And men can come too…Yoga for men’s health By Phil Aston BWY Dip
For men, being able to tell the difference between bad stress and healthy stress can be impossible. From an early age we are told to push ourselves to the limit, to compete on every level.
Must be able to work under pressure!
The jobs we go for include the maxim ‘must be able to work under pressure’. We immerse ourselves in our projects, which never seem to get finished, we get home after our children are in bed and relax by either going down the gym for 2 hours of high impact exercise or by downing several pints before floating a take away meal on top of everything!
We don’t take any notice of our bodies until they hurt or don’t fit into our clothes like they did.
We think we are fit, but something is wrong, the world and everyone in it always seems a few minutes ahead of us. We feel exhausted, feelings of anxiety, lack of control and irritability rise within us and don’t seem to fall back. Our minds and our ego reach into the future. If only we could just get that promotion, that new car, that new house, everything would be better; we pay no heed to our physical and mental health.
But everyday the pressure on this body, this single heart, and our inner self builds and builds.
The only thing keeping us in this life is a single muscle called the heart, our ability to experience the world around us is reliant on our health. For most men (and women) we don’t really notice the body unless it hurts, it needs food or it won’t fit into its clothes anymore! And for many men the last thing on their mind will be yoga.
The Yoga bit
But yoga can vastly improve physical and mental health. It will improve your ability to cope at work and will create space between your thoughts, so that you can once again enjoy your life and family with each passing moment.
In the UK being a male and attending a yoga class can be daunting. Taking aside the image of being surrounded by young women in leotards the reality is that, yes there may well be more women in the class than men, but the main thing that goes through the competitive male mind will be, it must be easy, I might feel silly and what will my mates think?
Being a male teacher helps!
One of my mains reasons in becoming a teacher was to try and encourage more men to take up Yoga and I am pleased to say that I have a higher proportion of male students that any other teacher in the area. Being a male teacher helps, but so does the focus of giving everything we do a logical background.
Give me the meaning and benefits and how it can help me
Look for a teacher who illustrates the benefits of the postures, this will then give them a real life perspective. This will then make it easier to relate to how Yoga can help in focusing the mind for that important presentation, meeting or improving your swing on the golf course.
Yoga compliments many other exercise disciplines and sports and although yoga itself can be seen by some as a form of exercise it is essentially the science of positive mental health.
Yoga builds strength, stamina and flexibility
Yoga can be used for all your health needs as it builds strength, stamina and flexibility in a balanced way; it also reduces stress, increases energy, improves sleep and brings about an increased sense of well being.
There is a mistaken view that yoga is simply slow aerobics, doing 20 rounds of the Sun Salutation can be as good a cardiovascular workout as anyone needs, but it is the mental challenge of working with the breath that makes it so special and unique.
Remembering to Breathe
Many of us breathe incorrectly and men are habitually chest breathers, which can result in increased stress, blood pressure and anxiety. The benefits of full abdominal breathing can increase our energy levels and sense of focus. Good health can merely be just a few breaths away.
Yoga is a personal experience – make it work for you
Yoga is all about personal experience, so the spiritual component comes from within. This may manifest in a practical way, in that you find you can concentrate better, your intuition and problem solving skills become more creative.
Yoga makes you more aware of your body and present in the present moment. You still plan for the future, but by planning in the present your ability to cope with change without losing your balance becomes easier.
I use yoga everyday, the mental aspect makes me a better husband, father and manager, the physical side ensures my body is working efficiently and to its optimum level.
Women have been very health conscious for years and this is why so many women go to yoga. I firmly believe however that men have never needed the benefits of yoga more than they do now. Many men are very stressed out and damage their health and their relationships, we know stress kills and statistically men suffer from this more than women.
Yoga can be your tool for bringing change into your life, so what are you waiting for?