an average human being (not a thin, pretty, young, wrinkle-free woman) doing an average pose (not a major contortion). That’s the yoga most of us practice. Would YJ have the guts to do that?

  • yogasanas

    Plain and simple: Yoga Journal has become a women’s magazine. Go back and just check the covers and topic in the 90′s versus now. In its present form most if not all of the ads seem to be targeted towards women – clothing, diet, cosmetics etc. If the ratio were reversed, as in 80% men and 20% women practicing, there would be no yoga industry as we know it – do guys really care if they are wearing lululemon or hardtail? In many yoga centers its the boutique that floats the studio financially. The teaching of aparigraha is inconsistent with the pretense of YJ. Perhaps a solution would be to change the name to “A Dim and Narcissistic Reflection of Yoga Journal”.

  • You do realize that Yoga Journal is a publication and a business right? Their mission is to make money selling yoga. That’s what publications do. And beautiful white women in crazy poses must obviously sell magazines. I used to work for a publication and every time there was a sexy photo on the cover, it went like hotcakes. I know it’s nice to have ideals, but you have to consider why Yoga Journal exists – to make money and make their advertisers happy by selling lots of copies. Magazines have a hard enough time as it is right now…so anyways, just wanted to share from another point of view because that is my background.

  • nathan

    Maria,

    I hear you about the business angle, but at the same time, if spiritual publications have to “sell out” to the lowest common denominator to stay afloat, maybe it’s better that they die. I have been a subscriber of YJ long enough to know that they’re struggling to balance financial considerations with respecting the basic, foundational teachings of yoga. When I see articles touting extremely expensive cars, clothing, and gadgets as “the way to go Green,” for example, you have to wonder how that fits in with aparigraha, or even santosha (contentment). There are plenty of examples like this inside the magazine, let alone the cover issues.

    And let’s consider that view that what sells is a cover with a white, thin, woman in a usually challenging asana no less. Perhaps this taps into an ideal for many people, right? And that might be one reason why they buy the issue.

    But consider the history of thin, “unblemished” white women as the standard of beauty in the U.S. and Canada – and elsewhere. There is an underlying racial component that is troubling at best. In addition, there are the vast majority of women (or men for that matter) who will never “live up” to the body presented on the cover. And perhaps if you look a little deeper behind the initial inspiration from those who purchased the issue off the shelves, you’ll find a lot of guilt, shame, and disappointment. And then there is the asana presented, which often is something that 90% will never approach, and also which can create an image of yoga as impossible gymnastics in the minds of people who have never or barely practiced it.

    I experience a book full of asanas, ranging from accessible to totally challenging, completely different. In fact, I experience many of the sequences presented in YJ differently, because they show a progression, a mixture of poses, and sometimes ways to adapt them.

    I just think that saying “it’s a business” and they need to “do what sells copies” is allowing the worst elements of capitalism to take over the image and spirit of yoga. You see the same thing in chain yoga studios. It all becomes about what sells. The bottom line. Half the world is in economic flames right now because of uncritical adherence to the bottom line.

    That’s not acceptable in my book.

  • Listen, I’m not saying it’s good or bad, I’m just telling you the reality of it. As for yoga, and how it’s represented…yoga isn’t even doing asana – so if you want to really get into a discussion, consider the fact they are further misleading people into thinking that yoga is a physical practice. It’s not. Yoga is about freedom by stopping the vrtti’s in the mind…asana is 1/8 of the eight limbs of yoga…and asana means to sit. And for those who do practice “yoga”, most of them don’t even know what bandhas are…nor do they even understand why they are at a yoga class. So really, to argue about what yogini is on the cover really doesn’t matter anyways…it’s all misleading, no matter how you look at it.

  • nathan

    Yep, asana is 1 of 8 limbs. I’m well aware of that. And so certainly magazines and many yoga books are misleading, regardless of how ethically they were produced.

    And as a writer and former editor of two literary journals, I’ve seen the reality of market economics. It’s very difficult, no doubt. But it’s also possible to stay afloat and do a decent job with issues like advertising and content quality.

    But asana are also the current entry point for the vast majority of people. To just dismiss that as being misleading suggests to me a lack of care for those who are entering the yoga path. Yoga isn’t about something privatized and totally personal – it’s about how each of us relates and moves in the world.

    Mostly, I bring up the points I do because it would be nice to see more folks in the yoga community think and reflect on issues like this. I’m always glad when a blogger or writer brings up a topic like this journal cover because it’s an opportunity for all of us reading to consider what’s going on in the larger yoga community, and how that might impact ourselves, others, and even the world. So often though, the discussions turn into battles between those who think all criticism, judgment, and even thinking is “bad” – and those who don’t. And yet, regardless of what conclusions each of us make, a major part of yoga is learning to use our minds wisely, to learn to think wisely when it’s called for, and drop thinking when it’s not called for.

