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Yoga for Men: Breaking the Stereotypes

Posted by Nicole Carr on

Yoga for Men: Breaking the Stereotypes

Many men are hesitant to attend yoga classes because of the perception that it is only for women. Such perception is borne out of the fact that most yoga classes are dominated by women. What these men fail to consider is the fact that yoga was traditionally practiced by men but a shift occurred in yoga’s long history that yoga became dominated by women. 

Another reason behind men’s hesitancy to practice yoga is that men are not naturally as flexible as women. However, flexibility is not a requirement for a person to practice yoga. Both men and women have a lot to gain from practicing yoga.

The following are the common excuses men give for their hesitancy to practice yoga:

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

  • Yoga classes are full of women - Many men are hesitant to attend yoga classes because they are mostly filled with women. Just because a yoga class is full of women does not mean that it is for women only. Men should bear in mind that yoga was originally designed for men and that women were allowed to practice yoga only at the beginning of the 20th century. Men should not hesitate to practice something that was originally designed for them.
  • Yoga is too feminine - Because yoga is attended by many women and it involves plenty of stretching does not make it a feminine thing. Many men who attended yoga classes for the time found out that getting through the various yoga postures is not that easy. Most of them ended up with a sore body after the first day of a yoga session.
  • Men are not flexible enough - A lot of men get scared when they observe how the women participants in a yoga class stretch, twist, and contour their bodies. Performing those activities are not exclusive to women in the same manner that doing bench press is not the sole domain of men. Both men and women can embark on a physical activity that may seem daunting at the beginning. It is the constant practice that will make them easily perform difficult tasks.
  • Scared of the spirituality and chanting - While chanting and spirituality are common elements of yoga, not all yoga classes were designed for them. Many yoga classes were structured around stability, strength, and mobility and not much on yoga spiritual philosophy.

Yoga is a beneficial practice that both men and women can participate in. Yoga affords participants physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. While most yoga classes in the Western hemisphere are dominated by women, men are beginning to get interested in the practice. More and more men are not getting down on the mat to practice yoga.

Men who are considering to start their yoga practice should proceed with the idea because of the various benefits it provides.

Yoga makes the body strong and flexible

One of the major physical benefits that yoga gives its practitioners is the improvement of strength and flexibility. Men should not be discouraged by the fact that they are not yet strong and flexible. They will start practicing yoga in order to improve those aspects of their physical being. The various yoga poses will help men improve their balance and flexibility and, in the process, strengthen their muscles.

Asana, or the physical practice of yoga, target specific muscles in the body. The goal is to increase the extensibility and endurance of the muscle fibers, increase the blood flow and nutrient delivery, and improve the range of motion. Increasing the range of motion of muscles will improve power, leverage, and agility when performing other physical activities such as working out in the gym or taking part in sports.

The Countless Benefits of Yoga

Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash

1. Yoga relieves tension and stress.

Yoga is one of the best ways to unwind and relax at the end of a stressful day at work. Yoga is a good form of mental detox through pranayama or breathing techniques that provide various relaxation effects. These relaxation techniques provide calming effects on the central nervous system.

Men who spend too much energy at work usually end their day tense and stressed. Attending a yoga class is a great stress-reliever that allows them to take work off their minds in order to relax.

2. Yoga builds more muscle.

The range of motion that yoga provides and increased access to more muscle fibers allow hypertrophy in the involved muscle groups. Muscle hypertrophy is the enlargement of the muscle as a result of the enlarged cells on the cellular level.

Men who are lifting weights will benefit from participating in yoga activities because of the activation of ignored sections of muscle.

3. Yoga prevents workout injuries.

Yoga classes honor the body’s particular needs and limits. It teaches participants the ability to scan and asses themselves during physical activities, enabling them to reduce the incidence of injury. Men who work out at the gym will discover that the flexibility and stretching that yoga provides will help in the healing and recovery of strained or injured muscles.

4. Yoga calms the mind.

The relaxed pace of yoga allows men to relax and breath right at the end of a busy day at work. Studies have shown that yoga provides relief for mild clinical depression, without the need to take antidepressants. Yoga practitioners found out that they are able to sleep better and longer. Yoga is also believed to stimulate the functions of the brain, better than the stimulation provided by walking or jogging.

