Yoga is for EVERYONE…FACT! The benefits that you get from practicing yoga are so plentiful. Yoga maintains a healthy body and mind. As it incorporates every muscle group in the body it is a whole body workout every time you take part. The question is, therefore, not if but when are you going start practicing yoga?
Professional Athletes and Teams Doing Yoga
Here’s a link to an article which will extremely surprise you…. Some of these guys you would no-way ever think of doing this ‘calm sometimes a meditated form of exercise’. The stand out one for me, being an ex-rugby player, is the New Zealand Rugby Team. Have you seen the Haka? I mean these guys, especially nowadays, with the onset of professional rugby, the game has changed immeasurably, these guys are seriously strong. You just wouldn’t associate them with yoga. However, there’s a shift in perceptions and more and more men are taking the practice up. Another great example is Ryan Giggs, who is a former professional football (soccer) player and a very keen advocator of yoga.
Yoga and Masculinity
At first, the thought of these two words fitting together is like chalk and cheese. However, when you delve deeper into yoga being a masculine exercise you will soon realise that the relationship is closer than you think.
There is a slight irony here because as more and more western men purchase their yoga mats. In India, where yoga originated, it is only recently that women were actually allowed to practice it. Some restrictions, in fact, are still applied at certain times. As more classes become frequented by men, yoga teachers are having to change and adapt the poses to match the needs, strengths and skills of the participants. Here’s one quote I found in the ‘Yoga Journal’:
“Many men, she explains, have strong muscles—big biceps, robust quads, and developed shoulders—earned rep by rep at the gym. The guys have worked their bodies in isolated parts, she says. But yoga is about how everything relates.”
I think that this quote sends a powerful message to those still thinking yoga is practised by small petite flexible women as a lunch-time social get together. Some of the fast-moving styles of yoga such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga, along with poses like Sun Salutations (common in Sivananda Yoga) are tough, strenuous exercises. Coupled with the fact that yoga is about uniting the body and mind (remember where the word Yuj comes from). So instead of having a gym routine of maybe; Monday – chest & back / Wednesday – arms & shoulders and so on, By practicing yoga, you are working the whole body all of the time, whilst de-stressing at the same time.
Why Do Men Practice Yoga?
I think to answer this question is an easy one, those who have already started participating in yoga have found how useful it can be in terms of building strength and endurance. They then tell their mates who tell them and so on. Men have discovered that holding the asanas (or poses), such as the peacock pose pictured below: builds a different kind of strength than that of lifting weights in the gym. Being able to isometrically hold yourself still, as shown in this pose builds tensile strength similar to that found in martial arts. Try holding the pose above for 1 minute, still think yoga is easy….!!
The Healing Power of Yoga for Mental Illness
I haven’t left this part to the last section on purpose, it could really be right at the start. I fact I will be dedicating a whole post to this subject, as it is something close to my heart and such an important side of yoga and being healthy. Yes, that wasn’t a typo…being healthy…a healthy mind means a healthy body, like improving your physique. When you are depressed it totally takes over your life.
Exercising, wanting to look good, eating the right things are just some examples of things that just disappear. You become trapped, like on a crossroad but not knowing which way to turn. You obviously need help, but the brain isn’t thinking of things like that. This is another reason why men should take up yoga. As a sex, most of us, find it difficult to admit we have an illness when depressed. Even more challenging is being able to discuss this mental illness with other people, especially friends and loved ones.
Yoga plays a crucial part here, things like controlled breathing can assist anxiety issues. Gaining strength can give motivation and improve self-esteem. Those living with chronic pain, yoga can also help, especially things like chronic back pain, headaches or muscular imbalances.
As long as you’ve chosen an appropriate class or instructor the poses can be adapted to cater for your needs individually and hopefully ease some of your pain. A deeper understanding of one’s self and relating this to the exercises you will be doing means that yoga is perfect for men in a number of ways as discussed.
A lot of the fitness magazines and internet articles will try and entice men into yoga through the ‘perform better in bed’ or ‘do you want more sexual stamina? Which while is very true doesn’t give yoga it’s full credit. Getting men to start yoga is one thing, making them stick at it is another.
Please share this page and spread the word that yoga is awesome. I also have a free yoga book available to receive upon entering your details in the box provided. It basically gives you an understanding of the why, when and how to start taking part in yoga. This invaluable guide will give you the information you need to get started.