When you hear the word “yoga,” you probably think “pants.”
But what you should be thinking is “What time is my class?” Because if marines and pro athletes from pretty much every major sport are hitting the mat, so should you.
Here are seven good reasons why.
- Yes, it’s a (hard) workout
“Frankly, everybody should practice yoga, but in particular men,” says Gwen Lawrence, instructor to pro athletes, including members of the New York Giants. “I’ve had the privilege of teaching professional male athletes for over 20 years. I find it very compelling that men try it once and are hooked by the intensity, challenge and how great they feel after the practice." If lineman flex their mass on the mat, so can you.Former MLB player Brendan Harris was introduced to yoga “early in (his) career” and made it a big part of his 2008 workout regimen. “Most guys don’t give it the respect it deserves it terms of the degree of difficulty to it,” he says. If you want a serious workout, try a class that focuses on alignment and flow. Classes that use long holds of poses and constant movement (think: anything that has the words power, vinyasa or flow) combine cardio with sculpting lean muscle.
- It increases flexibility and relieves stress
Harris says men may be “unaware of the benefits of increased flexibility," which yoga obviously improves, adding, “It will ease the strain on your joints and is also a great stress reliever.”Lawrence agrees: “When you are symmetrical and flexible you have better body function in the organs, better respiration and are able to better cope with stress.” Plus, you’re forced to unplug from your phone for at least 60-90 minutes during class, which means escaping the stress of your work life.
- Yoga integrates body and mind
“I think yoga is intimidating even for seasoned yogis, so for men it goes off the charts,” says Lawrence. “They believe it will be all chanting, stretching and hippies; they don't realize there are many styles of yoga to suit your needs and level." Yoga forces the brain to focus, creates clarity and teaches the mind how to reflect — rather than react — to external circumstance.
- It’s great for recovery and powering up
Strength plus flexibility equals power, according to Lawrence. “Improving the range of motion in the joints means you will train your muscles more completely,” she says. “Nothing is better than a great restorative or yin class to help recovery after hard training.” Plus, it’s easy to work into your normal workout routine. “Yoga is a great supplement to weight training and serves as a great source of low-impact cardio,” says Harris.
- You’ll sculpt some serious muscle
Forget lifting: yoga utilizes your body weight to strengthen and build mass. Instead of deadlifting tons of steel, get the same benefits with long, extended holds of squats, pushups and other poses. Yoga is a practice, so strength will continue to build over time.
- It helps prevent injury
“Yoga can and does help stop sideline injuries before they happen,” says Lawrence. Most classes remind practitioners to honor and assess the body’s needs in the present moment. Having the ability to survey yourself and distinguish between sensation versus pain is crucial in preventing injury. Flexible, open muscles and connective tissue also heal and repair more quickly.
- You’ll have better sex
Finally, the reason you’ve been waiting for: all that time spent practicing breathing and relaxation techniques carries over into the bedroom. Yogis are in touch with their bodies, able to focus the mind and hold the ability to control and channel sexual energy. Yoga will help you be more receptive and sensitive to your partner. They’ll be thankful for it. So will you.