So you’re a guy who’s curious about doing yoga. Perhaps you’ve even tried yoga before but it never really stuck.
Maybe it was too feminine, too spiritual, too awkward, or too difficult.
I get it. I think all guys who begin yoga go through the same thing.
“Will I be the only guy in class?”
“What will my friends think?”
“Will I lose my Man Card and be escorted, with force, out of the Man Cave?”
But doing yoga and living the “yoga lifestyle” can actually assist men with building a stronger body, stronger mind, stronger sex life, and stronger awareness of the world we live in, ultimately creating a stronger man.
One of the things that can help men strengthen who they are, holistically, is learning to manage stress and yoga can help.
Let me explain.
Stress can be seen as whatever knocks our lives out of balance.
This can be anything from the death of a loved one, a high strung boss, to a divorce, over exercising, or having a poor diet.
You see, when the body experiences stress, it jumps directly into survival mode. It does everything possible to keep us alert and alive.
Have you noticed when you’re stressed, you became more focused, you’re senses heighten, you begin to sweat, and you’re heart rate increases (amongst other things). Think of that moment when you JUST miss getting into a car accident. Yah feel that!? That’s you’re body reacting to stress!
In the short run, stress can be a good thing! It keeps us alive and safe.
However, when stress is chronic, it can actually lead to many different bodily malfunctions such as lowered immunity, unwanted weight gain, digestive issues, insomnia, low sex drive, and depression.
When the body experiences stress, all other functions unrelated to survival shut down in that moment (i.e., the immune system, digestive system, sex and growth hormones).
So ultimately chronic stress, coupled with the lack of stress management skills, causes the body to become sicker, weaker, and disconnected.
(There’s a whole hormonal system in the body which is directly impacted by stress. I won’t bore you with the details now. Let’s save that for another time.)
Without a positive, healthy outlet to decrease stress, we end up with bodies we are uncomfortable living in and sluggish minds unable to keep up with the demands of life.
So how does yoga help?
First off, it teaches us to slow down and become more mindful.
Yoga is more then just a series of awesome poses. It’s also about self-discipline, integrity, controlling the breathe as well as the mind.
A lot of the stress we experience is actually self made and unnecessary. We create stories, believe these stories, blow these stories out of proportion, and become attached to the things we tell ourselves.
When we are mindful, we develop the ability to see things as they really are preventing the mind from going on some crazy tangent.
The more we practice, the better control we’ll have over our anxieties, worries, and fears ultimately giving us a better handle on how we manage stress.
Yoga also helps to improve our posture, flexibility, and core strength.
Poor posture caused by inflexibility and muscle imbalances place a lot of stress on the frame of the body. Can’t touch your toes, have back pain or a poochie lower belly? These are all a result of poor posture which, if left unchecked, will leave you looking like that old dude using a walker, staring at the ground with a rounded back. No bueno!
The other way yoga helps the body is by allowing us to “work in”.
So many guys are so fixated on “working out”, they neglect the importance of “working in”.
A “work in” is any type of exercise that strengthens the body while healing it at the same time. They are usually slower in pace and meditative in nature. Yoga, tai chi, mindful walking are all work ins.
The body doesn’t get stronger during exercise, it gets stronger during rest. Yoga can be a form of active rest if done slowly with mindfulness.
If your current exercise routine doesn’t have some form of “work in”, you run the risk of over training, recovering poorly, and burning out. No pain no gain is not always the answer.
So there you have it gents!
Lowering stress, giving your body time to recover, and remaining present are key to developing a stronger body and mind. And what’s more manly then that, huh? Yoga can definitely help you on your journey.
If you’re scared of taking that yoga class or have been slacking off a bit with your practice, it’s time to roll that mat out, slip on those oddly tight fitting spandex shorts, and get your yoga on.
Eric is a certified CHEK Holistic Health Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist.
His integrative approach to health and wellness is geared towards men looking to strengthen their health and create healthy lifestyle practices.
To learn more about Eric, visit his website at www.erichulse.com and Facebook page