5. Yoga helps remove toxic wastes.

A person sweats a lot and breathes heavily while performing various yoga activities. Sweating and exhaling help a lot in getting the body of toxins. After a yoga session, practitioners discover that their perspiration smell sweater compared to the perspiration when they were not doing yoga yet.

6. Yoga promotes cardiovascular health.

Cardiovascular diseases are common in men, especially as they age. Vinsaya yoga involves moving through different postures and sequences that heat up the body, resulting in the firing up of the circulatory system that improves cardiac output. This helps build healthier heart tissues and allow the delivery of blood and nutrients to every part of the body.

7. Yoga helps in weight loss.

Many men turn to weight lifting in order to trim extra fat, particularly around the belly. But this type of physical activity may prove to be very difficult to some, especially those are advancing in age. An easier option for this type of exercise is yoga. Yoga is mindfulness that can easily translate into an acute awareness of eating, lifestyle, and sleeping habits.

Yoga helps massage a person’s internal organs to give a boost to the metabolic rate. Yoga also helps stop a person’s cravings for sugar and other unhealthy food, resulting in weight loss.

8. Yoga makes a person feel young.

Yoga allows a person to feel alive inside and out, regardless of his chronological age. Elderly people who practice yoga feel healthier and fit. However, feeling alive and young will not come after your first yoga session. You need to be committed to the yoga routine and make it a part of your everyday life before you eventually feel the effects of yoga on your how you feel.

Yoga for Beginners

 

Men who decide to practice yoga can start anytime they want. They two available options to start: learning and practicing yoga online or by attending a yoga class. It all depends on their budget and available time.

The internet now allows people to practice yoga in the comfort of their home. As long as there is a reliable internet connection, it is easy for anyone to get access to yoga lessons.

If budget and time permit, attending a yoga class will be a better option because of the expert guidance a yoga teacher could provide. However, some men are constrained by the distance and the schedule of yoga class, which may not be compatible with their work schedule.

Whether yoga learning will be done at home, via the internet, or in the studio with other yoga practitioners, yoga is now available to everyone who is interested.

When attending a yoga class, men should look for the right class to start with. There are plenty of yoga classes available today, with varying degrees of complexity and the accompanying chanting. Not all yoga classes will be appropriate for beginners. Many yoga classes require a degree of experience and expertise. A beginner should not immediately sign up for Ashtanga, Kundalini, or Vinyasa Flow yoga for now but should instead look for a class that caters to beginners.

A beginner’s yoga class is tailored for the brave men who decided to take the plunge, with a slow pace that allows the new practitioners to join in and pick it up as they go along.

A man attending a yoga class for the first time should not worry if he is the only male in the class or if his body is too inflexible for the various poses. In due time, he will learn the ropes of yoga and before he knew it, he will be in a stage where he can wrap his legs around his head.

Men who cannot find the time to attend a formal yoga class can try doing it alone at home through online learning. Doing yoga at home is very convenient because there is no fixed schedule and there is no need to drive to the class location. A man can practice yoga at home any time he wants, be it right after waking up in the morning or before going to bed in the evening.

Online yoga allows a man to have access to the great yoga teachers around the globe, through YouTube and other online sites. A beginner should look for an online yoga session designed for beginners where he can learn the yoga fundamentals of moving and breathing.

Online teachers usually laid-back approaches in order to not intimidate beginners. They provide expert instructions on how the body interacts with poses.

Don't Forget Your Yoga Essentials

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash


Men who will attend yoga classes for the time should not worry too much about what to wear. Men can wear anything comfortable and light but they should make sure that work or street clothes are not appropriate attire.


Men can wear what they usually work in their physical activities, such as what they wear when they go to the gym, which may include fitted cotton t-shirts, workout or swim shorts, cycling or board shorts. For men who sweat a lot, they should find yoga attires that are made of sweat-wicking materials. If it will be within their budget, men attending yoga classes can buy high-quality yoga wear designed for men.


In addition to the attire, men who will be attending yoga classes for the first time should also be ready with some basic equipment such as a yoga mat. Men should buy a bigger and heavier yoga mat that will suit their size and weight. A yoga mat designed for women may prove inadequate for a man.


The new yoga practitioners should also be ready with a yoga block and strap that will come in handy for some yoga poses. As he goes along with his yoga lessons, he will eventually need other accessories such as blankets, bolsters, handstand blocks, and sticky toe socks.


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