Tutors are challenging more men to step forward to train as yoga teachers as the Shanti Yoga School unveils its teacher training courses for the New Year.
More and more men are taking up yoga as a way of keeping fit, supple and relaxed. International footballer Ryan Giggs and tennis player Pete Sampras are among the high-profile men who practise the discipline.
“We have trained several men to be Hatha Yoga teachers, and we’re expecting a number on next year’s course,” said Liz Thomas, who jointly runs Shanti Yoga School. “For some, it’s been about a career change following redundancy or a change of direction. For others it’s been a lifestyle choice to work for themselves or to work part-time.
“Yoga has often been seen in the Western world as a ‘women’s interest’ even though it was developed by men, but it does seem that more men are realising the benefits. We now see more men in yoga classes and more men coming forward to learn to teach yoga too.
“We welcome men and women to train as yoga teachers at Shanti Yoga School, but we’re anxious to let men know that if they wish to become yoga teachers we’d give them a very warm welcome.”
The challenge comes after a University of York report earlier this month revealed that yoga can help those with lower back pain. Researchers discovered that patients with a common form of back pain who did three months of classes in the therapeutic discipline were able to do daily tasks they previously would have found impossible.
The Shanti Yoga School training courses are run at the Eco-centre at Home Farm, Screveton, in Nottinghamshire – the new home of Shanti Yoga School, which has been training yoga teachers since 2003.
The courses are designed for yoga enthusiasts who want to run their own classes, and for existing yoga teachers who wish to improve their knowledge or continue their professional development.
“Lots of us are facing a change in our life just now, whether it be through redundancy or retirement, life-style change, raising children and being around for them or just ready for a change in direction,” said Liz.
“Becoming a yoga teacher and running your own business could be the answer. Yoga can help us to feel an inner peace and give us the presence to deal with our busy and complicated lives; doctors recommend it for lowering high blood pressure and if you know anyone who does yoga then you might agree that they do look serene and, well, perhaps a bit younger-looking for their age?
“Yoga helps you to stay flexible and strong, sit still and allow your mind to rein in those “wild horses that charge about in our minds”.”
Starting in February 2012, the two-year teacher training courses run at specific weekends to help students who have weekday commitments.
Shanti Yoga School, which has recently been accredited by Yoga Alliance as an approved Teacher Training School, has trained dozens of teachers in Hatha Yoga, who have since gone on to run their own classes.
Retired probation officer Michael Tickner took a course with Shanti Yoga School a few years ago and now runs a class each week in Tollerton, Nottinghamshire.
“A good percentage of my class are men and I enjoy passing on to them what I have learnt,” said Michael, 68.
Former policeman Kev Green took up yoga as a way of alleviating back pain after being diagnosed with spondylolisthesis – crack in the lumbar vertebrae. He went on to train as a yoga teacher with Shanti Yoga School.
“I truly believe that yoga can help in most situations and can help sportsmen and women to improve their performance through greater flexibility and mental concentration and focus,” said Kev, who lives at Newton, near Bingham in Nottinghamshire.
Shanti Yoga School was founded by Andy Thomas, of West Bridgford, who died in March 2011. His wife Liz Thomas and the teachers at the school have vowed to continue his legacy and have re-launched the school, along with Andy’s other business the Full Movement Training School which is based in Colwick, Nottingham, and which teaches therapists in the discipline of the Full Movement Method, a unique blend of yoga and physical therapy that Andy created. Some 24 practitioners and more than 50 yoga teachers have been trained since the businesses started.