Okay, give me one good reason to start stealing my partner’s mat?
No problem, we’ll give you seven.
Is this where you tell me it’s eventually going to improve my flexibility?
No, you’ve heard that before. What you probably haven’t heard is that even the most basic yoga asanas (postures) can make a massive difference to your everyday range of motion because they are ‘active stretches’, where the muscle opposite the one being stretched is contracted. A 2010 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that this resulted in lasting, improved range of motion, while passive stretching (what you’re probably doing before a run) actually decreased flexibility. Okay, okay. But yoga can’t count towards my weekly cardio?
Well, don’t sell your bike and running shoes but regular sun salutations can protect you from heart disease as much as cycling or running, according to a study in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology. The researchers concluded that yoga was as beneficial to your heart as traditional forms of cardio because it’s in the unique position of providing exercise and relaxation. If you’re brave enough to go to a class with ‘Vinyasa,’ in the title, you won’t be in any doubt about yoga being cardio effective and it’s a tough core and isometric strength challenge too. Surely I can’t muscle up on the mat?
Why not? You wouldn’t think twice about using your bodyweight to add mass to your body for a CrossFit workout and that’s exactly what you’re doing with yoga. Yoga uses nothing but your own body to build lean muscle mass and on your journey you will encounter movements similar to squats, leg lifts and push ups but performed over much longer periods of time. That will only result in sustained gains throughout all your muscle groups, while minimising your chances of injury.
So it’ll give me muscles I never knew I had before?
We all know that guys can get a bit too caught up with the mirror muscles like biceps, pectorals and abdominals. However, the majority of the exercises men do in the gym neglect their stabilizers, which support the body rather than move it. Yoga on the other hand, includes plenty of asanas with spinal twists and arches, as well as lateral and twisting moves, not to mention the constant balance challenges that will come your way in a typical class. All of which contributes to bulletproof stabilizers, improved joint health and less injuries.
I’m beginning to like the sound of this – anything else it could do for me?
Sure, how about the fact that yoga helps your body recover from tough training sessions and is proven effective in lowering those chronic stress levels you complain about. Straining under a bar bell or doing battle with gym ropes keeps you hyped up on adrenaline whereas a yoga class can instill a state of deep rest and calm. This has been proven in a study that found elevated levels of the amino acid GABA in those who practise regularly. The study concluded that GABA plays a key role in reducing anxiety and promotes feelings of calm inside the body.
Okay, I’m convinced. Now where does she keep that mat?