The word yoga may conjure up images of super-limber women in leggings twisting their bodies into impossible poses. But stereotypes aside, yoga offers a variety of health benefits for men as well as women. Loren M. Fishman, MD, medical director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and an assistant clinical professor at Columbia Medical School, studied yoga in India, has written about it as a valuable addition to traditional medical treatment, and uses it in his rehabilitation practice to help with neurological and musculoskeletal problems.
Different styles of yoga are better suited for different people according to their nature and need, according to Dr. Fishman. Yoga styles that focus on breathing and meditation can help men needing relaxation, Iyengar, Anusara, and Integral yoga, help with balance and coordination, and Vinyasa yoga is a safe and effective style if you’re tight and muscle-bound. Here are the specifics.
Research has found that people who practiced yoga for 60 minutes each week for six weeks experienced significant improvements in well-being and mood. Clear-mindedness, elation, energy, composure, and confidence topped the list of benefits, according to the study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health in 2011.
Brad Barrett, founder and president of GrillGrate grilling tools, tried yoga for the first time 18 months ago with his buddy — on a bet. The buddy eventually bailed, but Barrett became a devotee, in part because of the tremendous stress relief he experienced. “I did not expect the mental aspect to be so beneficial and enjoyable,” he says. “I have calmed down a lot from my normal anxious, type-A personality.”
Back Pain Relief
Relief from lower back pain is a common reason that men try yoga. Research funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that Iyengar yoga helped to significantly reduce functional disability, pain, and depression in people with chronic back pain. Iyengar is a form of hatha yoga that utilizes props, such as blocks, straps, and benches, to help you perform poses without over-exerting yourself.
If you’re a man with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who’s been sidelined because of a flare, you can end up with even worse stiffness and pain. However, you may find relief from swollen and tender joints with yoga, which can be modified to suit your abilities. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore studied a group of 30 sedentary adults with RA and found that those who participated in an eight-week yoga program experienced a significant reduction in the number of tender and swollen joints they had when they began the program.