For many years, the impression that many men have had of yoga was that it was only practiced by women and was inaccessible to men. However, since the early 1990s there has been an increasing number of men getting involved, joining classes, and practicing yoga.
The benefits of yoga are many, with the vast improvements in physical, mental, and spiritual health confirmed by scientific research and the millions of people who practice this form of mind-body exercise.
With this in mind, can yoga improve the life of an already physically fit man? The answer is yes.
Men are equally set to benefit from practicing yoga as much as women and there is no reason why yoga should be for women only.
People who work out or play sports often suffer from sports-related injuries, often through repetitive strain of the specific parts of the body that their chosen activity uses. Yoga, being a full body workout, exercises and strengthens a much broader range of muscles than most activities. Men often suffer from injuries to the shoulders, hips, and hamstrings; yoga can help to prevent such injuries.
Yoga has the benefit of building strength and endurance, increasing flexibility and helping to prevent injury, and many top male athletes now practice it.
There are styles of yoga that concentrate more on the physical workout than the chanting, meditative, more spiritual side. The chanting and meditation side of yoga may put some men off who are more focused on the physical health benefits.
However, not all forms of yoga are the same. Below are two available yoga disciplines that would significantly enhance not only the general fitness of men, but they also provide spiritual and mental benefits as well.
Bikram is a strand of Hatha yoga, and like Hatha, poses are carried out in a slow and controlled manner. The big difference between Bikram and the more traditional styles is the heat. Bikram is practiced at 40c and 40% humidity, giving the body a fully body workout. It can be quite exhausting, especially for beginners as it is quite intense.
There are 26 postures in a sequence, with classes lasting around 90 mins. Bikram yoga is practiced by athletes such as tennis player Andy Murray and New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Bikram is not just for athletes though, with actor Daniel Craig (the latest James Bond, aka 007) also a fan. Many other athletes and sports people advocate Bikram yoga as it provides many benefits that other forms of yoga are unable to.
A study carried out in 2013 found that an eight-week course of Bikram Yoga practiced three times a week, improved participants’ dead lift strength, and flexibility. However, the heat, whilst helping to increase flexibility, can have the effect of loosening the body too much. It is important therefore to attend organized classes and work with the instructor; this way you will get the most benefit from the sessions.
Ashtanga uses the movement and poses of Hatha Yoga, but at a much more rapid pace. Representing a more vigorous workout, Ashtanga helps increase strength and flexibility; a physical challenge that would be more in common with traditional exercise.
There is also Power Yoga, which is a form of Ashtanga and originated in the US. Balance and healing are concentrated on, with cardiovascular efficiency and athletic ability the end result.
Both Ashtanga and Power yoga are an excellent all round cardio workout. Taking a breath between poses is unlikely, and you will really feel like you’ve exerted yourself after a session. This is likely to appeal to fitness conscious men as it can really complement any existing fitness regime. As it works out different areas of the body to the usual gym workout, it can bring many benefits to any fitness conscious man.
If you are a man who wants to greatly improve strength, mind and body health then yoga is exactly what you need, don’t wait, get started today!
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