Even if you live under a rock, you’ve heard about yoga. The yoga craze looked like it may have been a fleeting trend a few years back, but has quickly surfaced as one of the most popular (and effective) activities chosen by those who lead a healthy, holistic lifestyle. Ironically, the gender that is commonly associated with this ancient art was initially banned from practicing it at all… it was a man’s sport. Release the image of the stretchy pant-wearing female stereotype and let us introduce you to why men should reclaim their position in yoga’s spotlight. Besides the obvious benefit of a 6 to 1 ratio of women to men in a class (I wish I was making this up), there are several solid arguments for gentlemen to get their stretch on. Without further adieu, here are the 5 reasons men should be doing yoga: 1. You Aren’t Working These Muscles Yoga has the power to work very different muscle groups than your average weight lifting session at the gym. The postures that make the basis of every pose require you to coordinate your entire body to achieve the pose correctly – pushing you to work muscles you didn’t even know you had. The posture will in turn help to improve your balance and agility which gives you an advantage in other sports you may be involved in. 2. No Pain, No Gain Is A Myth The greatest cause of injury in sport and physical activity is not properly stretching beforehand. Yoga is stretching, point blank. The entire class is based on a series of stretches to help lengthen and loosen the body. It removes lactic acid build up and allows it to flow from your muscles with frequent and steady movement so you experience less burning and difficulty maintaining a steady heart rate. Yoga helps to alleviate old injuries and prevent new ones from occurring as it is easy on the joints and allows for movement and exercise without direct impact or physical contact. 3. Don’t Call Jenny Craig Yet Regardless of the calming nature of the sport, it is still a challenging exercise that requires hard work from the body and you will most certainly reap the benefits. The strength it takes to firmly hold a pose and focus both mind and body burns a serious amount of calories. Building muscle will help to speed up the metabolism and foster digestion. You are ensured a good sweat during regular yoga, and will without a doubt be soaked by the end of a hot yoga class. Intensity levels vary based on the type of yoga being practiced, your personal level (beginner, intermediate, expert) and the degree to which you take your pose – so will the calories you burn. 4. It’s Cheaper Than A Visit To The Shrink Yoga was created as a form of meditation and whether you choose to participate in the class “ommmms” or not, the state you enter during yoga is one to clear your mind and give you a break from your brain for an hour or so. By steadying your breathing and calming your thoughts – you release serotonin from your brain which alleviates stress. You’ll have peace of mind and the ability to forget about the hectic reality of everyday life during that moment. Loosening up for that hour will affect your post-yoga workout as well, allowing you to become more mindful – as in present: mind, body and soul. Not to mention it just feels really good. 5. ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZ Releasing stress from your body and from your everyday routine allows for a peaceful and deep sleep. Men have the tendency to bottle up their emotions and allow it to affect them internally. Many stresses will take a toll on sleep and cause irregular sleep patterns that can add more pressure/anxiety creating a snowball effect. The physical aspect also helps to tire the body, stretch the muscles and bring any stresses that have physically manifested to the surface and literally ‘sweat-it-out’ to allow for a fresh you and a fantastic sleep. What’s More Manly Than Being Healthy? So maybe you’re not going to venture to India for a spiritual awakening with a Yogi but hopefully we’ve convinced you to try out something new that could make an incredibly positive impact on your health…and your life. Rise above any stigma you’ve placed on yoga and go give it a try. There is nothing more manly than being healthy and going boldly where most men shy away. Right?