Reasons Why Men Should Do Yoga

Do you identify as a man? Or do you have a male significant other, husband, or other male loved one? Do you (or the loved one you are thinking about) have chronic back pain? Can you (or this person) touch your (their) toes? Are you (they) losing strength and muscle mass with age? Whether you are reading this thinking about yourself or someone else, here is a list of great reasons why you might want to consider adding yoga to your lifestyle or exercise routine.


A Brief History:

Yoga can be traced back to ancient India between the years 3300–1900 BCE. Over the centuries, the practice has evolved. Though the version of yoga we practice today only dates back about 150 years there has been a long-standing belief that yoga was originally only practiced by men, and that women were barred from practicing, however there are differing opinions to what extent or if women have been allowed to practice all along. The important thing to note here is that for centuries, men practiced yoga as much or possibly more (or solely) than women.


Yoga eventually caught the attention of educated westerners in the mid 19th century and was popularized further in the 1930s by Indra Devi who studied yoga in India and began teaching it to celebrities in Hollywood including Greta Garbo, Eva Gabor, and Gloria Swanson. Since then, yoga has been dominated by women. While the numbers of male participants are going up, we only make up 28% of the people practicing yoga today.


Benefits and Some Typical Excuses:

Flexibility:

#1 Excuse

I'm not flexible.

Response

This is the number one excuse by men (and women) why they cannot, do not, or will not do yoga. Flexibility is a benefit of yoga, not a pre-requisite.

While stretching, the muscle is lengthened and the joints are stabilized, which leads to greater muscular integrity and strength.


Strength:

#2 Excuse

I can't build muscle doing yoga.

Response

Yoga is an excellent way to strengthen and build muscle as well as both lengthen and tone the whole body.


Yoga incorporates static and dynamic upper and lower body movements. Many yoga poses build core strength; boat, plank, chaturanga (four-limb staff pose), plank and side plank, and tree pose to name a few basic ones. During their lifetimes, men lose about 30% of their muscle mass, which equates to 3% to 5% each decade. Decreasing muscle mass can leave joints unstable and inflexible making one vulnerable to falls and fractures later in life. Aaptiv has a great article with some expert advice.


Weight Loss:

#3 Excuse

I can't lose weight doing yoga.

Response

You can lose weight in yoga. Practicing yoga may also help you develop muscle tone and improve your metabolism.


If weight loss is your primary goal, choosing a vinyasa flow, power flow, or core/strength style of yoga will more than likely give you the cardiovascular benefits you seek. In general, yoga can help reduce stress and stress is a major factor in the body storing fat. Men's Health has a great article about losing weight with yoga. Yoga is a much easier way to lose belly fat than lifting weights and is a lower impact option than running. Because yoga is practice in breathing, moving, and mindfulness, it can teach awareness for eating, sleeping, and lifestyle habits and help make minor changes more easily. Gut health improves through yoga poses, by massaging the internal organs stimulating the metabolic rate, and can even cut food and sugar cravings.


A Challenge:

#4 Excuse

It's not a real workout.

Response

Yoga is a full body workout. Yoga can be as easy or difficult as you make it. Your yoga is different from everyone else's.Yoga can help you lose weight, build muscle and or strength, and become more flexible among other things. The choice is yours.

Generally speaking, men love to be physically challenged. Yoga can be as easy or difficult as you make it. There is no shortage of challenging poses in yoga from handstands to arm balances to variations of the plank. One of the great things about yoga is you can practically do it anywhere; outdoors on a hike, or at beach, or indoors at home or in a yoga studio or fitness center. Take it anywhere!


Positive Environment:

#5 Excuse:

  • I already exercise or play a sport.

Response

  • Yoga is the perfect complement to activities and sports. Yoga is much more than just stretching, but many people skip stretching altogether pre- and post workout. Pro athletes who practice yoga regularly include Shaquille O'Neal, NBA; LeBron James, NBA; Ray Lewis, NFL; Kevin Love, NBA; and Evan Longoria, MLB.

