Yoga is a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy without putting your body under undue stress and strain. And being low impact means it’s a great alternative to more intense exercises such as running and lifting weights.
As the stretches and postures lengthen and strengthen your muscles which keeps you flexible and improves your range of motion. But without risking damage to your joints. And it’s not just physically that you’ll benefit from yoga.
As it’s also good for your overall health and well-being, improving your mood and helping you to relax. So overall, it’s a great form of exercise for most people whether old or young and no matter what your fitness levels are. However, despite these health benefits, most yoga classes are still dominated by women. As so many men remain reluctant to give it a try.
Because while it can be a helpful activity for us there are certain parts of society that tell us we shouldn’t be doing it. And this has created a stigma towards yoga among men that can be hard to overcome.
The Male Stigma Towards Yoga Runs Deep
You can tell your mates about the health benefits of yoga until you’re blue in the face. But if they’ve got their mindset against yoga then it seems like nothing you can say will change their opinion.
Because this male stigma towards yoga has been around for years and in certain environments is still going strong. It is crazy when you think that yoga was originally developed in India as a manly exercise for men only! So, why are some guys so dead set against yoga? Some of the most common reservations are:
- It’s not competitive like more ‘manly’ sports such as football, boxing, or lifting weights.
- They think you can’t get a ‘real’ workout as you don’t work up a sweat or build big muscles from doing it.
- They assume that yoga is just for girls or hippies and find the spiritual stuff that comes with it cringeworthy.
- They would feel too embarrassed and awkward in a class full of women.
- If their mates found out they did yoga they’d be a laughing stock and never hear the end of it.
- They hate stretching and doing so for an hour feels like a complete waste of time.
- They feel like they’re not flexible enough and would look stupid trying to do it.
And the problem is these reservations have proved difficult to get over in the past. With male-specific yoga classes such as those set up for guys working in the construction industry failing to get off the ground due to a lack of interest. However, more and more professional sportsmen in the world of football, boxing, and rugby are using yoga as a way to keep their body’s strong and flexible. And this is opening the door to make yoga more mainstream and acceptable within macho circles.
10 Health Benefits of Yoga That Should Encourage You to Give It A Try
So, if you’re one of the men who have dismissed the idea of doing yoga in the past but are starting to come around to the idea then let me tell you what’s in it for you. Because adding a yoga session or two to your weekly exercise routine can help you in a number of ways. And not just physically either. These benefits extend to your mood, concentration levels, productivity, sleep, and general well-being too. So, let’s go through some of the main things men can expect to get from yoga.
It Improves Your Flexibility and Physical Capabilities
One of the biggest gains you’ll get from yoga is better flexibility, especially in your hamstrings. By stretching you are lengthening and strengthening your muscles, which keeps your body nicely balanced. And this is great for relieving pressure and muscle tension, leaving you feeling loose, comfortable, and more capable physically. It’ll also improve your range of motion making movement and staying active much easier.
And a study from the University of Doncaster found that even one 90-minute yoga session per week was enough to see significant improvements in the flexibility of the participants. So, you don’t need to be doing it every day to see the benefits (although doing it as often as you can increase them).
Yoga Will Strengthen Your Core Muscles and Improve Your Posture
Having a strong core can really benefit you in daily life. As it’s these deep-lying core muscles that help to hold you upright by supporting and stabilizing your spine.
And this protects your body and keeps it balanced which relieves the pressure and strain placed upon it. So, it’s a good idea to work on keeping your core muscles strong. And while some men assume that yoga isn’t good for muscle strengthening it actually is.
Because to hold each yoga pose correctly your body needs to support various levels of your own body weight. And this helps to strengthen your muscles all over but especially those in your core. So, yoga is a great way of staying strong, well-balanced, and pain-free.
And having a strong core will also help you to maintain a healthy and balanced posture. Which will keep you looking good and feeling confident, putting you at the top of your game with the ladies.
