Drop in on any yoga class and you’ll usually find the gender breakdown to be equal to that of a nail salon throwing a mani-pedi special on ladies night. But this Y-chromosome drought means guys are missing out.
The millennia-old practice could lead you towards spiritual enlightenment, but in the short term, it could fix back pain, help shift that beer belly, and add kilos to your squat. No surprise Ryan Giggs, the New York Giants and the All Blacks rugby team are such fans. Turns out even the swollest bros should add some namaste into their day.
Ditch The Ibuprofen
If you’re on first name terms with your GP’s receptionists, hitting the mat beats any pain meds. “Yoga helps to reduce common injuries of bones, joints, and ligaments, from overuse and repetitive movement that are a result of physical exercise and sports,” says New York City yoga instructor Maria Macsay. But a downward dog on deadlift days isn’t enough.
Regular sessions lengthen your muscles and stabilise your joints, which makes your entire body more flexible. The result? You can bend deeper, jump higher and won’t wobble when you load the bar. “With practice, the body becomes more agile and recovery time shortens, which is a plus for anyone who is physically active.” PBs, come at me.
It’s The Little Things That Count
Sorry to break it to you, but what’s in the mirror isn’t everything. “Unlike weight lifting, yoga strengthens muscles and improves mobility at the same time,” says Macsay. “Big muscles look impressive, but are they functional? Even though you might be able to bench a crazy high number at the gym, it might not benefit you in your day to day life.”
And it might surprise you how much you’re missing out on by focusing on size over function. “When you practice yoga, everyday activities don’t strain the body,” says Macsay. Because no one’s impressed by what fills your shirt if you can’t tie your shoelaces without grimacing.
Take A Chill Pill
If you see spreadsheets dancing when you close your eyes, yoga might be the missing piece to some peace of mind. “The connection to the breath, which is a fundamental principle of yoga, is a wonderful recipe for relaxation,” says Macsay. But this isn’t hippy wizardry.
“The nervous system relaxes and the hormone oxytocin, is released which is responsible for the feelings of happiness.” That flush through your bloodstream is proven to kill anxiety, soothe your nervous systems and increase sexual intimacy. Although that’s not an excuse for treating your studio as a pick-up spot.
I Heart Yoga
Those 10-milers aren’t the only way to keep your ticker ticking over. “Most exercise improves nerve function, but it ends up exhausting the cellular reserves and endocrine glands, which actually ends up overworking the heart,” says Macsay. By dropping the intensity you get more bang for your cardio buck.
“Yoga can be very physically demanding, even more than jogging, but because the heart beats at a steady rhythmic pace, the heart is strengthened,” says Macsay. Which translates as torching blubber without torching your heart’s longevity.
Be Fit, Look Fit
An hour of stretching might not seem as strenuous as shifting tin. But because you probably spend as much time on core strength as you do on warming up (we see you, guys who hit the bench press straight out of the changing room), you’ll feel the burn.
Regular practice will help turn bulbous muscles into something more aesthetic, too. “Yoga is an equipment free activity, so you are strengthening and lengthening muscles with your own body weight,” says Macsay. The result? A lean, sculpted physique. We’ll salute the sun to that.