“You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.” ~ Rumi
Now that we’ve squashed all the macho myths about why men can’t do yoga, let’s look a little closer at why we should do it! The benefits of yoga don’t recognise gender, but they can be applied very specifically in our lives. Here are a few ways that our yoga brothers have a step up on the rest of the male population.
1. Be The Strongest You Can Be
Regular gym workout usually focuses on specific body parts, but wouldn’t it be better if there was a form of exercise that worked everything? In the gym, we are led to believe that what matters the most is only getting bigger. I believe real strength means becoming a well-rounded athlete, and the ability to score high in each and every physical category, not just muscle build-up!
Increase Flexibility Gain Harmony
In comparison to regular gym training, yoga doesn’t develop strength at the expense of flexibility. Many men I’ve met focus so much on muscle development that they end up overlooking the importance of having a supple body. Some even believe it to be a quality reserved exclusively for women!
Flexibility has no gender and, even if you’re as rigid as a rock, yoga helps you develop elasticity. What you’ll gain is a feeling of well-being, comfort and harmony, which in the end will work as a virtuous cycle allowing you to build even more strength.
Perfect Your Posture
We spend a lot of our time slouching, whether at work sitting in front of computers, on the couch watching TV or looking down at the tiny screen of our smart phones. Our posture is deteriorating and involves various health problems such as chronic fatigue, headaches and poor mental focus.
No matter what shape you are in, our posture is work in process. This means that it can always improve. By developing flexibility and core strength, yoga will automatically correct your posture and increase your awareness so you’ll know when you’re slouching or slumping.
Become More Resistant
The main reason why professional athletes are turning to yoga as an aid is because it drastically reduces the risk of injuries. If you’re into high impact sports like running for example, then yoga can help you release ligament and joint tension, open up your body and give you more focus to go even further.
By using your own body weight on the mat, your body warms up naturally. A dynamic yoga sequence is tiring, but it only causes limited strains on your body, and the risk of injury is much less than using excessive weights at the gym. As long as you follow the teacher’s instructions and don’t try to impress the person next to you, your chances of hurting yourself are close to zero.
2. Conquer The Boardroom
Are you tired of waking up every morning for a job you don’t like? Wish you could get that new position and finally feel appreciated for your efforts? We all wonder about the secrets to career advancement. One thing’s for sure, putting yourself out there can be stressful, but it’s not unachievable.
Master Your Nerves
Whether going for an interview or meeting your boss with a monthly target, yoga plays a huge role in how you handle yourself. No matter how grounded you are, such occasions can sometimes completely disrupt your peace of mind. The fight or flight response that you feel during these moments can surprise you simply means you’ve simply lost your balance. Yogis learn techniques to reconnect and regain your balance every time they show up on the mat, making it easier to keep your cool in stressful situations.
I believe that the hardest part of yoga is rolling the mat out every day. Once we develop the determination to practice no matter what, changes begin to happen within us. That discipline will spread to all other areas of your life. At work, this often implies an improved capacity to handle stress and meet deadlines — a perfect combination for success.
We’re told how to think, what to do, or what to wear so often that it becomes really difficult to see what you want or who you are through all the noise. Yoga and meditation gives you the chance to take a breath and pay attention to what you think, what you have to do, or what you want to wear. Developing greater self-awareness, learning to accept yourself and identifying where your strengths lie will help you make better decisions and gain confidence in your ability to handle stressful events.
3. Build Strong Relationships / Become A Magnet
Your life would be very dull without having the people you love there to share those key moments with you. Whether interacting with family, friends or complete strangers, yoga can improve your ability to connect with others — and that’s huge!
Build Long-Lasting Relationships
We all have our own ideas as to what makes relationships last. What yoga has taught me is that we need to develop love towards ourselves before we can sincerely appreciate, nurture and love another. As you develop awareness you will become more sensitive to to the things that feel good to you; making you a happier person, which naturally benefits your relationship with your partner.
Be an Inspiring Parent
It’s not difficult to find people with opinions on how to be a better parent. The advice I find is missing, though, is that parents need to keep up with taking care of themselves. I find many yogi Dads who take time out for themselves often find patience, the value of honesty, and loving-kindness. In becoming a more grounded individual, you also become someone around whom your children will naturally flourish.
Become a Magnet
Over time you come to know more about who you are, where your strengths lie and begin to accept your uniqueness and brilliance. Friends and family will start to notice something different about you, and you’ll find people are drawn to you for a myriad of reasons. By embodying the best version of yourself, you’ll naturally invite and inspire others to do the same!
If this sounds like something you’re interested in, there are so many ways to get started! You could do like Rob did in July, and try the intro offer at your yoga studio, find a local beginner’s class, or join one of YogaLondon’s community classes. If you’re interested in hearing about a guy’s experience getting into yoga first-hand, check out our interview with Adam Husler, or share your journey with us in the comments below!