There are a lot of men who never try yoga based solely on the fact that society views yoga as something that is mostly for women. But is yoga for men, too? As a man who has been regularly attending a wide variety of yoga classes for over a year, I can tell you that the very large majority of people who do yoga are, in fact, women. However, if I stopped doing yoga because I was sometimes the only guy in the class, I wouldn’t be in the best shape of my life and living happier than I have been in years.
Injury And Inexperience
My very first experience with yoga, before I started to practice it regularly, was when I was doing the P90X workout DVDs over seven years ago. Due to the popularity of those workouts, I’m guessing quite a few of you reading this right now might be able to say the same thing about your exposure to yoga.
I knew that I wanted to get in shape and the only way that I knew how to do this was by going to the gym or finding a workout routine that would work for me at home. I was crazy about purchasing the best workout DVDs or programs to get me in shape the fastest so I could just skip to being healthy instead of working hard for it for as long as it took.
The thing with the gym and the DVDs was that they did work; I was getting in shape and gaining muscle as well.
However, after a few months of lifting weights and doing the same exercises over and over I would start to lose interest and find any excuse not to workout or go to the gym altogether. As unhappy as I was every time that I tried joining a gym or following a workout routine, I continued to go back because I believed it was the only way to get in shape.
Little did I know that all of the impact from working out at the gym was taking its toll on my already weak body from playing sports for the majority of my life. As soon as I stopped playing sports my body slowly started to weaken, occasionally being jolted awake when I decided I wanted to try getting in shape again.
These intense workouts that I threw myself back into were sometimes too much for my body and I injured my knees, ankles, shoulders, and back all at some point during this time.
What I learned was that the years of wear and tear on my body could not be reversed by a few months of brute force exercise. You wouldn’t expect a broken toaster to be able to toast bread by throwing a brick at it; you’d have to take it apart and replace the defective piece inside of it in order for the outside to work as intended.
Your body is the exact same way as the broken toaster. In order to be able to start to heal chronic pains that have been in your body for years you have to start slow and increase the intensity over time so you don’t hurt yourself and end up back at square one.
Use Your Body To Heal Yourself
After badly twisting my ankle while going for a run (which I hated doing anyways) I had completely given up on working out for over a year. Since I sat down for the majority of the day for my job at the time, the lower back issues that I had since I was 15 just kept getting worse.
I was about to turn 30 and my body felt like it was about to turn 60 so I knew I needed to do something soon or my health would continue to deteriorate.
That is when I came across a documentary about yoga that really inspired me to look at it again. I remembered the yoga DVD that I had done so many times all those years ago and decided to give it another try. Only this time I knew that I didn’t want to join another gym so I joined my first yoga studio and it was the best decision I could have ever made.
The amazing thing about yoga, and one of the things that I love the most about it, is that it heals your body from the inside by heating up your core. Every movement you make is an opportunity to check in with your body to see how it feels and then adjust accordingly. Since you are using your own body weight and not lifting more weights, your body is able to heal itself at its own pace instead of the pace you might want it to go.
Also, a lot of the postures that you’ll be doing as you advance in your practice will require a lot of upper body strength to be able to perform. Men have an advantage over women on a lot of postures that require more upper body strength and, depending on the person, muscle develops at a much faster rate when combined with eating enough of the right foods.
No Flexibility, No Problem
Another excuse that you hear most people, especially men, give when it is suggested that they do yoga is that they are not flexible enough. If this is you then I would suggest you read my post about yoga flexibility and then remember that you do not need to be flexible at all in order to start practicing yoga. In fact, the great thing about yoga is that you could sit on your mat for an hour and just stretch your muscles and you will feel worked out!
When I first started I couldn’t touch my toes for longer than a second and I just thought it was in my genes that I wasn’t going to be flexible. What I didn’t want to admit was that I was never going to be flexible if I never stretched my muscles. Your body needs consistent pressure over time in order to really loosen up.
If you’re lucky to only get a really good stretch in once or twice a month then unfortunately it is going to take a lot longer for your body to become more flexible than if you stretched once or twice a week.
But as I said, you don’t need to be flexible to start doing yoga. The great thing is, no matter what you do, as long as you stick with it you will begin to naturally loosen up overtime. After only a year of consistently practicing yoga three times a week, I can now not only touch my toes, but I can wrap my hands around my heels and cross my fingers comfortably underneath them and my lower back pain is a fraction of what it once was.
Find The Right Practice For You
When I joined my first yoga studio I didn’t know anything about any of the classes that were offered so I was a complete beginner. I usually didn’t get off work until 8:00PM so the only class that I was able to attend during the week was the 8:30PM “Power Cardio Fusion”. The description said this class was power yoga mixed with intense cardio so it sounded perfect for what I was looking for since my main goal was to get in shape.
I’ve never been so confused as I was the first time I walked into this ‘Power Cardio Fusion’ yoga class. I was expecting a quiet calm environment but instead I was looking at a bunch of fit people stretching and getting loose for the class. I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into but it was too late to back out now.
What I didn’t realize, and I would later be extremely thankful for, was that I had just walked into a DDP Yoga class. What is DDP Yoga you ask? Check out my entire DDP Yoga review for an in depth look, but DDP yoga is basically yoga on steroids. At least that’s how the class I was in with a 6’2″ body-builder instructor felt like. I guess that’s why every class he would say that DPP Yoga was designed to get men to take yoga and, well, it worked because I kept going back three times a week for almost a year.
The thing about DDP Yoga that I would later be thankful for was that it built a strong foundation (and I mean that literally and figuratively) for which I could build my yoga practice on. Since DDP yoga is all about combining traditional exercises with yoga postures, it was the perfect transition for me to start regularly practicing yoga and finally begin to fix my broken toaster.
DDP Yoga was the perfect way for me to start my yoga journey but that doesn’t mean it would be right for you. I was looking for something that was going to increase my muscle strength, improve my cardiovascular health, and help my chronic lower back pain and that is what I got with DDP Yoga. The health benefits and physicality of yoga should be enough to make you realize how crazy it is that we are led to believe that only women can do yoga. As long as you commit to your workout and stick with it overtime, you will find the results that you are looking for.
How could yoga for men help you?
Stick With It!