Over the past couple months I’ve been doing Yoga at my local LA Fitness. It’s an hour long class and for the most part it’s been very positive. I have learned a few things about yoga and I’d like to share my thoughts on how it’s a really beneficial thing for men to get involved with.
I come from the perspective of someone who isn’t into the whole spiritual or new age side of yoga. Search around on the internet long enough and you’ll come across these types who talk about chakras and kundalinis. That’s all well and good, but I really don’t have time for it. I’m all about just getting in there and stretching. I know a lot of men are hesitant to get involved in yoga because it has a girly perception. Just think of it as hardcore stretching. If nothing else, let this motivate you:
By the way, this isn’t an exaggeration. Every time I go to a yoga class there is a bevy of insanely attractive women. Usually there is only one other guy besides me, and let’s face it, his level of charm can’t compare to the kid. That’s what we call great odds gentlemen.
Still haven’t convinced you? Let’s talk about tangible benefits then.
Even after only taking 2 classes, I could feel my posture getting better. I’m not the expert in posture, but I do have some experience in this regard.
When I was little, I broke my collarbone. As far as I know there isn’t anything to be done except to just let it heal. In order for it to heal correctly they put me in a brace that I wore around my shoulders. I wore this brace every day and after months of healing, it finally came off. It was as if my body fell back to Earth and I realized that this was how we all walk around every day, blissfully unaware that it’s completely wrong.
Ever since then I made an effort to have good posture. It makes you look taller, more confident, and is healthier. Yoga absolutely helps in this regard because there are a number of stretches that specifically target lengthening the spine.
I went though 9 years of martial arts instruction, so I have a history of being quite flexible. Flexibility is a tricky thing though. If you stop stretching, you will lose your flexibility pretty fast. That’s what happened to me.
Yoga is a great way to quickly become flexible again. The trick with flexibility is that you have to hold stretches for a prolonged amount of time and be able to really relax into the stretch. Yoga allows for both of these because it’s an hour of stretching from the jump and you get so relaxed during class that it’s cake to really get a good stretch.
Even after only a couple sessions, I noticed that my flexibility was back. I was able to do all the old turning side kicks and roundhouse kicks with the same speed and power that I had 10 years ago.
There is one negative side effect from doing yoga to look out for. I have found that if you try to lift weights after doing yoga, you will not be as strong. I attribute this to being completely stretched out and relaxed as hell after a sesh.
I like to lift weights late at night because there’s less people and I’m more of a night owl. The gym offers yoga classes at 8 PM, so I figured I’d do yoga, then lift, and follow it up with a 20 minute sauna session. This worked out fine but I realized immediately that my lifts were no where near what they were a few months ago.
So if you’re going to do yoga and lifting in the same trip, I’d recommend lifting first and then doing yoga after. Besides having greater strength levels, this works better because yoga is a great cool down session. I speculate that there will be less soreness from lifting as well, but I still have to test this theory out.
There’s a lot of benefits to doing yoga, but the best benefit may be that it relieves a ton of stress. In our crazy stressed out toxic environment, it’s hard to get a break. As a result, our health suffers, it’s hard to get to sleep, and we are agitated all the time.
The first time I did yoga, I was blown away at how good I felt after. Something about moving in and out of different stretches forces you to become more relaxed. I don’t know how exactly this works, but it works.
Another great thing about yoga is that at the end of class, there’s a 5 minute period where you just lay on your back and relax. Our teacher has on soothing music, and will instruct you one by one through different muscle groups to relax. Each time I have done this, I go into a zone that is in between falling asleep and being awake that I’ll call “pure relaxation”. It’s hard to describe, but feels great.
I implore every one of my readers to give yoga a try at least once. The benefits are profound and only take one or two sessions to start feeling. Like I said, the only drawback is that it will slightly lower strength, so just space it until after you lift and you’ll be fine.
I do my yoga at my gym, but if your gym doesn’t provide classes, either find one that does, or go to a studio.
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