It’s 2020, and yoga certainly isn’t a new concept anymore. In fact it’s been around for thousands of years, but maybe this year is the one where more men start to make yoga a priority for their own health and wellbeing.
For many guys already, the benefits of yoga are not lost on them. I myself am continually inspired by the many men I see showing up to yoga class daily. The increasing popularity of yoga with both men and women is a testament to how the practice is slowly but surely creating a positive shift in their daily lives.
Is yoga right for me?
Regardless of your current experience with yoga, I firmly believe that all men, especially those that are active in their daily lives, should be practicing yoga.
As a yoga student for the last 20 years and a yoga teacher for the last 12, I can speak from first hand experience about how life changing the practice can be, no matter which angle you come from - be it mind or body.
If we were to agree that in today’s day and age, our greatest commodity is how we spend our time, then finding and establishing practice that not only serves our physical wellbeing, but also our mental and emotional needs, would be considerably effective and efficient.
Still need convincing? We debunk the myths that might be inhibiting your first steps towards the yoga mat:
Isn’t yoga just stretching?
Yes, yoga is stretching, but it’s not JUST stretching. Physically, it’s great for the body because it helps to open and release tension and tightness in the muscles. But to believe that yoga is just simply stretching would be a disservice to us all. Yoga as a holistic practice helps us to strengthen the body, increase flexibility and enhance our balance and stability. And to go even deeper, it’s a practice that allows us the space to breathe, to not be perfect, to let go of expectations and give some time back to ourselves in a beneficial way for our body, mind and overall wellbeing.
I’m more of a HIIT guy...
Regardless of your chosen physical activities, yoga is a valuable practice just like walking and stretching. It has universal benefits for any activity, which will allow you to perform each at a greater level. If you’re into sport or extreme physical activities, yoga is an amazing practice to ease the tension in the muscles, stretch you out and alleviate stiffness, tightness and muscle imbalances. It will allow you to increase your strength and mobility for other high impact activities, while reducing your chance of injury.
I’m so inflexible! People will judge me
No one likes to start from the bottom, and that’s ok. We’re all comfortable in the things we’re good at, or familiar with. The beauty of yoga is that the focus is about ourselves, no one else. Yes you may be inflexible, but you’re not going to change that by staying at home. Sometimes the best way to start is to just start. I often say to a lot of guys, ‘don’t try to be good’, ‘just try’. That’s all that matters.
In the words of Dr. Seuss: ‘those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter’.
I don’t think I have the patience for yoga
Yoga can be practiced in many different forms and styles; there are some that are more active, engaged and need a focused mind with a decent amount of effort.
If you’re the type with a short attention span, then opt for a dynamic class, such as power yoga, rocket yoga, vinyasa yoga.
But equally, don’t shy away from the slower, more gentle styles, such as yin, restorative, and hatha. Because for so many guys, the best way to slow down and be ok with stillness and doing less, is by giving yourself permission to try.
My life is too hectic for yoga
If you’re the type of guy with a busy and active mind, juggling work, fitness, social life and family life, then yoga is exactly the kind of practice to be making time for. It will help calm the chaos, destress and ease the overthinking. Allowing you to think more clearly and efficiently.
How do I get into yoga?
These days you don’t have to look very far to find an advocate for yoga. It’s widely acknowledged and appreciated for its holistic and wellbeing benefits. But I believe the conversation now isn’t about the value of yoga as an independent practice, but rather about the essential value of adding yoga into your everyday life.
For a long time yoga has been seen as a western wellness luxury, often only available in fancy gyms and boutique fitness studios, or associated with designer brands and business models. Instead I’d like to advocate that yoga is a practice for lifestyle wellbeing and everyday health, and intact one of the most comprehensive and efficient practices that all men can do.
You don’t have to go to a fancy yoga studio to start, just keep it simple. There are so many great books, online classes, starter courses and programmes that can give you a gentle introduction to yoga.
Great online yoga subscription channels:
- Udaya Yoga
- Soul Sanctuary
The best free Youtube yoga channels:
- Cat Meffan
- Annie Clarke
- Yoga with Adrienne
With regards to books, there is an enormous amount of choice. My recommendation is to start with the BOYS OF YOGA book called ‘Sit Down, Be Quiet.’ It’s a great intro guide to getting going.
5 Reasons all active men should practice yoga:
Yoga is comprehensive
It’s good for the body and simultaneously calms the mind. You will feel the rewards of both, meaning you can take on the day with a clear head whilst also reducing your chance of injuries. A full 360 of goodness.
It’s a valuable use of ‘me’ time
In a fast-paced world, it’s one of the few activities that allows you to take a moment for yourself and be present.
It supports your mental health
Studies consistently show that yoga helps to alleviate stress, tension and anxiety, both at the time of practice and beyond the mat.
Yoga needn’t be a substitute for your morning runs or weightlifting sessions. Yoga is an additional ritual that perfectly compliments the workouts and lifestyle choices you are already doing.
You will never stop learning
Unlike many active practices, yoga is not a competition. You cannot ‘win’ at yoga. You’re simply there to go on a journey, experience the practice and feel the benefits.
So what are you waiting for!
Without a doubt, I cannot think or find another discipline out there that accomplishes and appreciates both equally. So if you’re an active man in 2020, splitting your time between life, work and your own wellbeing, and you’re looking for ways to increase living well, then yoga should be at the top of your list.
Not only for the worth it brings to your life and wellbeing, but also the value it brings to how you spend the limited time you have living in a fast-paced world.