Homme Stretch

Can Broga make yoga bearable for men?

homme stretch

Illustration by Kirsten Ulve

I am a beer-pounding, basketball-playing, weight-lifting, red-blooded male. Why, then, am I on all fours in a dimly lit studio, angling my inflexible body into backbends and cat stretches?

“It’s like a fast-moving meditation,” Broga founder Robert Sidoti explains as he leads me and 14 other pupils through a series of yoga poses interspersed with pushups and rapid-fire squats. “The most important effort is to let go of the effort — which is hard to do, because we are such dudes!”

Since April, Sidoti has been leading these weekly “brograms” at the Armory in Somerville. (He started the concept on Martha’s Vineyard in 2009 and still teaches classes there.) Demand has been so high that he’s added a second Saturday session and started offering weekend retreats.

I’ve never been a fan of yoga. Twisting into awkward positions while enduring triple-digit temperatures and Enya tunes as a tree-hugging hippie urges me to “open my mind”? Not for me. So although Sidoti says he seeks to remove yoga’s “New Age-y stigmas” and demonstrate its guy-friendly benefits, I’m skeptical when the class begins.

Our group, made up of young professionals, granola types, and even a few women, does some traditional poses, but the tricky toe touches and pretzel-shaped contortions I expect never come; instead, with its challenging upper-body and core exercises, Broga feels more like enlightened circuit training. Sidoti encourages students to do modified versions of the more intimidating moves, and (thankfully) avoids the pseudo-spiritual lingo.

Less than half an hour in, my shirt is soaked and I’m regretting the decision to “get into character” by donning spandex shorts. My arms feel like rubber and my legs are in spasm. I know I’ll be too sore to make my usual Sunday weight-room session, but who cares? Downward dog is this man’s new best friend.

$100 for ten 75-minute classes, or $15 per class (first class free); Somerville Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville,617-207-9374, brogayoga.com.