The notion that yoga is only for women is as outdated and incorrect as the idea that yoga is easy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, yoga can be far more physically challenging and mentally rewarding than most kinds of traditional exercise. No other discipline strengthens the body, focuses the mind, and promotes overall well-being better than yoga. In addition to improving flexibility, balance, and mental acuity, practicing yoga reduces stress and fosters a strong body-mind connection. Understanding your body and how it moves enhances overall strength, performance, and agility. There are several reasons how yoga can be the perfect exercise for men.
How can men benefit from yoga?
- Strength. Instead of using weights or resistance machines, yoga poses use the weight of your own body to build muscle strength. The various yoga poses combine dynamic muscle movement, as you flow from pose to pose, with isometric contractions, while you are holding each pose. These asanas work for both large and small muscle groups at the same time. Arm balances, inversions, and postures like extended-hold plank pose and low push-up challenge the entire upper body and core. Standing poses like Chair pose and Warrior II do the same for the legs.
- Flexibility. One of the reasons why guys shy away from yoga is because they don’t think that they’re flexible enough. Well, guys, this is a reason to do yoga, not a reason not to do yoga! Weight lifting activities and endurance sports will tighten and shorten your muscles. Without enough stretching, these exercises will limit the body’s full range of motion and reduce flexibility. There are many popular sports like golf, tennis, and baseball that asymmetrically stress and tighten the body to create further imbalances. Yoga is a fantastic exercise to create an overall physical balance. It lubricates the joints, lengthens muscle fibers, and realigns the body. If you are experiencing the effects of repetitive motion activities and structural imbalance, yoga is a great way to heal and prevent these issues.
- Body awareness. In our culture, we associate yoga with grace fluidity, balance, and flexibility. Men are often stereotyped as clumsiness, awkwardness, instability, and rigidity. It makes sense that a man may feel that he’s not fit for yoga. In reality, regardless of sex, some people are naturally flexible, while others are not. Some people are coordinated while others are not. Yoga is a practice of change. You’re continuously paying attention to your grace, your balance, and your flexibility. Today, you may be able to see the floor when you bend over. Tomorrow, you may be able to touch the floor. Because yoga lacks judgment, a man’s flexibility or lack thereof is not judged. Instead, it’s a reason for motivation to continue practicing to become aware of your body and its changes.
- Injury Prevention. The physical body is able to compensate for areas of weakness and tightness. If one muscle is weak, the body can compensate by firing other surrounding muscles to complete the exercise or movement. This often goes unnoticed, but Over time, this creates imbalanced structural patterns of strain and tightness. Because yoga requires students to activate, strengthen, and lengthen often ignored or unused muscle groups. This awareness helps to prevent injury by exposing and addressing imbalances in the body before they become more significant issues.
- Recovery. Yoga is known to promote flexibility and relaxation everywhere in the body. When our muscles and other tissues are relaxed, there is more opportunity for blood and other fluids to flow into the muscles and surrounding connective tissues. This increase in blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients areas of overworked muscles, which promotes healing and improves exercise recovery times.
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These five benefits above are just the tip of the iceberg. Yoga also aids in digestion, improves sleep, enhances mental acuity, improves heart health, and so much more. If you or a guy you know needs yoga please encourage him to check out some beginning yoga videos, or better yet bring him to class and practice with him! Ease into the practice with a class like Deep Stretch, Gentle or Slow Flow (you might lose him if you dive right into Hot or Power Yoga). Once he experiences the body benefits that only yoga can deliver, we’re confident he’ll be hooked.