Fitness Tips

Men and Yoga Mix!

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Take it from Jay Cutler, a Mr. Olympia – yoga will do wonders for your mind and body! While yoga may seem like a sissy activity in comparison with hardcore weightlifting activities, it’s definitely not as easy as it looks. Yoga demands determination, discipline and drive as much as cardiovascular and strength training exercises, especially with the advanced poses, known as asanas.

You will find that its physical and mental benefits also translate to the cardiovascular and strength training aspects of your fitness program, too. You just have to keep an open mind and give your body a change from its usual fast-paced schedule.

But for men and yoga to mix, here are a few things to remember. You may not think of it as the manliest of activities but it requires careful planning to get the most out of it.

#1 Start on the Right Foot

Did you know that you can just as easily become injured on the yoga mat as on the bench? Yes, you can since yoga can also cause sprains and strains, such as during incorrect poses. You must then approach yoga with respect specifically by starting on the right foot.

You can read books, watch instructional videos, and ask your friends about yoga and get a good start. But your risk for injuries increase with a do-it-yourself approach because a licensed yoga instructor isn’t available. You can easily make mistakes, such as adopting advanced poses as a beginner, which can result in overstretched muscles.

Your first step then is to enroll in a yoga class with a licensed yoga instructor at the helm, such as in YogaWorks. You will get your money’s worth because the yoga instructor can set the pace according to your skill level.

You should also get the right gear for yoga class. In most cases, men can wear shorts and shirt that allow for free movement – neither hugging the body too much nor hanging too loose from it.  You can also buy yoga gear designed for men in stores.

Plus, your attitude also matters. Keep an open mind, be willing to ask questions and get answers, and be open to new ideas, especially about Eastern philosophies regarding the mind and body connection.

#2 Start Appreciating the Benefits

Of course, you will not immediately appreciate the results after one or two sessions. You have to regularly attend yoga classes in order to enjoy its physical and mental benefits.

What exactly are the benefits of yoga for men?

Stronger stabilizers

You will find that your muscled physique isn’t a guarantee that you will win the battle against less muscular women in the yoga class, pose-wise. In fact, you will likely lose because of your traditional training poses with feet on the ground, rear on a chair, and hands on a handlebar.

In yoga, you have to assume bodily poses that aren’t present in bodybuilding exercises. Your large stabilizer muscles will be no match for the poses since the smaller stabilizer muscles are also needed. Your body has to become accustomed to the twists, spinal arch, and lateral moves in yoga, especially in the variations of down dog, warrior and plank.

In time, both your larger and smaller stabilizer muscles become stronger. You will also love the better balance that comes with regular yoga.

Better breathing patterns

You may believe that, as an expert bodybuilder, you already have the breathing patterns for efficient weightlifting down pat. But you’d be surprised by the demands that yoga places on your breathing capacity! You have to focus more on your inhalation and exhalation patterns particularly when you’re in advanced poses.

Unlike in cardiovascular exercises, your breathing patterns in yoga slows down. You have to learn taking in long and slow breaths, which will expand your lung capacity and oxygenation efficiency. The latter means that you’re taking fewer breaths yet taking in higher oxygen levels, as well as using it more efficiently, too.

You will then enjoy the so-called runner’s high during your yoga classes. But that isn’t all – since your body has higher oxygenation efficiency, your efforts in cardiovascular and strength training will produce better results.

Better range of motion

When you have certain body parts with a limited range of motion, you’re less likely to develop the muscles in this area. The more you train these muscles even with such limitation, the more limited your range as a weightlifter will be.

For example, if you have tight shoulder joints with limited range of motions, you cannot fully stretch your pectorals resulting in your reduced ability to build muscle mass in your chest. But when yoga movements increase your range of motion, you will not be limited in your exercises.

Yoga also provides active rest, enhances overall health, and encourages peace of mind, among other benefits. You should look into these benefits and start your yoga journey. You may even find that you’re a better man and weightlifter for it, too.