What Can Men Expect From Yoga? Very often, men wonder what they can expect from Yoga. In many parts of the world, the practice of Yoga has traditionally been seen as a woman’s form of physical exercise. This view is diametrically opposed to the traditional Indian view of the practice of Yoga. By Paul Jerard
Going back to the early Indus Valley Civilization, the deep study of Yoga was primarily the domain of men. Regardless of the cultural context, or the time period, men can expect a regular practice of Yoga to enhance their health and well-being on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level.
Physically, the regular practice of Yoga asanas (postures) will strengthen a man’s muscles and ligaments, as well as, improve his sense of balance. Yoga asanas will help to keep a man limber and flexible as he moves through the decades of his life.
This flexibility will help to prevent injuries from muscles strains and torn ligaments. As a man ages, practicing balancing postures will also help to improve and hone his sense of balance, which is very important in preventing injuries, such as broken hips from falls. Additionally, with the regular practice of vigorous styles, such as Ashtanga, Power, Flow or Vinyasa Yoga, a man’s cardiac health will be improved and his blood pressure could be lowered.
The pranayama techniques (breathing exercises) of Yoga help to balance the brain, alleviate anxiety and ease depression. The human need for pranayama is timeless. Our world moves at such a fast pace. The availability of all kinds of electronic technologies keeps us wired-in at all hours of the day and night.
Many men and women are balancing a demanding career with personal family obligations. A brisk-paced schedule may have the effect of creating a frenetic mind and body. The breathing practices of Yoga help to restore balance to the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, allowing a man to slow down and rejuvenate his body and mind during a Yoga class.
On a spiritual level, gathering together with a group of like-minded, and often spiritually oriented Yoga practitioners, will give a man the opportunity to connect with the energy within a Yoga class. In the practice of Yoga, the body and mind are connected through pranayama, asana, meditation and relaxation techniques.
The inward focus of a Yoga class, the gathering of other practitioners and the atmosphere, within a typical session, will all help a man to be in touch with and nourish his mind, body and spirit. By choosing to practice Yoga regularly, in a class setting or in the privacy of his own home, a man will reap many benefits—ranging from improved physical health and well-being to emotional balance and spiritual growth.
Yoga for Men’s Health
A regular practice of Yoga can support and enhance a man’s physical and emotional health, while bringing about a state of well-being. On a physical level, the asanas or physical postures of Yoga help to prevent injury by increasing flexibility, strength, endurance and balance.
The practice of pranayama, or Yogic breathing exercises, is also very beneficial for a man’s health. Pranayama exercises calm and soothe an over-active nervous system, thereby lowering elevated cortisol and adrenalin levels.
As the nervous system is calmed, blood pressure is lowered and cardiac health is improved. Additionally, practicing restorative Yoga poses will allow a man to release long-held muscular and emotional tension, stress and anxiety.
On a physical level, a regular practice of Yoga asanas will benefit a man by increasing his sense of balance and strength, while enhancing his level of flexibility. Quite often, pain from repetitive stress injuries, and other injuries related to competitive sports, may be reduced by a regular Yoga practice.
For example, if a man has a strained tennis elbow, poses, such as Downward Facing Dog, may help to re-balance, strengthen and stretch the ligaments that are frequently strained playing tennis.
A balanced, vigorous practice of Yoga poses will help to stabilize a man’s core muscles, stretch overly taut areas of his body, and help to strengthen weaker muscles groups. All of these benefits will help to prevent, and heal injuries, from other physical activities such as golf, tennis, football and rugby.
Improved cardiac health
Another set of very important benefits for men, of a regular practice of Yoga asanas and pranayama techniques, are lower stress levels and improved cardiac health. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death of men in the United States. Many men juggle a lot of different balls, as they work at becoming successful in their careers, raise a family, attend to aging parents and so on.
All of these responsibilities can cause a tremendous amount of stress, tension and anxiety. Practicing Yoga poses, with calming breathing exercises, consistently, will help a man to relax, unwind and release tension – both physically and emotionally. As the nervous system calms, blood pressure will drop and the stress on a man’s heart will be eased, leading to improved cardiac health.
The often overlooked practice of restorative Yoga poses also offers men great health benefits—both physically and emotionally. Restorative Yoga postures are more receptive and passive in nature, in comparison to strenuous practices like Power Yoga. Practicing Restorative Yoga poses will allow a man to let go, slow down and gently release the driven masculine energy of doing and achieving that which we value so highly in our culture. In allowing him to receive the poses, instead of “doing” the poses, a man will be able to release, rest and rejuvenate his body, mind and spirit.
Outside of India, Yoga for men’s health is a new concept, but medical and scientific studies are breaking new ground with results, which reveal that a Yogic lifestyle yields many benefits for both genders.
These articles are Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, has written many books on the subject of Yoga. He is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. He has been a certified Master Yoga Teacher since 1995. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports and articles about Yoga, please visit yoga-teacher-training.org. Courtesy of E-Zine Articles