consultation

Why do women outnumber men in Ayurveda and Yoga?

By on May 27, 2013
NAMA conference

by Jacob Griscom

I recently offered a practicum titled How to Empower Your Clients to Make Long-term Sustainable Changes with their Health and Consciousness at the National Ayurvedic Medical Association’s 10th annual conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The practicum sold out and had a waiting list, so I loved seeing the enthusiasm for this topic…something I feel very passionate about and loved sharing new mindsets and specific strategies with those in attendance.

Out of the 45 people in the room, almost all of them established Ayurveda practitioners, 2 were men and 43 of them were women. Now, these numbers aren’t unusual and in fact over the 14 years I’ve been in the field men:women ratios like this have been the norm.

So, I have a couple of questions I’d like to hear your thoughts on:

1) Why do you think that women outnumber men so tremendously in the fields of Ayurveda and Yoga?

2) And…as more practitioners start building financially sustainable practices and businesses (with help from business training programs like ours), do you think that will have any effect on the ratio of men to women? Why or why not?

Leave your responses in the comment box below, and share this with your friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter so we can include their opinions as well.

About Jacob Griscom

Jacob Griscom is the President of Everyday Ayurveda and Director of the Grow Your Ayurvedic Business program, the leading program for Ayurveda practitioners to grow thriving professional Ayurveda practices.

6 Comments

  1. Jacob Griscom

    May 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    For example, are men (demographically) more focused on making money than women? Are women (demographically) more focused on health and healing than men?

  2. joey.bujold@rogers.com'

    Joey B

    June 3, 2013 at 7:28 am

    This is a valid observation, Jacob. Insofar as yoga practice and teaching is concerned, I believe there are several superficial layers involving anxiety, cultural perception, and self-image.

    I grew up in Eastern Canada, where it was just accepted that as a young male, you’d play hockey. Any young boy drawn to figure skating, as an example, was subject to peer ridicule since it was considered out of the norm. I suspect that in the US, the equivalent would be with American football versus dancing ballet. The men who are drawn or called upon to teach yoga usually are more self-aware than the average male and transcend societal-imposed stereotypes, or may care less about these superficial factors to be worried about peer perception.

    As yoga markets in the West have been historically female-dominated, the natural extension of this is Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science. Self-awareness and healing requires one to face and balance out one’s physical, emotional and spiritual states. As social stereotypes regarding gender will eventually fade and Ayurveda becomes more commonplace in our society, I fully anticipate this would balance out naturally. True yoga as described by Patanjali involves us to cease mental fluctuations and perceive ourselves as we really are. Part of this involves balancing the masculine and feminine energies to awaken unity, so it’s something everyone (both male and female) needs to face, eventually.

    That said, I believe every practitioner has their own energetic fingerprint to offer to the profession, and in everyone’s healing journey clients will be drawn to practitioners with the balancing energies they need. And male practitioners will definitely be able to contribute in that regard.

    • Jacob Griscom

      June 3, 2013 at 7:49 am

      Great thoughts, Joey. Thank you. Any thoughts on the 2nd question?

      • joey.bujold@rogers.com'

        Joey B

        June 5, 2013 at 10:00 am

        Yup, Jacob…thanks for the discussion. I do have some thoughts on the 2nd question you posed. I would anticipate that as more practitioners start creating their own successful practices, and visibility of Ayurveda increases, you will eventually see more men participating in this field of study. Mainly because of the fact that anyone with societal or cultural anxieties will be more willing to set aside their obstacles through the examples of the pioneers who came before them. I can’t say for sure if we’ll ever have a 50/50 split between genders, though.

        Another thought came to mind since I wrote my original post. While it’s comparing apples and oranges to an extent, it still highlights another aspect of the male-female ratio differences in the profession, which you’ve observed in this article. Look at massage therapy as a healing modality – it is a primarily female dominated industry. Generally speaking, male massage therapists have commented that they need to work a bit harder to build trust with their clients than their female counterparts. People of both genders are more willing to receive massages from women, than men for the most part. There are also legal cases of male practitioners being called out for inappropriateness, as well. It’s not an impossible obstacle to surmount, but it still is a consideration. Similar social barriers may exist within Ayurveda as well, since several of its modalities employed (massage/bodywork) intersect closely with massage therapy.

        Like I alluded to in my previous post, male and female energies can create a whole Shiva/Shakti paradigm within the fields of yoga and Ayurveda, and I’m given to believe that for healing purposes, both are required. So I believe both men and women are needed in this profession. That said, a true healer can balance these elements within him/herself and by extension, help balance these energies out in others, as well. Namaste!

  3. cshillong@telus.net'

    Christopher Shillong

    June 3, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Hi Jacob,
    Women outnumber men not just in Ayurveda but pretty much all modalities of alternative medicine. Why? I think it has a lot to do with an inner consciousness that is more latent, at this time, in men than in women and for very good reason. Women are curious and want to know what makes their bodies and minds tick. Perhaps it is an awareness based on their nurturing qualities as woman. Most men on the other hand, are more focused on providing for their families, recreation and sports; each playing out their roles or parts so to speak. So yes, I agree with your example; men are more focused on making money and women are more focused on health and healing. This however, does not mean that men do not have the ability to undertake the task of studying Ayurveda or other forms of healing; it just means that this consciousness needs to be played out, understood and accepted for what it is. From a philosophical point of view, gender plays a very small role in the field of cosmic consciousness. Everything is unfolding as it should.

    • Jacob Griscom

      June 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

      …and what do you think: as we have more financially successful practitioners in these fields, will the ratio of men increase?

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