Yoga is not the first exercise most men turn to. It’s risen up the ranks as one of the most popular exercise types and workouts for women, with many specialist classes solely for women, whilst men often seem to shun it or at least don’t see the point of building it into their workout.
A study by Yoga Journal in 2012 showed that only 18% of the 20.4 million people in America who practice yoga are men and it’s a real shame as there are many health benefits to taking up this ancient exercise.
The reasons men choose not to get involved in yoga seems mainly to be down to the fact that it has been categorised as quite feminine but also due to the fact that it doesn’t seem intensive and energetic like some other exercises. The benefits of yoga are so far reaching however and below we’re looking at a few of them which should soon show that it can be of fantastic benefit to men’s health too.
Entire Body Workout
The majority of sports, often the way men choose to exercise, only use up to a maximum of 15% of your body. Yoga provides a workout which covers every element of your body from muscles to joints and organs. It oxygenates your blood and helps create more energy when you finish exercising as opposed to leaving your body worn out. Every system in your body from the skeletal to the endocrine is worked out.
All Bodies Workout
Yoga is an exercise that can benefit a body of any size. From svelte marathon runners to build up rugby players, yoga can be practiced by all and benefit all in ways which boost their body type. It increases your flexibility, endurance and muscle strength and allows you to push your personal boundaries in your sport or other exercises to a new level.
Banish Muscle Soreness
Banish may be a bit of an exaggeration but yoga has huge benefits when it comes to reducing post-workout stiffness from other sports and exercise sessions. Fatigued muscles get packed out with lactic acid and yoga is a natural remedy to this. It encourages the stretching and flexing o muscles which helps flush out the lactic acid and this is why it’s an exercise favoured by long distance runners and cyclists. Both these types of athletes are known for suffering with painful muscle fatigue.
Restore your Energy
Unlike other workouts yoga won’t deplete your body of its energy. You will finish a yoga class or session feeling more revitalised, up for it and energised. This doesn’t mean you need to throw yourself into another workout, it just adds another dimension to your fitness experience.
Many professional athletics practice Bikram or hot yoga because it’s known to heighten performance levels by improving focus. It relies on good control of your mental, emotional and physical strength and it removes the ego from the workout experience. Yoga is all about training your mind to switch off, to focus solely on the experience in hand. Research suggests it is harder for men to shut down their emotions and thoughts than women but once this focus is gained, performance overall in all workouts is improved.
Flush out the System
This is another plus specifically for hot yoga, where you exercise in a hotter than natural climate. Yoga in this setting is intense and it means your body has to work harder and therefore sweats more. This helps in burning fat but it also helps your body shed all the pent-up toxins it is hoarding. You’re giving your body the experience of a fever without the illness and therefore your body’s immune system works harder and becomes enhanced.
The practice of yoga involves balancing your mind and your body. You are aiming for complete mental clarity and once this is achieved the true joy of yoga will be experienced. The energy and revitalisation yoga produces is mental as well as physical. Some doctors even recommend yoga as treatment for anxiety and other mental health conditions as it can help you learn to view the world and yourself in new ways.
With all these benefits it’s hard to see why any man would shun yoga. Leading athletes and sports professionals from Ryan Giggs to David Beckham to plenty of celebrities you wouldn’t expect, men are practicing yoga. It has been embraced by sports professionals and their coaches so there’s no reason the average man shouldn’t give it a go.
It could be enjoyed once a week alongside other sports or it could be incorporated into a regular daily routine – it’s completely up to you. You owe it to your body to give it a go, especially when you take into account all the benefits we’ve highlighted as well as the professionals you really back it up.