Let me start this off by saying that I love yoga. I have been doing yoga consistently for over 10 years. I feel that it has prevented injuries and kept me loose, balanced and able to exercise for the last 10 years. If it weren’t for yoga, I would have much more low back, hip, knee, shoulder, neck and arm pain.
Those of you who have read some of my other posts, know that I am a chiropractor who specializes in trigger point therapy and musculo-skeletal issues. So I know how to take care of muscles and prevent injuries.
Muscles get tight and irritated on a daily basis. Every day you are irritating your muscles a little bit. Each time you sit for a long period you are microscopically injuring your muscles. This irritation and microscopic injury build up over time.
You use your muscles every second of every hour of every day. Even when you are sleeping your muscles are active. Your muscles are allowing you to breathe when you are sleeping, and when you are not thinking about breathing. Your muscles are constantly contracting at a low level to keep you upright and to allow you to stand. You are using your muscles all of time.
With all of this use comes irritation. We all have a daily accumulation of tightness. We all have repetitive motions throughout our daily life that causes the muscles to slowly tighten up over time. It’s these repetitive motions that cause microscopic injuries and irritation. If you are not doing anything to manage your muscles- to keep them loose and balanced, then they will eventually get so tight that they will tear. This is what a sprain or a strain is.
A sprain or a strain of a muscle is when a muscle tears on a microscopic level. A sprain or strain can take longer than a fracture or broken bone to heal, and can be more painful than a fracture. When you sprain or strain a muscle, you will have to take time off from exercising because you will be injured and in pain. You will have to take time off from exercise, and even work, to allow your body and muscles to heal.
Stretching can prevent this from happening. If you can stretch out a muscle while it is tightening up, you can prevent it from getting so tight that it tears. The analogy is that it is easier to prevent a fire than it is to put one out. It is easier to prevent an injury than to heal an injury, once it occurs. Yoga is one of the best stretching systems out there, and is one of the best ways to prevent injury and pain.
Yoga targets your entire body. A good yoga class will balance your body out and loosen up your muscles. You don’t have to think about stretching if you are doing yoga. Yoga will stretch everything out for you.
So why don’t more men do yoga? Many men still view yoga as a woman’s workout. Men will try it and get discouraged because it can be so difficult. Many of them will think if a woman is doing it then they should be able to. This is not the case. Yoga is hard. If you don’t start with a beginner’s class, then you can hurt yourself very easily.
Another common reason for people to skip yoga is they may feel that they are not flexible enough to do yoga. If you are not actively stretching or working on your flexibility then there is no reason why you should be flexible. If you want to loosen up your body and get more flexible, you have to start at the beginning.
Other reasons why I hear to avoid yoga is that it is boring, it does not get you into shape, and it is not a workout. Yoga slows you down and calms you down. It is supposed to be slow and methodical. Slowing down during the day like this helps to decrease stress and anxiety.
Yoga isn’t supposed to be a workout. It allows you to continue to exercise though. If you are weight lifting and doing aerobic exercise, you don’t need yoga to be a workout. You need yoga to loosen you up and help you to recover from exercise and from the stresses of daily life. This recovery will reduce injury and pain which will allow you to keep exercising consistently for years to come.
I don’t understand why more men don’t do yoga. Why wouldn’t more men want to exercise surrounded by many in shape women?
Yoga allows you to prevent injury so that you can keep exercising consistently for years to come. Exercise intelligently. Go smarter, not harder to prevent pain and injury. It is the Pain Free Way.
Here are 2 articles that I wrote about the benefits of yoga:
Here is a link to an article from the Wall Street Journal on why men still aren’t doing yoga, despite a benefit to both sexes: