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  • 02.05.16

Broga, The Manly Mindfulness Movement Sweeping The Nation

Get into Manchild Pose.

Broga is not your typical yoga routine. Video Gamekasana. Reverse Weekend Warrior. The Kegstand.

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And how could you forget the Manchild’s Pose? “The pose is the foundation of broga. Return to it anytime things become too challenging. With fists clenched, kneel and drape your torso to the ground. If someone asks what you’re doing, gesture angrily and reply, ‘Fuck you, bro. Do you want to take this outside?’”

Manchild’s Pose

These are dreamed up by Hannah Rothstein, a conceptual artist in Berkeley, California, who released her satiric “manly mindfulness movement” collection in May 2015. Her work was such a viral sensation that she now has a Broga book due out in June (pre-order here), with added aphorisms such as this gem: “The root of suffering is attachment. Avoid a serious girlfriend at all costs.”

But wait, if this was satire, how come Broga® is an actual class offered at my New York City gym?

Broga is real life.

Broga, the word, was just begging to be born. It was so inevitable that it became a sincere fitness class and a parody of itself almost simultaneously. Rothstein says she had the idea for her art project before hearing that Broga® was a real thing–a fitness movement co-founded several years ago by Massachusetts yoga trainer Robert Sidoti to create a “safe space” for men who can’t touch their toes. Claiming 450 certified instructors in 25 states and 5 countries, there may even be a Broga class near you.

I hate yoga. Not a huge fan of bros either. I had to go see for myself.

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Shotgunasana

The class description promised that “pumped-up feeling” you get from working out, plus flexibility and relaxation from a typical yoga class. It said it welcomed women, too, but I was nervous. Would I walk in and break up a giant bromance?

My fears were unfounded. The class was seven women and seven men–a better gender balance than most yoga classes, for sure, but no bro paradise. And there was a female teacher. Only one dude, with his “Go Big” T-shirt and his Adrian-Grenier-from-Entourage resemblance, looked obviously bro-y.

Shitfaceasana or Corpse Pose

But it turned out Broga was actually hard, especially for a weak female like me. The instructor told me it emphasizes upper body strength much more than a typical yoga class, and had a short aerobics element. By then end, my muscles were Jello. I also got a weird vibe of being in an Ayn Rand novel, where the male body was the platonic ideal and the female body was an afterthought.

Really, Rothstein’s made-up version of Broga seems more fun. She gets the Broga trend though: “I don’t believe it’s hit the West Coast; it’s reasonably accepted for guys to go to regular yoga here, at least in the Bay Area, but having lived on the East Coast, I understand the utility of branding yoga classes for dudes,” she says.

Rothstein says that her work is meant as a reminder to bros and yogis, “two groups of people who pursue their lifestyle with a lot of gravitas,” to take themselves a bit less seriously. Amen.

All Images: Hannah Rothstein

About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire.

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