“Where are the men in yoga?”. A question that has plagued yoga studios the world over and has come up strongly for me since opening my studio in Port Elizabeth. You certainly don’t open a yoga studio to meet men – even though the proposition of being proposed to on one hand rather than one knee is enticing. But to have a space such devoid of male energy is just scary. Yes – women tend to find yoga more accessible – they tend to have more flexibility and less tension (aka strength). Men are built differently, are much stronger and way more challenged in range of motion. Add to that the very strong sporting culture in South Africa (and PE) and many men avidly enjoying running, cycling or other repetitive motion sports – and bam – the flexibility of the male population drops even further. With that the balance in male bodies become even more disrupted which in turn – you guessed it – renders yoga even more of a necessity than something to simply try out or even worse ignore. Your body needs strength AND flexibility. It needs yin AND yang energy. It needs this balance to keep you strong, healthy, active, injury free, and happy.
Why would men even think about joining a yoga class?
1. The Amazing way in which it Compliments most Sports
Yoga makes you better, faster, stronger. So whether your passion is in running, cycling, swimming, golf, or even weightlifting – yoga can add to your performance and success in sport. Yoga will make you less injury prone, speed up you recovery, reduce stress and lengthen muscles to give a longer more powerful stride.
So if you’re a cyclist, yogic breathing will provide you with a whole different way of dealing with pain. Yoga poses will strengthen your shoulders to prepare you for the perfect crash, and it will lengthen your muscles putting less pressure on your joints – such as your knees. Opening your hips will prevent Iliotibial band friction syndrome, one of the most common causes of knee pain in cyclists.
Runners will be benefiting from the same speedier recovery and injury prevention through yoga as cyclists will. They will further benefit from full body strength – rather than just legs. Yoga gives runners increased agility and pain free running by giving you increased strength and flexibility.
Hitting longer drives, staying focused on the course and lowering your score are just some of the benefits Yogi Golfers report. “Swing power is generated from the lower body to the hips, the trunk, the shoulders, the arms, and out to the club,” says Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers and fitness expert for the Golf channel. “A lot of yoga postures are very good at getting deep into the connective tissue and musculature of the hips. The hips initiate the downswing, so having mobility in the hips and strong glutes is really critical for generating power.”
The writing’s on the wall – if you’re serious about sports – and practicing your sport for years to come – you have got to get on the mat!
2. The Benefits of Calming the Mind
It’s a well-known fact that men don’t always disclose their feelings or discuss their sources of stress or concern. Sucking it up is the norm. Women find it easier to direct the noise that stress brings in their mind outward – to their friends, partners – in fact anyone willing to listen, whereas men internalize and hope to find other ways of channeling the ‘noise’ – perhaps through sports, and perhaps through other less constructive means. Men often pay the price in their bodies – for years of ignoring, sucking up both emotional and physical pain – through illness and injury. Enter Yoga – the fix it for everything. Once men settle into a regular yoga routine, they begin to experience a freeing of the mind from al the thoughts, concerns, ideas
3. Get stronger than ever before
Men who do yoga report feeling stronger in their body than ever before. This is not the type of strong you get with weightlifting in a gym. It’s a strength permeating your physical body as well as your emotional and spiritual body. There comes a sense of control and connectedness with this body in which you live. Movement becomes easy – you can do things that seemed to have required great strength with much more ease – because you GET how your body functions and moves. The connection with your body helps you get to a place of general health and well-being. No more ignoring signs and symptoms or happily living in bliss of what your lifestyle does to your body. You can begin to tune in to what your body needs now and you can have the will-power and motivation to respond….avoiding the doctors a way further down the road.
Men are competitive. A sense of drive comes from getting better, faster, stronger, compared to others. In yoga you will meet your fiercest competitor yet. You will find a new sense of competition such as one you probably haven’t encountered before. This competitor is also known as your soul. You will face challenges you haven’t come across before and the journey will be your own. Take the challenge – it will be the most rewarding yet.
If you’re still in doubt here are two testimonials from men who recently started gracing us with their presence at Heal. Love. Yoga.
“On the days that I have done yoga my wife has asked if I’m on medication because I am so calm, patient and chilled at home and with my children.” DK
“My back issues are now a distant memory. My body is my own again. I can do all the things I wasn’t able to do while completely bogged down with back pain” WT
“(my wife) I started Yoga with you at Heal.Love.Yoga about two months ago (not too sure, but it feels like just the other day we started). Yoga is not really seen as a “guy” thing, but I can say that they don’t know what they are missing out on. The progress in terms of strength and flexibility that I have experienced is beyond my expectations. Each class tests the boundaries of so many area’s of ones body, that it is never boring and I am still waking up muscles in my body in every class. My back op is now a thing of the past, as my core muscles are now stronger than ever before and this helps compliment my trail running. I am hooked and I know (my wife) is as well. We are here to stay!!!” GF
Yoga classes consists of 90% women. A yoga studio is definitely a place where you can meet women.
Author: Tanya Kemp
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