Yoga is for Men

15 09 2009

Unison-Yoga-Men-Are-Free

I practice Yoga everyday, and I am noticing an interesting trend.  There are more MEN doing yoga than ever before.  It seems the stats support my realization too. A new Harris poll commissioned by Yoga Journal suggests that men now make up 23 percent of America’s 15 million enthusiasts.

In Nashville, Tenn., yoga teacher Hilary Lindsay says her early-morning classes are often two-thirds to three-quarters male. “They’re businessmen, entrepreneurs, real-estate guys,” she says. “And almost all of my private clients are men.” (http://www.newsweek.com/id/59615)

In new york there is also a very significant male presence in yoga studios. “Men tend to favor the more athletic, fast-moving styles such as Vin-yasa and Ashtanga [sometimes called power yoga],” notes Michael Lechonczak, who teaches at New York’s Equinox gyms.

It seems the stigma once placed on the male practitioner is long gone. The stigma that yoga is an easy, stretching and relaxation class for women and that “real men don’t do yoga because that would just be so sissy and unmanly” is dying as we speak.

Attitudes have definitely changed.

There are many weight lifting, big atheletic type men now enrolling in classes, looking to restore all that wear and tear they put their bodies through at the gym and through hardcore sports.

Yoga is not an airy fairy practice for those in ethereal land.  It has a history rich in wisdom and can profoundly heal you physically, mentally and spiritually.

It is a practice that takes one from the mat into the world and more importantly into that internal landscape of our Higher Selves.  Yoga is thus for EVERYONE and incorporating yoga into your daily life will yield infinite satisfaction and benefits.

Men can use Yoga to compliment their current fitness regimes.  It doesn’t have to take the  place of the activities you already enjoy and love to do.  I know countless stories of people who have come to yoga because of an injury and then never looked back.  Yoga initiated the healing process by awakening that  inner healing and guidance system we all innately are born with.

So you can keep your hockey game nights with the boys, those sessions of sparring on the punching bag in your basement, and your weekly karate class at the Dojo and still do YOGA.

MenDoingYoga

Because guess what- Yoga will help you get further and stronger and better at all those other activities. Yoga will help you focus in sports, will help you gain flexibility for martial arts, and can help you increase your running pace. Here are MORE reasons why you should consider beginning a yoga practice:

10 MOST NOTABLE BENEFITS YOGA CAN GIVE MEN:


1.  You will LEARN TO BREATH more efficiently and effectively

Learning to breath deeply, and rhythmically will enhance all other sports or exericse you engage in.  Breathing deeply improves lung capacity, and strengthens the whole respiratory system.  You also will induce the relaxation response which helps when you need to stay focused during high adrenaline activities.

Improving your breathing habits will enhance every aspect of your life.  You will feel more energized in general because you will be feeding your body more oxygen.  Most people are walking around in oxygen debt.  This leaves you feeling tired, lethargic and unable to get the best workouts all around.  So get on the MAT and start feeling the vitality you’re meant to feel.

2.  You will Improve your FOCUS

Yoga enhances mental focus and clarity.  It will help you deal with all the mental chatter that goes on in that head of yours.  Doesn’t it feel like  there is often more than just you in there?  Most people do, so don’t fret.  Calm the mind and thoughts with Yoga and you will focus better at work, rest and play 🙂

3.  You will IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY

This is the most obvious one.  When people hear yoga, often times they think its a great way to stretch and become flexible.  And it is. AND there is so much more that comes along with it.

Imagine improving your range of motion in your tight delts or arms.  That golf swing is really gonna rock.  Or what if you have really tight hamstrings and quadraceps- running is gonna be a lot more fun with a greater range of motion in your legs.  And watch how you improve your time.  You could be entering that marathon sooner than you had planned!

ALL sports performance can be enhanced by Yoga. Get the edge you desire, by gaining better flexibility in joints and muscles.  According to Laura Ceroni of Chatelaine Magazine :

“Athletes like Wayne Gretzky, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and John McEnroe have heightened their performance levels through practising Bikram yoga. By combining mental, physical and emotional strength, they became better athletes at their chosen sport. Men can’t seem to let their egos go, and in yoga, you have to train your mind to shut down — to stop thinking about work, what you’re going to have for dinner or whether the Raptors are going to win the game. Traditionally, men have a more difficult time doing that than women, although, once they do let go, their focus on the positions — and the difficulty in holding them — improves vastly.”

