Now we all know that yoga is the most amazing thing ever right?
There are so many fabulous benefits in maintaining a consistent yoga practice, the science shows that yoga relieves stress, enhances mental focus, improvements in posture, improvements in mood, and increased flexibility amongst a zillion other things!
There have been huge increases in people taking care of their personal health, trying out new exercise classes and looking for new exciting ways to get fit and increase their performance.
The fact is that yoga is everywhere.
With all of these life changing advantages of yoga, there remains only one question – where are all the men?
Misinterpretations of Yoga
It seems that there may have been many misinterpretations of yoga. Yoga can to some people have connotations of being a gentle and feminine workout, of being dainty and bendy and stretchy and not a ‘real workout’. You don’t break a sweat or get that same adrenaline rush as from a game of football, or a fast and furious run or tennis for example.
For all the men out there, let’s be clear about this – yoga is not just for woman. 500 years ago, it was only men who did yoga and it was women who were crashing the party!
Nor is it soft and fluffy and gentle! Yoga can be anything that you want it to be. There are so many styles of yoga out there that it can be hot and sweaty, restorative, adrenalin fuelled and heart pumping, calm and gentle, or strength and conditioning based to name but a few! I challenge any man to take a yoga class. Trust me when I say it is not as easy or girly as you may think.
However it pleases me to share that the old-standing stereotypes are changing. As a yoga teacher, I am seeing more men attending my classes in Lembongan, which is an absolute pleasure for me! Yoga seems to have become the new cross training for people looking to increase their flexibility and improve their muscle conditioning.
Even some of the best athletes of today are incorporating yoga into their training schedules and reaping the benefits.
So, what exactly are the benefits?
When people think about the benefits of yoga, one tends to imagine flexibility, balance and posture, not strength gains or power. However, yoga is an ancient practice that has been studied for thousands of years, and can challenge even the most athletic and strongest of men and women.
Here is a sprinkling of the wonderful effects of yoga for all who come to their mat:
Yoga works the entire body
Yoga will help you gain strength in muscles that you never even knew you had! Training sessions in the gym or other sports tend to work isolated muscle groups. Yoga requires you to use the complete strength of your body in each and every pose, which in turn helps you to develop and tone all of the muscles in the body as you engage them throughout your sequence. Trust me, I have seen grown men shake in downward facing dog from using muscles they didn’t realize they had!!
It builds power and heat while moving through a series of poses. Yogis discover strength in warrior and planks; challenge themselves with inversions, funky arm balances and other mind and body twisting poses. All of this is done in a calm and mindful way, creating stability and strength within the body and mind.
As a result of working the whole body you will get better at whatever it is you do, whether you are a competitive athlete or just a really passionate footballer. Physically it helps you to find balance. If you are strong, you will gain flexibility. If you are flexible, you will build strength. I will come onto the mental benefits shortly!
Doing yoga gives you energy and focus
Yoga restores and increases your energy levels. Ever noticed how alert and energized yogis are when they leave their yoga studio, as if they could take on the world. Yoga boosts your system to release energy, and all of those happy endorphins. So after your practice, you will notice that you have increased energy and a sharper mental focus.
Fact – many athletes have heightened their performance levels through practicing yoga. By combining mental, physical and emotional support they become better athletes.
In yoga you have to train your mind to shut down, which in turn allows you to let things go and just focus on your current yoga position. Giving you the opportunity to practice being mindful and present.
Yoga helps with muscle recovery and soreness
Who are we kidding? Competitive sports are hard on the body and the recovery can be slow. Long distance running, high intensity workouts, gym sessions and more can cause a lot of lactic acid build up in your muscles. Yoga is hugely beneficial in working out this stiffness, by stretching and releasing tension which helps to flush out lactic acid, allowing you to return to your chosen sport sooner than before. Runners in particular find yoga the best activity after a long endurance run, which is how I myself came to find yoga years ago after 20-mile Sunday morning runs.
Yoga helps to removes stress from your world!
A lot of men tend to hold their stress in, not necessarily dealing with it in a healthy way. They find themselves lacking in focus at crucial times, following bad eating habits, losing sleep, and just maybe enjoying a little too much of the local happy hour. Yoga provides you with a sense of clarity and balance within the mind. You will be directed to focus on your body and your breath, and there will be no space for anything else. By paying attention to your breath, you stay present paying attention only to the details of that very moment. After you practice you will feel more grounded and calmer.
