A YOGA teacher from Barnsley is hoping he can provide a ‘safe space’ for men who want to practise yoga, but are put off by the prospect of doing so alongside women.

Matt Appleby, a former IT worker, is offering yoga classes exclusively to men, who he thinks ‘simply feel uncomfortable’ in mixed-gender groups.

“It’s a very female dominated industry,” Matt, 37, said. “It’s not unusual for a class I teach to not have a single man in it, it’s not very often there are guys there.

“This is something I have experienced myself when I first started going to sessions.

“I got into yoga by chance. I used to do a lot of sports, and my then-girlfriend, who’s now my wife, dragged me along to a class.

“She noticed I did all this sport but never stretched, which is something I’d never thought about.

“I definitely felt really self-conscious, I was the only guy stood at the back of the class.

“But the more I did yoga, I realised that once you get it and start feeling the benefits, it doesn’t really make a difference.”

Matt decided to pursue his idea of opening a yoga school last year, when he was let go by HSBC at Tankersley, where he had worked as an IT professional for 11 years.

Matt, of Jermyn Croft, Dodworth, said: “I was kindly made redundant last year. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, it pushed me to explore more of what I enjoyed doing.

“There were extended periods when I didn’t respect my body or mental wellbeing. Yoga unlocked the serenity and relaxation I craved, but never found playing football, tennis or going to the gym.”

Matt, who has practised yoga for around ten years, has taught in mixed classes but wants to encourage more men to take part in the discipline.

He said: “There’s definitely interest there. The people coming know the teacher will be male, and men do feel more comfortable around other men.”

The Men’s Yoga Collective meets on Tuesday October 23, from 6pm to 9pm at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.