Rethink Your Flexibility: The Many Benefits Of Yoga!
Yoga might be scary, but only if you don't understand it or have a fear of flailing about in a studio full of yogi greats. Here's your guide for nailing the warrior pose, because real men really do yoga!
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From LeBron James to Robert Downey Jr., athletes and celebs everywhere are reaping serious benefits by rolling out their yoga mats. But despite these high-profile endorsements, guys aren't meeting up for "broga" and beers just yet.
Whether they're just not up for chanting and meditation, or they're afraid of posing with their butts in the air in a room full of strangers, this "noga" attitude is nonetheless shortchanging potential athletic prowess.
Don't cut your gains short! Stop being so inflexible about what you think your body needs. Use the following benefits as inspiration to try your first yoga class, learn about the most popular types of yoga, and limberly roll your body into the studio!
The Many Bennies of Yoga1
It De-funks Your Mood
A walk may clear your head, but yoga will do it better. Research in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that a 12-week yoga intervention was better than walking to improve mood and anxiety.1
You'll Exhale Pain
Tight muscles are often painful muscles. Research in the Journal Of Pain found yoga to be an effective treatment for chronic neck pain, and it may even improve quality of life.2 It's worth trying if you've struggled with a persistent injury, because studies suggest it can help you shrug off back pain, too.3
Better Bedroom Mojo
Forget the blue pill. You just have to move your body in the right way! According to wellness experts at Loyola University Health System, partner yoga may help couples who struggle with sexual dysfunction.4
A lunchtime stretching session could sharpen up your game in the afternoon. Research in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that a mere 20-minute session of Hatha yoga improved the speed and accuracy of working memory.3 That's a trait everyone could benefit from.5
Improved Metronomic Heart Function
Yoga has been proven to increase heart rate variability, a sign of heart health, says research in the Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics.4 Now that's something to beat your chest about.6
Yoga could be a perfect, easy-going activity to incorporate if you're looking to add a bit of active recovery to your day. Regular yoga helps to lower inflammatory compounds in your blood, which are associated with stress and aging, found research at Ohio State University.5
The Best Yoga Pose You Can Do: Downward Dog
"This move is ideal for runners, cyclists, gym goers, rowers, sportsmen, and businessmen with tight shoulders, tight hamstrings, calf muscles, and backs who are in a rush," says yoga instructor Chris James.
- Position yourself onto all fours with your hands, feet, and knees shoulder-width apart. Spread your fingers and point them forward.
- Face your feet toward your hands, then lift your knees and back away from the floor. Raise your hips toward the ceiling. Stay on your toes at first, keeping the knees slightly bent. Your feet should remain parallel to each other.
- Press down on the floor with your arms and attempt to straighten your legs without locking your knees. Once your legs and back are straight, slowly lower your heels toward the floor and relax your shoulders. Hold this position for two minutes.
If the knowledge you've just gleaned has you clamoring to roll out your yoga mat, heed the following advice first. Signing up aimlessly for a yoga class you know nothing about could leave you drenched in other people's sweat or nodding off to forest music. Here's the rundown of what to expect from the most popular styles.1
This is the hot and sweaty kind of yoga done in a sauna-like environment to promote flexibility. It's good for guys trying to drop a little water weight after a big night out.2
With Ashtanga yoga, you'll always do the exact same poses in the same order, which means you'll get comfortable after a few classes and really be able to push yourself to have a good workout. This type is good for guys looking for a workout they can progress in.3
You'll move more fluidly between choreographed poses, and no two classes are the same. Good for guys who want to take the next step up from Ashtanga.4
This style teaches the widest variety of poses and is the most common type of yoga. If you're looking to start yoga gently, or you're nursing an injury, this could be the yoga for you.5
You'll destress in this class using blocks, blankets, and other props in passive poses that don't require exertion. This would be ideal for a lunchtime session or some light activity on a rest day.6
As the name suggests, you'll harness your power through athletic and active poses that improve your strength and core work. It's good for fit and healthy athletes looking for a new challenge.7
You'll do poses using a hammock that's hung from the ceiling. It's a little crazy, but this airborne style is good for guys looking to improve their balance and coordination.
- Streeter, C. C., Whitfield, T. H., Owen, L., Rein, T., Karri, S. K., Yakhkind, A., ... & Jensen, J. E. (2010). Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety, and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(11), 1145-1152.
- Michalsen, A., Traitteur, H., Lüdtke, R., Brunnhuber, S., Meier, L., Jeitler, M., ... & Kessler, C. (2012). Yoga for chronic neck pain: a pilot randomized controlled clinical trial. The Journal of Pain, 13(11), 1122-1130.
- Gothe, N., Pontifex, M. B., Hillman, C., & McAuley, E. (2013). The acute effects of yoga on executive function. The Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 10(4), 488-95.
- Sunkaria, R. K., Kumar, V., & Saxena, S. C. (2010). A comparative study on spectral parameters of HRV in yogic and non-yogic practitioners. International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics, 2(1), 1-14.
- Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Bennett, J. M., Andridge, R., Peng, J., Shapiro, C. L., Malarkey, W. B., ... & Glaser, R. (2014). Yoga's impact on inflammation, mood, and fatigue in breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32(10), 1040-9.