Yoga makes you stronger mentally and physically. It provides you with a constant challenge to be a better version of yourself each day. It helps you to find comfort and a sense of ease in some of the most uncomfortable positions. These lessons go far beyond the yoga mat and extend readily into your day-to-day life.
Yoga has benefits in the bedroom
Now that got your attention right? As if I haven’t already listed enough reasons, then yoga can also be a very helpful tool for your sex life! Check out my previous article on 10 ways yoga can spice up your sex life if you don’t believe me.
Not only will you find yourself more flexible and relaxed, you will also notice an increase in your endurance. Many of the yoga poses, including Eagle Pose for example, help to work the organs as well as the muscles, sending fresh blood and oxygen to certain parts of your body helping you to revitalize your sexual prowess and extend the length of your bedtime fun!
Ok, ok I am feeling generous today so here are two additional freebie benefits:
1. Make your partner happy – a personal one for me perhaps
If your wife, girlfriend or life partner is a yogi then you must know how many brownie points you would get for attending a yoga class with her and showing an interest in something that rocks her world? Go do it now!
2. For all those single men out there – oops, did I forget to mention the women?
Yep, there are lots. And most of them are wearing LYCRA. Imagine the girl to guy ratio in your average yoga class. The odds are heavily in your favor my friends. Chances are that these women will be healthy, switched on, in tune with themselves, smart, fun loving, open minded and genuine people with a heap of passionate stories to share.
What can you expect from your first yoga class?
Now, let’s be honest, your first yoga experience may feel a little bit scary. Here are some of the things you can expect to find and experience:
You are going to have to talk to your Ego and leave it at the door
Often the first few yoga classes can be tougher on the male ego than the muscles. Guys don’t like feeling like they don’t know what they are doing. Many men who have come to my classes worry about their lack of flexibility. It can be frustrating when your body won’t make the shape that everyone else is seemingly effortlessly making. It may hurt or ache a little. It may feel intimidating. A big part of yoga is letting go of ego, letting down barriers, and being open in mind and heart. This alone can be the biggest challenge for men. So take the challenge head-on.
I did say yoga was amazing, but I never said it was easy. Hell, who wants easy anyway. Yoga is a challenge, of the body and mind. Becoming a confident yogi takes time, effort and practice. “Practice and all is coming”. Trust that.
There Will Be Unmanly Poses
There are likely to be some poses that you genuinely don’t want your friends to ever see you in. This may be because you haven’t mastered them yet but also because yoga was designed for the mental and physical benefits that go way beyond simply building muscle.
There Will Be Women In Stunning Poses. Wearing lycra.
I mentioned it above, it isn’t a myth, it is the truth. However stay focused, concentrate your mind on your practice because focusing on anything or anyone else is only going to end in disaster. I know we yoga teachers say that falling out of poses is part of the practice, but that wasn’t meant in relation to having your tongue hanging out staring at the chick in front of you instead of concentrating on what’s happening on your own mat!
There Will Be Pain
Yep this is fact. Yoga can be tough. I am not even talking about the crazy arm balances or funky inversions. Just simple things like holding your arms parallel to the floor in Warrior 2 or reaching towards the sky in Mountain pose. Yoga takes the opportunity to teach you about all of the muscles in your body so don’t expect it to be easy and don’t expect to have no pain the morning after! Embrace the pain, and say hello to those hard to reach places you may never have known existed before.
There is no dress code
You don’t need to wear lycra. (Unless you want to!). Whatever feels comfortable.
Remember that yoga is a marathon, not a sprint.
Ladies – please share this article with the significant men in your life with the offer of something that will make them ridiculously happy in exchange for them joining you for their very first yoga class.
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Caroline Layzell is a certified 500-hour yoga instructor, based on the paradise island of Nusa Lembongan, just off Bali, where she is lucky enough to be teaching yoga full time at the Yoga Shack Lembongan. When she is not doing yoga she can be found underwater diving with the beautiful manta rays in Lembongan. Diving is her moving meditation! Caroline came to yoga after a lifetime of marathon training, cross country running, triathlons and short distance races. It helped her to put her body back together after numerous injuries, and it is here that her passion for yoga began. Now she is a self-confessed yoga addict! Join Caroline on Facebook Instagram or her website
Images via: @asanafordays,