Do you think Yoga is only for women? The rise in popularity of Broga Yoga says otherwise. When you think of Yoga, do you envision spandex-clad women - toting color coordinated exercise mats and water bottles.
They are probably either twisting themselves into inexplicable positions or sitting cross-legged while using chanting and humming to “empty their minds” and release their stress?
If you're a man, the fact that more than 75% of Yoga participants are women may be enough to keep you away. Some guys feel uncomfortable being the only man in the class. However, the times are changing.
Historically, most Yogis were men. Yoga was a male-dominated practice, but in North America, it has long been overlooked for more “male-like” sports such as football or hockey. In the last few years, however, many athletic trainers and medical doctors have begun to look at the benefits of broga yoga for men and have discovered that the ancient Yogis just might have been on to something.
One thing is for certain – Yoga is a lot more than chanting “Oms” and Downward Facing Dog. It can be challenging, brutal even. It can give you the same results as more aggressive forms of exercise without the strain on your body. And, contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be Elastic Man to participate.
Actually, the benefits have been so profound that many professional male athletes have incorporated Yoga into their training programs. Several NBA, NFL, and MLB teams have begun including Yoga poses as part of their team regiments because it improves sport-specific performance, reduces injuries, and accelerates recovery.
So, all you men out there – Yoga is not just for women. Don't believe it? Then take this challenge: attend a Bikram class and see if you don't sweat. Or, try out a Power Yoga (Ashtanga or Vinyasa) session to test out your cardio and muscle strength. If you can honestly say that your limits weren't pushed – even just a little – then Yoga may not be right for you. But, you will probably find it much more challenging than you could have ever imagined!
The appeal of Broga Yoga – which is essentially Yoga geared to men - is the fact that it focuses on those things that are important to men (muscle toning/sculpting and cardio) while also offering benefits such as stress reduction, flexibility, and injury prevention
If you are really brave, you can always join the ladies in one of their more challenging classes. You can also do Yoga at home or incorporate some of the postures into any other workout. So, as a man, why should you consider Broga Yoga? The following benefits speak for themselves:
1. Improves Athletic Performance. No matter what sport you play, or what activity you like to participate in, Yoga can increase your flexibility, improve your endurance, and help prevent injuries so you can perform better with less risk to your muscles and joints. Plus, healthy, flexible muscles will recover from an injury faster, so you can spend more time doing what you love.
2. Works The Entire Body. Many sports are muscle-specific, meaning they only work a few muscle groups. When you only challenge 10-20% of your body, the other muscles and joints become weak, increasing your risk of injury. Most yoga poses incorporate multiple muscle groups at the same time, and by performing just a few poses, you can achieve a full body workout that will benefit all your muscles, joints, and organs.
3. Boosts Energy. Many exercise programs will drain your energy and leave you feeling tired. Yes, overall, staying fit improves your energy level, but there is no denying that you can often feel fatigued immediately following an intense workout. Well, Yoga can actually have the opposite effect. Since it improves focus, detoxifies, and releases stress, it can boost you energy level and make you feel more revitalized. So, if you are feeling a little sluggish, a few yoga poses can work better than a nap!
4. Speeds Recovery and Decreases Muscle Soreness. Some types of workouts can be hard on the body, making you feel stiff and sore the next day. Lactic acid build-up can leave muscles tight, which is not only uncomfortable but can also increase your risk of injury. Yoga stretches help relieve tension, release lactic acid, and keep muscles flexible so you recover from a workout more quickly, without all the unwanted stiffness or soreness.
5. Builds Muscle. Yoga uses your own body weight as resistance, which is one of the best ways to build and sculpt muscles. Athletic trainers use yoga because it provides a better cardio challenge than many aerobic activities while also building muscles and working the entire body. And, since the transition between poses is smooth, you can reach your muscle building goals with minimal risk of injury.
Even if you want to include weight training into your workout routine, adding Yoga poses can detoxify your body and keep your muscles more pliable so you are able to achieve better results from your lifting sessions.
6. Burns Calories. Some styles of Yoga, particularly Bikram, can burn up to 600 calories in a single session, which can give you amazing weight loss results.
7. Relieves Stress. Today's world is stressful and regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage that stress. However, more aggressive forms of stress relief, such as boxing or running, can be hard on your body and leave you feeling fatigued. Many yoga poses focus on relaxation and tension release while also energizing your body. Now, you can get rid of your stress and get a little energy boost as well.
8. Improves Overall Health. Yoga has been shown to relieve joint and muscle pain, particularly in the knees, hips, and lower back pain. In fact, some studies found that many people were able to go off medications after just a few months of regular Yoga practice. There are also reports that Yoga can help lower blood pressure, improve cardio capacity, and help you sleep better. Plus, many men have reported that it has a profoundly positive effect on their sex life.
So, if you want to relax (and everyone does, right?), build muscle, detoxify, become more flexible, increase your focus and clarity (so you are more effective at work, home, and play), and improve your performance (at the gym, in the bedroom, or in everyday activities) then you should consider adding Broga Yoga into your workout/training program.
And, no, you don't have to wear designer outfits with matching water bottles and sweat bands. Just regular workout pants and a comfortable t-shirt (but not too loose) will do. If you are a runner or jogger, do the Mountain Pose or Tree Pose to stretch your feet and thighs and give your core (an area often overlooked by runners) a workout.
The Boat Pose will also stretch your hip flexors and help protect this vulnerable area from injury. If you are stiff and sore from leaning over a desk or struggle with back pain from weight training, the Standing Forward Bend and Warrior Pose will stretch out your spine, open your chest, and loosen tension in your shoulders. Twisting poses are great for relieving tension and keeping your torso flexible for every day activities.
Whatever your needs or lifestyle, Yoga can help you reach your fitness goals while also benefiting your overall health and protecting your muscles from injury. So, come on men, it's time to get your Broga Yoga on and start discovering all the benefits that Yoga for men can offer.
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I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.