Why YOU should be practising Yoga

Why YOU should be practising Yoga

Barry Kerrigan |

The Miracles of Yoga:

Dating back at least 5,000 years, it is safe to say that yoga has been around for a while! Even though it's so ancient, yoga in Ireland has only really started to take off. Every hipster, teenage girl, vegan, failed vegan and granny have gone to at least one yoga class at this stage, and sure why not? In my opinion yoga basically solves most of my life problems! Here are just a few of the miracles yoga can do:

  1. Feeling stressed? YOGA!
  2. Can't sleep? YOGA!
  3. Not Flexible? YOGA!
  4. Have the body strength of an ant? YOGA!
  5. Feel like the Hunchback of Notre Dame? YOGA!
  6. Have the concentration of a gold fish? YOGA!
  7. Had one too many Domino's pizza? YOGA!
  8. Forget to breath sometimes? YOGA!

But Sure Only Green Tea Drinking, Birkenstock Wearing Hippies Do Yoga?Right?

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Okay on a serious note though... yoga genuinely is great for your overall health and well-being, and ideally every adult, child and dog should be doing it! This being said even though yoga is the greatest thing on earth (well second to Ryan Reynolds), men still tend to have a stigma around yoga and have created this misconception that yoga is just a lighter form of fitness training, better suited to women.

But sure aren't they right? Isn’t yoga just for girls, pensioners and hippies that travel the world with tattered fabric bracelets up their arm? Yes yoga is suited for all of these but SHOCKER it's equally as important for men too, particularly male athletes. The leading factor behind this misconception is the fact that people (especially men) believe that yoga is only associated with flexibility and not strength. Although it is true that yoga can increase flexibility research shows that it can also be even more effective in increasing overall strength and building muscle. It's for this reason that many elite athletes and teams across the world rely on yoga, not only as a way of having an advantage over their competitors but also use it as a way of creating longevity for their careers.

Still don’t believe me? Well maybe the New Zealand All Blacks might be able to sway your opinions on yoga! Yes lads you heard that right, the most successful teams in world rugby the participate in yoga. In a recent interview discussing the team’s new mind-body mindset Fly-Half Beauden Barrett stated that:

“there could be that stigma that if you go to yoga it is only for girls. That's only what people think. It doesn't matter. Our body is our tool and we need it function. If you don't look after it, you won't perform."

Other top athletes and teams who are advocates for yoga also include David Beckham, Conor Mcgregor, Novak Djokovic and LeBron James.

But of course the father of the Athletic Male Yogi Society has to be THE Man, THE Legend, Ryan Giggs. Ryan loves yoga so much, he even made a DVD about it! Now if that’s not commitment I don’t know what is...

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Sure the very sight of the man -  lean, athletic, and playing Premier League football at the age of 40 - just provides an undeniable testament to the age-defying benefits of yoga. Not only does yoga help male athletes to compete for longer but it also helps them adapt to the changes in their sport. Over the last 10 years or so team sports have become a faster and sharper, with the players being more athletic and more gymnastic in their movements (just look at Bale's bicycle kick). Giggs believes that it is the need to be able to keep up with and compete in this level which has really driven a change in attitude towards yoga.

Still Not Convinced?

Even though I'm basically saying that yoga is probably the best thing the universe has produced and you should drop what your doing right now and go into the Lotus position, I understand that you may still be sceptical. So here are ... more reasons why everyone (INCLUDING MEN) should do yoga.

1. Yoga builds muscles evenly.

I know you guys like having boulders on your shoulders and sometimes skip leg days in order to produce this look but instead of just focusing on specific parts of the body yoga builds muscles evenly all over.  So you will not only be lean and muscular but you will also be symmetric!

2. Yoga increases deadlift strength.

We all know the score. Our Instagram feeds are full of guys and girls who have managed to balance their phone on a dumbbell precariously in order to show the world just how heavy they can deadlift.  A study that was conducted in 2013 showed that people who followed a 12 week yoga program significantly increased their deadlift strength and flexibility in their lower back, hamstrings and shoulders. Basically if you want to one up your mates, do yoga!

3. Flexibility means less injuries.

The unique movements and stretches in yoga allows the body to both exercise and stretch muscles that you might not normally use whilst also strengthening the ones you use everyday. Think of it as team bonding, afterwards your muscles will be better mates and work more harmoniously together, which means less injuries for you!

4. Yoga reduces stress and anxiety.

Life is pretty darn stressful these days! It's hard work trying to balance work, friends, college and coming up with great Instagram captions that will get a few LOL's, all whilst trying to get out in the sun for some long needed vitamin D and keep up with Love Island and the World Cup. Like I'm stressed even writing about doing those things! Yoga uses a combination of physical poses and stretches alongside, controlled breathing, and relaxation techniques which has been linked to lowering blood pressure and heart rate both of which help modulate our stress levels. So if you're feeling a little overwhelmed just take a moment to yourself and look up a yoga video on Youtube, we guarantee you will feel so much better!

5. Yoga saves you money!

Seriously, I'm not joking here! I think most Irish people agree that its best to be a bit tight on money (well except for buying pints for everyone on nights out of course). Well for all of you who have the same mind-set as me and try to save as much money as possible you'll be delighted to hear that those of you who practice yoga apparently reduce their need for health care services by up to 43 percent. Think of the amount of extra food you can buy!

Unfortunately for us ladies this statistic is more relevant for men, as men tend to have more cardiovascular problems as they age. Yoga is commonly linked to improving cardiovascular health, so those of you who practice yoga on the regular can cut down on those doctor visits, and more importantly the dangerous results of being in poor cardiovascular health.