The other day at the gym, I got to talking to a gentleman who eventually asked me what I did for a living. After telling him I was a yoga teacher, he told me that yoga would probably be good for stretching and would probably be harder for him than weightlifting. I laughed and told him everyone is a little different. He followed that up by telling me that, no offense, yoga is more for women and that women's bodies are just better for yoga.
You should've seen his face when I told him the yoga asana practice was originally invented by men for men.
Regardless of the history of the practice, yoga is extremely beneficial for men and women alike. In addition to teaching yoga, I was a studio administrator and manager and have recently become a marketing specialist for a yoga studio. That said, anytime a man calls, I know there’s at least an 80% I’m going to hear the question, “So, are there other guys that are going to be in class?”
My answer, of course, is yes, and not just because I am trying to make a sale. In reality, I am starting to see more men feeling comfortable to come to classes and see what all this “yoga stuff” is all about. Still, I receive those skeptical phone calls at least once a week where I then find myself explaining all the benefits that a yoga asana practice has for all of us—men included.
If you have not yet worked up the courage to pick up the phone and call your local yoga studio to ask some these questions, allow for me to save you some time:
3. Relieves Back Pain
On a similar note, yoga is great for helping to relieve back pain. Back pain is probably one of the top three ailments I find from my students (men and women.) Though back pain may reveal itself in many forms from many causes, yoga asanas increases ROM in the different motions of the spine (forward bending, backwards bending, side bending, twisting, and circumduction.) In addition to this, yoga asanas strengthen the core from all different angles by strengthening the front, back, and sides. By doing these things, you keep the vertebrae lubrication, the muscles mobile and flexible, and the back and core strong.
4. Activates Stabilizing Muscles
With the combination between static poses and fluid poses, yoga requires coordination, balance, and stabilization. These smaller, stabilizing muscles are often times not activated if we live a fairly sedentary lifestyle; to that extent, even regulars at the gym may be lacking strength in stabilizing muscles due to the lack of ROM that many gym exercises exhibit. By practicing yoga asana and flowing through the postures, you will begin to notice new, smaller muscles kicking in to take on some of the work. These muscles are found throughout the body, from the neck and upper body all the way down into the ankles and feet. By strengthening these muscles, you can reduce the risk of injury in the future by distributing the work load, thus relieving or preventing joint pain as well.
5. Challenges You
As my new friend mentioned, yoga can sometimes seem to be more challenging than other forms of yoga. Not only can yoga be a new way of moving and a new form of physical activity, but yoga also challenges the mind by putting you in a new space and beginning to change thought patterns. In the instance of my gentlemen (and my ladies who might be hesitant), I challenge you to get on the mat!
Have questions about yoga classes or just yoga in general? Have any information you think we missed? Leave a comment below!