    You might see the cover image of a magazine as a superficial issue that isn’t worth considering, but behind superficial details is the entire world. It’s all linked together. So, while I don’t think this means needing to dissect every last detail of our lives – that would be terribly tedious and miserable – I do think it’s means that there is a validity to considering a certain detail – like a YJ cover – more closely.

    By the way, I still am a subscriber to YJ despite my criticism. I’m supporting them financially, and have for several years. So, I’m not a gadfly taking shots. I’d like to see something I support improve because I don’t want it to disappear or become completely fluffy.

  • Steve

    Men need Yoga as much as women and yet somehow, women come to Yoga 3x as much as men. My guess is that it has been marketed that way, because everything in the West is a product and Yoga has grown from being a practice to a business. That’s fine, and the more people doing Yoga, the better, male or female. You could say that Yoga Journal has done a great disservice to this 5000-year old practice by feminizing their magazine so thoroughly, but let’s not get into criticism- it’s not very Yogic. As more women come to the practice and have grown what was once a fringe activity into a major trend, they have made Yoga more accessible for everyone with the growth of studios and also by showing everyone in their lives the benefits of the practice. I see women bringing their boyfriends and husbands to practice and through this, the seeds are planted for men to return to Yoga.

  • Chris

    Patanjali, the wise Hindu Sage, who compiled the ancient Hindu wisdom of Yoga into the Yoga Sutras, was a man.

    In fact, Patanjali da man !

    So, all the Yoga Asanas are man-friendly too.

  • yogasanas

    Well to many Patanjali is only half a da man…the other half being serpent. Some may recall “Abahu parusha karam…” and not only that he had a thousand heads so he (it?) was really smart and could speak any language even languages in other planets in other solar systems in other galaxies in other universes. Which makes him so so far far beyond any da man that even just to know of him and his teachings makes you quite a da man and da woman.

    And I, too, subscribe to YJ. I watched it go from thin to fat to thin again. It really seemed to shift when it got bought out – like so many other good things. Oh well, anitya….(see sutra II.5 for more)

    Krishnamacharya nearly got defrocked for teaching the Western woman Indra Devi and that was a short 70 or so years ago. You come along way baby….
    “Back then, every man gave his wife at least one day a week out of the house. You’ve come a long way, baby. Virginia Slims – Slimmer than the fat cigarettes men smoke.”
    (1978 advert)

    Nathan, I like your vibe. Its good to talk about it – it being that the Western consumerist ethos is at odd with many of the ancient Eastern teachings. Its the elephant in the yoga studio and I don’t mean Ganesh. If Yoga Journal wants to wear that mantle – a journal about Yoga – it must hold itself to a higher standard than just eyeballs and cents and scents. Does that make sense or just stinky nonsense?

  • Yogi mat

    All yoga dudes should come to England – there is about $2500 in it for you What now? British Yoga Charity Paying For Sex? http://yoga-eu.net/News/YogaCharityPaysForSex

  • nathan

    Yogasanas – the consumerist take over of spiritual practices is an issue I’m quite stubborn on. Tends to get me in trouble talking about it in such detail, but someone has to do it :)

  • Dayita

    @nathan – I think there’s a deeper issue than just consumerism here and it afflicts all of western (and probably every media-saturated) culture. I am talking about the whole “rock-star” phenomenon – be it with actual musicians (or other performing artists), artifactual artists (surely it is the artifacts which are meant to communicate), corporate, political, religious or spiritual leaders; media culture leads inexorably to the idolization of the individual. And *that* draws people into its flame.

    For many things the “rock-star” phenomenon is harmful in every way. It distorts the world of the rock-star. It actually changes the content of the rock-star’s message. It alters the way the message is heard. It empowers media agents and disempowers those without media access. I had a very gifted teacher I know tell me recently, “if you want to keep moving on as a teacher, you have to do certain things” – which made me kinda sad as it seems like a distortion of maybe more than just one yama.

    The infiltration of consumerism, is another by-product of our media saturation – and the only answer really is santosha. We have to unplug from the constant stream of information and turn the eye inward to find that we are, and have enough. This applies whether one is a yogi or whatever else you might want to call it…

  • Elizabeth

    Dear everyone,

    I know you are merely using Lululemon as an example of the must-be-fashionable-to-sweat phenomenon, but please give it a rest already. I choose to wear Lululemon because the fabric holds up well (I have 7 year old pants that are barely beginning to show their age), the clothing does not stretch out of shape (so they fit the way they fit from day 1), and the fabric allows a very sweaty me to dry off quickly after class (I make puddles on the mat). My Lulu pants have lasted longer than other brands I have tried, making them a long-term investment. (I did a comparison where I bought cheaper pants to figure out how many pairs would wear out before my Lulu pants, and I just gave up after three pairs of other brand pants.)

