Sceptical about the transformative benefits you stand to gain from incorporating yoga into your daily (or even weekly) routine? I don’t blame you – unfortunately, we’ve all heard the harmful stereotype that yoga is only for women (or lazy men) and certainly not for those seeking an intense physical workout. Well, as a guy who has only recently started to immerse myself in the yogi world, the time has come to remove the stigma and I’m here to tell you why. Read on to discover how the ancient practice has the power to transform your life at work, at the gym and in the bedroom. Your inner buddha will thank you.
Traditional fitness programs are almost exclusively based on a foundation of exertion, characterised by a push-push-push mentality that seldom results in anything but burnout, loss of motivation and various physical injuries.
Infusing any degree of yoga into one’s regular workout routine offers tremendous physical benefit in terms of longevity, improved strength and full-body awareness – but many are surprised to discover that the holistic and mental effects the practice catalyses are far more rewarding. Here are a few of the life-changing reasons you should contemplate branching outside of your comfort zone to invest in your physical, mental and energic well-being.
Studies show that certain yoga postures – yes, even those suitable for beginners – can trigger the release of specific hormones from the brain. Levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter infamously coined the “feel-good hormone,” has been proven to increase substantially over time in individuals who practice yoga for 30 minutes per day, as little as two days a week. Consider those collective 60 minutes – – the duration of just one episode of Game of Thrones – and now imagine the long-term value of devoting that time every week towards optimising your brain function. Not only will you have more concentration at work, but increasing mental resilience promotes heightened defence to burnout and higher levels of overall productivity as well.
The physical yoga postures, called asanas, trigger increased blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract and subsequently relieve indigestion, improve peristalsis and boost overall digestive health. No less important, yoga is a mindfulness practice that encourages practitioners to live in the present moment. Focusing on the now drastically improves the mind-body connection, which leads to feeling more in tune with your body’s hunger signals and makes it far easier to reduce the harmful tendency to overeat.
Reduced blood pressure, decreased heart rate, improved respiration – notice a common theme? The three aforementioned symptoms are all critical components of your body’s response to stress. The multi-faceted benefits of yoga can essentially be boiled down to a simple fundamental truth – namely, that yoga has the power to improve your health on a cellular level. That means big-time results, big-picture perspective.
We all know that excessive stress can lead to a myriad of serious health complications, but what you may not be aware of is that your body’s ability to respond to stress is essentially a direct reflection of the degree of its inflammation. Inflammation is a crucial survival mechanism and refers to the biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli such as pathogens, infection or irritants. However, in our modern society of never-ending stimulation, many walk around in a state of chronic inflammation. This means that your body functions in a constant state of activated stress-response, which eventually begins to damage healthy cells, tissues and organs. Wondering what the long-term consequences of this type of lifestyle include? Cognitive decline, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease are just a few of the most common byproducts.
Aside from boosting your body’s resilience to disease and ability to combat infection, another proven benefit of yoga is enhanced blood circulation. This is especially valuable because of the domino effect it puts in motion – enhanced efficiency of toxin detoxification, effectively making space for fresh blood and fresh energy. Convinced yet? Let’s move on to how yoga can impact your sexual performance.
Dubious about the connection between yoga and sexual performance? Consider this study published by the Journal of Sexual Medicine. A group of men who had never previously practiced yoga on a regular basis started to practice multiple times a week for 12 weeks – after which the majority of men in the sample reported overall significant improvement in sexual function, quantified by measures such as libido levels, sexual satisfaction and performance stamina. These findings make complete sense when we take into account some of the most commonly male-reported effects of yoga, including enhanced mood, reduced levels of chronic stress and anxiety, improvement in pelvic muscle tone and increased blood flow.
Any yoga teacher will tell you that a stretched muscle is stronger and healthier muscle. Our modern lifestyle of 9-5 sitting, looking down at our phones or computers and repetitive moments has serious ramifications for mobility and muscle stiffness. Yoga has monumental implications when it comes to flexibility improvement and back pain relief, one of the most common-reported bodily aches. The ability to move freely with agility and ease shouldn’t be taken lightly, and improving one’s range of motion isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes commitment and motivation, but practicing flexibility-oriented stretches even twice a week can pay off with lasting pain relief in areas such as the shoulders, hips and neck.
Yoga also includes an extensive variety of poses meant to strengthen the body from head to toe, building lean muscle mass and improving overall conditioning along the way. The benefits don’t stop there – many report that as they become more flexible and limber physically, they become more accommodating, open-minded and creative mentally as well. Here lies the true beauty of yoga and the one I personally find most fulfilling – within a dynamic, energetic and accepting community, this no-rules practice has empowered me with the courage to expand my boundaries and push myself beyond what I ever thought possible. Whether signing up for an intimidating yoga class or attempting to perform a backbend, I’ve learned that progress is what matters – and this truth has given me the drive to keep coming back to my mat.
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