Yoga for Men – 4 reasons to unroll your Yoga mat.June 22, 2016 | 4 min read
Let’s face it guys, the images adorning popular consumer magazines depicting yoga models dressed in designer apparel posing elegantly is a stereotype and a false one at that. Yoga is not just for pretty girls. Real men can and do practice yoga.
In fact, the 2016 Yoga in America survey, found that men account for 30% of the nearly 30 million Americans taking yoga classes. That’s 10 million and counting. Of course, this should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the history of yoga.
The ancient Vedic yogis were without exception, men. They practiced chanting, meditation and alchemy in secret ceremonies. Rituals and chants were passed from master to student. Women were rarely included. If truth be told, the feminisation of yoga is a contemporary invention, bearing little resemblance to the actual history of yoga.One of the earliest sacred yoga texts called The Yoga Sutras was written by Patanjali, commonly known as the father of modern yoga. His epic poems dating back to 400 CE include stories of war and heroism that would not be out of place in a Hollywood action hero movie. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika on the other hand written sometime later in the 15 th century was authored by Svatmarama, a yogi Master who put Sanskrit to papyrus to explain the fundamental principles and practices of yoga in the day. These include illustrations of the 12 fundamental yoga poses underpinning every postural yoga styles including Ashtanga, Iyengar and Bikram styles (all named after the men who popularised them).
More recent examples of celebrity yoga teachers include Rodney Yee, Russell Simmons, Jason Campbell and Baron Baptiste. Yee and Campbell are regularly featured in Yoga Journal. Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness have also begun to take notice, running features on the benefits of men’s yoga. Baron Baptiste, former coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and founder of Baptiste Power Yoga, in a recent interview with Men’s Fitness, described yoga as a full body work-out with four key benefits for men including building muscle, flexibility, energy and relaxation. These are detailed below:
A strong vinyasa or power yoga class provides challenges equal to that of body building or cross fit training. These classes emphasise poses that use the same groups of muscles used in push-ups and squats. Most will mix it up with arm balances to increase upper body strength, toning and sculpting arms and back muscles at the same time.
In yoga, the pelvis is the central pivot for extreme bending of the legs, spine and torso. Most men are tight in the hips, hamstrings and shoulders. This is especially true for those who spend long hours seated at computers. A regular yoga practice enables a larger range of motion and joint play with poses that open joints and gently stretch tendons. This helps to reduce injury to those vulnerable areas.
De-stressing and relaxing
Yoga is a stress management tool: When practicing yoga, you are literally unwinding taut muscles releasing emotional tension and easing tightness in the body. In turn the body begins producing more endorphins, natural opiates that relieve stress and boost your mood. Recent medical and scientific studies have also reported that a regular yoga practice lowers the levels of cortisol; the stress hormone that contributes to belly fat.
Increasing energy levels:
A regular yoga practice boosts cardio vascular, respiratory and digestive system; prevents injures. Exercise boosts the levels of oxygen and nutrients going to your tissues, fuelling the burning of oxygen and glucose that produces energy and powers every muscle movement. Most people breathe tooshallowly. Yoga breathing techniques helps to improve respiration, enhancing lung capacity and stimulating calmness in mind and body.
If you are new to yoga, it is best to take a class at your local gym or fitness centre. These classes are aimed at fitness enthusiasts, typically men who have never practiced yoga. These classes will have an athletic emphasis and male-centric approach. Though most yoga studios will aim to cater for all levels and body types, 70% of their cliental are women. So try to book into a class with a male yoga teacher, or better yet try one of the new online yoga classes for men such as yogaformen.com, brogayoga.com and manflowyoga.com