Yoga is a constantly growing, thriving industry with a variety of styles to choose from based on your needs.
Whether you are looking to relax, heal from injuries, or have a full workout with the additional benefit of relaxation at the end, there is something for everyone and classes are filling up on a regular basis.
But have you noticed that in the average yoga class, there are usually a small number of men showing up?
In our modern culture when self-care, mindfulness, and physical fitness are presented to everyone as important parts of a healthy lifestyle why is this the case?
In doing research, I discovered that there are a few hurdles for men to overcome when considering attending a yoga class.
These include the fact that most yoga classes, accessories, and clothing are marketed to women, yoga is sometimes portrayed as only for the flexible, when in reality, it is for everyone in order to become more flexible, and with such a high population of women in the average class, it can be intimidating.
However, in my research, I also learned that there is a popular form of yoga for men called Broga.
So, what is Broga?
Broga is a form of yoga specifically catered to men by focusing on strength building poses that offer more of a challenge, work the upper body, and core, and offer flexibility.
One of their main tenets is that they offer a space for those who can’t touch their toes. By combining yoga poses with other strength building exercises and core work, Broga offers a well-rounded workout with a relaxing “work-in” result.
Yoga is Challenging
By combining breathing exercises, and a variety of dynamic (flowing) or static poses in a non-competitive environment, yoga offers a challenging form of exercise for the entire body.
Through using your physical body weight, yoga creates lean muscle mass and more muscle definition while requiring you to breathe through a deep pose to remain calm.
Finding and maintaining calm is a challenge.
Being able to focus on the present moment, clear your mind, connect to your breath, and stay open to the process all while holding a pose can be hard.
Yet each time you do so, creates a pathway back to doing so with greater ease on and off the mat.
Yoga Promotes Better Posture
By requiring an awareness of how you are holding the poses, yoga automatically helps to maintain good posture.
So many poses require the following stance - shoulders back, chest open, and core engaged in order to feel their full benefits, so doing this off the mat becomes a habit.
What a great habit too! Looking and feeling taller creates a happier, more confident individual!
Yoga Provides Increased Flexibility & Endurance
Due to the fact that most fitness routines offer little or no stretching, most men miss out on this benefit.
Fortunately, by holding poses, yoga provides flexibility in the connective tissues and deep muscle tissue to create a greater range of motion throughout the body.
This increased range of motion helps to reduce injury as well as increase endurance.
By holding poses longer, the muscles are required to remain tense for a longer amount of time, which increases the blood flow to them when releasing the pose and creates the perfect environment for stamina and flexibility to improve.
Yoga Creates a Strong Body & Mind Connection
Yoga teaches letting go, tuning into the thoughts and sensations throughout body and mind, and being present.
Can you let go of the stress of your day?
Can you focus on yourself without comparing yourself to the person next to you?
Can you push through the mental frustration caused by holding a difficult pose?
Can you let go of old mental habits that are no longer serving you?
These are the kinds of challenges that come up in an average yoga class.
By overcoming these obstacles on a regular basis, you create a stronger mind as well as a stronger body.
Yoga Decreases Stress
Through various breathing exercises and connecting breath to body when moving from one pose to another, yoga automatically lowers blood pressure, creates better oxygen flow, and provides a calm environment for any lingering stress to make its way out.
Learning yogic breathing techniques and the ability to tap into your breath at any time is essential to overcome the habitual patterns we all have for dealing with stress.
Breathing deeply opens the neck, shoulders, and chest – spaces we tend to hold a lot of tension.
Deep breathing also provides more oxygen throughout your body, activating your body’s automatic relaxation response.
Yoga Is For Men Too
As you can see, there are a variety of benefits of yoga for men whether you are interested in releasing stress, increasing flexibility, embracing a new challenge, or tuning into the mind-body connection or all of the above.
Any new experience takes time to become a habit and for a habit to stick it is important to stay motivated.
If you are new to yoga, take the time to find the right style, teacher, and schedule that works for you. If you have been doing yoga for a while and it is working, stick with it.
If you want to change things up, check out a new style of yoga or teacher. The point is, stick with it. Yoga is worth it and your health and wellbeing are worth it.
As one of my favorite yogis, Rolf Gates says:
“The obstacles in our path are the path. Every time we stretch beyond our resistance, we make a choice. And every time we make this choice fear loses it grip on us. We all know more than we think we do, and we are stronger than we believe ourselves to be. We come to our mats, and to our lives, to learn by going where we have to go.”