Two years ago, you wouldn’t have found me caught dead in a yoga class. It seemed too feminine to me and just not something ‘manly’ guys did. This naïve viewpoint has changed dramatically since I was introduced to yoga by a close friend. My hope is simple: to reciprocate the path to many other guys that are hesitant to get into yoga as the benefits are profound – more to come on that. A little bit of my background..
I’m currently 29 years old, living the ex-pat life in Hong Kong and enjoying life to the max. I’m American and grew up in a military family so I have gotten used to moving and travelling frequently. There are pros and cons to moving often – for starters, you learn to adapt to unfamiliar environments. Starting yoga for the first time very much feels like exploring in an unfamiliar environment, when in fact, you are the environment, no matter where you go. Yoga has enhanced my life in many ways and five of the top ones are as follows:
(1) Finding a sense of community.
Although yoga can be practised individually, it is largely a communal activity. Some of my closest friendships (including my Co-Founder, Evan, of our men’s yoga apparel start-up, Brutal Buddha) have evolved from yoga acquaintances over the last couple of years. The people you practice yoga with care about you and vice versa. We want to see each other progress in our personal and professional lives together. There’s nothing better than a meal or social outing right after a difficult practice with everyone!
(2) Clearing and rejuvenating the mind
Many of us are busy people and with constant distractions, loud city traffic noises, mobile phones and social media. Personal time to relax and collect your thoughts is harder to come by these days. Almost every yoga practice will end with an asana or pose known as ‘Shavasana’, during which one lays down on his back and relaxes in silence or sometimes with light music for several minutes. It feels amazing!
(3) Improving overall health
Watch out fitness classes, treadmills and personal trainers, there’s a new workout in town for men – yoga. Yoga is great because there are so many different styles. A few styles of yoga, namely Vinyasa/Ashtanga and Hatha give you a great all-around workout focusing on core, upper body and legs.. and of course, the hip thrusters.
(4) Increasing flexibility
I have always struggled with flexibility – I can’t remember ever being able to touch my toes in gym class and it hasn’t gotten better since entering the working world on the computer often, playing sports, and lifting heavy weights. Flexibility is particularly difficult for men that are involved in high-intensity sports. After practising yoga twice a week (yes, just 2x per week!), my flexibility has improved dramatically, which segue ways nicely into the final benefit in the top 5!
(5) Preventing injury
As someone who plays multiple sports, injury is always a possibility closer than you’d like to think, especially as you age. I’ve significantly reduced the number of injuries since practising yoga regularly during sports. Yoga strengthens many parts of your body and increases flexibility which both help you feel more confident and limber, on and off the sporting field or arena.
Yoga has changed my life significantly and I couldn’t be more thankful for the kind introduction. If any of the points above resonate with you, I’d encourage you to give yoga a try if it’s new to you. If a regular yogi, hope you’ll continue to practice more regularly after reading this article.