“It’s Not Exactly My Style”

Admitting you need to make some lifestyle changes is a great first step toward improving your health. How you choose to go about it is a very personal matter. Dietary changes are usually positive, but choosing an activity is even more important. People who lead active lives generally have a better quality of life than those who are more sedentary. So when you make the choice to become more active, the next step is choosing the right activities.

Unfortunately, in Western culture, too many men believe that yoga is a girl-thing. Yoga in its traditional form and in its original context was never a girl-thing, and we would serve the young boys and young men in our society well by teaching them that yoga is an everybody-thing. It’s a lifestyle, not a gender-based activity. This was recently brought home for me when my significant other reported his vitals from his recent doctor’s appointment. Blood pressure: high. Weight: way too high. Self-diagnosis confirmed by doctor: exercise. I offered to get up early and we could do yoga together, to which he responded, “It’s not exactly my style.”

He wasn’t talking about getting up early. He was talking about the yoga. So he bought a spinning bike for the house and plans to spin his way to better health. Not a bad plan, but it’s unfortunate that yoga, a gentle, challenging, time-honored approach to a healthy life isn’t “my style.” Yoga offers benefits to men who practice that few other fitness outlets offer, and it’s a crying shame that dudes aren’t aware of this.

When you’re trying to relieve stress, one of the things you do is go to the gym. Take it all out on a punching bag, right? Except that studies are now showing that that kind of activity might actually increase aggression and stress levels rather than reduce them. Stress-reduction is a function of the mind, so if you want to rid your body of stress, take the high road: focus on training the mind as well as the body to handle stress in a healthy way rather than just punching your way to a momentary good feeling.

As we age, both men and women lose flexibility, which eventually leads to unsteadiness on the feet and consequent injuries. Sedentary lifestyles contribute to the lack of flexibility, and even though spinning and other workouts may improve your health, they don’t do a darn thing about your locked up muscles and joints. Yoga, especially for men (who have a tendency to be less flexible than women overall), loosens muscles and joints, stretches physically as well as mentally, and helps prevent injury by increasing general flexibility.

Yoga isn’t a “style” or a fad. It’s a lifestyle choice. So move over ladies. Time to make room on the yoga mat for the dudes. They need it just as much as we do.