Being a man in the Yoga world I’ve been fortunate to observe the growing number of Men participating in Yoga. With more people seeing past the stigma of Yoga being all about women in lycra or people sitting around chanting mantras and needing to get all twisted like a pretzel. More men are opening up to the benefits of Yoga.
“Meditate, breathe, show love to your family and friends, be kind to strangers, enjoy the gifts you were given and be ok with the gifts you weren’t. Know that your practice changes everyday, try for the best possible but love yourself that much more if you come up short.”
– DYLAN WARNER
In my humble opinion, as a man, here are 7 benefits I’ve observed over the years of practice. There are many more and these are just 7 that came to mind.
- Physic…I first came to Yoga to aid with back issues and gain a little more flexibility. What I came with the healing of my back was a range of additional physical benefits. One was the balanced physic, whilst an advocate for appreciating your body for what it is and I appreciate all body shapes and sizes there is a particular feeling you get when your body changes. When my physic developed and my body toned up I felt great about myself and gained a mass of confidence.
- Mobility…Then came the mobility, a popular word in the health and fitness industry these days with many people spending hours working on it. Mobility to me is more than flexibility and incorporates how well we move. With the combination of Yin and Vinyasa Flow yoga my own mobility is continuing to improve daily. Having recovered from two knee reconstructions I once thought a full squat would be impossible, now I happily sit in a squat pain free. With this I also move freely in and out of other positions, have a great awareness of my body position when exercising and understand what is restricting me through some movements.
- Strength…One of the benefits that has surprised me is the added strength gained from Yoga. Whilst I was aware that my strength would improve with Yoga, just how much is the surprise. As a Crossfit, Rugby Playing Yogi I still enjoy throwing some weights around a gym/box and this is probably the best example of improved strength I can give. Before my second knee operation I was training hard from Rugby which included 3-4 gym/rugby conditioning sessions a week, 3-4 yoga sessions a week and a game or two of water polo. During this time my bench press max was about 86kg. Since starting Clear Water Yoga and now practicing and teaching yoga daily my gym work outs and alternate training has reduced to around 1-2 sessions a week. A couple of weeks ago bench pressing with my sister I maxed at 92.5Kg. Something to be said for all those Chaturangas.
- Clarity…Yoga is a mindfulness practice and for many the term means to sit and meditate. Whilst yoga was designed to be mediation in movement, we are all aware that our minds often drift off to thought. After years of practice this still happens often. At first I would get caught up in thought and then get frustrated at being caught up in thought, double whammy really. At some stage a teacher reminded me that its ok to have thoughts, the trick is to reframe from attaching to them. This opened up a new world of clarity. From here on I was able to let the thoughts drift on, with this came the clarity. Clarity of how to deal with difficult situation, clarity of my purpose, clarity of who I am.
- Confidence…Before practicing yoga I was a shy quiet guy that had a calm confidence in and around the right people in the right situations. Funnily enough talking to people now and they thought I was always cool, calm and confident, maybe on the outside. Which brings me to the point, on the outside I put up my Armour and presented a persona of calmness and confidence…on the inside I was forever worrying about what others thought of me, was at times anxious and never knew what to say. With yoga providing me with the clarity of who I am, what I’m here for and total acceptance of myself, my confidence is ever growing. I still have times of shyness or feeling anxious, now I have the ability to breathe, feel and move through these feelings in order to be my true humble self.
- Friendships…Whilst we find friendships in many places about our lives, I can truly say that Yoga has brought me some of my dearest friends. Can honestly way that had my love for yoga been left dormant many aspects of my life would be very different, just look at the list of benefits in this blog. For example… yoga has allowed me to continue to play rugby, expanding my friendship with great club mates. Yoga has become my passion and now teaching yoga has brought new people into my life which I greatly appreciate. The confidences I’ve gained has also seen me do things and talk to people that I would have avoided in the past, again creating new relationships and experiences.
- Balance…Yes yoga helps with your ability to balance, stand on one leg and balance out your physical body. For me it also created a balance in life. Taking time to escape to my mat gives me greater perspective on life, helps to identify whats truly important and what I can simply “LET GO”. Identifying whats important in life and focusing on them, allowing all else to simply be, provides a space for appreciation. Appreciation for all aspects of life, from the daily jobs around the house the random walks in nature. With the appreciation for all that is around us comes a sense of acceptance and balance about life. I enjoy all aspects of life and constantly feel grounded, centered and balanced in where I stand.
These are some of the benefits of yoga I’ve experienced and there are many more for you, your friend and loved ones to embrace. If your a regular Yogi/Yogini, a beginner or someone that may have a spark of interest in yoga, I encourage you to embrace your practice. Encourage you to try many of the different styles, find the one that works for you and allow yourself to grow.
In celebration and support of Mens Health we have set up a team to raise funds and awareness for Movember. As part of our campaign this year we will be running a BRO/FLOW yoga class every Tuesday night at 730pm. BRO/FLOW is a mens only yoga class designed to increase mobility and strength. All BRO/FLOW classes will be donation only with all donations going to our Movember campaign. We also have a MOVE Challenge, for anyone that has joined our November Team. The team member that moves the most in Movember will get one month of unlimited yoga for themselves or a friend.
Enjoy Life, Enjoy the Challenges, Embrace the Journey.