By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
If you smiled or laughed, when you saw this title, that was my intention. From the outside looking in, Yoga might not have the appearance of a macho activity. It is true that Yoga schools have many challenging styles, but television commercials tend to play up large classes full of graceful women demonstrating exceptional flexibility, while one lone male in the class demonstrates inflexibility, lack of coordination, and sometimes a lack of intelligence.
The creators of these commercials could care less about the real truth, the image of Yoga or the image they create. Their purpose is to sell a product, and if they have to make men look foolish to sell a product to women, so be it. However, this image is a great repellant to keep men out of Yoga classes. As silly as it may be, many men only want to participate in activities that are perceived as masculine. When it comes to working out, tough guys have long adhered to the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. According to experts, however, this belief is not only faulty, but it can result in serious injury. While physical training can be rigorous, pain is not a prerequisite for success. It may actually be a warning, from within one’s body, to slow down or change routines.
Men have traditionally preferred competitive contact sports, but the need to win can be hard on the physical body and emotional health, as well. Professional athletes, along with other sports enthusiasts, are discovering that the practice of Yoga training can help them function more effectively in contact sports, and, at the same time, increase their overall health and wellbeing.
20 Ways Yoga Asana Practice Can Help Tough Guys
• Teaches breathing techniques that make it easier to work through strenuous or painful routines
• Helps to release and balance uneven muscle patterns entrenched by years of rigorous training
• Improves flexibility and relaxes tight muscles
• Gives a different perspective and appreciation for “gentler” methods of exercise
• Increases awareness of sensations within the body
• Cultivates patience and helps to let go of perfectionism
• Makes other training programs more effective
• Helps to prevent injuries or to recover more quickly
• Tones muscles and improves posture
• Aids in weight control
• Slows down the aging process
• Enhances immune system and improves general health
• Encourages healthy sleep patterns
• Boosts concentration and mental acuity
• Improves organ function and circulation
• Releases endorphins that improve mood
• Enhances endurance and performance
• Breaks down lactic acid, resulting from sustained physical activity
• Works entire body
• Removes toxins from the body
If these reasons are not enough to convince tough guys of the benefits of Yoga, these recent news stories might do the trick:
• Swami Bua – a Yogi, not listed in record books, because there is no written record of his birth – died in 2010, at an estimated age of 120. He could stop his circulation; and, in his later years, was still able to blow a conch shell for up to five minutes, during one breath, each year at an annual gathering, honoring the United Nations in New York City.
• Wim Hof broke his own world record in 2008 by spending for 1 hour, 13 minutes, and 48 seconds immersed in ice. He used Tummo breathing – a practice used by Yogi Monks in Tibet – to control his body temperature.
Chances are – not many men want to spend days blowing conch shells or using breathing techniques to stay alive on a freezing mountain, but these examples do illustrate the amazing power of Yoga and its potential to enable seemingly insurmountable feats. They leave little doubt of Yoga’s usefulness in the field of competitive sports and other arduous physical endeavors.
Although there are many Yoga moves (asanas) to challenge one’s strength and fortitude, the following is a short list for competitive athletes of both genders.
Yoga Asanas for Tough Guys
The Sun Salutations Sequence
Lord of the Dance Pose
As always, please consult with your primary physician or medical specialist, before starting a new exercise program. Proper instruction, with a certified and competent Yoga instructor, is recommended. Any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries must be respected by modifying techniques.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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