Yes, yes, we know what you’re thinking. Yoga is for women stretching in all sorts of improbable positions with Sanskrit chanting in the background.
Plenty of studies have shown that the benefits of yoga are as much, if not more, in men, especially those who are used to playing a lot of competitive sports like tennis, basketball, football and squash. It’s not a girlie thing at all; in fact, a lot of sports trainers advise their proteges to practice yoga three times a week in order to gain better flexibility and endurance.
You may not know this, but the ancient practice of yoga in India was a men-only affair. Ancient teachings believed that women did not have the ability or discipline to carry out yoga and in fact were deemed impure for it.
Today, though this bit is redundant, the fact remains that yoga for men is an exciting option. Look around you and you will find loads of classes, trainers, co-workers and friends that believe in this phenomenon. Bu what makes yoga so good for men? We tell you the main benefits of this form of exercise.
Hidden Benefits Of Yoga For Men
The popularity of yoga for men is growing by leaps and bounds across the world. In the USA alone, it is estimated that a fourth of yoga practitioners are men. Here’s why you should make yoga a part of your daily regimen as well.
A Complete Form Of Exercise
Unlike the sports you play, like tennis, volleyball, baseball, basketball or even football, yoga makes sure that your entire body is put to use. What happens with most of these other ‘guy’ sports is that you actually end up using only specific muscles of your body over and over again, which means that you may end up becoming fit and athletic but it is only those parts that actually get worked. The rest of your body can become lethargic and lazy.
If done properly and regularly, it will oxygenate your blood, creating more energy when you finish the exercise as opposed to depleting the body of it. With yoga, you will end up working every single system: cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular and endocrine.
Yoga Benefits Everyone
You don’t need to be a bulked up muscleman, nor do you need to be a scrawny little thing to benefit from yoga. Every type of man with every kind of body can benefit from this form of exercise. Yoga is responsible for pushing your own personal boundaries, which it does by increasing your flexibility, endurance and muscle strength.
Go to any yoga class and it is not uncommon to see people of all shapes and sizes from all age groups and all spheres of life working out side by side and gaining the tremendous benefits that yoga provides.
Get Muscle Soreness Out Of Your System With Yoga
Yes, this is one of the major advantages of practicing yoga. As we mentioned above, yoga is a great supplement to those who play other sports. What happens when you play these other sports is that your muscles tend to get fatigued, tired and sore, especially when you play them regularly. Yoga helps to dispel all these problems, which is why it is highly recommended by sports coaches to their athletes. Still not completely convinced?
International sportsmen like tennis player Andy Murray, boxer Evander Holyfield and the entire cricket team, New Zealand All Blacks, have talked about how well this form of exercise has toned their muscles, improved their flexibility and increased their endurance. In addition to all these, British footballer Ryan Giggs went one step further by actually releasing a yoga for men DVD.
Yoga helps You Focus Your Mind
This is an aspect that has been endorsed by many sportsmen, including former Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky, retired American basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and tennis legend John McEnroe. These athletes have admitted to have heightened their performances with help of yogic asanas.
In sports as well as other areas, you might need to shut down completely, let go of your thoughts and feelings, and not think of anything else but the goal in front of you.
This is a difficult state to get into and takes years of cultivated practice, but with yoga you can achieve this state much more quickly and easily.
Yoga Doesn’t Cause Fatigue, It Eases It
With cardiovascular exercises, weight training, jogging or playing any sports, you will tend to lose your energy and feel tired and fatigues after a high-intensity session. This is in absolute contrast to the philosophy of yoga.
People who practice yoga regularly rave about the fact that it restores your energy and does not cause any soreness or tiredness to the body. In fact, it heals it. After a session of yoga, you will end up feeling more invigorated, awake and energised. It will give you a good feeling and you will be able to cruise through the day without needing to stop and relax.
Yoga Helps You Perform Better In Bed
We’re sure this bit is getting your ears pricked. So here’s how yoga will benefit you in bed. Practicing yogic asanas will send fresh blood and oxygen to your organs (and that includes your sexual organs). This in turn will heat up your sexual encounters and improve your overall, err, performance.
Don’t be surprised if your wife or girlfriend will be pushing for you to go in for yoga; now you know the reason for their encouragement.
