Seriously. Stop caring what your bros will think about you doing yoga. Put on some shorts, get a tank top, and go to that studio.
If you are not doing yoga on a consistent basis, you are missing out on physical and mental benefits that will help you stay in shape longer, perform better in all of your physical fitness activities, and feel better overall.
Doing a workout shirtless surrounded by women isn’t embarrassing. Your lack of flexibility, on the other hand, is. Can you even touch your toes? Can you reach your arms overhead without arching your back? Do you stand with your shoulders naturally hunched?
The careful attention to detail and focus on flexibility and body control found in yoga helps you address these issues and so many more. Things like lower back pain, lack of core strength, shoulder pain, and even knee pain can be solved by incorporating yoga into your fitness regimen.
Here are a few examples of how these benefits translate to better physical performance:
If you lift weights, you should know that overhead shoulder press is done incorrectly by almost everyone. If you can’t press your entire back against a completely perpendicular incline chair while pressing dumbbells overhead, then you lack shoulder flexibility. Instead of working your shoulders and back muscles, you are essentially doing a modified chest press.
Even if you don’t lift weights, know that if you can’t extend your arms straight up in the air without arching your back, you lack shoulder flexibility.
Why should you care about a lack of flexibility? Because without flexibility, you’re at risk for chronic shoulder injuries, strains in the complex web of muscles, joints, and tendons that make up your shoulder girdle, and even tears that require surgery or months of inactivity to heal. It also means that you lack proper posture, making you appear less confident.
By improving your shoulder flexibility, you improve your posture, and proper posture makes you look more confident. You’ll carry yourself better and you will feel better about yourself.
Most people also tend to have a lack of flexibility around their hips. This includes your hip flexors, your glutes (external hip rotators, piriformis), and your hamstrings. Almost every pose in yoga focuses on stretching these muscles to a deeper degree of flexibility and then strengthening your muscles within this new range of motion. It’s unlike weight lifting or other forms of exercise.
This brings me to my next point.
Starting yoga doesn’t mean you have to stop doing weightlifting, CrossFit, or whatever other form of physical fitness you enjoy.
It does mean, however, that you will get better in all of those things. More flexibility in weight training means longer and suppler muscles. You’ll be able to lift more weight and do more reps with less soreness the next day.
With running, it means your muscles will be more efficient. You’ll require less warm-up and will be automatically preventing chronic injuries like shin splints and lower back pain. I personally guarantee that doing yoga properly will help you in every form of physical fitness — quote me on that. If you don’t want to quote me, quote LeBron James, who has credited yoga with helping his game for at least the past six years and who recently led yoga on the beach for the teenage prospects at the Nike Basketball Academy.
If you are concerned about losing muscle mass, you don’t have to be. This is a completely legitimate concern if the guys you see doing yoga don’t have the body type that you desire for yourself. Not everyone does yoga the same way. As long as you’re doing yoga in a way that taxes your muscles to the point of failure, then you’ll maintain and even build muscle mass.
It doesn’t matter what your body is pushing against, whether it’s weights or the ground. All that matters is that you’re getting that burning feeling in your muscles that triggers your body’s response to build the muscle tissue in that area. That’s what causes muscle growth. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at some of my photos here. I haven’t lifted weights in years.
A huge reason why people avoid yoga is the culture that is imagined for and often associated with people who teach or practice it — gentle, perhaps hippie-like. Doing yoga doesn’t mean that you have to change your lifestyle if that’s not your speed. I drink, curse, get road rage, eat meat, and avoid sharing my feelings in public. You don’t have to become a vegan, quit drinking alcohol, or hold hands in a circle while chanting in order to improve your core strength, body control, endurance, and flexibility.
There are plenty of yoga styles that focus on the physical fitness aspects while avoiding or minimizing the other, more abstract aspects found in yoga. It all depends on your instructor and their approach. Find one that clicks with you and ignore the ones that don’t.
Doing yoga doesn’t make you less masculine. Quite frankly, being concerned about your masculinity because you do a particular form of physical fitness is weak compared to getting into a new form of exercise that you might not be good at. It takes balls to try something new, especially in front of other people.
Do some yoga with the knowledge that you are taking care of your body for the long run, improving your physical fitness in new ways and learning a new form of no-impact physical fitness that you’ll be able to do your whole life. Who knows? You might even like it.
About the Author:
My name is Dean Pohlman. I’m the founder of Man Flow Yoga, the largest brand of yoga for men on Facebook. Ladies — don’t worry, you don’t have to be a dude to do Man Flow Yoga. I am passionate about spreading yoga because I spent my childhood and college years playing sports, pushing myself to every imaginable (and unimaginable) limit in order to get the job done and beat everyone in the process. After years of competitive lacrosse at the high school, collegiate and even international level, my shoulders, knees, lower back, and ankles have all taken a serious beating. I used (and continue to use) yoga to simultaneously strengthen and repair my body so that I can continue to do all the things that I want to do physically, and look the way that I want to look.
I have tons of free videos online that help you learn yoga, regardless of your ability level or past experience. Check those out here. If you’re new to yoga, be certain to check out my eBook, Yoga Basics for Men (works for women, too!), which has been a number-one bestseller on Amazon in four categories and listed as an Amazon “Best of the Month.” Visit the main website at www.manflowyoga.com and subscribe to my email lists for upcoming events, new workouts, tips about fitness, success, and more!