Article by Emily Brathen
While it’s taken the world by storm over the past decade, yoga is still synonymous with women to many people.
Most clothing lines, yoga brands, and advertisements are directed at female yoga practitioners, which can make it hard for men to feel like they should give it a try.
Not to mention that yoga doesn’t have quite the same “manly” reputation as lifting weights does.
However, men who dismiss yoga are missing out on a whole range of health benefits.
Here’s why men should consider adding yoga to their fitness regime.
1. Helps Increase Strength And Muscle
Yoga can actually help increase your strength and muscle mass in two ways.
One is that it does allow for some resistance training, it’s just that instead of using weights as the resistance, the poses use your body as the resistance.
When you hold yourself up in a difficult pose, you’re stressing your muscles, which is of course what breaks them down and helps them grow.
Now, at a certain point, you need to increase resistance to continue growing. You’re likely not going to increase your weight just to get a better pump from yoga (that kind of defeats the point…plus, yoga is good for losing weight).
But don’t worry, the muscle benefits extend beyond just using yourself as a weight.
This study shows that regular yoga actually increased the amount of weight the participants could deadlift.
It makes sense, since yoga helps to improve flexibility and loosen important areas around the hips and hamstrings that you rely on for deadlifting properly.
Anecdotally, I’ve seen increased mobility and been able to lift heavier weights after incorporating yoga into my routine once or twice each week.
2. Improves Overall Flexibility
I recently heard someone say that the test of flexibility and fitness after you hit about 30 or 35 years old is whether you can get off the floor from a cross-legged position without using your hands.
It doesn’t seem that hard, but a surprising number of people struggle with this.
I bring this up, because some guys don’t want to chat about flexibility. It’s not cool or tough.
They often take flexibility for granted.
But when you’re a 40 year old dude struggling just to get of the floor after playing with your kids or fixing something under the sink, you’re going to realize just how wrong you were to forego improving your flexibility when you were younger.
Bending over, tying your shoes, reaching under the car…these are basic things that will just get easier with yoga. Plus, it will compound over time. If you don’t start now, just imagine how miserable you’ll be in your 50s, 60s and beyond when you can hardly move.
3. Improves Depression and Lowers Stress
Anything that can help you out with these two things is worth doing, right?
Depression and stress have absolutely horrible effects on your body, and can lead to a lot of factors that contribute to early death.
Don’t rely on pharmaceutical remedies to get your depression or stress under control, when you can turn to yoga.
Using yoga to cope with depression and stress is one of the best mental benefits men can get.
4. Improves Your Posture And Balance
We’ve already discussed increased muscle mass and increased flexibility.
So it’s no wonder that yoga also helps your posture and balance, since muscle and flexibility play a big role in these things.
Bad posture is like bad flexibility. It just keeps getting worse as you age. What doesn’t seem like a big deal now may wind up with you being unable to stand up straight in your senior years.
Nobody wants to work their whole life to retire, only to realize they can’t actually enjoy their retired years because they’re so broken physically.
Correct your minor posture issues now with yoga, before they manifest into something much worse.
5. Helps You Sleep Better
The things yoga helps us with sound pretty amazing, right?
Strength, flexibility, stress, posture…and now sleep?
By lowering stress levels, calming the mind, and getting rid of tension within the body, yoga sets us up for a better sleep.
You can also pick up yoga practices like meditation or savasana that involve slowing down activity in your mind, which may help you switch off before bed if you have trouble falling asleep.
6. Can Help With Addictions
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but men are not encouraged to deal with their emotions in a healthy way.
It’s not manly to cry, and it’s not manly to talk about your feelings, people say.
Unfortunately, bottling up those feelings often leads to abuse of alcohol and drugs, which leads to addiction to those substances.
By reducing stress and helping to restore a calm focus to your life, yoga can help those people gripped by addictions to recover and eliminate those substances that are controlling their lives.
7. Helps You Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
Fitness is like a puzzle. You’ve got to eat well, you’ve got to lift weights, you’ve got to move your body, and you need to take care of your mind while you’re at it.
Yoga helps in a variety of those aspects, and generally can help keep you on the right track.
Not only does it help you physically and mentally as we’ve discussed above, but it can be a great anchor to your fitness schedule each week, if you start or end the week with yoga.
If you create a habit of doing it at a certain time on a certain day, it’s easier to structure the rest of the things you have to do around the practice, and maintain a long-term, healthy fitness program.
8. Stimulates The Production Of Testosterone
Perhaps the most convincing reason that yoga is for men as much as it is for women is the fact that it can boost testosterone production and improve your sex drive.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, takes up a lot of space when it comes to bodily functions, and prevents your body from producing testosterone at an adequate level.
Since yoga helps us relax and destress, it can lead to the reduction of cortisol and an improvement in the body’s ability to create sex hormones.