What comes to mind when you hear the words Bikram, Iyengar and Sivananda? While you’d be correct in saying that they are all styles of yoga, did you also know that they are the names of the men who pioneered yoga in the western world?
Historically, yoga was very much an un-gendered practice. Women and Men shared the yoga room and both were crucial in its conception and popularisation in the west. Thankfully, we are again now moving away from the idea that the yoga space is female-dominated. Recently, the AFL partnered with the fitness brand Lululemon as part of a mindfulness strategy. This strategy was developed to increase the wellbeing of the AFL players.
Men in the yoga room are in good company. AFL all-stars Sam Gilbert, Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara all publicly praise the practice for allowing them to perform their best on and off the field. If that’s not enough to shake your feelings of apprehension walking into a new yoga studio, here are the top seven reasons why all men should be practising yoga.
1. You can probably already do the poses
The good news is you don’t have to fold up like a contortionist or attempt those gravity-defying poses on Instagram to reap the benefits. It’s the most basic poses, which you are probably already capable of, that will bring you the benefits of yoga. Focus on creating a foundation of flexibility and strength by getting comfortable with sun salutations and the warrior poses.
2. Yoga increases men’s testosterone levels
You may be brushing off the symptoms of low testosterone that include muscle loss, fatigue, low sex drive and hair loss. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone – global testosterone levels have been declining for decades. Simple yoga poses like cobra pose have been shown to boost testosterone by 33%. Cobra pose is an integral part of a vinyasa class, so there’s no wonder you leave the yoga studio with that strong feeling that everyone deserves.
3. Yogic breath will minimise stress hormones and improve your immune system
Did you know that most people breathe from their chest instead of their belly? It’s no wonder then that so many people complain about chronic stress. Breathing from your chest sends signals to engage your sympathetic nervous system. This system is our fight or flight mode, which increases cortisol in the body. If you’re consistently breathing in this way, over time, your immune system can begin to weaken as it’s hard for your body to repair while it’s in fight or flight mode. Belly breathing taught in the yoga room has the opposite effect. It sends messages to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing your body and putting you into healing mode.
4. Yoga helps you overcome your muscle plateau
Have you had the same amount of muscle mass for years even though you go to the gym regularly? A regular yoga practice will help you widen your range of motion allowing you to increase your bodies access to more muscle fibres. When more muscle fibres are engaged, thanks to your new found flexibility, your body can experience more substantial hypertrophy which is responsible for muscle growth.
5. Yoga can make you sharper
Would you like to be a little bit more productive during your work week? Think about the reasons why you sometimes struggle to stay focused and alert. Perhaps you can’t shake that 3pm sluggish slump no matter how many coffee breaks you take. Maybe your lower back pain distracts you when you’re writing that tenth email before 11am. Carve out time every week to practice focus, deep breathing and actively stretching the muscles that lead to discomfort. You will undoubtedly begin to feel more alert at work.
6. Yoga has powerful anti-aging effects
If you haven’t seen the photos of Täo Porchon-Lynch, the 100-year-old yoga teacher perching in a perfectly formed crow pose, it’s just a short google search away. Yoga has been found to slow cellular and molecular skin aging. This is mainly due to the effect yoga practices – the poses and breathing – has on your stress levels. A regular yoga practice can have positive neurophysiological effects on your body and even lower blood sugar. If you’re looking for the fountain of youth, look no further.
7. Yoga can minimise the chance of injury
Certain yoga poses will strengthen the stabiliser muscles around your major joints where the most common injuries occur. Regularly practising yoga will protect your knees, hips and shoulders when you are practising other sports that you are more likely to experience an injury. Strengthening your stabiliser muscles can also help you heal old injuries, leading to a pain-free life.
Everyone deserves to have the positive effects of yoga in their life, and Myall Wellbeing is here to make your transition into yoga less intimidating.
Want to put these 7 reasons to the test? Join us in the studio for a month of unlimited yoga for just $59! Find out more here.
We look forward to seeing your face in the studio!
Find us at 55 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000.
Blog lovingly written by Mikaela Moretti