June 3 | The Practice | The Science |
The notion that yoga is only for women is as outdated and incorrect as the idea that yoga is easy.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.
How can men benefit from yoga?
1. Strength: Instead of hoisting free-weights off the ground and over your head, yoga uses the weight of your own body to build lean muscle mass. It also combines dynamic muscle movement with isometric contractions, and works both large and small muscle groups in tandem. Arm balances, inversions and postures like extended-hold plank and low push-up challenge the entire upper body and core. Standing poses like Chair and Warrior II do the same for the legs.
2. Flexibility: Most weight lifting activities and endurance sports tighten muscles, which ultimately limits the body’s full range of motion and reduces flexibility. Sports that asymmetrically stress the body like golf, tennis and baseball, can create imbalance and compromise the kinetic chain. Yoga is a balanced exercise that loosens joints, lengthens muscles and aligns the body, which counters the effects of repetitive motion activities and structural imbalance.
3. Injury Prevention: The body is an incredibly intelligent machine. If a muscle is weak, for example, the body compensates by firing the larger, more dominant muscles to complete the task. For the most part this action goes unnoticed. Over time, however, compensation becomes a pattern that leads to imbalance. In yoga it’s hard for the body to “cheat.” The practice requires students to activate – and strengthen – often ignored smaller muscle groups. Yoga prevents injury by revealing and addressing imbalances in the body before they become larger problems.
4. Recovery: Yoga promotes flexibility and relaxation throughout the body. When muscles are relaxed, there is more room for blood to flow through the muscle and surrounding connective tissue. This increase in blood flow delivers more oxygen to the area, which promotes healing and recovery.
The 4 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, encourage him to check us out, or better yet bring him to class and practice with him! Ease into the practice with a class like Deep Stretch or Flow or if he likes to sweat, take him to Power Yoga or Hot Yoga. Once he experiences the body benefits that only yoga can deliver, we’re confident he’ll be hooked!