By Linda Benton
Adapted by Olga Levina
Recently, an increasing number of men are being drawn into the practice of yoga. This is happening not only for the stress-reducing benefits it provides, but also for its total fitness component.
The practice of yoga is great in tandem with competitive sports. Whether playing golf, tennis, or running, men can benefit from the stretching and core strength obtained through a regular yoga practice. For men with limited time to devote to fitness pursuits, yoga is a great choice as it is all-inclusive, it works the entire body, builds strength, increases flexibility, and energizes the system with increased blood flow and oxygen intake. The consistent practice of yoga provides strength in the hips, back, and abdominal muscles – the foundation for strong, injury-free joints.
- Men have a tendency to strive for perfection – with yoga there is never a feeling of failure. Every practice produces a sense of satisfaction and success.
- Men are typically very tight and inflexible and often suffer from neck, backm and shoulder pain as a result. Yoga concentrates on slow, controlled stretches that improve overall flexibility.
- Men often experience high levels of stress in the workplace. Yoga focuses on relaxation and deep breathing to improve mood and lower blood pressure.
- Men often have unpredictable work schedules. Yoga is a no or low cost fitness program that can be done anytime, anyplace, rain or shine, at home, or on a business trip. No excuses for a missed workout!
Getting Started – Tips for Success
- Yoga, with its many poses and terminologies, will be like learning a new sport – always start in a beginner’s class to avoid frustration.
- Make sure to introduce yourself to your instructor. Letting your instructor know you are new to yoga will help them better assist you. Also, make sure your instructor is aware of any injuries or weaknesses so they can suggest alternative stretches or positions for your comfort.
- Go at your own pace. Remember, there is no prize for the best stretch or longest hold. As you increase your flexibility, strength, and understanding of yoga, you can begin to challenge yourself.
- Try a variety of different classes. One class does not fit all. Depending on your objectives, one class may provide more stretching and relaxation, while another may provide more cardio and core strength. Talk to the instructors to understand the different yoga styles.
Physical and Emotional Benefits for Men
- Works out entire body, including your mind
- Oxygenates blood, creating a sense of renewed energy
- Can reduce blood pressure through relaxation components
- Aids in digestion by opening up abdominal cavity
- Improves posture and muscle tone
- Provides great cross-training and reduces muscle stiffness
- Reduces likelihood of sports injuries through greater flexibility and core strength
- Enhances sexual function through improved circulation and overall fitness
- Increases muscle mass and speeds metabolism for better weight control
- Allows men to enter a non-competitive state of being
- Slows heart and deepens breathing to improve the ability to focus on the present
- Inspirational words from the instructors often give participants renewed energy and focus
- Enhances sexual performance through the release of worry and stress
As with any exercise program, it is always advisable to check with your doctor before beginning a yoga program.