Like many men before me, I was skeptical about doing yoga. I didn’t believe yoga was just for women but I was very inflexible (sitting cross-legged was very uncomfortable!). Practising yoga for nearly 5 years and I have experienced many awesome benefits of yoga for men.
Practicing yoga will improve the connection between your mind, body and soul. There are many measurable physical and mental benefits of yoga for men. Yoga is an effective workout where you can focus on areas that your other workouts may neglect. Yoga poses bring balance and variety to your workouts.
Practising yoga may not be your most intense workout but it will always challenge you. My yoga experience has changed many aspects in the way I exercise and recover. It also has a positive impact on my diet, mental well-being and overall health.
Yoga's popularity and participation among men is growing. In 2019, over 25% of yoga practitioners were men. There have been a number of factors that has altered the view men have of yoga.
Yoga is an Effective Workout
There are more than 100 styles of yoga. You will find some that are gentle and relaxing while others are more fast paced. Yoga isn’t considered and aerobic exercise even though styles like Bikram and Power will make even the fittest sweat.
What makes yoga an effective workout is that it targets the whole body. You will build strength by holding your body weight in balance poses and constantly engaging your core. You improve your flexibility by stretching your muscles and increasing your range of motion.
A study found that yoga improves core and upper body strength and endurance. Participants were able to do more curl-ups and push-ups after six weeks of classes.
Yoga for Men is Different from Yoga for Women
The most successful yoga for men classes and programs recognise the differences in men's and women's bodies. Men are usually less flexible than women and have a higher centre of gravity. Adjusting programs and classes to reflect these differences has made yoga far more accessible for men.
Yoga for Men Modifications
It is easy to modify postures so a lack of flexibility doesn’t discourage men at the beginning. Less flexibility in the hips and shoulders require modifications. Men are encouraged to have their feet closer in lunges and bending knees during hamstring or adductor stretches.
Props like blocks and straps are prominent. Blocks allow you to get closer to the ground in forward folds and twists. Using a strap makes it possible to connect arms and hands for side stretches and opening the shoulders.
Consequently this recognition lessens the risk of injury where research 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. Many teachers attribute this to men being more likely to rush or force themselves into poses they aren’t ready for.
Centre of Gravity
The difference in centre of gravity between men and women is often forgotten. For men their centre of gravity is higher up in the shoulder, while for women it is in their core and hips. Being aware of the differences ensure you are less likely to have a negative view of your abilities.
As a man you may be haunted by the spirit of competition that's often bred into us from youth. Whatever version of yoga you do, remember it’s YOUR practice. Appreciate and enjoy what your body is capable of and it is a beautiful gift.
Yoga for athletes
You’ve probably seen stories about athletes and yoga. Professional basketball, football, hockey players, soccer teams, golfers, and tennis players – they’re all doing yoga to help improve their game and stay healthy. Naturally, those guys who want to look and train like athletes followed.
Below are some of the awesome benefits of yoga for men that I hope will motivate you to give it a try. “Yoga is not just for the flexible, it is for the willing”
Active Lifestyle and Playing Sports
If you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy playing sports, yoga for men can really enhance those experiences in the following ways:
Yoga Challenges Your Entire Body
Training regularly with just weight equipment and machines will become less effective over time. A major issue is that they only focus on one or two areas of your body. Over time the equipment and machines will become less effective. As a result you become accustomed to the repetitive actions.
Consequently you try increasing the weight or doing more reps but over time the benefits lessen. You may be growing or strengthening some of your major muscles but many are being forgotten. The result is that your body will become unbalanced. This leads to more injuries and possible long-term structural damage.
Yoga challenges the whole body. It requires full support from the cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular, and endocrine systems. The benefits of yoga for men is that yoga poses align your body in positions that need support.
Yoga also requires that you use many more muscles. You use your own body weight as resistance. Exercise that challenges your entire body is more challenging and reduces possible injuries.
You Will Be Healthy as Well as Fit
No doubt another aspect that attracts men to yoga is the desire to achieve a “yoga body”. If you do yoga on a regular basis you will realise that being healthy goes much deeper than the way you look. You don’t just need the strength but also you want pain-free movement and flexibility.
A benefit of yoga for men is that you gain more confidence in your body. You know it will support you in any physical endeavour. Yoga widens your range of motion and increases access to more muscle fibres. It does this by allowing for more substantial hypertrophy in any given muscle group. An example of this is the yoga push-up which is a precise, contained movement.
Managing weight with yoga
The benefits of yoga for men are significant for weight loss. No matter your starting size you will see results by practising yoga regularly. Yoga can be very helpful for treating obesity and losing weight, but only if it’s used with healthy eating, stress management, and better sleep.
Deep abdominal breathing is a major part of yoga. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps in lowering the levels of cortisol, a hormone that forces your body to hold on to belly fat. Yoga improves your decision-making skills, helping you live a healthier lifestyle.
Excellent compliment to your training schedule
Research supports the view that strengthening the core improves balance and stability. The benefits of yoga for men is improvements in balance, control and core stability. Adding yoga workouts to your other training or sporting activities is encouraged. In time you will gain more control in your stabilising and synergistic muscles.
Yoga is good for building strength, but it’s a different kind of strength. I wouldn’t recommend replacing weight training with yoga. Likewise, yoga can be good for cardio, but running, swimming, or rowing is much better.