Can I also say that generally men like a competitive atmosphere and that if they look or feel inadequate they are less likey to do an activity. Perhaps this keeps us out of studios more than anything. Yoga is not a competition and is for a range of abilities. Your yoga practice is yours to explore and do and will look completely different from someone else's. No one in a studio pays any attention to what others are doing. Most of the time people have their eyes either closed or have a very soft gaze. It's a freeing feeling and allows one to fail safely without judgement from others. You are in control of your own self competition. You may excel in certain yoga poses and need work in others. The beautiful thing is that all of this can help you learn that some things are out of your control, and that's okay too.


Strong Female Role-Models:

#6 Excuse

Yoga is for 'girls' or too 'feminine'.

Response

While there may be a chance that yoga once was only for men, there’s now a perception that it’s all women in leggings sitting and chanting and contorting their bodies. Read below to discover how men bring a masculine perspective.



When most people think about yoga, they probably visualize a woman wearing tights or leggings with her hair in a ponytail and carrying a rolled up yoga mat in a room with similar looking women. The data confirms this: Compare Camp states that 72% of those who practice yoga are women. Could practicing yoga in a class full of women challenge our subconscious biases towards them? Currently at Warrior Yoga we have a 1 to 8 ratio of men to women. Nothing is more incredible than seeing someone accomplish crow pose for the very first time, it doesn't matter if you are a man or woman, but to see a woman do it and know most men couldn't, it's humbling. Strength from yoga isn’t immediate and not always obvious, but it will in the long-term, make you stronger.


Relieves Stress:

Yoga can help fight the negativity around you, and replace it with positive feelings. It is recognized for helping to clear and calm your mind and can repel mild depression. Those suffering from anxiety have also reported feeling more at ease after practicing yoga.

Improves Sexual Performance:

Studies have suggested when practiced regularly men have increased sexual function. One reason for this is yoga helps regulate blood flow throughout the body; one essential aspect of getting an erection. Beside that, other benefits include a boost to self confidence, desire, and even orgasm. Yoga’s ability to keep you flexible and lower stress levels can lead to better sexual performance as well.


Improves Overall Well-being:

Yoga helps promote both physical and mental health, and allows better sleep. Better sleep allows us to have more energy and a better mood. More energy and sleep both help us fight-off disease and regulate body weight. The best part is you can drop the workout and recovery plan of weight-lifting.


Posture:

Bad posture puts excess pressure all over the body, which can cause stiffness throughout the body, affect joint stability, and poor alignment of the spine. Sitting too much can exacerbate the issues even further. If joints have a wider range of motion, they are less likely to be overextended. Strength, flexibility, and posture all work together to improve overall physical well-being.


Pain and Injury Relief:

Popular forms of exercise, body building, CrossFit, and even running can expose the body to strenuous activity and increased risk of injury.


Based on a published article by the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports, CrossFit, which sprung into popularity in the early 2000s, exposes individuals controversially dangerous movements, inappropriate levels of intensity, and lack of proper form to keep the body injury free. Proper form and coaching in CrossFit and yoga prevent injury and improve performance.


Activities like running can expose the body to high impact injury of the legs, feet, and hips. When paired, yoga can reduce injury, improve posture and athletic performance. Yoga can alleviate the body of pain in joints and muscles from previous fitness related damage, bad posture, and decreased muscle mass. If you want to get your heart rate up like while running you can find a type of yoga that has a quicker pace.


Feel Younger:

The change does not happen instantly, so sticking to a regular yoga routine can help you feel younger, have more energy, and be more fit. As previously mentioned, as we age our muscle tone decreases, our joints become stiff, and we have a loss of energy, but yoga helps maintain muscle density, joint lubrication, and can help us have more energy. The elderly, even those not already active, can benefit. Just because muscles have lost elasticity and joints are stiff doesn't mean they have to stay that way.


Break A Fixed Mindset:

We know that variety is good for our minds and bodies, but many men go to the gym and do the same routine over and over. With the right instructor, every class can offer new challenges for your mind and body. With the right teacher, every yoga class can bring your body a challenge it has never encountered before.


Conclusion:

What it all boils down to is yoga is beneficial and fitting for men (and women). If you're still not convinced to give yoga a try, then let's sit down and debate further over a cup of coffee.