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4. You will REDUCE MUSCLE SORENESS

Muscle soreness after strenuous activity is mainly because of lactic acid build up that wasn’t processed out of the muscles effectively.  Yoga enhances the flushing out of activity induced waste products.  It encourages blood flow and circulation to the whole body and this reduces the chances of feeling that nagging soreness that lingers after tough workouts. Also being more limber will prevent future injuries, and keep you safer while doing all those weekend warrior activities.  No need to give up the thrills in life anymore.  So keep rock climbing wake, snow boarding, and trekking those himalayas knowing you are well trained and supported 😉

5. Yoga will help you DETOXIFY your whole body

Yoga can be quite a challenging workout, especially if you practice the more strenuous forms like ashtanga, vinyasa flow, and Hot Bikram style yoga.  Hot yoga especially creates a sauna like effect while you are in those gnarly and twisted poses.  You often come out of class dripping wet.  So grab a towel, a big bottle of electrolyte water and get on the mat for a wicked workout.

6.  Yoga will improve your BALANCE

The aging process effects just about every system in your body.  This includes your balance as well. Yoga will enhance your ability to support yourself and balance.  Many postures are performed during a typical class that involve standing on one leg, and often in some pretty interesting twists or inversions.  So lighten up, and relax into those balance moves.  After some time, you will be amazed how you can hold one leg behind your head while standing on one toe. Come on, you gotta aspire to unforeseen heights sometime ,why not now?! 😉

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7.   Yoga BOOSTS libido, enhances sexual life, and heals the reproductive system

I know the guys reading are all eyes on the following. So here’s the sexual low down. Yes guys Yoga does enhance libido, and overall sexual function and performance.

It stimulates the hormonal system, and strengthens the whole pelvic floor.  An area that when strengthened can greatly improve the orgasms you experience and your overall satisfaction in the bedroom.  Yoga also improves your fertility.  So those of you in Daddy mode will greatly benefit from regular practice.  There are many pelvic and hip poses that encourage increased blood flow to these areas.  Big plus for you, AND a nice plus for the woman in your life. Now everyone is happy:)

8.   Yoga works the ENTIRE BODY

Yoga is a full body workout.  Every muscle group, every ligament, every tendon, and every nerve is involved.  Therefore you will strengthen both upper body and lower body in one workout.  So for those of us that see time as being precious, will really appreciate this.  You also work both your cardiovascular system and muscular/skeletal system in one workout.  You can’t say that about running on the treadmill for one hour, or lifting weights for the chest in one workout.

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9. Yoga  balances the mind, and emotional health

If your going through an emotionally challenging time there is nothing better than learning to release what isn’t serving you.  Yoga helps you accomplish this with every practice.  You begin to let go and live in the now. You begin to feel your feet literally and figuratively grounded into the earth beneath you.

You begin to feel whole again.  Often times emotional upset leaves us feeling scattered, alone, “in pieces” literally.  Yoga will help you get back together again. You will realize that everything is as it should be.  That you are perfect just as you are, and that you are ok.

Men are no exception to the need of emotional healing. We all have feelings and we all experience pain.  So why not get in touch with that part of you that will get you to a better place.  Sooner than you can imagine.

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10.  Yoga Reduces STRESS, and slows down the aging process

Yoga is one of the best stress busters out there.  It calms the central nervous system in a very gentle and effective way.  It helps to reduce cortisol levels when high stress scenarios come your way. It helps you DEAL.  You gain the calmness, and stillness you need to make the best choices for yourself.  A calm mind means a calm life.

And the better you are at relaxing, and handling the chaos that may arise, the slower you age.  STRESS ages you like nothing else.  You don’t go grey because your getting older. You get grey hair because your body is trying to conserve its resources for vital functions when it gets all stressed out.  People in their 20s and 30s have grey hair these days!  Its not just genetics, its STRESS and early signs of aging.

The benefits of Yoga are infinite as is the nature of the practice.  Your yoga practice is never done, and is always evolving.

How beautiful is that!

So it is logical that MEN would benefit just as much as women have.  Would love to hear how your practice helps your mental, emotional and physical well being.  Please drop me a line and comment below.

Namaste

Travelling Yogi

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28 responses

15 09 2009
Rikki

Piera,

Great post. I have been trying to get my significant other to join the yoga community and it has been like pulling teeth to convince him. Maybe this will help.

Thanks so much!

Rikki

15 09 2009
yogaheals

Thank you! Ask him if he will join you at your next class. Try to choose a style that suits his character. So if he is A type or really like vigorous workout, take an ashtanga or Hot Yoga class. Good luck!
Namaste

15 09 2009
Enzy kerri

Great post! I have been taking Yoga for the past year or so on a regular basis and I have definitely noticed more and more men taking it too. It seems to me that it’s either older men or super fit guys that sign up though. It doesn’t seem to attract the “every day” man — these are all great reasons for why it should though! Thanks 🙂 -Kerri from Enzymatic Therapy

15 09 2009
yogaheals

Thank you Kerri! I appreciate the feedback. Trends are changing, and I predict we will see an array of all types of men coming out to yoga practice.
Namaste 🙂

15 09 2009
Jesse Ciccone

I’m a long-time fitness enthusiast, but have only recently started trying yoga. Right now, it’s very informal – I have a set of 5-7 core moves my wife helped me choose that I try to do every day (in reality, I do it 4-5 times / week). Definitely need to work on breathing and clearing my mind, but even with my very amateur-ish attempt so far, I’ve noticed a huge benefit to how I feel both physically and mentally.

