From Sex Drive to Weight-Lifting: How Yoga Benefits Men
Despite yoga’s rising popularity among men, some still have misconceptions about it.
For one, many men don’t see stretching as an important aspect of overall health, and to the casual observer, that’s what yoga can look like. But what’s really happening here is much different. Practicing yoga on a regular basis can help increase athletic performance and core strength, decrease injury and improve body awareness, digestion and sex life.
Because men often tend to hold emotions inside and not express feelings, positive or negative, over time this can lead to stress, anxiety or depression. Yoga is known to decrease physiological arousal, for example, reducing heart rate, lowering blood pressure and easing respiration. This in turn lowers anxiety and depression and can especially benefit men. Research shows that yoga may be considered as medication and the first option to modulating the stress response as opposed to resorting to antidepressants, alcohol or drugs.
Evidence also points to practicing yoga as a path to helping smokers quit. Yoga-based interventions were tested on over 400 participants as a tool for smoking cessation. In numerous studies, practitioners reported reduced cravings and fewer cigarettes smoked, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
‘But I’m Not Flexible’ and Other Yoga Myths
Often when men express reluctance to trying yoga, it’s because of a common misconception that you must be flexible. In fact, we take up yoga because we’re not born gymnasts or acrobats, but because we’re ordinary people who want to become strong and flexible.
Another misconception is that yoga is only for women. Again, not true. Yoga is enormously beneficial for both sexes. Not to mention the roots of modern yoga began in the 1800s as a workout instruction for boys only! Today, many professional NBA and NFL stars routinely practice yoga, and it is a popular addition for training across a wide variety of sports, from baseball to rowing crew.
Yoga for Weight-Trainers
If you already have adopted yoga into your workout routine, you’ll still want to increase and maintain your strength by lifting weights. Here are two ways yoga can be beneficial in the weight room:
1. Increased flexibility and mobility. For example, when doing a squat, many lifters have difficulty at the bottom of this position for various reasons: weak core, tight/weak hip flexors, tight/weak glutes or immobility of the thoracic spine. Taking yoga increases your flexibility and mobility, allowing your body to routinely get into these positions.
2. Recovery. Recovery and rest allows your tissues to repair in order to get a great workout the next day. Considered a form of active recovery, yoga allows you to eliminate toxins.
Tips for Yoga Beginners
Find a yoga instructor you like. Instructors have different teaching styles, and it is important to find one that matches your preferences and skill level.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on you.
Wear comfortable clothing.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Some positions might be awkward. That’s okay. Continue to grow and learn.
Calm your mind. Be present. Focus on your breathing.
Relax your body. A tense body is likely to have trouble getting into positions.
Find a comfortable mat.
Practice makes permanent. Continue to get better.
Have fun. Smile and make friends.
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