05 February 2010

Real men do yoga

For some reason, men who do not practice yoga think that yoga is a woman’s affair, with lycra-clad ladies doing bendy things and omming a lot. Those who have given yoga a go know that this is not the case, although lycra is often present.

Historically, yoga was taught and practised primarily by men. Indeed, some forms of yoga were introduced to pubescent boys in order to harness that young testosterone-filled energy and transform it into something positive. Thus, dynamic yoga was born.

Men quite often prefer team and contact sports. Performance in these activities can be improved by practising yoga along with your other sport. Lengthening and strengthening muscles can, in fact, improve your game and help to prevent injuries.

Wales international footballer, Ryan Giggs, recently thanked his yoga teacher when collecting the Sports Personallty of the Year award. He said that yoga has played a big part in keeping him injury-free and, therefore, has allowed him to continue playing top-level football at the age of 36.

Men in high powered stressful jobs can find that a yoga practice helps deal with the stress and strain of corporate life. Learning to breath deeply can have a very calming effect... How amazing would it be if we had more yogis in the corporate world.

I have taught a number of men yoga over the years and, from my experience, they are often better at practising poses that require a lot of upper body strength; chaturanga and handstands to name but a few.

One of my favourite anecdotes is from a city trader who used ujjai (yogic breathing) – which he had learnt in his dynamic ashtanga practice - in order to pacify and comfort his new born baby and, of course, by doing so, relaxing himself. Real men do yoga.

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