I’ve found there is still a bit of a stigma associated with a man doing yoga, but taking a little crap is a small price to pay for the benefits!

16 09 2009
yogaheals

Awesome attitude! Thanks Jesse for sharing that. The “little crap” won’t seem like it after awhile. Its all what you get out of it that counts 🙂 I wish you continued health and well being. And kudos to you wife for sharing yoga with you! How awesome is that!
namaste

16 09 2009
Salt

Fantastic post! I am definitely going to pass this along to my fiance. If this won’t convince him to come to a class with me, I don’t know what will!

16 09 2009
yogaheals

Hey there!

Thanks so much for the compliments! Just give him some time. I would bet that eventually you may never get him off the mat 😉 Funny how these things work out sometime. The key is to suggest a style of yoga most suited to his character- ie power yoga for the guy that wants a more vigorous practice. Have fun practicing together, all the best!

Namaste

16 09 2009
Robert Auguste

Totally agree w/ all if this. I started practicing 10 years ago from gym burnout and a bad back. Turns out, I became calmer, happier, and healthier. I have better focus & it is easier for me to learn new sports like golf because I have become a better listener to others and what my body is saying. I never knew where my hips where or my body language till yoga.

17 09 2009
yogaheals

That sounds ALOT like my story. I was a personal trainer for a number of years, and trained with heavy weights for years. I hurt my back, and weight lifting never corrected or healed the injury. It would just get worse. Once I started Yoga, my back pain is almost non existent! And I’m still as strong if not stronger than the gym days. Llike you say, its quite amazing how you come to really become aware of your body, each part, and also the non physical of course. Thanks for sharing!
Namaste

16 09 2009
Robert "Butch" Greenawalt

I personally think of myself as a dabbler, which is to say that I’m not involved in a full time class but, certainly recognize and appreciate the benefits. Life is stressful, and allowing yourself to detach yourself in mind and spirit will benefit you and others around you. I think you did a wonderful job describing the advantages this discipline can provide.

Cheers,
Robert
aka@ Mrhyperpcs

17 09 2009
yogaheals

Thank for reading my blog! Robert thanks for the compliments and I wish you continued success in your health and wellness goals.
Namaste

17 09 2009
Donna

Love it! Finally the NAmerican males are clueing into the great workout that is yoga. I recently recommended my friend’s 20 yr old son – who is a total jock – try out a few classes. He did and loves its. The whole ashtanga thing, very athletic. And to think that women weren’t allowed to do yoga for centuries because it was too demanding. Hopefully the scales will balance out and we’ll all be able to enjoy a great workout for body, mind & spirit.

17 09 2009
yogaheals

Hi Donna

Its funny you mention the 20 yr old jock. I sometimes see the jock types walk in for their first class. They think it will be a cake walk. Then half way through class they are huffing and puffing, trying to do some crazy poses and realize that you just might need alot of strength, stamina and CORE ability. Its interesting how someone can push a ginormous amount of weight on chest bench, yet not hold a chaturanga for more than 3 seconds.

Every step on the journey is a learning one!

Namaste

17 09 2009
YogaforCynics

As a male yogi who’s both had my manhood questioned and been suspected of going to yoga class just to pick up women, I never cease to be amazed by this “stigma” concerning something that was practiced almost exclusively by men for thousands of years. Then, when the only male yogis in Yoga Journal are usually an elderly Indian guru or two (generally near the back of the magazine) and Ogden the Inappropriate Yoga Dude, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised…

17 09 2009
yogaheals

What a great point! Yes, initially yoga was practiced by men exclusively. Most religious/spiritual leaders or gurus were and still are male in the hindu and buddhist cultures. I guess perhaps because the practice of yoga came to North America primarily as a “physical” activity, it was looked upon as a gentle type of excercise or something to improve flexibility. In the 70s 80s when yoga began to take a very strong presence on the fitness scene, Bodybuiliding was HUGE. So most men were trying to get BIG in the gyms, and yoga seemed a joke to them. The practice has evolved though. There are many MALE teachers, and leaders in the field. John Firend is a great example. He became so passionate about Yoga that he developed his own style “Anusara”. So things are definitely changing. thanks for sharing!
Namaste

17 09 2009
SunflowerJ

Love this post! I will be circulating it to all my male friends. I feel so lucky to have a boyfriend that practices yoga because it is a rarity!

