We’ve heard it all before: I’m not flexible enough to do Yoga. Yoga is for girls. It’s not a workout. Yoga? Not for me. If you’ve ever said any of these or even thought them, well clearly you’ve never been to a yoga class.
According to a survey conducted by Yoga Alliance in 2016, in the U.S 36.7 million people practice Yoga and only 10 million are men. Don’t you think it’s time to break through these stereotypes and reap the benefits of this ancient practice? Let’s not forget, for thousands of years, yoga was only practiced by men.
The postures which are done in a yoga class lengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility in ways that you don’t usually get from doing an intense workout at the gym. Repetitive movements such as sitting at your office desk or even weightlifting can tighten certain joints and muscle groups. Yoga is a practice which will reverse all these effects, open up the tightness, release the fascia (connective tissue). By combining yoga into your regular workout routine, you will have a faster recovery as well as an overall improvement to your wellbeing.
Improves Athletic Performance
Professional athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and Tom Brady swear by yoga. Not only has it aided their longevity, but it has also helped them relieve their stress and amount of pressure they are under from the media and their team. By going to their mat, they have learned to loosen up & unwind. The mind-body connection has improved their concentration and allowed them remain more centred throughout the season.
If you think because you lift weights then you must be strong, think again. You will be surprised just how much strength (both physical and mental) is required to hold certain poses and inversions. As you hold a certain pose, not only are you isometrically contracting your major muscle groups, you are also firing up your stabilizer muscles. In a simple pose such as Downward Facing Dog, your calves are lengthening, lower back is stretching, shoulders are building strength to hold the body up, and the core is active by pulling the navel to the spine. A total full body workout!
Sports such as running or cycling move the body in one plane of motion. By repeating these movements you are making certain muscle groups stronger and ignoring the rest. This can cause an imbalance in the muscles and joints leading to overuse injury. For example, if you have tight hamstrings and hip flexors your body will compensate by bearing more load on your low back, causing strain and damage to the spine.
By practicing yoga, your muscles, tendons and ligaments will go through all three planes of motion. Activating the little used muscles which support the primary movers, ensuring a well rounded and balanced workout.
Do you feel constantly stressed from work? Constantly on the need to meet deadlines and hit targets each month? Well yoga will help you reduce your stress hormone cortisol, and as a result you will have fewer sleepless nights and be at a more relaxed state of mind.
The various controlled breathing techniques are shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, regulating your body’s stress response. Balancing postures such as Tree Pose will deepen your focus and self awareness.
Gives you a natural high, we call it the post yoga glow. That feeling you get after you walk out of a yoga class is unbeatable. Your body releases the essential hormone oxytocin, the hormone which promotes happiness and wellbeing. See for yourself, next time you go to a yoga class notice how that anxiety and stress magically disappears, leaving you in pure bliss.
So what are you waiting for, roll out that mat to see and feel the benefits for yourself. Male, or female, if you stretch more you become more flexible, if you challenge yourself physically you will become stronger, if you tap into your inner awareness you will be calmer. It’s pure logic. Now who doesn’t want that?
It's time to invest in your own yoga mat and get started!
Published on Qatar Happening, November 2017 issue.