More men should practice yoga. With the multiple benefits yoga has to offer, men from any lifestyle or background should take advantage of this practice. Here we will unpack the 5 best benefits of yoga for men:
- Increase Flexibility & Mobility
- Improve Strength, Power, & Endurance
- Develop Athleticism
- Relieve Stress & Anxiety
- Enhance Mental Health
Men & Yoga History
Before detailing the five best benefits of yoga for men, let’s first explore a brief history of yoga. It is said that yoga is over 5,000 years old. It’s a philosophy that has its roots in India based on Vedic traditions and religion.
The intention of this ancient philosophy was to develop a clear relationship and deeper connection with the Divine. This was taught through verbal lessons, written documents and scriptures, and later developed into a physical practice. If one studied diligently these important lessons, one could live an enlightened life.
In order to achieve this level of enlightenment, one had to to delve deep into self-study. This involved following the prescribed doctrines in order to obtain a greater awareness of Self.
The most interesting part of yoga’s history is that it was originated and practiced by men. In fact, men were the only ones during this era that were allowed to practice this philosophy.
Along the timeline of yoga’s evolution, though, the practice shifted from a predominantly male practice to a predominantly female practice.
This was highly due to the westernization of yoga as it emerged into the world of fitness and aerobics. Aerobic exercises in the late 20th century like Step Classes, Jazzercise, and Yoga were considered “female fitness activities.” But yoga does not need to be considered an activity solely for women.
This leads us to the 5 best benefits of yoga for men.
5 benefits of yoga for men
#1: Increased Flexibility & Mobility
It is important, first, to de-stigmatize the practice of yoga. It is certainly not only for females to practice. It is an activity, exercise, philosophy, and lifestyle that is for all people.
People often start a yoga practice because they know that it will help them gain or increase their flexibility. This is absolutely true. A benefit of a moving yoga class is how it will positively affect your body.There are many limbs of the yoga philosophy: ethical principles and life guidelines, focus, concentration, meditation, bodily movement, and more. The physical aspect of yoga, in particular, is a very good starting point for new yoga students.
If you are a guy with tight hamstrings or a tense lower back, for example, that is hindering your mobility, then go straight away to a yoga class. In this modern era of yoga, asana, or engaging in yoga postures, are highly featured in most styles of classes.
Poses like Seated Forward Fold and Triangle Pose will target your tight hamstrings. Men are often intimidated when attending a yoga class especially if they lack flexibility. They may witness other students (perhaps female practitioners) that seem highly flexible.
This should not intimate the male yogi. Being inflexible is very common and it should not hinder you from going to a yoga class. Everyone has different ranges of mobility and flexibility. A good yoga teacher will help guide and safely instruct you into poses like Seated Forward Fold in ways that will lead to personal success.
If you’re wanting to increase your flexibility and mobility, styles of yoga like Power Vinyasa Yoga or Yin Yoga may be good classes to attend. In Power Yoga, there is dynamic movement through various yoga postures that will limber up tight muscles and joints. Yin Yoga is designed to hold specific postures in order to release bound-up connective tissue. The result in both types of classes is greater mobility and flexibility.
#2: Improved Strength, Power, & Endurance
Although yoga doesn’t bulk up your muscles like weight lifting, it does offer a complimentary workout if you enjoy going to the gym. Weight resistance training will help you put on muscle, but you can also improve your strength, power, and endurance by adding a yoga practice to your routine.
Some yoga postures performed in Power Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga are held while you engage your muscles. These static holds stimulate the muscle fibers differently than when lifting weights. The stabilizing muscles triggered in active yoga postures help build muscle strength and endurance.
Building upper body strength, for example, in the gym will help you with these arm balancing postures in yoga. Likewise, the endurance and power you achieve in a yoga class will also improve your gym workouts.
#3: Develop Athleticism
If you’re an athlete or just enjoy playing sports, a yoga practice will make your game even better. As mentioned, yoga can help with flexibility, mobility, and overall strength. These abilities will certainly be beneficial when playing baseball, soccer, or tennis.
Yoga also provides a state of mind that allows for greater concentration and focus while you play a sport. Shooting at the free-throw line during a basketball game, playing golf, or performing a thrilling gymnast routine all take considerable effort and concentration.
As determined in the Classic Era of yoga, this level of deep concentration was acquired through mindful meditation and breath work. These practices helped the yogi to keenly tune into their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations while tuning out the distractions of the outside world. The removal of these distractions assists the yoga student in higher abilities of awareness, focus, and concentration.
Male athletes can learn these abilities in just about any style of yoga practice. Whether it is a powerful Vinyasa Yoga class or a meditative Yin Yoga class, men can build their ability to practice greater concentration thereby improving their overall athleticism.
#4: Relieve Stress & Anxiety
Non-yogis may know that yoga can help with stress and anxiety due to the meditative nature of the practice. However, some men may find it intimidating or more “feminine” to attend yoga meditation classes.
All of these practices are built around the breath (Pranayama). Intentional breathing helps to regulate heart rate, pulse, and oxygen flow. When these physiological aspects are in check, an individual also experiences less stress.
Heart disease is a serious health problem and can be related to the impact of bodily and mental stress. People, and men, in particular, need to develop regular practices that reduce the likelihood of unfortunate health conditions like heart disease.
Symptoms of stress may include tense muscles, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and more. Although practicing yoga does not cure you of anxiety, the practice will address some of its symptoms.
Any style of yoga can help with these issues. Restorative Yoga includes postures that will lightly stretch tight muscles and allow the whole body to feel less tense. Feeling more relaxed may also help with getting better sleep at night.
Pranayama is a type of breathing that is practiced in yoga. It is a regulated and rhythmic breath control that stabilizes your cardiovascular system. Having more balanced breath control may contribute to regulated blood pressure and heart rate.
#5: Enhanced Mental Health
Another important reason why men should practice yoga, is that it will enhance mental health. Finding healthy strategies for managing mental and emotional issues is essential for men today. Unfortunately, due to high stress, depression, toxic relationships, and socioeconomic strains, men tend to turn to less healthy activities like drug or alcohol use to manage their feelings.
Developing a yoga practice instead can help men manage life stressors. Flowing practices accompanied by breathing have a calming and soothing effect on the mind and body. Specific practices like Vipassana Meditation help to clear the mind of distracting thoughts. It provides clarity that allows for improved concentration for better decision-making.
How To Start A Yoga Practice
Want to reap the benefits of yoga for men?
It’s not difficult for men to start a regular yoga routine. Many gyms today offer yoga classes. So if you like to work out and lift weights, check the fitness class schedule for yoga classes.
Because yoga has become quite popular and mainstream, stand-alone yoga studios can be found in most metropolitan cities. Drop by to check out their schedule and see what types of yoga classes are available. If you are new to the practice, check for (often free) Intro to Yoga classes.
Decide what type of yoga would benefit you most. If you want to gain more strength, power, endurance, and flexibility, check out moving yoga classes like Power Yoga or Hot Yoga. If you need something more relaxing and meditative, look for Restorative Yoga or Yoga Nidra classes.
Not sure about attending a group yoga class, try individual lessons, or practicing yoga online. Yoga teachers are happy to provide personal yoga sessions to teach you about the fundamentals of yoga and to guide you step-by-step. They will be able to help you with your specific needs.
There are plenty of online yoga classes and tutorials that will also help the beginner male yogi. Resources like YouTube will offer a wide array of lessons and practices that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
There is no need for men to feel intimidated by going to any type of yoga class. They will find that studios and instructors are quite welcoming and only want to serve and help you. To find out more about the different styles of yoga that men can practice, check out our library of styles to help you choose the right one for you.