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How Yoga Benefits Men Physically And Mentally

The most obvious benefit of having a consistent yoga practice is increased physical flexibility. Those areas that are “tight” and “stiff” in a lot of men can be helped and transformed by yoga. The tight hamstrings from years of running and lifting with little stretching. The lower back pain from hours spent behind a desk or commuting to work. The hunched and rounded shoulders because most of the day is spent hunched over a computer. Daily life in America can wreak havoc on a man’s body, and the flexibility gained in a yoga class can help alleviate a lot of that.

Beyond just flexibility, yoga can offer a newfound sense of balance to a man’s fitness routine. Awareness of where weight is being held, transferred to, and shifted from in the body are all of which are important skills to master for any physical act or sport. A lot of men spend their time engaged with fitness in only one of two areas; weights or cardio. Adding yoga to that mix can be a much-needed antithesis to the common Western fitness philosophies of “push harder” and “ignore the pain.”

As a man grows and deepens in his yoga practice, he will begin to reap the physical benefits he probably did not associate with yoga before. The type of body awareness and body-weight movements required in a yoga class will engage muscle groups he was not able to access with his standard gym routine. He will build a new type of strength in not just his core and his upper body, but also in his mind.

Yoga is definitely a great workout for men and their physical needs. However, what sets yoga apart from any other group exercise class or personal training session, is the focus on aspects of life beyond just the physical. When taking a yoga class, you'll be able to work on those areas of life that often get neglected.

The attention to breath during a yoga class offers a whole new challenge to men who are used to just pushing through the pain of a workout until they are gasping for air. It takes a special type of focus and concentration to look inward, find your breath, and listen to cues - all while never losing track of your breath. It is a mental workout as much as a physical one! As the physical yoga practice deepens, so does the mental practice. The time spent on the mat is the time spent learning and honing the practical tools to focus through obstacles and distractions in life off of the mat.

The influence from the East and the use of metaphor to describe the physical body can be an aspect of yoga that is “different” or “strange” to some men as they first begin it. Your yoga teacher might call your “legs” your “roots." They might even refer to your “energy", “heart-center” or your “side-body." You might find yourself thinking, “What?! Why can’t they just say what they mean?!” But in reality, speaking in such a way has many benefits for a man practicing yoga. It helps him to visualize and imagine the shapes and movements he is moving into, without getting too caught up in Western anatomy and logic. It allows him to close his eyes and listen to his breath, using just hearing and imagination to move into the cues being given. It also allows him to engage the right-side of his brain (a part often under stimulated in highly-logical, problem-solving American careers, and see what might be going on in his life and his body just below the surface.

Finally, a yoga practice is deeply personal. While the majority of your time spent on the mat might be in a group class, the intent of each and every class is to give YOUR body and YOUR mind exactly what it needs. This time spent in intense inward focus allows men to grow without having to compete with anyone else for this growth. This internal focus allows time for clarification of goals, both on and off the mat. No one’s practice will be the exact same. No one breathe's will be the same rate. And no one will have the exact same strengths. So no one's practice will be the same. Practicing the ability to truly look within, clarify goals, and listen to your own body without being distracted, is truly a great benefit for men.

So now that you know some of the many benefits of yoga for men, come on out to Joy Yoga Center and come take a class with us!

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