Men tend to make a lot of excuses for not doing yoga. Robert Sidoti, creator and co-founder of Broga, which aims to introduce more men to yoga, has heard them all. Men think they’ll be awful at yoga. They don’t have enough flexibility. They’re intimidated by others who are more practiced. They think it’s only for women.
Sidoti’s response: “Just show up as you are,” he says. “Don’t wait. Every yoga studio will welcome you.”
Yoga isn’t competitive or a monolithic practice, as many men think. It’s diverse and, yes, flexible, with huge benefits for men.
To get started, be open minded enough to slay preconceptions and stereotypes. Then find a beginners class convenient to your home or workplace. Perhaps bring along a friend or two for camaraderie and empathy. Be patient, too: Men should try yoga at least five times to calibrate the many variables.
According to Sidoti, you might like your first studio, for instance, but not your first teacher. You may prefer power yoga over a restorative style. Experiment until you’ve tried enough variations of teachers, spaces, pacing and postures to support an educated decision—or to not take up yoga.
Here are five reasons for men to seek their yoga sweet spot.
You’ll Manage Your Stress Better
Yoga’s capacity for stress management might be its greatest benefit. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, research shows yoga “functions like other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, exercise, or even socializing with friends.” Reduced heart rate and lower blood pressure are among the specific potential benefits.
You’ll Become More Flexible
The controlled movements and stretching involved in yoga hone your ability to push your muscles and joints through their complete ranges of motion. Being more flexible can improve your life in many ways, from slowing your body’s natural dehydration process to improving your ability to avoid injuries, according to Yoga Journal.
You’ll Improve Your Strength
Many men don’t realize yoga’s strength benefits. Yoga generally uses a person’s own weight as resistance, and the total-body workout builds and shapes muscles, particularly in one’s upper body. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research bears this out: Eight weeks of Bikram yoga boosted deadlift capabilities. Also, six-pack abs are not uncommon among yogis.
You’ll Achieve Better Balance
Yoga’s varied twists, bends, stretches, reaches and other movements help your body learn to stay upright better. “[Balance] tends to be one of the first things to go as we get older, unless it’s practiced,” Sidoti says. “Every yoga class has an element of balance.”
A figurative balance may also seep into your life. Many people who do yoga find the practice helps them be more nuanced and balanced in their day-to-day lives. Why? See reason No. 1 above.
You’ll Maintain Connections With Your Family
Since yoga can be practiced by men of all ages, it may help keep you fit and injury-free as you mature. And being fit as you mature means you’ll remain able to play with your children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren for longer.
“As a father, I want to be able get out there with my boy,” Sidoti says. “When he says, ‘Hey, dad, wanna come throw the ball with me?’ I want to be able to say yes. I don’t want to say, ‘No, my back hurts.'” Yoga has been proven to alleviate pain, prevent injuries and help maintain your overall physical capacity.
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