Welcome to a Joyful You
Posted on Nov 03, 2016
The first and most obvious reason that most men come start to do yoga is that they come to a point when they finally give in to that nagging thought that’s been in the back of their mind for quite some time. It's that thought of, “I’m really stiff. I need to stretch.” That’s good! No matter what it is that finally pushes them into the studio, men that show up to a class for nothing more than a good stretch are more than welcome and will be embraced with open arms. More often than not, though, it is flexibility (or inflexibility) that keeps men out of the studio. Men often say, “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” Every time I hear this line of thinking, I’m puzzled. You rarely hear a man say, “I’m not strong enough to go to the gym.” It is that very desire for strength and stamina that gets them to the gym and pushes them through their workouts. Men should use this same line of thinking when it comes to their yoga practice! If they would think, “Man, I’m not very flexible, I should get to a yoga studio!” in the exact same way they think, “Man, I’m feeling weak, I should get to the gym!”, they will be delightfully surprised at the results.
The increased flexibility gained in yoga is not purely physical flexibility. Once a consistent yoga practice becomes part of a man’s weekly routine, he will quickly begin to see that the benefits go far beyond just being able to touch his toes. The mental benefits of yoga are equally as important as the physical. Consistently practicing the art of breathing deeply and moving slowly can help men to experience decreased levels of stress in their daily lives. Learning to move and live more mindfully can help men to be less reactive in stressful or confrontational situations. Their body will have learned and practiced being still and calm instead of just reacting to its first animal instinct. Furthermore, having the ability to look internally and regulate your own practice is a healthy mental practice that extends far beyond the yoga studio.
There comes a point in a lot of men’s lives (about 30 or 35 for some) that the ideas they hold about health and wellness switch from “I want to look hot” to “I want to live a long, healthy life.” This is an important and very healthy switch to make and it can have a major impact on the way men spend their time in the gym, the kitchen, and hopefully the yoga studio. Bending and moving helps balance out the hours spent behind a desk that many men accumulate at work each day. Being flexible is a great tool for injury prevention in the gym and on the field. Having a supple spine keeps you younger longer. Reducing stress helps with any and all common American problems, like heart disease, join paints, etc. In short, incorporating a consistent yoga practice into their lives can help men do the things they love much longer.
A lot of people have the mental image of a yoga class as people sitting around humming and chanting with their eyes closed. Until it has been experienced and felt, it can be difficult to describe the feeling and benefits of the non-physical aspects of yoga, but it is this non-physical yoga practice that men will reap many benefits from in their workplace. The skill and practice of turning focus inward, spending time in silent self-reflection, mediation even, are all tools honed in a yoga class that lead to an increase in productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. The ability to focus on tasks for longer periods of time, to filter out distractions, to sift through your thoughts and pick out the ones worth spending more time on, to identify goals and steps to achieving them, to engage the right side of the brain and think more creatively are all skills and abilities valued in the Western workplace. All of which can be learned and practiced in the yoga studio.
Many men are success-driven. They work hard to achieve goals, to be strong and successful. So it takes a special kind of courage to enter into something knowing full well they might be “unsuccessful” at the task at hand. Therefore, some men avoid the yoga studio, fearing the “failure” that a yoga class will inevitably bring. However, if men can redefine their definition of success and failure when it comes to their yoga practice, they will undoubtedly find growth. So many Americans are so goal-oriented and success-driven, that they feel they have failed unless they are the best at everything they put their hand to. Because of this, yoga can be a very humbling experience. There is no way to win or be the best and that can be unnerving and disorienting at first. However, trying something new, especially something you are not good at, is good for the ego. It is humbling and confusing, but it is only through these moments of humility and “failure” that we ever truly learn and expand out horizons.
Now that you know some of the many benefits of yoga for men, join us in our Brovember Challenge and help us raise funds for the Texas Prostate Cancer Coalition!
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