Many questions come to mind when a new idea comes into vogue, especially when it comes to the ancient Science of Yoga. There’s Yoga for Men, Yoga for Women, Yoga for Kids, Yoga for the Elderly, and now there’s Broga®.
Co-founders Robert Sidoti and Adam O’Neill took time out of their busy schedule to answer some questions about Broga®, it’s relationship to Yoga and a few other things.
Robert and Adam share a somewhat similar, yet diverse, upbringing. Robert’s story (in his words) was “Watching my father struggle over the years with various health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, weight issues, injuries and Colitis, all of this I believe stemming from poor diet and high levels of stress. My mother passed away at a young age from Pulmonary Hypertension. In short, toward the end, she could not breathe on her own”
While Adams’ story is that of growing up in a "yoga household": a Mother who has been a yoga instructor for 40+ years allowed him to ‘marinate’ in Yogic philosophy, sattvic food, Sanskrit terms, and chants through his early life. It wasn’t until he suffered a debilitating back injury that ‘laid him up’ for six months did he find Yoga.
With those details in mind, here is Robert and Adam’s ‘twist’ on Yoga (pardon the pun):
Below you’ll find highlights of our conversation:
It ends up benefitting the world every time someone steps on the mat and starts to live more consciously! ~ Robert Sidoti
William Hunnell: Broga®? How would you describe that?
Robert Sidoti: Broga® Yoga as a class is based on Vinyasa Yoga principles and functional fitness type movements. We blend the qualities of a yoga asana class with movements that focus on strength and mobility. How can we create an overall experience that men can repeatedly get excited to show up for and adopt as a consistent discipline in their lives? This is what we constantly ask ourselves.
Broga® LLC as a company focuses on bringing more and more men to the mat. Whether it is directing them into our studios via the practice we've created or inspiring them to simply start to take better care of themselves through quotes, images or articles we post on FB and other social media outlets.
WH: Why would someone choose Broga® over Yoga? Is there a difference? If so, what?
RS: Broga® in comparison to most Yoga classes will have more of a stripped down, simplified feel to it. Broga® may feel more athletic at times also. The overall feel is different in most cases, while still experiencing the benefits of a "yoga asana" class.
Adam O’Neill: Yes, there is a substantial difference. No sanskrit. No bells. No chanting. No incense. No big crazy poses. Just clear, student-focused (absolutely no "yoga-teacher-guru-rock-star-ego" stuff), quality instruction around a solid breath-based, strength-building, fun, challenging, energetic, sequence that, in addition to providing the many benefits of yoga (no need to list them all), delivers substantial cardio vascular benefits, and never makes the students feel inadequate.
All students experience success in at least some part of even their first Broga® class without being belittled, patronized or bored. ~ Adam O’Neill
WH: Have you had any “success” stories through Broga® as of yet?
AO: One of our students just took his 100th class. As of that class he'd lost 70lbs.
WH: If you could narrow it down, who would choose Broga® over Yoga?
AO: Here are three top reasons that someone might want to check out a Broga® class, specifically: 1) Interest in the physical aspects of yoga but intimidated by, or not interested in, the things that might be perceived by that student as mystical or spiritual. 2) Previous yoga experience but was turned off by some aspect and want to give it another shot. 3) Want to take a very athletic workout-focused yoga class (more for Broga® II students, than Broga® I students).
WH: The 'Bro' implies that it’s designed specifically for men. Is that accurate?
RS: Any"body" can do it! But, all marketing efforts, logo, website, language and the class experience is done from the male perspective for the male body and mind.
AO: Many women attend classes regularly and, like a lot of the guys, value the physicality (strength-building aspects), accessibility, lack of dogma, and quality of instruction.
WH: Critics have argued that Broga® is just another 're-packaging' of Yoga? What do you say to these critics?
RS: In a lot of ways this is true. Whatever Broga® can do to package it in a way that is attractive, appealing and accessible! The current packaging of yoga that the male population is seeing is apparently not working for them.
Yes I know there are a lot more men in yoga classes these days, but there are still a huge number of men who are not. If we can put it in a package that simply says, "this is for you", why not re-package? It ends up benefitting the world every time someone steps on the mat and starts to live more consciously!
AO: Rob's answer on this is fantastic. The only thing I'd add is that to me, the numbers tell the story: National data (from Yoga Journal) indicates that 85% of yoga practitioners in the U.S. are women.
We are introducing 1000's of men to yoga for the first time (or in a way that after many previous attempts finally actually works for them) and we're successfully training other instructors in our specific methods who are then in turn introducing yet more men to yoga.
Our Broga classes are about 90% men. If critics have suggestions for how to help us get more guys on the mat in a way that works better than what we're doing, we want to hear from them!
WH: Is Broga® a purely physical practice or is there an underlying spirituality? In other words there are 8 limbs to Yoga (Ashtanga), is Broga® a different take on asanas, or is there more to it?
AO: We call it "showing up", moving your body with discipline and care, breathing, sweating, and developing the capacity to pay better attention to our bodies, minds, and habits. This helps us become healthier, happier, clearer versions of ourselves. If the ultimate goal is a deeper spiritual practice (which I'd argue it is), some students might say that they experience spirituality via Broga®.
We don't describe it as "spiritual" and we don't present/promote/perpetuate any dogma. We simply encourage people to show up and move with the breath, with presence of mind, through the whole practice.
That said, with Yoga (Broga®, too) there's always "more to it" for anyone who chooses to pursue "more". We fully support those pursuits as they arise. We've seen plenty of students come to Broga® for months, or even years, and then start asking for yogic reading recommendations or meditation advice, etc. It's great to see that when it happens, but it isn't really our goal.
WH: What are your thoughts on the importance of a Yoga or Broga® practice for men?
RS: Men carry a lot of weight and stress in their lives. Men in general do not have outlets to connect with other men in healthy environments. Men tend to connect on very surface levels.
Yoga or Broga® gives men the opportunity to look deeper and to connect with life and others on deeper levels. In regards to stress and tension, a good consistent Yoga or Broga® practice can give men tools to learn how to release and let go of these life stresses.
We, as men, may feel that it’s normal to feel this overwhelmed or weighted down, once you begin to practice yoga, you begin to realize that it is not normal and there are ways to feel better.
WH: What is your mission statement with Broga®?
RS: The mission of Broga® is to get as many men possible in the world to realize that yoga does and will meet them exactly where they are. We want to increase the number of men practicing, making yoga a very common thing to do in their lives: to experience this amazing discipline that has proven over and over to make huge changes in many lives.
WH: What one piece of advice, in one sentence, would you give to a person regarding Yoga or Broga®?
AO: There are many different types of Yoga classes, and not all are for everyone, so be willing to explore different options until you find what works for you. You'll know it when you do… and you'll be glad you did.
WH: And, finally, what would you like folks to know about Broga®?
AO: We want to introduce yoga to one million men who haven't yet done yoga within the last four years. We've worked really hard to develop our program into something that we know works and we're constantly improving it. We're going to continue partnering with instructors and companies who are interested in "meeting people (students) where they are". If this sounds good to you, let's talk.
Charleston Yoga Examiner’s approach to these things will always be to ask questions and never assume. Hope each and every reader takes away a little more information from this article in order to make a more informed decision regarding different forms of Yoga.