TWIST Tips: 5 Reasons Men Should Practice Yoga
Five Reasons Why Men Should Practice Yoga (Yeh, that means YOU!)
- Do you think yoga is a “girls only” club?
- Are you afraid to try because you think you aren’t flexible and the teacher may tell you do fold your leg behind your head?
- Do you think you have to eat kale and drink kombocha?
- Do you think of yoga is just about flexibility, and not a good cardio, core or strength workout?
The truth about yoga lies far from these common misconceptions.
Yoga is actually an ancient method of relaxation, exercise and healing that was originally only practiced by men. Then, it was used as exercise for the military to prepare young men for the rigors of battle. Trust me, yoga will not transform you into a touchy-feely kale-eating girlie man - instead it will simply create movement and structure to improve almost all aspects of your everyday life.
Here are my top 5 reasons every man should practice yoga:
- Yoga works the WHOLE body
- Yoga builds muscle evenly. Even if you simply supplement your regular workout routine or sport, you will activate muscles that you may typically ignore. Yoga will widen your range of motion, and increase access to more muscle fibers. The postures we do in yoga are a series of focused, isometric contractions that we combine with breath to target flexibility, strength and mobility. By using your body weight, you minimize risk of injury by functionally moving your body through safe, aligned movements.
- Increase flexibility and balance - decrease injuries
- Yoga increases your flexibility and balance by strengthening the core in almost every pose. Yoga is designed to increase your flexibility over time in a safe range of motion. As flexibility increases, chance of muscle injury decreases. Muscle injuries happen when we put force on muscles that exceeds their capacity. Creating stability in the musculature — especially around the joints - will certainly help keep your body healthy.
- Increase energy and focus and reduce stress
- In a yoga class, special attention is focused on the breath, and learning to extend the exhale and inhale, and help bring the nervous system to a more relaxed state (parasympathetic). Whether sinking that birdie putt or really focusing at work, yoga will teach you how to concentrate and tame that inner ‘monkey mind’ and create more mindful actions.
- Relieve lower back pain
- Sitting at a desk or in the car shortens the hip flexor and compresses the spine. In our daily lives, we typically only move the spine in one direction — flexion (think bending forward to tie your shoe or hunching over a computer. In yoga class we move the spine in all six directions. Lower back pain is also directly related to weak abdominal muscles. Yoga engages the core and creates space for the lower back in many of the poses.
- Yoga will make you “better” at other sports
- Whether you play golf or tennis or are a CrossFit junkie, yoga will make your primary sport or exercise routine even better. Moving the body and stressing the muscles in new and different ways will create lean and defined muscles that support your passions. Oftentimes, when we play a sport, we create imbalances on one side of the body (golf swings) or in particular muscles (quads and achilles). Yoga will help balance the body by moving both sides of the body in the same movements and increase your range of motion.
Of course, finding the right yoga class for you is the challenge. There are many different styles of yoga — from totally restorative and relaxing to extremely intense hot yoga. There is, indeed, something for every man I know. You don’t have to be Gumby, or Sting, or Shaq to roll out a mat.
If you don’t need less stress and more balance in your life, or if you don’t need to shave off a few points on your golf game, and you’ve never had any back pain, than you don’t need yoga. Congrats to you - keep doing what you’re doing.
But, if you want to try something new for your mind and body, and are open to giving yoga a shot, you won’t be disappointed. Just remember - it’s a practice. You can’t take one class and simply check yoga off your list.
The bottom line, guys
Yoga allows you to continue to do all the things you love to do as you get older. If you golf, or ski, or snowboard, or play basketball or tennis, yoga works the things on the inside that guys often neglect. Fast, high impact sports are fun, but they can lead to injuries and broken bodies. Yoga will you keep doing the things you love to do -- and feeling good all day -- for a long time.