Despite its current feminine stereotype, yoga does not require a full wardrobe of perfectly matched Spandex, a fresh pedicure or any degree of that thing called flexibility, which seems to come so naturally to women. Yoga is for every body. A regular yoga practice increases strength and flexibility, improves circulation and immune health, reduces stress and offsets sports injuries. Yet, men make up less than one-third of America’s practitioners.
I’ve discovered that most American men see yoga as a “woman’s exercise.” And, our western culture doesn’t help dispel this stigma. Most yoga photos and advertisements feature women in impossibly complicated-looking poses, yoga clothing is primarily marketed to women and the majority of today’s yoga studio teachers are women.
Perception is not reality. Men need yoga too. Men gravitate – whether naturally or due to societal influences – toward strength-building exercises, or, in other words, lifting weights. While this type of a workout is great for building muscle, it contributes to tightness and compression. This is where yoga comes into play.
The benefits are many, not the least of which is increased flexibility. What does this mean to you? It’s not as much about twisting your body into the shape of a pretzel as it is about feeling good, loose – like you did when you were a child. Yoga can help you recapture that feeling. Yoga also can:
- Increase strength and muscle tone;
- Instill balance and body control;
- Improve breathing and oxygen intake, which improves circulation;
- Help prevent injury and speed recovery;
- Diminish back pain;
- Increase energy;
- Reduce stress;
- Relax you mentally and physically;
- Train focus and concentration;
- Increase stamina;
- Help detoxify the body;
- Aid in weight loss;
- Boost the immune system;
- And, recharge your sex life.
If you can walk away experiencing one or two of the above benefits, you’ve established a great foundation. Those who continue a dedicated practice will continue to reap additional benefits.
Fall is an ideal time to introduce yoga into your regular exercise routine. As you prepare your body for winter adventure, yoga can help keep you loose and ready for anything. It can also help prevent injury, which can ruin an entire season.
The Vail Vitality Center offers yoga classes four times daily. Check out our schedule.