3 Unexpected Ways Yoga Makes You Stronger

Yoga is a personal experience between you and your mat—prepare for some serious mental and physical benefits.

This piece is in support of our partnership with the Movember Foundation, a global charity committed to helping men lead happier, healthier, and longer lives. Get hairy and get a MOVE on for health!

It’s Movember and conversations on the topic of men’s health are swirling out of moustached mouths all over the country.

Studies show that in addition to eating right and keeping tabs on your body (blood pressure, cholesterol—you know the drill), simply getting off the couch and moving is one of the most powerful ways to combat disease. One of the most transformative activities Mo Bros and Mo Sistas can tackle is yoga. Getting into a regular yoga practice is easy and can literally help save your life—just 20 minutes a day, three days a week can help revamp your body and mind.

To the skeptical fellas out there who think yoga has nothing for you—there’s something you should know. Yoga got its humble beginnings long before Lulu-clad ladies dominated the mats of swanky studios everywhere. In fact, the practice goes back thousands of years to 500 BC where it was originally designed by men, for men. Pretty O.G., huh?

But, as it does, time had a way of shifting things, and a fair share of yoga’s original beginnings were lost in the migration from India to Western culture. According to a 2012 Yoga in America study by Yoga Journal, of the 20.4 million practitioners in the U.S., only about 17.8 percent are men. Though when it comes to the tradition of yoga, one can still find classes that fall all across the spectrum—from embracing the spiritual essence of yoga in all its chakras to ones that focus solely on the physical aspect of the activity. But—believe it or not—yoga was made for you, bros. So, here are a few reasons you should be adding it to your workout schedule.

Increase Drive

Ambition isn’t just for the boardroom. We all want to run faster, go farther, lift heavier. If you have lofty workout goals, yoga can be a great way to earn the strength that can improve your overall health and performance across all activities. In addition to igniting muscles rarely activated in a typical gym routine, yoga comes with many perks: increased flexibility and motion range, strengthening of the core, improved balance, and valuable stretches. All of these things are nice additions to your regular workout and can help synergize your muscle groups to serve your overall body better and help balance your routine.

Stay Humble

Yoga is not about catching side glances of other practitioners flashing bigger muscles or grunting to bench-press more than you. It’s a personal experience. It’s between you and your mat and you and your body. And if it’s not a regular part of your workout regimen, there’s a good chance you’re going to hit some very humbling points on the road to down dog and beyond. Tightness will seem unconquerable and, at times, you’ll be convinced that touching your toes is downright impossible. But pressing on, ego aside, can be very liberating.

Mental Endurance

Yogis in the Himalayan Mountains are arguably the most mentally fit humans on Earth. At 15,000 feet above sea level and below-0 temps, these Tibetan monks spend years in indomitable conditions that should, in all likelihood, kill them. But it doesn’t. Instead, these remarkable yogis meditate for hours on end without ever even letting out so much as a shiver. The powers of meditation can literally be seen in brain scans, where the left prefrontal cortex can be seen vividly lighting up and over time resulting in a thickening of the cortex.

If the thought of chanting or Om-ing gives you the heebie-jeebies, trust that it doesn’t have to be all about that. Make it what you want. But know that the sheer act of moving through a vinyasa yoga flow is meditative. And once you have met that calm, you can always come back to it, carrying it over to any other sport, obstacle, or arena of your life.

Do you really need more inspiration than that? Get a MOVE on for health!

Written by Laci Mosier for Movember

sized-Laci-MosierLaci Mosier is a copywriter living and loving in Austin, Texas. She and her one-eyed pirate dog live for exploring and discovering life’s magic. She is most inspired by yoga, running, Kundalini meditation, good books, great jams and even better coffee. Getting lost is where she is most often found. Follow her on the Twittersphere or Instagram.