It Helps You Avoid and Get Rid of Persistent Back Pain
Back pain is a big problem nowadays with over 80% of Americans expected to experience it at some point during their lifetime. And for men who do physically active jobs or enjoy strenuous hobbies such as gardening or playing sports, this risk is even higher.
As the powerful movements that these activities involve can really put your body under lots of stress and strain. With your lower back ending up taking up most of this burden. However, keeping up a regular yoga practice can help to protect your back in a number of ways such as:
- Making you more flexible keeps your body balanced and relieves the pressure and strain on your back.
- Strengthening your core muscles which support your spine and gives you more stability.
- Improving your posture which spreads the pressure evenly across your body rather than placing the burden solely on your back.
- Increasing circulation helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and tissues to keep them healthy and pain-free.
And because of this yoga has been found in many studies to be extremely helpful for people with persistent back pain. So, if you want to avoid those nagging aches and pains in your back, give yoga a trial run.
It Helps You Avoid Injuries at Work & When Playing Sports
If you have an active job or enjoy playing competitive sports then you are putting your body through the wringer on a regular basis. And if you do so without the right preparation you are putting yourself at a high risk of injury.
Exercising or being active with a tight and stiff body will cause all sorts of pressure and strain to be placed upon it. Leaving you vulnerable to cramps, strains, and muscle pull as well as general aches and pains. So, a good way to protect yourself from this fate is by practicing yoga.
Keeping your body flexible and your muscles lose will help you to stay well balanced and able to relieve any pressure from activities rather than allowing muscle tension build-up. While the added core strength you gain will protect your spine from these powerful movements.
And yoga can also strengthen the tissues around your joints which will make them more durable and able to withstand the pounding they take from sports. So, if you want to keep yourself fit, healthy, and protected while also improving your sporting performance you should add some yoga sessions to your routine.
It’s a Great Stress Reliever
Modern life is stressful for many men as they try to juggle working long hours with maintaining a happy family life at home.
And this can lead to feelings of anxiety and frustration as you rush from one thing to another without any time to relax and take a break. This is bad news for your health as this stress can seep into your body causing tension and pain. So, if you’re feeling stressed out and frazzled then yoga could be just the fix.
As various studies such as this one from the University of Adelaide have shown it to be effective for reducing stress and anxiety as well as improving mental health. This is because the combination of stretching your body aligned with controlled breathing and being mindful of what you’re doing can be really soothing. This helps to calm your nervous system, slow your heart rate, and lower your blood pressure.
Which will help you to let go of any tension and feel at peace in both your mind and body. Rather than stressed out, angry and frustrated.
It Can Make You More Productive at Work
Another big plus of practicing yoga is that it can sharpen your mental focus and improve your concentration levels. And this aligned with feeling calmer and being better able to handle stress will make you far more productive at work. In fact, a study by the University of Illinois found that even just a single 20-minute yoga session was enough to improve memory and show a superior cognitive performance afterward.
As it gave the participants a greater ability to focus on and retain new information. This is because the controlled breathing and mindfulness involved in yoga really help to keep your mind alert and concentrated on what you’re doing.
And this is great practice for being able to drown out the noise of everything else that competes for your attention while working away on a task in the office. Also, practicing yoga can help you to avoid burnout too as it makes you more mentally resilient and able to handle any workplace problems. So, if you want to get ahead at work but without the stress then taking up yoga isn’t the worst idea in the world.
It Can Make You Even More of a Legend in the Bedroom
Now I’m sure you’ve already got the skills to pay the bills in this department. But even the biggest stud can benefit from a little extra help, right? Well, the good news is that yoga has been found to be able to do just that.
A study in the Journal of Sex Medicine showed that men who practiced yoga for just 12 weeks became better lovers. Because it gave them a higher libido, more control over their ejaculations and erections, and greater satisfaction with their sex lives. They put this down to the men feeling less stressed after yoga along with the exercises and postures strengthening their pelvic floor muscles. So, if you want to give your favorite lady a treat in the bedroom take up yoga!