Yoga Is Known To Flush Your Entire System
Yoga is generally performed in a heated environment where you will sweat profusely which in turn will aid you in losing extra kilos very quickly. What’s even better is that it will also rid your body of any toxins that have been stored in it for a while and due to the fact that it creates an artificial ‘fever’ because of the heat, yoga will end up enhancing your entire immune system.
Balances The Mind And Senses
Since yoga is essentially spiritual in practice, it is known to calm the mind and free it of any negative thoughts. With the help of yoga, your teachers and your fellow yoga practitioners, you will slowly learn to clear your mind, detach yourself from any negative thoughts or emotions and have a more positive outlook on life.
This in turn will benefit not only your personal life but also those around you like your wife, kids and parents as well as your professional life where keeping a cool head is always beneficial. It will also have a positive long-term effect by training your mind.
Popular Yoga Asanas For Men
While there are hundreds and thousands of yoga asanas to choose from, there are a few that work particularly well for men. Here, we list the best ones courtesy Baron Baptiste, creator of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga and former assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, in Active magazine.
1. Forward Fold
Why to do it: This exercise will stretch your hamstrings, calves, and hips, as well as strengthen your legs and knees.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, gently hinge forward at the hips and lower the torso toward the floor. Bend your knees generously to take any pressure out of the low back and hamstrings. Grasp opposite elbows with opposite hands. Breathe deeply and let gravity take the body toward the earth. Relax your head, neck, shoulders and torso. Slowly sway your torso or gently shake your head. Hold for one minute and roll back up to standing.
2. Downward-Facing Dog
Why to do it: This exercise will stretch your feet, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves, as well as strengthen your arms, legs and core.
How to do it: Start on your hands and knees with your feet and knees hip-width apart. Position your hands about shoulder-width apart, and spread your fingers wide. Pressing firmly through your hands, lift your knees off the floor and straighten your legs. (If you have tight hamstrings, a gentle bend in the knees is fine). Walk your hands forward a few inches, and walk your feet back a few inches to lengthen the pose.
Squeeze your thighs as you press them toward the back wall. Press your heels back and down toward the floor (though they might not reach the floor). Relax your head and neck and let your shoulder blades slide down your back toward your feet. Set your gaze between your feet. Suck your stomach in and engage your core muscles. Breathe deeply. Hold for three minutes, rest, and repeat one more time.
Why to do it: This exercise will stretch your shoulders and chest, as well as your thighs, calves, spine and ankles.
How to do it: Stand up tall with your big toes touching. Inhale and raise your arms straight up to the ceiling alongside your head and neck with palms facing each other. Drop your shoulders down your back as you lengthen up through the neck. As you exhale, bend your knees, sit down and back as if you were sitting in a chair (like doing a squat with your feet together). Do not let your knees extend past your toes. With each inhale lengthen the spine.
With each exhale sit a little deeper in the chair. Eventually your thighs will be parallel to the floor. Drop your tailbone down toward the floor to take any stress out of your lower back. Keep your core muscles engaged and keep your knees and thighs pressed tightly together. Hold for 30 seconds.
4. Crescent Lunge
Why to do it: This exercise will loosen tight hips by stretching the groin, as well as strengthen the arms and legs.
How to do it: Start on your hands and knees. Step your right foot between your hands into a lunge, keeping your right knee directly above your heel. Inhale and slowly lift your back knee off the floor. Press your back heel toward the wall behind you as you begin to straighten the back leg.
Keep your spine long as you hold and breathe. Let your hips fall forward as you continue to press the back heel behind you. Hold for one minute and then repeat on the second side. Do each side twice.
5. Warrior I
Why to do it: This exercise will stretch the shoulders and hips, as well as strengthen the upper and lower body.
How to do it: Come into Crescent Lunge with your right foot forward in the lunge. Spin your left toes to face the left side of the room and press your heel down. Your back foot should be parallel with the front of the room. Inhale and reach your arms up alongside your head with your palms facing each other.
Drop your shoulders down your back. Bring your torso up and off the front thigh. Don’t let your front knee extend past the toes. Both hips should face forward. Hold for one minute. Repeat on the opposite side.