How We Understand Yoga
Practicing yoga creates a subtle systemic change that you can feel long after you leave the studio. However, because we view yoga as more of a relaxing hobby, it’s easy to gloss over the significant health benefits a regular yoga practice produces.
There’s also a misconception that most people who practice yoga are women with natural flexibility and grace. Images of yoga in advertising typically depict women and paint a picture that looks like a spa experience rather than a challenging and practical approach to wellness.
In reality, yoga is quite physically and mentally challenging, and men who step into the studio have a lot to gain from a regular yoga practice.
There are countless benefits to practicing yoga. According to the American Osteopathic Association, physical benefits include:
- increased flexibility
- increased muscle strength and tone
- improved respiration, energy and vitality
- maintaining a balanced metabolism
- weight reduction
- cardio and circulatory health
- improved athletic performance
- protection from injury
Is Yoga Really Good for Men?
In short, absolutely.
Guys who train hard in the weight room may not think to give the yoga studio a shot, but yoga serves as a powerful form of cross-training. In fact, pre-workout mobility routines prescribed by athletic trainers usually include a cursory series of yoga poses.
Any athlete will tell you that balance and mobility work dramatically increases performance, which means more muscle gains in the mirror, more points on the board, and more minutes off your marathon.
Best of all, yoga cross-training generates longevity so you can stay injury-free and continue to do the things you love.
Even men who are just beginning their fitness journey can benefit from attending yoga classes. Yoga builds a strong foundation of body-awareness, which is critical when practicing exercises such as weightlifting.
Additionally, new research shows that people who participate in group workouts are far more likely to stick with exercise than on their own. So grab a buddy and add a weekly yoga class to your schedule!
Another considerable benefit is how yoga helps manage stress. If untreated, stress can become a source of back pain, sleeping problems, headaches, or an inability to concentrate. Yoga disrupts the stress system using mindfulness principles proven to boost your mental health.
Research shows the effects of yoga on depression are comparable to that of pharmacological treatment, group therapy, social support groups, and massage.
Find your style
There are many different styles of yoga. The trick is to do a little research and find the method that aligns with your goals.
Dropping into a random yoga class can be intimidating or frustrating, especially if you came to sweat and end up sitting and chanting (which also has its benefits).
As a quick guide, we have some suggestions you can consider.
If you’re looking to challenge your physical limits, look into practices such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa (Flow), or Power Yoga.
Yoga styles such as Yin, Yoga Nidra, and Restorative Yoga are more conducive for people recovering from an injury or healing from a traumatic experience.
And if you want to chant, Kundalini Yoga has you covered.
These suggestions are just a shortlist of many different styles.
Educating yourself about what to expect from a class is key to moving past the confusion and straight into yoga’s mental and physical benefits.
When you incorporate yoga into your workout routine, remember that it is not about perfection but practice.
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