For centuries, yoga has been a great mind and body exercise for Eastern men and women alike. Only in the last century has it been slowly introduced into the lives of western Americans. Today, yoga has become a regular practice for about 8.7 percent of Americans, according to a 2012 market study by YogaJournal.com.
Yoga has become an increasingly popular exercise among American women compared to men, as statistics indicate that men take significantly less of an interest.
According to the 2012 market study, 20.4 million Americans participate in the practices of yoga, 82.2 percent being women and 17.8 percent being men.
There is a significant lack of men practicing yoga compared to women, but why is that? The stereotype that yoga is a feminine exercise may be keeping most men away from the benefits of the practice.
“Men shy away from yoga because they may be intimidated by poses that require more flexibility, and they might be turned off by various spiritual aspects of the practice, such as ‘Om’-chanting or naming poses in Sanskrit,” said Carolyn Gregoire in a HuffingtonPost.com article.
More people in general should consider practicing yoga, as they might learn to appreciate their bodies in an introspective way, rather than a flexing-in-front-of-the-mirror kind of way.
The majority of men and women who do regularly exercise, however, seem to plant their focus on one thing: getting ripped quick. To do this, they put their bodies through rigorous training that includes lifting a lot of weights in a repetitive fashion.
Weightlifting exercises are meant for building muscles but can also cause injury during practice, or long-term harm to the body.
“A new study finds that from 1990 to 2007, nearly a million Americans wound up in emergency rooms with weight-training injuries, and that annual injuries increased more than 48 percent in that period”, according to NYTimes.com health section.
Also, “about 82 percent of the 970,000 people injured were men, according to the study, which first appeared in the April issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine.”
With this being said, perhaps more men should take time to practice yoga to avoid the harms of heavy lifting.
Although men and women who practice heavy lifting regularly may see the results they want, they may be missing the great benefits and “spiritual discipline” yoga has to offer their bodies.
According to the University of Minnesota’s health blog, “The systematic practice of yoga has been found to reduce inflammation and stress, decrease depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and increase feelings of well-being.”
There are many different forms of yoga to try — one of the most popular being Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga includes physical strengthening, balancing and breathing practices, and can easily become a regular practice for just about anyone.
“Through proper alignment and mindful actions of the body, Hatha Yoga brings balance, strength, and a sense of well-being to the practitioner”, according to YogaYoga.com
With all of these incredible benefits from a mind-opening exercise, both men and women looking to become happier, healthier and more stress free should give yoga a try by throwing it into their workout plan.