This article first posted on Yoga Columbus Ohio HERE.
“Oh that’s nice you do yoga, but what do you do for your actual workouts?”
“Yeah yoga is cool. But what do you do when you want to really sweat?”
“I like meditation, but I’m not quite sure if I need yoga. I already stretch before and after my workouts!”
Those are just a few of the several “excuses” or “mumblings” I receive when I tell people that yoga is a daily practice for me and that yoga is my lead workout activity. I’ll crush my ego on this post and even admit that likely I said some form of these words to someone else at some point before I delved deeper into my yoga practice several years ago.
I’m honored to be doing an ongoing “Men and Yoga” series for the YOHI Community and I wanted to start off with debunking a few of the not for me myths that men come up with for yoga. Don’t walk away at this point either ladies; we need you to share this with your favorite gents of the world who might consider doing more yoga in their life.
Here’s the breakdown and reality for men out there that are a tad hesitant to turn over their full yoga leaf and let it shine out to the world.
Myth One: “Oh that’s nice you do yoga, but what do you do for your actual workouts?”
Myth One Busted: Yoga is a workout and a hard one at that. Yoga has enabled me to grow such strong core and upper body strength that I can do fifty straight push-ups without a break or really so much of a struggle. I can reach one hundred push-ups in a few minutes. I have improved my form and stamina on chin-ups and pull-ups as well, and overall I am the strongest I have ever been in my life.
Myth Two: “Yeah, yoga is cool. But what do you do when you want to really sweat?”
Myth Two Busted: Show up to a yoga flow at Yoga on High and try not to sweat. Yoga is a workout, and you will sweat. You will move your body, and you will be sore afterwards in some shape or form. A vinyasa flow, ashtanga practice, and many other types of yoga serve as primary workouts, not just recovery workouts.
As a male I have actually used yoga to lead my trainings for full marathons, half marathons, overnight team relay races, a bike ride across Iowa, punishing mountain summits, and multi-day hiking adventures. In a typical training week, I use yoga flows four times per week (with an additional yin or restorative class mixed in), and then I add in a long cardio workout and a strength training workout with weights or CrossFit™.
The results? A lack of injuries, a higher state of stamina and endurance, and increased flexibility in my events and runs. In fact, prior to yoga being my primary workout, I could barely train for a 5k without having my feet feel sore, and I even got two cases of plantar fasciitis (the absolute horror injury for runners and basketball players.)
Since yoga became my primary workout? Eight half-marathons, two full marathons, two dozen mountain climbs all over the world, and several other high octane events without so much as a sprained ankle. Maybe it’s good luck, maybe it’s the sun goddesses, but at the end of the day I give a large portion of credit to the physical benefits of a yoga practice.
Myth Three: “I like meditation but not quite sure if I need yoga, I already stretch before and after my workouts!”
Myth Three Busted: You should definitely stretch before and after your other workouts, but yoga is so much more than stretching. It is a full body physical workout, has incredible mindfulness and mental benefits, and takes the full-scope approach of body, mind, and soul during a routine. Stretching simply does not accomplish all of this.
Keep stretching gentlemen, but don’t think that it’s the same as going to a yoga class!
Yoga for me was the gateway to transform myself into the athlete post-high-school-sports that I always wanted to be. I am in my mid 30’s and in the best shape of my life, and my mental health is easily the strongest it has ever been.
I feel like I could run through a brick wall (both physically, mentally, and spiritually). But I wouldn’t because I don’t have that kind of aggression, which I attribute to my yoga practice. It has granted me years doing outdoors adventuring around the world, without injury, that I could never foresee being so blessed to have.
And, oh yeah, dudes…beyond the physical benefits of a yoga practice is the fact that I feel blessed. The fact that I now choose to meditate instead of feeling like I am forced to because I accidentally went into yoga class instead of spinning.
Yoga is for men. And for women. It’s for the old and the young, the healthy and the sick, and for anyone who believes they want to be a healthier and happier version of themselves.
If you are a guy stay tuned; I’ll be sharing more of the masculine path of yoga in an ongoing way on the YOHI blog. For now know that if you are yearning to become a stronger, less-injured athlete, then maybe some more time spent on the mat instead of at the gym or on the track is EXACTLY what your body wants and is calling out for.
I know it was for me.
And ladies…take heed, and thanks for reading about men and yoga. All of these stances on workouts and sweating and mental benefits is of course open for you to take and piece together in your life as well.
To everyone: Just make sure you keep that yoga practice a tad weird!
Post your comments below if you are looking for tips and ideas on where to start or crank up more of your inner athlete while adding in more time in yoga class.
I am happy to share my thoughts!