17 09 2009
yogaheals

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I see the trend shifting quite dramatically. Its becoming a practice shared by all. Wish you the best on the mat and off.

Namaste

20 09 2009
Lori

Some of the best looking/biggest muscled men in my gym are in my yoga classes, which was a surprise to me, at first, though a pleasant one. I think if more men saw how challenging the poses are, they would be more interested in trying it.

21 09 2009
yogaheals

Hi Lori!

Thanks for sharing that insight. I appreciate you reading my blog post. Its really interesting to see the shift. I really think it will help people begin to evolve on theri own health and wellness paths. I’ve read and heard countless stories of people transforming in some way, even minutely when they begin their yoga practice. As Iyengar says, it may take years, decades , lifetimes before we reach samadhi. Isn’t that the best part of all of this? We don’t have to get it all done, all right, now and instantly. Life evolves, changes, and remains always dynamic. Namaste and all the best to you!

6 10 2009
Sevapuri Hurst

We are running a free Mens Workshop at our Yoga center and so far the bookings are going really well, but , there is are divergent views here about “Mens Yoga”, ones group are saying its good to show men what yoga is about and encourage them to genral mixed classes while the others are saying Mens’ needs and interests are differant and having a class that focuses on Mens needs specifically is long overdue. ?

6 10 2009
yogaheals

I would suggest beginning with workshops on a monthly basis just for men. Then if you build a group presence, initiate a full regular class for men. perhaps it could be a few times a month to begin. It all depends on the clientele.

I personally think yoga shouldn’t be segregated. Everyone comes to the class to develop, grow and transform themselves on the mat, and hopefully take that with them on the way out. The practice is an individual practice, and there really isn’t a set of poses that are better for men, or that should be performed differently. Just my 2 cents ! good luck

13 10 2009
Sevapuri Hurst

Last night we had our Free Mens Yoga workshop and 19 guys turned up. The majority were brand new to yoga and were taking the opportunity to try Yoga out for free within the framework of “Mens Yoga”. We had a simple feedback form which said:
After this workshop would you consider attending:
a general/easy yoga class or course – 6 responses
a regular mens only workshop – 5 responses
( 4 ticked both)
Undecieded- 3 responses
The class started with a relaxation, easy warm up postues, Trikonasan Hansa asan, Surya Namaskar, Relaxation, Meditation.
The participants we spoke to really enjoyed the class and were surpirised that yoga was such a good workout but it didn’t leave them feeling exhausted. Many took our tiimetables and said they would be back. From this we think that introducing yoga to men on a regular basis would be a good way for them to see what goes on in a class and get an understanding of what yoga is. From a male teachers perspective it was great to see so many men come and try yoga. Some comments:
“it was a great introduction to Yoga”
“excellent first up”
“didnt like the meditation”
“it was a great stretch for the body”
Overall a great response to our first mens yoga worshop.

13 10 2009
yogaheals

That’s awesome! I love the idea, and am so content seeing such a response and attraction to yoga by men. I really believe every male head of state should do yoga regularly, we would have less turmoil and aggression in the world. Many would balk at that statement, but it has proven to transform criminals and law breakers in numerous cases.
I wish you the best! Would love for you to keep me posted on this! Perhaps one day I will visit your studio! Where are you located?

21 10 2009
Steve

I am a yoga teacher and I tell guys the one all important reason for doing yoga and you missed it.

11. You are most often in a room filled with lovely lithe women! It’s like going to heaven!

28 10 2009
catalyst yogi

Sat Nam, (reverent greetings)

I am a certified Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher. Most of the men that end up in my class come through their girlfriend or wife. Men’s biggest obstacle is that they don’t want to ‘look bad’ – ( men are much more identified with their egos than women.)

But once they have the experience of Kundalini Yoga they LOVE it and this usually shocks their women.

Kundalini Yoga will strengthen your arcline ( 6th yogic body) – that means that your intuition opens up and you can see the Truth in every situation – you will just ‘know’ someone’s hidden agenda. You will become more positive, self assured, confident and more YOU (dropping the ‘ macho’ mask).

Try Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan – it is less focused on perfecting physical postures and more focused on uniting MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT. As long as you have a breath in your body you can benefit from this yoga.

Contact me to find a certified teacher near you.

peace and joy to ALL,

Catalyst Yogi
http://www.catalystyogi.com/
http://twitter.com/catalyst_yogi

31 10 2009
Dale

I need to start taking yoga classes. I need a good yoga instructor on Boca Raton…(hint)

14 11 2009
Jose Vega

Glad to see more men participating in a yoga practice. I’ve been at it over 2 years…I wish I would have started earlier in my life.

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