Yoga for men as a means of improving core strength and overall fitness.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about improving my core strength. Most of my exercise tends to come from cycling on my road bike and running. I’ve run a couple of marathons in my time but injury seems to be getting in the way of that these days. I’m reasonably fit but the kind of exercise I enjoy doesn’t do a great deal for upper body or core strength.
Yoga is something that’s been suggested a number of times. I’ve always been a little resistant towards it because for a long time it’s been the preserve of hippies and Sting. I started to reconsider when I read Matt Haig’s incredible book Reasons to Stay Alive and more recently, Justin Trudeau seems to have made it a lot cooler for us gentlemen. Of course, many of my female friends are very much into their yoga – I’ve must have had about a dozen conversations in the last week about various yoga retreats (I was mortified to hear they don’t usually have a bar). The thing is, these are women and I’ve struggled for a long time to come to terms with my preconception of yoga as something for girls and hippies.
Of course yoga is for men! The All Blacks have been known to do it, for goodness sake, citing improved muscle tone, flexibility and endurance among its benefits. There’s no way I’m arguing with them; they’re massive! One article I read in Men’s Fitness Magazine listed nine very good reasons why men should take up yoga: relieve stress, get flexible, sculpt muscles, prevent injury, have better sex, push your limits, calm your mind, smell better and set goals. They had me at get flexible.
There seems to be more to yoga than simply improving one’s physical condition. I’ve read lots about how it helps focus the mind, aid concentration and promote mindfulness. Matt Haig talks extensively about how it helped him manage his depression in Reasons to Stay Alive. Clearly, there are lots of good reasons to get involved.
Here’s the next problem; where do I start? Is yoga something I can do at home? Do I need to go to classes? Is it a whole lifestyle thing? Do I need to give up drinking, give up caffeine, give up eating meat? I’m not giving up any of those things. Do I need to go to classes? How often do I need to do it? Will I forget the names of all the positions? Is Downward Dogging really something I want to be caught doing (sorry – couldn’t resist)?
All good questions and I’m seeking the answers. There’s no shortage of yoga classes I could sign up to in London from well-known gym chains through to more exclusive venues. A quick Google of “yoga for beginners” reveals a whole host of books, You Tube tutorials and apps. This is what’s stopping me, there’s so much of it out there from Vinyasa Flow through to Bikram Yoga; I’m completely overwhelmed.
I’m going to have a go at it. I want to improve my overall core strength and be fitter. I’ve no doubt that yoga will compliment my cycling as I know some of the major professional teams use it. I’m thirty-seven years old so looking after my body is increasingly important. Finding a means of doing it that I can fit into an already busy life is a total no-brainer. Yoga could be the answer. I just need to work out where to start.
All advice in the comments section below is gratefully received.
Watch this space for updates on my progress.
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