Regardless of whether we like it or not, there seems to be a female stigma that is associated with any mention of the term “yoga”. A quick google search will produce videos, pictures, and websites marketed towards women. According to a study done in 2016 by Yoga Alliance, 72% of yoga practitioners were females.
As yoga continues to grow in popularity, we continue to see a marked increase in male practicing yoga, jumping 150% in four years from the period of 2012-2016.
As this popular study is in fact 3 years old, it is safe to assume more males are getting involved in yoga, and that the numbers now are even more promising.
Why is yoga growing in popularity among males? It seems the benefits of yoga are beginning to outweigh the popular notion that the sport is meant for women.
Yoga practice allows men and women with varied goals to find effective results, and snatch up extra benefits along the way.
In this article, we discuss the benefits yoga can have for men and effective ways of working yoga into your everyday routine.
Benefits of Yoga for Men
Full Body Workout
Let’s start by clearing up a common misconception right away. Yoga is not an easy workout.
It’s true there is a wide range of yoga practices that vary in intensity, and some that focus completely on mental relaxation vs. physical fitness.
However, if it’s a hard workout you are looking for, you don’t have to look very far. Signing up for an ashtanga yoga or power yoga class will be sure to remind you of the intensity (and sweat) a yoga workout can bring.
For those who are looking to get fit, lose weight, or build muscle, there is room for all of those goals in a new yoga routine. Trust us when we say this- the pose that looks easy is probably painfully difficult. Yoga is a great way to challenge the body, stimulate muscle growth and flexibility, and create mobility.
If you weren’t aware, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, roughly accounting for ¼ of all male deaths. Heart disease refers to various types of conditions, but most commonly heart attacks and coronary artery diseases.
Heart disease is often an effect of diet and exercise, two things a solid yoga practice helps to improve. As many yoga practices promote movements that stimulate cardiovascular response, the resulting improvement in fitness lowers the risk of heart issues. Add to this the healthy lifestyle yoga promotes, and physical health can flourish.
Studies have shown that both the boost in fitness along with a decrease in mental stress can have powerful effects of increasing heart health.
Without fail, a quick survey of the most commonly used male excuses for not practicing yoga will find the “I’m not flexible enough” response to be at the top of the list. The irony in this is that we must start practicing to become more flexible. It’s not a valid excuse to not take swimming lessons because you don’t know how to swim.
After a short amount of time practicing yoga regularly, flexibility increases dramatically, bringing with it a slew of benefits that are applicable to other sports. Flexibility is paramount to all sports, from golf to sumo wrestling. Competitive team sports such as basketball and football require athletes to be flexible and fit, as is clearly evident with professional athletes who practice yoga daily.
Finally, the more flexible the body is, the more likely it is to ward off injuries.
Yoga is defined by many as the practice of a mind-body connection. This means that when we feel stressed not only do we observe the physical tension, but we must focus on relieving the mental tension as well. Those who practice yoga regularly see a decrease in stress and its associated hormones.
In today’s fast-paced work environment, finding a balance can be difficult, leading many to suffer from long term anxiety built up from a daily struggle. Men are not immune to this chronic stress. In fact, the stigma of being an “alpha male” can often exacerbate the problem, increasing the need for stress management.
Increased Libido and Sexual Health
One of the less frequently discussed benefits of yoga is how it can affect males’ sexual health and libido. One common side effect of high stress is a decrease in sexual desire and other performance-related issues.
By having a routine yoga practice, stress levels are actively reduced, self-confidence skyrockets, and as a result, sexual health will follow suit.
This one is not just for men either, there have been lots of female sexual benefits when practicing yoga.
Inward Competition, not External
Although it may not apply to all men, external competition can often dominate the playing field, gym, or studio class. While there are varying theories out there as to why men are more competitive than women, the fact remains that many men shy away from certain activities because they are intimidated by the competition that may be involved.
Instead yoga encourages inward growth (and healthy competition). Instead of relying on external validation in the form of dominating a game or slaughtering the opposing team, yoga teaches people to enjoy their personal practice.
Fierce competition has its benefits, but it can also be at the root of frustration and de-motivation when learning a new sport.
Helps with Sleep
For those who have trouble sleeping, or suffer from sleep disorders, practicing yoga before you tuck yourself in might work magic. As males are two to three more times likely to suffer from disorders like sleep apnea, this makes a yoga practice even more enticing.
Yogic breathing techniques such as pranayamas have shown to be effective at clearing airways, relaxing the body and mind, and paving the way for deeper and more restful sleep.
For those who don’t suffer from a diagnosed sleeping disorder yet still want to improve their sleeping habits, cooling down the body with a gentle yoga routine in the evening will help to ease tension, clear the mind of stressful built up thoughts, and get the body ready for sleep.
Just a few simple exercises before bed can help tremendously.
It’s time to break the stigma that yoga is only for women so us men can stop missing out on its fantastic benefits. From an intense workout to an evening routine to help you wind down, a personalized yoga practice can suit many needs.