Truth is, men tend to shy away from yoga. You’d almost always find them in the weights room and rarely in the studio. Why? “One of the biggest misconceptions is that the yoga studio is a women’s space,” shares personal trainer Ben Lucas of Flow Athletic. “Men often feel out of place and uncomfortable. Some men also associate yoga with not being masculine and are hesitant to give it a try.”
But what so many men fail to realise is that yoga can have profound benefits when it comes to both their physique and performance. “Yoga is a disciplined practice that has many benefits towards your recovery,” shares Ben. “Therefore, it allows you to maximise your next workout. It is also included in a lot of athletes programs these days from swimmers and athletes to golfers—and it is being used a lot in the corporate space as well.”
In fact, just yesterday, the AFL Players’ Association announced athletic brand, lululemon, as the official Yoga and Mindfulness partner of AFLPA. The partnership will see lululemon offer yoga and meditation sessions along with personal development and mindfulness training to players at various AFLPA events throughout the year.
“With the increasing demands on modern-day AFL players both on and off the field, it’s important that players develop tools and strategies to combat these pressures,” AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh stated in a press release. “We’re seeing more and more players engage in mindfulness activities to switch off and to also complement their physical training regimes and lululemon’s values and practices align perfectly with what we as an association encourage players to embrace.”
Not dissimilar, Ben started practicing yoga alongside preparing for an ultra-endurance run. It was during this time that he found his muscles were sore and tight and overall—he was struggling with his recovery.
“I found that regular practice of yoga ultimately improved my range of motion and performance in the running area. Yoga is for everyone no matter your age or fitness level—I truly believe that.”
“There is no denying that many men (especially when they start reaching 40ish) suffer from injuries due to stiffness and poor range of motion,” says Ben. “As we age, our muscles and connective tissue become tight and restrictive, which can result in limb and joint pain. By practicing yoga on a regular basis, you can improve your flexibility and reduce the risk to a great extent.”
“According to a study by the American Council on Exercise, it was found that regular practice of Hatha yoga significantly improved the subjects flexibility, muscular strength, endurance and balance,” Ben goes on to explain. “After eight weeks, the group improved their flexibility by 13% to 35%”.
Not only that, we all know by now that yoga can be a great stress reliever—and this is no different for men.
“There is no doubt that Australian suffer from stress more than ever,” says Ben. “We are now always on call thanks to smartphones, Facebook, WhatsApp, text, email and every other way that people can contact you, the cost of living seems to always be rising and we are working longer hours.”
“According to the APS stress and wellbeing survey, 35% of Australians report having significant levels of distress in their lives which 26% report above normal levels of anxiety symptoms. These results were recorded in 2015 and significantly higher than the results recorded in 2011.”
“As yoga emphasises breathing and the mind/body connection, it yields strong emotional benefits. In fact, people who practice yoga report that they also sleep better.”
So, what you reckon? Is it time to get your man on the mat?