Yoga has been around for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that it took off in the West as a fitness craze. Today you probably think of yoga as that class your girlfriend goes to twice a week. When you ignore the “woo-woo” stuff and look at yoga with an open mind, you’ll see that it has several benefits for men who do it regularly.

1. It’s easy to start

You don’t need any fancy equipment, clothing, or gym membership. All you need is a mat. If you aren’t sure where to start, there are hundreds of yoga tutorials and even full classes, available for free on YouTube. Try searching for “yoga for beginners,” and move to more advanced classes as you progress. Remember, they say progress in yoga is measured in years, not weeks, so be patient with yourself as your body adjusts.

2. It Relieves Stress

According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga is an excellent tool for reducing stress. Since yoga forces the participant to “being in the moment,” it takes your mind off anything else. You’re able to put down the phone, stop thinking about work or personal problems, and instead focus only on your breathing and balance.

Another mental benefit is it teaches you to be “comfortable being uncomfortable.” The poses are no joke, and if you’re in a hot yoga class, you’ll find yourself sweating bullets. Focusing on keeping a steady breath in the face of physical pain develops your mind to better handle adverse situations.

An Additional stress-relieving aspect of yoga is meditation. Yoga classes usually follow a bell curve, starting calmly, then ramping up the intensity, then back down until final meditation. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and promote mental health.

3. It’s a great workout

There’s a reason why yogis are usually lean and cut, and it’s probably not their kale and avocado diet. Yoga is an excellent exercise that works every part of your body. Arms, core, legs, and back all get a workout.

You rely on your body weight to build muscle, and staying in difficult poses for an extended period can build cardio as your heart rate cranks up.

After your first time doing it you’ll be surprised how tired your muscles are the next day, and you’ll discover parts of your body that you never knew about. You’ll want to bring water and a towel with you, and make sure you are staying hydrated during the class.

4. It improves athletic performance

If you play a sport or work out regularly, you should consider adding yoga to your routine. Yoga involves a lot of stretching, so it’s excellent the day after an intense workout.

Rugby players and other contact sports athletes are particularly fond of yoga. They use it loosen out their muscles. It can also help heal ligaments that have been damaged by running and hiking.

It’s low impact, so men of any age can do it. Just make sure you tell your instructor before class starts of any chronic injuries or health problems that you have, they will normally be more than happy to adjust your practice to keep you safe.

5. It Improves Health

Much like any exercise, yoga is good for you-however, yoga offers some unique health benefits that other exercises lack. Some claim that certain yoga poses can detoxify your body, while others can boost your immune system. You will feel more energetic and alert once you’ve added yoga to your fitness regime.

6. You’ll meet women

This is probably the most important part of yoga. Chicks love yoga, that’s common knowledge. If you walk into a yoga class and just act like a regular guy there for a workout, the women in the class will be intrigued to see such an open-minded guy who also cares about his physical and mental health.

You don’t need to act like some spiritual being, just be yourself! Try to start a conversation with the girl next to you before class. Use an opener such as “You have to promise not to laugh at me during the practice.” 60% of the time, it works every time. Also, yoga pants.

7 It helps maintain a balanced metabolism

Let’s face it guys, as you get older your metabolism doesn’t work as well. Gone are your college days where you could slam a 12 pack and a whole pizza and not gain a pound. Yoga helps keep your metabolism stabilized, that way, your weight doesn’t stay stagnant.

8. It improves your flexibility

You might not think that flexibility is too important, but wait until you throw your back out reaching to pick up something off the ground. Flexibility is vital to staying healthy. As we age, we all have to work on our bodies just to keep the status quo. Being flexible is great protection for your connective tissues and skeleton system.

9 Yoga can improve your mood

If your feeling down or depressed, as many men secretly do, try yoga to give yourself a little boost. When you do yoga, your body releases serotonin into your bloodstream. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that makes you feel a sense of well-being and happiness, among other things. A study also found that yoga helped patients who suffered from depression. Men are more likely than woman to commit suicide, and every year 6 million men are diagnosed with depression. Incorporating yoga into your daily routine is an easy way to improve your mental health.

10. Helps you sleep better

If you’re like me, you don’t sleep very well. A lot of us are so busy it’s not uncommon to work 12+ hours a day. It can be very hard to shut your brain off and get a good night’s rest. Yoga can help you relax and get to sleep easier, and can also help you reach a deeper level of sleep more quickly and for a longer amount of time. Good sleep hygiene is very important to maintaining a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle.

11. It’s a great way to make friends

If you move to a new city and you’re looking for like-minded people, try going to a yoga class. Yogis are typically very friendly and welcoming, and a lot of men are teaming up and going to yoga classes as a group. They call this "broga". Your local community probably also does a lot of philanthropy, as yogis believe in the power of karma. It’s a great way to get involved and it can bring a lot of positivity into your social life.

12. Improves your digestion

A lot of yoga poses are specifically targeted to affect a certain part of your body or a specific body system. Your digestive system is a common target of several poses. Besides working out your abdominals, the poses help your digestive tract move more efficiently and regularly. As men age, their digestive system tends to get weaker, and coupled with a poor diet, this can have serious results. While yoga can’t undo to damage that fried foods and sugar do to you, it can help boost your digestive health.

13. It increases brain function

Not only does the action of exercise help increase your blood flow to your brain, yoga, because of it’s reliance on breathing techniques and meditation, has been shown to increase overall brain function. It won’t make you smarter, but it can help make you more efficient.

14. Yoga can increase sexual performance

The healthier you are, the better your sex life will be. Arousal in men directly tied to your health, so anything that you do to improve health will also increase your sexual performance. Yoga can help you become more familiar with your own body. You’ll do poses and discover parts of your body you didn’t even know existed. The mindfulness you develop in your yoga practice can also make you more in tuned with your own desires, as well as your lovers.

The reasons why you should choose to add yoga to your workout routine are almost endless. The practice itself has so many benefits that it really can be life-changing. Whether you’re looking to relieve stress, gain strength, become healthier, or become happier, yoga can help you achieve your goals. Don’t be shy and be open-minded, and go sign up for your first class today!

Image Credit: Unsplash

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