This article originally appeared in “Experience Life.”

Our fitness experts give you suggestions for taking your first yoga class — and keeping the nerves at bay.

Q | I’m a guy who wants to try a yoga or Pilates class, but a lot of these classes are attended almost exclusively by women. How can I get over my jitters?

A | First keep in mind that throughout history, yoga was predominantly a male discipline. And if not for Joseph Pilates, the Pilates system would not exist. Today, yoga and Pilates classes do tend to attract female crowds, but guys still belong and can benefit mightily from both practices. The truth? After a class or two, you’ll stop feeling like the odd man out.

To overcome the intimidation factor, remember what got you interested in the class in the first place. Ask yourself, “What goals am I attempting to achieve?” says Daniel Lyon, author of The Complete Book of Pilates for Men and a master Pilates trainer in New York City. If you stay focused on your health or sports-performance priorities, he notes, you’ll find the motivation you need to get over your anxiety.

Lyon suggests trying several different classes so you can find one that best fits your goals and comfort level. (For more on yoga styles, see “Yoga 4 You”.) And if it would help to have another guy there (particularly for your first class), consider bringing a buddy along.

Lyon’s final tip: Don’t compare poses. Most men are naturally a little less limber than most women. For now, focus on the strength you bring to class — and know that, with practice, flexibility will follow.


Illustration by Colin Hayes