Why Men should do Yoga
If you told me 10 years ago I will be doing yoga, nevermind becoming a yoga teacher. I would have bust out laughing and told you I think you need to lay off the wacky-backie. But here I am 10 years later as a 6ft1 psychologist, counsellor, therapist and yoga teacher.
My journey into yoga was not because I was looking for enlightenment or spiritual wellbeing. It was me being a man and trying to get my first yoga teachers number so that I could get a date. I thought it’s easy and I will impress her with my moves and get a date easier. Little did I know it was an intermedium Kundalini yoga class. It was very tough and at the end of the class I was too wrecked and in pain to ask for a date. I didn’t her to see I was weaker than the rest. Ego driven man. Before I walked out she asked me if she will see me again in class on Thursday. I smiled tried to hide my physical pain and told her yes.
This went on for weeks, 2 Kundalini yoga classes per week. I am persistant to say the least. However after the second week I noticed a lot of positive changes within myself. I had more energy, I was more focused, I handled stress better and my sleep pattern has improved. I decided to really embrace the class experience and to my surprise it was moving. I have never felt so alive and completely connected and fell in love with yoga.
The yoga teacher and I never went on a date, but rather became amazing friends. I wanted more of the yoga and started my journey trying different styles of yoga.
With the many types of yoga to try, and even yoga routines designed specifically to help you sculpt and tone muscles, you’d think more men would jump on the yoga bandwagon. But according to a study by Yoga Journal, of the 20.4 million people who practice yoga in the U.S., only 18% are men. “It’s almost a joke when guys say, ‘I don’t think I should do yoga because I’m not flexible,’ “It’s like saying, ‘I’m too weak, so I can’t lift weights.’”
The list of yoga’s health benefits seems to go on and on, as the relatively few men who enjoy this ancient practice quickly realize. Many pro athletes practice yoga because it keeps them loose and focused before a game and helps ease post-game soreness. So why are so many men reluctant to try yoga in the first place? They think it is a hippie thing or the only woman that does it.
Why men don't do Yoga...
I believe a lot of men feel intimidated initially. Though many claims it is too boring for them, I suspect there is something else going on. “Our egos are deflated because we can’t do some of the poses,” he explained. The toughest athletes were exhausted by yoga their first time around, but those who stuck with it stayed injury-free throughout the season, according to myself and other certified and experienced teachers and coaches. Keep in mind, however, that research also suggests men are more prone to yoga-related injuries. William Broad’s The Science of Yoga found higher numbers of serious yoga-related injuries in men, but many teachers attribute this to men being more likely to rush or force themselves into poses they aren’t ready for. Again the male Ego drives some. In general, yoga is very safe when practised correctly and with the guidance of an instructor. But men should be extra mindful of an important principle of yoga: Listen to your body. If you honour your present limitations and make the appropriate modifications, yoga’s benefits will by far outweigh the risks.
Five Benefits of Yoga for men
- Yoga promotes weight loss and an overall healthy lifestyle
Anyone who says yoga can’t be a full-body workout hasn’t done enough yoga, and even gentle yoga routines can contribute to weight loss. According to the Journal of Alternative Medicine, overweight men who practised yoga and breathing exercises daily lost an average of 4 pounds in only 10 days. Deep abdominal breathing is a major part of yoga, and according to Men’s Fitness, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system and lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone that forces your body to hold on to belly fat.
Add to that a stronger immune system and positive effects on blood pressure, and it’s hard to imagine what’s keeping men from hopping on the mat. Yoga also contributes to heart health, and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Europen men.
- Yoga can help improve your other workouts and prevent injury
With the increased strength, flexibility, and stamina gained from yoga workouts, you’ll be positioned for success in your other physical endeavours. For example, yoga builds a base for effective weight lifting. Kate Abate, a certified trainer and yoga teacher, told Men’s Fitness, “Yoga widens range of motion and increases access to more muscle fibres, allowing for more substantial hypertrophy in any given muscle group.” Hypertrophy is the enlargement of muscles, which begins at the cellular level. Yoga also prevents injuries because well-stretched muscles will recover more quickly, not to mention what mindfulness yoga will teach you in terms of knowing your body’s limits.
- Yoga can increase libido and improve sexual performance
Both increased libido and improved sexual performance have been linked to regular yoga practice. In a 2010 study, yoga was shown to improve all domains of sexual function in men. The breathing techniques and concentration taught in yoga can help men better channel their sexual energy. “This can lead to increased sexual endurance,” Yogi Cameron Alborizan told Men’s Fitness, “and will make you far more sensitive and responsive to your partner.” This coupled with yoga’s mental health benefits could do wonders for improving not just your health, but the health of your relationships.
- Yoga helps relieve chronic lower back pain
Yoga can bring tremendous relief to people suffering from a variety of forms of back pain, especially chronic lower back pain. For men who sit all day at an office job, yoga is one of the best ways to combat the pain and misalignment associated with prolonged sitting. Yoga will also help give your back, neck, and shoulders the best gift of all: better posture. You’ve probably heard people say yoga makes them feel taller. Encouraging proper posture goes a long way to preventing future aches and pains.
- Yoga reduces stress and helps you sleep better
Many people are drawn to yoga not necessarily for strictly physical benefits, but for the associated impact on mental health. In addition to improving overall physical fitness, yoga is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Yoga poses, particularly inversions, help people get a better night’s rest and provide stress relief. Yoga helps you slow down and be mindful, in addition to teaching you relaxation and breathing techniques that promote calmness all day and into the night. And in today’s fast-paced culture, the forced break from your devices, deadlines, and daily worries is a much-needed restorative practice for everyone.
Go on, Try it...
As a man and a yoga teacher with many yoga teacher’s qualifications and class experiences. I have decided to focus my men’s yoga classes of men’s healthcare with the emphasis on physical health, mental health, spiritual health and emotional health. We as men are not rocks and I know we don’t express ourselves as women do. We process and function completely different. We are warriors needing a warrior teacher who can connect and understand us.
As a man, single dad, business owner, therapist I understand and go through every day stresses, frustrations and pressure you go trough. The only difference is I can handle things a little better. I have learned how to deal, process and operate differently. I am no superman, just a guy that got my act sorted.
Don’t panic guys doing yoga doesn’t mean you have to become a vegan or vegetarian or give up a pint. I love a good BBQ, steak and good food. Be you, be free and learn to enjoy life a little easier without restrictions or pain.
I am hosting a men’s only yoga class in Fermoy at the Fermoy Community Youth Centre starting in January. I also offer many other therapies, treatments and counselling sessions at the Fermoy Community Youth centre, so feel free in contacting me anytime.