    Advertising in magazines may be seen as a sort of necessary evil. The advertisers pay big bucks to have their ad in the magazine, which helps to keep the costs of the magazine down. Just compare the cost of Yoga Journal to Ms. or Cook’s Illustrated (neither of which accept ads). I appreciate an ad for a new product, so I know it exists. For example, when David Swenson’s practice manual came out, I was excited to go out and find it so I could learn more about the Ashtanga system and the finer points of its asana practice; the same is true of Sally Kempton’s meditation book, which I also first learned of via a Yoga Journal ad, and a few other products.

    The real complaint, as I see it, is that the modern consumer culture which exists all around us also exists within the world of yoga. Too bad we’re not all more spiritually advanced, and don’t have that attachment to looking cute/smelling good/whatever :) That said, we can CHOOSE to buy or not to buy. We can choose purchases based on their longevity, their useful life (my yoga mat will last for a really long time, and then I’ll send it to recycle your mat), their fabric content, whatever.

    Be the change you want to see.

  • i just read this article about lululemon, and i feel like fans really should check this out. ive vowed to never buy a lulu product.. wish it wasnt this way :( http://thetyee.ca/News/2005/02/17/LuluCritics/

  • hayley

    but then again this article is from 2005. perhaps things have changed over at lulu? it looks like clothes are still made in china though… this isnt the point of this discussion anyways.. i just am wondering about lululemon recently, thought id share!

  • nathan

    I’d say the rock star issue actually springs directly from the consumerist, market driven culture. That kind of fame for people who were basically anonymous, average folks beforehand never existed in the past. If you weren’t amongst the royal family, or whomever controlled the resources of a given place, becoming a “rock star” wasn’t a possibility. Famous spiritual teachers of the past often had some ties to the political/economic leaders in their homeland, and so their fame was partly a result of being financially and socially upheld by those in power. This wasn’t always the case, but it was pretty commonplace.

    You’re totally right that becoming a rock star yoga teacher, for example, creates some major ethical quandaries. I can imagine some handle it all fairly well, but maybe that number is the minority. This is one of the reasons why I’m often writing about ethical issues tied to yoga and consumerism, because if people just try and ride on a “good” intention of “spreading yoga to the masses,” when faced with the ethical decisions that come with being more well known, it’s that much more likely they’ll compromise the whole works.

    I’d love to hear some of the well know yogis and yoginis out there talk about some of this kind of stuff, and actually offer public views about the economics behind yoga, the challenges of being a public yoga figure, and how they approach yogic ethics (or not) when considering business decisions.

  • Lisa B

    This Yoga Journal cover man makes me want to do a whole lot more than yoga. Best YJ cover EVER!

  • George

    I stopped buying YJ when they stopped putting guys into the magazine.
    The magazine then ended up on the shelves next to other women’s stuff instead of being in the sports section.
    So today I saw this, grabbed the magazine and… did not buy it, as there seems to be the same female dominated content then always.

    George

  • mike

    I think it’s great that they have a man of the cover! And i think it would be greater if it was my buddy Mr. Yoga :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSX3qV086A8

  • Men do yoga all the time — as part of martial arts training — and seem to be much better at it than most people I’ve seen at yoga studios. Yoga practitioners have a lot to learn from the martial arts community, but apparently they have their yoga blinders firmly in place!

  • yes, martial arts and yoga go great together! but your comment that male martial artists are “better at it than most people” you’ve seen at studios demonstrates a lack of knowledge about what yoga is.

  • Yo Sarah,

    That kind of yoga snobbery is, in fact, completely unyogic. Get over yourself and one day you may become a yogi yourself. Good luck with that!

  • umm…yeah, that’s not snobbery. Thinking you are “better” at it, is snobbery. Looking around the studio and deciphering who is good at the poses and who is not as “good” as a certain population reeks of elitism. Yoga is for everyone and everyone is equally “good” because you practice at your own level. I think that’s about as un-snobbish as we hope to get.

    Anyone else on yogadork wanna help me out on this one?

  • You are speaking from unfounded assumptions about my meaning, as well as assuming your idea about the goal and purpose of yoga is the “right” one. Again, no yoga here!

  • wellmeow

    Goodness gracious, he is SMOKING hot. If he taught around my parts, I’d be in that class everyday!

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