Men, listen up - you should totally do yoga
"Yoga's for girls." "Real men don't do yoga." How many of these have you heard lately? Yeah ok, so when you think of yoga class you're usually think of a group of women in yoga pants sitting around meditating or doing down dog poses. But men are increasingly getting involved in yoga classes, and that's a good thing! Guys, you might not think of yoga as a full-body workout, but it totally is. Yoga classes aren't just about deep breathing, stretching and meditating - yoga can be used to improve your flexibility and balance, build strength and help you relax.
Too girly for you?
If you think yoga is girly, and that it won't give you a tough, challenging workout, you've obviously never been to a Bikram yoga class. A room heated to up to 40 degrees centigrade and a series of tough poses designed to give you a full cardio workout and flush toxins from the body - it's not for the faint-hearted! Plenty of football players and other professional athletes across the globe practice yoga to prevent injury and boost strength - like Tim Thomas, goalie for the Florida Panthers hockey team.
Why men don't do yoga
Ok, so there's still an invasive belief that yoga is for women, but why do we think this? A survey published in Yoga Journal revealed that only 18% of the 20.4 million people practising yoga are men (1). Yet when yoga originated in India , it was actually designed as a practice aimed at men. Why the change now? Plenty of guys view yoga as too feminine, 'New Age-y' or not enough of a fitness challenge, but that's a preconception that has to stop!
If you're amongst those who don't see the deep breathing and poses of yoga as a 'real' workout, then we've got news for you. Yoga is about the connection between body and mind, and a class can leave you feeling peaceful from the inside out - as well as giving you a great physical workout. It can still make you work up a sweat! Moving through yoga poses builds up heat and power, with some of the most advanced poses a real physical challenge for even the most practised yogis. All of this whilst making you more mindful and connected to your inner self.
Some men claim, "I'm not bendy enough." We call BS. We don't say "But I don't have big enough muscles," when you ask us to lift weights, do we? In fact, we wish more women would get into lifting! You might not be super-flexible, but practice hard and you'll improve your flexibility with yoga poses and stretches.
The benefits for boys
We reckon you should give yoga a try - it's really good for you, whether you want to try Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha...... the list goes on! Studies suggest that practising yoga can help to relieve depression, anxiety and insomnia (2) whilst also lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, making you healthier both physically and mentally. This means yoga is the perfect post-work workout to help you relax!
Yoga has specific benefits for men too, so listen up skeptics! If you're prone to bottling up your feelings of anxiety and stress - so that's most men we know then - you can use yoga as a way to help relieve physical and mental tension, without sitting down on the sofa to talk about your feelings. Phew! Yoga can also be used to relieve tension in the hamstrings and hip flexors, areas which are often tense in men or anyone who isn't especially flexible.
Finding a yoga class
So, you've read this article and you're going to give yoga a go - YAY! First thing's first though, how do you ensure you won't be the only guy in the class? Well, you can't. But most yoga studios will let you come along for either a free class or a drop-in class to see how you get on, before you book a block. So you can find a class with a good mix of men and women - or just relish being the only bloke amongst a load of bendy, stretchy women. At the very least you'll have fun and come away feeling more relaxed!
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