Article after article in magazines and papers (and blogs) too numerous to count have tout the virtues and benefits of yoga. And they are indeed correct about all those benefits. But I wanted to boil it down a bit and just focus on some of the benefits for men specifically.
I have found that most men at least start yoga because they do other sports and want to improve their flexibility. The great part about using yoga to increase flexibility is that it is done while building strength and muscular endurance. So not only are you limbering up, you are also adding a strength building workout into your routine.
While not generally a cardio workout, yoga is a fantastic muscle builder. In less flow based practices where the asana (postures) are held for a period of time, the strength building potential is through the roof. Isometric exercises have well documented benefits as a low impact strength builder. These are great for recovery from injuries, recovery day workouts and strength building when you can’t get work in a weight lifting session.
New muscle groups
Yoga is designed to help us move within the full range of our body’s motion. What does that mean? Modern society has contrived to put us all in boxes (cubicles, train seats, car seats, plane seats and so many more) which limit our motion. Having a steady yoga practice gives us the space to come out of those boxes and find all sorts of new muscles and ways of moving our bodies that can be both infinitely painful and glorious at the same time.
Core, core, core
The center piece of muscle groups and whole body health, the core, is strengthened, stretched and toned in essentially every yoga posture. Aside from the benefits of a stronger core for health and fitness, let’s face it, no one minds having a toned stomach. Yes, it’s a tad shallow, but that makes it no less true for me.
I do have one more *possible* benefit for men to take up yoga. Our significant others (S.O.). If you aren’t into yoga and your S.O. is, then taking a class now and again with them is a nice set of points to bank and a great way to bond. I emphasized the ‘possible’ above because this is predicated on you actually wanting to spend time with them.
Yoga is something that can be done almost anywhere at almost any time. You just need a little space. I encourage you to take a handful of your favorite postures and play with them in ways and places that are not “normal” for your practice (think Warrior 2 in a server room or Tree in your office while you are on a conference call). And if you don’t have a practice (yet), take a few classes, pick a few postures that you enjoy and play with them.