When most people think of yoga, they often imagine slender, hyper flexible women doing beautiful poses. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration! But the idea out there for many is that yoga is for the fit and flexible and young.
This stereotype is worth shattering. It’s worth shattering because yoga offers those of us who are middle-aged and older a number of incredible benefits. I know this because of my own experience.
Here are some of the benefits of yoga you may want to consider:
It increases functional strength, flexibility, and range of motion. These elements are important at every age but particularly critical as we get older. Combining these three factors makes yoga a time efficient practice, one that offers the best of all worlds in terms of fitness, especially when there’s little time left in an already packed schedule. If you are working out, yoga becomes a complementary that will target movements often not experienced in traditional workout routines.
With its emphasis on linking movement and breath, yoga encourages a meditative state where little by little the practitioner experiences moments where stories about the past and future are dropped because there’s attention to the sensations in the body.
The body becomes a focal point used to center the attention. The awkwardness of a stretch is often the entry point to this experience. Over time, the awkwardness gives way to a pleasurable sensation of opening and release that deepens the desire to notice and practice.
What is often experienced on the mat is over time translated off the mat and the yoga practitioner finds himself in a space where there is more calm and peace of mind. Yoga is meditation practice in movement. The on the mat experience eventually translates to off-the-mat situations.
One hour of yoga has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. This is important as we know that inflammation is at the root of many of our modern illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. We know that stress is up there with smoking and poor diet as factors leading toward ill health. Yoga addresses this issue in ways that traditional exercise does not.
Because yoga is a breath practice, you are directly affecting the nervous system. Yoga practices offers tools to sense tension and release it through mindful movement in sync with the breath.
This sounds like an obvious thing, but for many men, yoga is something women do because they are flexible. For a man who could barely touch his toes six years ago, I can attest that this is not true.
Practice demands patience, letting go of preconceived ideas about how a pose should look like, and humility in accepting limitations. I keep learning this in so many ways. Letting go of a competitive mindset when it comes to practice is probably one of the biggest barriers for men to practice.
Self-acceptance and respect for the body are central to making each practice one that is particular to the practitioner. The benefits of yoga for men is often overlooked, especially when it comes to yoga’s benefits on mental health.
We offer two community yoga classes per week and private classes as well. Our community classes are small, about seven to eight people. We are mostly middle-aged and older. Young people are welcomed as well. Yoga is for everyone.
It’s a warm and inviting community. If you have never tried yoga because it seems a little too out there or weird, we invite you to give it a try and see for yourself how you feel.