Yoga Improves Your Balance, Especially as You Get Older
You’ll get plenty of practice at balancing when you take a yoga class. And at first, you may feel extremely wobbly and uncomfortable when trying to hold the various poses. However, over time you begin to gain much more control over your balance.
As your concentration and focus become much sharper, your breathing stays controlled and consistent, and your muscles get used to distribute your weight evenly. Which is also great for making your movement in everyday life more efficient and for keeping you fit and healthy. And this improvement in balance is especially beneficial for older men as it can drastically reduce the risk of falls that are so common at this age. Which will keep them safer and give them the confidence to be more active and able to enjoy a higher quality of life.
It Helps You To Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Yoga is a brilliant activity to take up if you are having trouble sleeping. As it calms your nervous system and slows down your breathing to the point that it puts you in a really relaxed state afterward. And this is ideal for being able to drift off into a deep and restorative sleep.
In fact, some of the best sleep I’ve ever had have been after an evening yoga class. And some studies have shown that practicing yoga can even help people with chronic insomnia. One study from the Harvard Medical School finding that after 8 weeks of daily yoga practice people with insomnia were finding it easier to fall asleep, were sleeping longer and were enjoying better sleep quality. Which is reason enough to give yoga a try. As we all need to be sleeping well on a regular basis to stay sharp, healthy, and to reach our full potential.
Yoga Gives You A Positive Outlook
Now I don’t want to go too deep on the spiritual side of yoga here with the last benefit on the list. But there’s no doubt that practicing yoga regularly can make you feel great both in your body and in your mind too. As it strengthens, calms, and relaxes you while also increasing your confidence in what you are physically capable of.
So, I think that practicing yoga is brilliant for giving you a positive attitude that can really propel you forward in life. Learning to face and overcome the physical challenges on the mat is great training for doing the same with any situation or curveball that life throws at you.
And by increasing your self-esteem yoga will also help you to take better care of yourself. As you’ll be more likely to make better life choices and follow healthier habits when you have more self-respect. So, if a positive mental attitude is something that alludes to you at present, yoga could be the way to turn your thinking around.
How to Ease Yourself into Yoga as A Sceptical Man
Hopefully, you can now see how beneficial yoga can be for us men and are willing to give it a try. However, it can feel a bit intimidating at first. Especially if you turn up at a class full of lycra-clad women who look like they can stretch and twist themselves in ways that would send the average Joe on a visit to the ER!
So, it’s a good idea to break yourself in slowly and give yourself a chance to feel comfortable and familiar with yoga before diving deep into a serious class like this. And there are two ways you can do this. Firstly, you could look around and see if there are any male-specific yoga classes available in your local area.
Or failing that maybe look for a Hatha yoga class offered by a local gym rather than a dedicated yoga studio. This is a gentler type of yoga that is more suited to beginners. And these classes will be attended by ordinary people of all ages and abilities rather than just serious yogis.
But if the thought of taking any type of yoga class really doesn’t appeal to you then you could always try following an online yoga class instead. In this way, you can practice in the comfort of your own home and away from prying eyes. And there are online yoga classes and programs that are dedicated just for men such as Brogayoga.com and Manflowyoga.com which you may feel more comfortable with. Alternatively, you could check out the hundreds of free yoga classes on YouTube and pick one out that looks good for you.
Adding a yoga session or two into your weekly exercise routine is a great way to stay fit, strong, and healthy. As it can keep you flexible, relieve tension in your body, improve your posture and keep you well balanced. While also relieving stress, improving your mood, relaxing you, and helping you to get a good night’s sleep. So, don’t let the perceived stigma surrounding men doing yoga put you off. As yoga might just pleasantly surprise you.
About the Author
Daniel Singleton is the founder of Back on Site, a website dedicated to helping people fight back against persistent back pain using the latest medical and scientific advice as well as his own personal experiences with the condition.