Why is a large proportion of the male population hell-bent on thinking yoga is only for the fairer sex? Is it because they think it’s not ‘manly’ enough for them? Well, hold the front page! Because nothing could be further from the truth. With some of the biggest advocates of yoga being body builders, (not to mention some of the elite groups of the armed forces), and others discovering how it can help weight loss, yoga is the new ‘go to’ workout for even the toughest of guys.
1. It’s amazing for your health
Yoga has been to have a multitude of good health effects. It improves your flexibility and builds muscle strength. It increases blood flow, lowers blood pressure, lower blood sugar, protects your spine, boosts the immune system… What’s not to like?
There are many different types of yoga, but all of them work on increasing your range of movement and flexibility. This in turn lengthens muscles and lowers the risk of suffering from strains and sprains.
Another important health effect of yoga is the one it can have on those suffering from chronic lower back pain. Often caused by sitting at a desk for hours on end, practicing yoga can have an almost miraculous effect on such a problem. In addition, yoga will ensure that your posture improves – a surefire way of preventing the likelihood of any future aches and pains.
2. It helps you sleep
Practicing yoga teaches you to slow down. The breathing techniques and relaxation learned and carried out all have the effect of slowing down the mind. And the great thing is that this continues after you stop – and also has the same effect during the night. Many people have found yoga to be extremely advantageous for insomnia. Others have found that even if they don’t actually have trouble sleeping, yoga enhances the quality of sleep, leading to feeling fully refreshed when waking in the morning.
3. It reduces stress
Being a guy is stressful – right? And if you’re shrugging your shoulders at this comment, look at it like this. You’re likely to have a partner, and probably a family. Deep in your subconscious, no matter how much today’s society might try to convince you otherwise, you’re responsible for the safety and well-being of that group. This probably includes being the breadwinner too.
So you’re fitting in your work around making sure you also have quality time with your loved ones. Add in trying to find some time to hang out with the guys, a few visits to the gym, help out with the chores… and we haven’t even mentioned any down time yet! All of a sudden each and every week becomes a fight to find enough hours in the day. And over time, this causes a whole bunch of stress.
There is growing amounts of that yoga – even for 5 minutes per day – lowers levels of stress. To get all scientific, what it does is increase the levels of Gamma amino butyric acid in the brain – the main neurotransmitter responsible for regulating other neurotransmitters that reduce stress and anxiety.
4. It promotes weight loss
Men’s Fitness magazine promotes yoga for men as a great aid to weight loss. In fact, yoga is one of the best ways to tackle stubborn fat and/or for those over the age of 40 who want to drop a few pounds. (And let’s be honest here, who in that age range doesn’t want to shed a little of the fat that seems to accumulate when you even LOOK at a cookie or candy bar…!).
There are many reasons why yoga is so effective. The major one is that yoga increases the body’s insulin sensitivity. This is the hormone that tells your body to burn the fuel (food) that you eat, rather than loading it up and storing it as fat. Yoga also firms and tones the muscles of the whole body – especially the arms, legs, abs, and butt.
But there’s more to it than this. The whole science of yoga is to improve your life as a whole. One of the reasons there’s such an obesity epidemic is due to the stresses of 21st century living. We eat an unhealthy diet (Yeah you do. How often do you grab a cappuccino to go or a sandwich filled with all kind of unhealthy dressings? At the very least, bet you cram down food at your desk or on the go once in a while – a surefire way to beat up your poor old digestive system) not to mention sitting at a desk for hours on end.
And we’ve already talked about stress… A factor that makes many of us put on weight.
The thing is, unlike our ancestors, we no longer take enough exercise in our everyday actions. This affects us in many ways – not least as weight gain. Yoga is all about the whole body. Because every single aspect is connected. Begin to work on that, and everything else (including weight loss), becomes possible.