Yesterday I was outlining the many benefits of yoga for one of my guy friends, who complained of tight muscles and achiness. He agreed that yoga was great and said he totally understood why people do it. Pause. “So why don’t you do it?”
His response: “Yoga is for girls… and hippies.”
It’s true that girls do yoga. So do hippies. Seniors, too, and pretty Manhattanites like Tara Stiles. But you know who else does? P90X tough guy Tony Horton.
From girls to guys to the elderly, pretty much everyone is unrolling a mat for some Hatha, Bikram or Kundalini.
And you’re right: when EVERYONE’S doing something, it’s usually a pretty good indicator that you should run the other way or demand a refund.
Yoga is an exception.
Benefits of Yoga
This is one of the biggest reasons I tout yoga: it delivers benefits you can’t really get from other activities. Namely, the muscle health and intestinal health boosts you get from deep, intensive stretching.
It also improves balance, posture, strength, flexibility and concentration. And the stretching and sweating (yes, you will sweat) help to eliminate toxins from your body.
Not convinced that these are critical to your health? Consider this: a famous centenarian here in Utah chalks up her long, hardy life to three things: eating a healthy breakfast, dancing and—that’s right—yoga.
Which yoga style right for you? Women’s Health Magazine lists 14 types, with tips to determine which will suit you best.
It’s Not a Luxury
Most people have a two-track mind when it comes to fitness: burn fat, build muscle. All that “showing your muscles love” business just seems extra.
But stretching and muscle recovery aren’t luxuries. Neither is relaxation. While gung-ho is great, it’s important to slow your workout pace sometimes. Proof of the value of balance: People who do yoga are still snappy and spry at 103 (see above).
By stretching and working the muscles of one body part or area at a time, you can also pinpoint the weird imbalances that creep up during daily life and straighten them out. Example: through yoga, I discovered that one of my shoulders had creeped a sinister 2 inches above the other. I honestly hadn’t noticed before, and this led me to realize I was hunching to one side to rest on the car door during my morning commute.
(In case you’re wondering, my shoulders are level once again.)
Got 20 Minutes?
While most classes last an hour, you can get DVDs with short 20-minute segments that are easy to slip in before work or before bed. Rodney Yee’s DVDs are great (I repeat: men do yoga), and I also like Louise Solomon’s yogalatesTM DVDs which combine yoga and pilates.
You don’t even have to commit to doing it regularly in order to benefit. A class or DVD once a week will make a big difference in the way your body feels.
It’s also a good segue into other activities. When I want to get warmed up for a new workout regimen (or re-launch an old routine after I’ve been sitting around for a few weeks), I start with yoga. It helps assess your level of conditioning and release muscle tension so you can start fresh.
Need more evidence that yoga isn’t just for girls? Check out what male readers posted in the forum at AskMen.com, or take a gander at this article from Men’s Garage. In fact, you probably need go no further than realmendoyoga.com.
So, gents, go get your Warrior Pose on already.
And don’t worry: you don’t have to meditate, wear tight clothes or bring a Starbucks cup to prop next to your mat. Unless you live in California.