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Most people have at least some understanding of yoga. In the western world, yoga is often recommended as a health practice for both men and women. However, when you look at the yoga community, it’s disproportionately female. That’s probably because most men think it’s only for women.
As a man, you might not be ready to give up your exercise habits for something unfamiliar, even if you have close friends or family members who already practice yoga. But challenging your body in a new way can improve stamina and build confidence. The more you understand yoga, the more likely you are to benefit from its philosophy and lifestyle.
Here are five myths about yoga that you need to stop believing:
When yoga is portrayed in media, it typically targets a female audience with images of women wearing the latest pants, performing back bends, and using colorful mats. It’s a great opportunity to empower women, but only shows part of the picture. Since its inception, yoga has been taught and influenced by men.
Yoga is all about balance, including the balance of masculine and feminine energies within each individual. Many male athletes and celebrities are embracing this fact, helping yoga become more appealing for men. If these men can learn to embrace yoga, so can you:
The western view of exercise is skewed. Many people believe that if you don’t sweat and your heart rate doesn’t increase by much then it is not exercise. This is especially true for men.
Unless exposed to other forms of eastern practices—such as martial arts—you may not be aware that your muscles can still benefit from non-action or slight exertions.
Yoga can help tone and strengthen all of your muscle groups. You can even pair yoga with other physical activities for optimal results.
There is a common myth that yoga is tied to specific religions or belief systems. In truth, yogic philosophy can and should stand apart from matters of faith.
Yoga is about bringing the mind, body, and spirit into balance. While spirituality is included, there is no specific requirement of belief. Yoga should enhance your faith and unity with the spiritual aspects of your life.
If you’re seeking the physical benefits, perform the asanas (poses) without a spiritual emphasis. Just breathe, stretch, and center yourself. Much like meditation, yoga is a tool and can be used successfully in a variety of settings.
Yoga is about starting where you are and growing. Don’t place so much pressure on your personal level of flexibility. This is your ego talking and can be something to release when practicing yoga. It is very likely that you won’t be able to jump into a headstand or scorpion pose right away.
If you can barely touch your toes, then start there. Stay consistent with a practice of three to four days a week and you’ll be surprised at what you can do. It’s a fun way to create a workout challenge for yourself.
Fitting in is a common concern for men who are just starting out in yoga. The thought of being the only man in a yoga class can be intimidating.
Here are a few ideas to ease into your yoga practice:
Remember that everyone has to start somewhere. With a little courage and patience, you can start your yoga journey to become a healthier, manlier you.