The latest survey by EMD UK, the governing body for group exercise, reports a 43% increase in men joining yoga classes over the past two years. Although yoga was originally devised by men for men over 5000 years ago in India, in the modern day west it has tended to be a female-dominated pursuit. Here at Archway Health Hub, we’re delighted that yoga is attracting more male interest and not only because two of our yoga instructors, Paul Hodgetts and Harry Hewetson are men!Man doing yoga

The benefits of yoga

Many men looking to get fit turn to cardiovascular activity such as running or cycling. These pursuits undoubtedly have fantastic health benefits, but can cause stiffness and tension in the body and are not without their risk of injury, particularly in middle age and beyond when muscles become less flexible. Yoga on the other hand, when practised regularly, has the effect of improving suppleness. Indeed, when practiced alongside other sports it was found that yoga can actively protect against sports injuries. A paper published by the International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health in 2015 stated that athletes can ‘enhance their game performance and prevent injury by adding yoga to their training plan.”

Bend it like Clooney

Yoga’s proven benefits to athletes is reflected in the fact that elite sports stars like Rory McIlroy, Andy Murray and Joe Hart have all incorporated it into their training. Screen stars are getting in on the act too, with George Clooney, Orlando Bloom and Russell Brand being just a few of the celebrity aficionados. Some men feel that yoga isn’t for them due to their lack of bendiness. However, practising yoga isn’t about being able to contort your body into complicated positions or balance on one leg straight away. Any beginners’ yoga class will focus on practising simple poses (asanas). With regular practice, a new found strength and flexibility will naturally evolve. The International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health also found that yoga “helps the muscles, tendons and ligaments move through a full range of motion, cultivating balance and core strength.”

Yoga for mental health

As well as the physical benefits, yoga is known as a way to rebalance and ease stress. Again, this something that can put some men off yoga as they worry that the deep breathing side of yoga will come at the expense of getting any exercise done. While certain disciplines of yoga do focus on meditation, a beginners Hatha yoga class will incorporate breathing techniques into the fluid sequence of movements. Also, many men who turn to yoga for the physical benefits soon find that the positive effect it has on their mental health is just as beneficial, if not more so.

At Archway House, we offer a wide range of yoga classes for all abilities, including hot Hatha yoga and hatha yoga courses and workshops. To find out more, please call 01858 410820.