By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
When you think about men working out, you probably conjure images of weightlifting, push-ups, running, or physical sports, such as football or basketball. While these activities certainly offer lots of health benefits, men can also gain strength and stamina from lower impact activities like Hatha Yoga. Some men might not be attracted to the thought of contorting their bodies into various positions, but this is all a misunderstanding. Yoga stretches and strengthens the muscles, lubricates the joints, increases blood flow throughout the body, and provides a healthy way to release stress. Modern western society has gone along with an image of Yoga as more of a women’s activity; but in fact, it is a part of history that the first Yoga teachers in ancient India were men. As more modern men are giving it a chance, they are realizing that Yoga is for men too.
Professional athletes are catching on to the benefits of Yoga for men. They are finding that through regular Yoga sessions, they can increase strength and endurance, and prevent future injuries. As men gain strength, it is important to balance the strength with flexibility, or injuries will occur. Yoga can provide the balance necessary for athletes to achieve peak performance levels.
Since Hatha Yoga can be challenging, it is best to start slow. A few stretches to warm up and cool down, during a normal workout session, is often all it takes for men to start realizing the benefits of Yoga. As they become more comfortable with the poses, they will be more likely to attend a full session Yoga class. Forward bend pose, downward facing dog, crescent lunge, warrior pose, and bow pose are nice poses to warm up and stretch the muscles, before beginning an intense workout. They can also be used to cool down and stretch at the end of the workout.
Many Yoga poses are excellent strength builders. Men can continue to build strength in any area of the body by practicing these poses on a regular basis. Boat pose strengthens the abdomen muscles, spine, arms, and hip flexors. Chair pose strengthens leg and thigh muscles. Thunder Bolt pose strengthens the legs, bottom, lower back, and shoulders. Modified plank pose strengthens the arms, chest, back, shoulders, and core muscles. All of these can be done without weights or any other equipment, and they work to stretch the muscles while building strength. Yoga truly can provide the best of both worlds for men – when they give it a chance.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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