Add yoga poses into your training programs as a substitute for core workouts. Yoga sequences also work great as active recovery in other training sessions. They are not as demanding on your central nervous system as other workouts, but it’s still beneficial. You still build strength, flexibility, and balance. Use yoga to help break up the intensity of your workout routine.
If you lift on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then do yoga on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays. If you work out every day, then consider shortening some of your other workouts. Then you can give yourself 20 minutes to do yoga at the end of your shortened workout.
Preventing and recovering from injuries
Getting injured while playing sports or training is a very frustrating experience. We are living in a society where a culture of working hard and playing hard is the norm. Unfortunately this has resulted in many more work and leisure related injuries.
There are many benefits of yoga for men in preventing and recovering from injuries. Regular yoga practice will ensure your body is strong and ensure you have the protection in the following:
Combating Lower Back Pain & Maintaining Good Posture
Lower back pain is a common symptom that affects many men. Lifestyle is one of the main reasons why you may suffer from this increasing affliction. You need to work to support yourself and your family.
Office jobs require you to sit at a desk for 7 plus hours a day. You sit down when you eat and commute to work. When you get home from work you sit on your comfy sofa to relax and unwind. It turns out your day is a marathon of sitting down! Many men end up with shortened hamstrings and illiopsoas muscles. and puts excessive strain on the lower back.
The daily routines of the modern lifestyle impacts your posture. The key to maintaining correct posture is good alignment of the upper body all the time. The back should be straight with your shoulders squared and relaxed. Keep your chin up, chest out, and stomach in. Very much like a straight line.
The benefits of yoga for men is that regular practice will make you much more aware of your body. You will start to break away from bad habits that impact on your posture. Yoga is fantastic for correcting postural faults and imbalances in the body.
Cultivating a Strong Immune System
If you have an active and busy lifestyle getting sick is a difficult pill to swallow. Everyone gets sick at some point but you want to give your body the best chance of avoiding illness. If you are unfortunate and do get ill you want to be able to recover as soon as possible.
There are of course medicines that help you recover. You may prefer natural healing products that provide extra defence against some illnesses. Unfortunately they don’t help improve the body’s immune system.
Regular yoga practice strengthens the immune system at the cellular level. It does this by changing actual gene expression. Another one of the benefits of yoga for men is in improving your internal defence system.
Yoga does this by flushing the body of toxins, particularly if you do any form of hot yoga (i.e., Bikram). This type of yoga fuels a mock “fever” within the body and toughens the immune system defence.
Managing Muscle Soreness
A benefit of yoga for men is that it encourages more stretching. By not stretching you are increasing the likelihood of sore muscles over the next few days. Warming down after a tough training session or a competitive sporting match is vital. Unfortunately many of us skip this, which increases recovery times.
Yoga is hugely beneficial in working out stiffness from other sports or training. When muscles are fatigued they fill with lactic acid. Yoga stretches and releases tension which helps flush lactic acid away. You can also do many yoga poses and sequences in your warm-up. Having well stretched muscles will prevent injuries as well as reducing soreness.
Restoring Energy Levels
Having an active or busy lifestyle can result in you not having the energy for sports or training. Many yoga styles and classes are physically or mentally challenging. But afterwards you generally don’t feel that your body has lost all its energy. Instead, it actually increases your energy levels and vigour.
You will feel more aware and revitalised and promote healing within the body. Regular yoga will help you develop mindfulness. This will teach you a better awareness in understanding your body’s limits.
Managing mental health issues and improving well-being
The many benefits of yoga for men which are not physical. Yoga will help you manage mental health issues and improve your well-being. Yoga benefits men by positively impacting their mental health and well-being by:
Reducing Stress and Managing Anxiety
Today’s fast-paced culture that can add stress and anxiety to your life. Your mobile phone is ringing, your boss wants to talk to you and your partner wants to know if you have paid the bills. Yoga has been proven to help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate.
Yoga helps you slow down and be mindful. It teaches you relaxation and breathing techniques that promote calmness . Regular yoga practice combines physical and mental disciplines to the body and mind. This can help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.
Boosting Brain Function
Yet another of the benefits of yoga for men isn't visual and takes some time to appreciate. Yoga holds the power to transform our minds as much as it does our bodies. Research proves that 20 minutes of yoga per day is a huge benefit to the brain. Yoga can act as an instant cognitive boost.
Apart from scaling back stress and anxiety, yoga keeps your mind focused on a single task. This often results in improved brain functions for many men. It promotes increased brain waves and better mental clarity. This compares better to almost any other form of exercise—including running. The key: connected body and breath movement.
Improving Self Confidence
By stretching your yoga muscles regularly you will increase body awareness and self-confidence. Consequently when you are confident you give off a warm, magnetic energy. This makes people feel really comfortable in your presence and improves interactions.
Confidence is trusting in your decisions and believing in your abilities. A final benefit of yoga for men is being okay with your limitations. Yoga will keep you humble and appreciate your precious life.
Keeping cravings at bay
Changes in lifestyle and work has seen men’s waistlines expanding at an alarming rate. For lots of men, fast food and ready meals are a too large part of their diet. Sedentary desk jobs involve spending eight plus hours in an idle, unnatural position.
You develop bad habits and find it easier to eat lunch at your desk. You also tend to have more sugary snacks to deal with the boredom or stress of any particular day. Another benefit of yoga for men is helping you stay in the present moment. You pay attention to what is going on with you, right now.