Once upon a time, when you spoke to men about yoga, they almost immediately had images of Lululemon-clad women chanting verses of Sanskrit while bending their bodies into impossible positions. For the hockey-playing, basketball-watching, sports-obsessed male species, the practice of yoga was about as appealing as watching a Julia Roberts romantic comedy -- twice. However, times -- and old-standing stereotypes -- have changed thanks, in part, to the evolution of male-specific sport versus female-specific sport. More women are tackling the football field while more men are doing the downward dog. Yoga has become the new cross-training for men looking to increase their flexibility and improve their muscle conditioning so the next time they hit the field or the rink, their bodies will bend into nearly impossible positions -- willingly.
Paul McQuillan, a yoga instructor at Toronto's Bikram Yoga Centre, has been practising yoga -- specifically, Bikram or hot yoga, a style of yoga that takes place in rooms heated to about 40 C -- for three years. Yoga has improved both his physical and mental strength, he says, while revitalizing his energy levels. Here, he explains the advantages of yoga and how men can benefit from it.
1. Yoga works the entire body
In sports such as hockey, tennis or football, you tend to utilize only 10 to 15 per cent of the body, whereas yoga provides a workout that covers every muscle, joint and organ. The practice oxygenates the blood, creating more energy when you finish the exercise as opposed to depleting the body of it. You work every system: cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular and endocrine.
2. Yoga has benefits in the bedroom
Guarasana, or Eagle Pose, is a posture that sends fresh blood and oxygen to the sexual organs, so this is a particularly beneficial exercise for men in revitalizing their bedroom prowess! Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose, is a marriage of the heart and the lungs, two organs that don't usually interact. Not only does this posture increase cardiovascular endurance, but it is also the only known yoga posture that utilizes every organ, muscle and joint in the body.
3. Yoga works for every size
It does not matter how you look when you practise yoga. Whether you're a 250-pound linebacker or a 150-pound triathlete, yoga will push your personal boundaries by increasing your own flexibility, endurance and muscle strength.