Have you always felt yoga is only for women? Or that it is not as impactful for men? Well, here’s the thing - yoga is for all. It is not gender-biased and is in fact, a very impactful practice for men. In fact, you’re probably already doing yoga - the planks for core strength? The stretches before your run or taking the time to restore and recover after a workout session? It’s all part of yoga.
It’s not just the physical aspects of yoga. Yoga helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle by managing stress better and improving sleep quality. With better mindfulness, your ability to make decisions with clarity also improves. Research has also shown that yoga improves wellness in the workplace too. Studies have shown those with chronic back pain who regularly practice yoga, take fewer sick days than those who do not practice yoga. This also greatly improves productivity. Another study found that yoga interventions in the workplace decrease perceived stress amongst employees.
Key benefits of yoga for men
Better stress management
Juggling a high-stress job, personal relationships and trying to find time for yourself can take a toll on your mental health. Stress, anxiety, tension and worries become a constant. Practicing yoga, pranayama and meditation helps you relieve stress, releases accumulated tension and worries and calms the mind. When you are more relaxed and centered, you will experience a better ability to be wholly present - whether at work, home, with friends or by yourself. With stress at bay, you’ll find yourself being more mindful and intentional in how you approach everything.
Promotes restful sleep
Keeping stress away will help you switch off at the end of the day and get a good night’s rest. Very often due to multiple things going on, it is difficult to really just tune out and sleep, leaving you feeling exhausted, tired and stressed through the following day. Even a few minutes of pranayama before bedtime or a meditation practice at the end of the day can help you reduce thoughts and sleep better.
Builds strength and flexibility
You might be thinking since you already hit the gym or go for a regular run why do you need yoga for strength? Yoga is a full-body exercise that works on every muscle group. Even a few rounds of Surya Namaskar will engage every muscle group in the body. There is also a greater chance of tight hips, lower back, hamstrings and shoulders due to a sedentary lifestyle or poor sitting posture. This can often lead to injuries during other workouts because the muscles in these regions are not engaged. When you practice yoga asanas you stretch and lengthen the muscles, improving blood circulation to all regions. This improves oxygen supply to every cell of the body. Connective tissues get nourished, detoxification takes place and flexibility improves. Spinal twists, for example, will loosen tightness in the spine, improving flexibility of the back. Gentle backbends will send oxygen supply to the nerve endings in the lower back. With improved flexibility and range of motion, there is also an increase in access to muscle fibers, improving hypertrophy (muscle growth due to cell enlargement) in the specific muscle groups. Very often focusing on one type of workout will put all focus on specific muscle groups, ignoring others. With regular yoga, ignored muscle groups also get activated. This also reduces the risk of injury and promotes a more healthy form of exercise.
Better pain management
Sitting for hours at a desk and lack of movement leads to chronic back pain, stiff shoulders, upper back pain and more. Regular practice of yoga asanas will help you stretch out tightness and accumulated stress in regions like the lower back. It can greatly help relieve pain that is a result of poor posture and no movement. Even a few gentle stretches at the end of the day can effectively help.
Improves overall health and immunity
With better stress management, restful sleep, mindfulness, pain management, good blood circulation and more, overall health, immunity and well-being improves. Practicing yoga asanas and pranayama improves the functioning of the heart and respiratory organs. The digestive system also functions efficiently and gut health remains good. All of this contributes to lesser chances of falling sick too often (less sick leaves!), better efficiency at work and more energy to be present at home and with friends.
Improves focus and productivity
Practicing asanas, pranayama and meditation all contribute to improving focus and productivity. Time spent in procrastination reduces and one finds themselves completing work more efficiently. This leads to better time management, better performance at work and subsequently, better professional growth.
At the time of joining yoga classes, on a platform like Shvasa, defining your goals is essential. This will help teachers guide you through practices that will help you achieve them. So now that we have seen the top benefits of yoga for men.
Best yoga practices for men
Improving strength and flexibility comes with regular practice, preferably under the guidance of an experienced teacher. The common yoga asanas useful for men to improve strength and flexibility are standing forward fold, downward-facing dog pose, chair pose, low lunge, tree pose, eagle pose, cobbler’s pose, cow-face pose, cobra pose, bridge pose, bow pose and boat pose. Of course, these are just a few postures. There are many specific poses for primary areas such as the hips, back and shoulders which a teacher will guide you through effectively.
Pranayama practices are especially beneficial for stress relief, focus and productivity, relaxing the system to sleep better and improving immunity and heart health. Practice Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana), victorious breath (Ujjayi) and humming bee breath (Brahmari) to relax, relieve stress and sleep better. These can be done at the end of a long day just before bedtime. Bellows breath or Bhastrika and Frontal lobe cleansing (Kapal Bhati) are wonderful practices to infuse the system with energy, cleanse the respiratory system, and to focus better.
Yoga Nidra and Meditation
Practicing yoga nidra is effective in helping relieve stress and to sleep better. It can be practiced just before bedtime to calm the nervous system, help switch off from the happenings of the day and take your focus inward. There are many meditation techniques that promote the benefits of yoga for men. Body scan meditation, breath meditation, mantra meditation and mindfulness meditation are a few such examples. Learn how to practice live with a certified yoga teacher to enhance the benefits of meditation.