1 / 8 The Many Benefits of Yoga
The word yoga may conjure up images of super-limber women in leggings twisting their bodies into impossible poses. But stereotypes aside, yoga offers a variety of health benefits for men as well as women. Loren M. Fishman, MD, medical director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and an assistant clinical professor at Columbia Medical School, studied yoga in India, has written about it as a valuable addition to traditional medical treatment, and uses it in his rehabilitation practice to help with neurological and musculoskeletal problems.
Different styles of yoga are better suited for different people according to their nature and need, according to Dr. Fishman. Yoga styles that focus on breathing and meditation can help men needing relaxation, Iyengar, Anusara, and Integral yoga, help with balance and coordination, and Vinyasa yoga is a safe and effective style if you're tight and muscle-bound. Here are the specifics.
2 / 8 Yoga for Men: Stress Relief
Research has found that people who practiced yoga for 60 minutes each week for six weeks experienced significant improvements in well-being and mood. Clear-mindedness, elation, energy, composure, and confidence topped the list of benefits, according to the study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health in 2011.
Brad Barrett, founder and president of GrillGrate grilling tools, tried yoga for the first time 18 months ago with his buddy — on a bet. The buddy eventually bailed, but Barrett became a devotee, in part because of the tremendous stress relief he experienced. “I did not expect the mental aspect to be so beneficial and enjoyable," he says. "I have calmed down a lot from my normal anxious, type-A personality.”
3 / 8 Yoga for Men: Strength Conditioning and Flexibility
Both the New York Giants and the Seattle Seahawks used yoga as part of the training regimens that got them to the Super Bowl. “Yoga helps to bring more awareness to the core, a place where all movement begins, adding more strength, balance and stability and aiding in injury prevention,” explains Robert Sidoti, creator and co-founder of Broga Yoga, a yoga program for men.
Yoga encourages beneficial musculoskeletal changes, according to a study published in the March 2013 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Study participants took part in 24 Bikram yoga sessions, each last 90 minutes, over 8 weeks. Afterward, they demonstrated increased dead-lift strength and flexibility in their shoulders, lower back and hamstrings, and even a modest decrease in body fat.
4 / 8 Yoga for Men: Better Sex
Yoga's benefits of stress relief and increased flexibility can segue to better sex. What's more, yoga can help increase pleasure and performance by increasing arterial blood flow. One study, in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010, compared sexual function scores for 65 men, ages 24 to 60, before and after a 12-week yoga program. At the end of the program, all aspects of sexual function — desire, performance, confidence, satisfaction, erection, ejaculatory control, orgasm, and partner synchronization — had significantly improved.
5 / 8 Yoga for Men: Osteoporosis
Dr. Fishman’s study, Yoga for Osteoporosis, published in 2009 in the journal Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, found that individuals who practiced specific yoga postures for 8 to 10 minutes a day experienced an increase in T-scale rankings, used to measure bone density. The specific postures recommended stimulated the bone without putting participants at risk for fracture. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, even one as gentle as yoga. There may be range-of-motion limitations or modifications you need to make.
6 / 8 Yoga for Men: Better Sleep Quality
Practicing yoga for 25 minutes a day can help you sleep better, according a 2011 studyfrom RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Consistent yoga practice helps not only with insomnia, but also with extending the duration of deep sleep, so you wake up feeling more rested. You may have to try several yoga classes before finding the right fit.
“Not all classes are for everyone, but there is, without a doubt, a yoga class out there that can bring a lot of value to your body and mind and life overall,” says Adam O’Neill, president and co-founder Broga Yoga.
7 / 8 Yoga for Men: Back Pain Relief
Relief from lower back pain is a common reason that men try yoga. Research funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that Iyengar yoga helped to significantly reduce functional disability, pain, and depression in people with chronic back pain. Iyengar is a form of hatha yoga that utilizes props, such as blocks, straps, and benches, to help you perform poses without over-exerting yourself.
8 / 8 Yoga for Men: Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you're a man with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who's been sidelined because of a flare, you can end up with even worse stiffness and pain. However, you may find relief from swollen and tender joints with yoga, which can be modified to suit your abilities. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore studied a group of 30 sedentary adults with RA and found that those who participated in an eight-week yoga program experienced a significant reduction in the number of tender and swollen joints they had when they began the program.