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Hey Bro, are you still avoiding yoga? I’ve been a firefighter for 17 years, and I have been doing yoga for 11 years. Through this time, I have heard every condescending or negative thing men can say about yoga. I’m going to tell you that you are missing out on a practice that will have enormous benefits for your health and well-being.

Unfortunately, overall, men’s mental health is in severe decline in the 21st century, and there are some real sobering statistics about what’s going on. According to the Ministry of Health, suicides amongst men have risen to their highest level ever. For instance, in 2016, out of 553 suicides, 412 were committed by men. In 2019, this number has risen to 685 overall suicides, with 466 of them being men. The toll on families, loved ones and children, is staggering, and we need to come up with viable options instead of band-aid solutions.

Get Men Doing Yoga

One possible solution is to get men doing yoga. Despite all the excuses you can come up with, the facts are still the same. Yoga will help your body, your mind, and improve your mental health. According to a study presented at the American Psychological Association in 2017, it found that male veterans “who had elevated depression scores before a twice-weekly hatha yoga program had a significant reduction in depression symptoms after the eight-week program.” What was even more impressive is the veterans were asked to rate the yoga classes out of 10. The average enjoyment rating was “9.4, and all participants said they would recommend the program to other veterans”.

Men Enjoy Yoga

Lindsey Hopkins Ph.D. led this study, and it had even more exciting findings. The study “focused on male veterans with an average age of 61, whereas most other research has focused on younger and predominantly female populations.” Hopkins says,

From my view, our most meaningful finding was how much these men—almost all of whom were practicing yoga for the first time—enjoyed the practice, believed it had improved their physical and/or mental health, and viewed it as a promising treatment option, suggesting that yoga could be a highly acceptable complementary approach for male veterans. I think this is important given that people in the U.S. often think of yoga as a woman’s activity … and, more specifically, a privileged young white woman’s activity. This study lends support that this isn’t the case, given the diversity of these male veterans in terms of age, race, and economic status.

Athletes are Doing Yoga

I think this study’s findings should dispel the myth that yoga isn’t for men. Look, I get it, it’s different from playing sport because there is no competition. In your mind, you may be thinking, you aren’t flexible enough, or it’s weird, or any of the other excuses you’ve used. Yoga, however, is being used by professional athletes like LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Tom Brady and even some notable All Blacks like Jack Goodhue and Beauden Barrett. They have seen how important yoga is to maintain their bodies and minds and using yoga to help them perform at the peak of their sport.

Start Yoga at any Age

Yoga will help you by teaching you to breathe focused and controlled breath. It will help your body stretch and help you get over sore, tired muscles, achy joints and, based on numerous studies, it will help with depression and mental well-being. I guarantee that the benefits to yoga far outstrip any nervousness or excuses you can come up with. You can start yoga at any age, any ability, any gender, and in short order, you will begin to feel better in your body and, more importantly, in your mind.

Yoga is not a cure-all, but its effects are well documented in helping people in their bodies and mental well-being. The statistics are out of control, and on a fundamental level, things need to change. A regular yoga practice will encourage a sense of inner peace, help everything you do daily, be better, whether physical or mental and help you be the best version of yourself.

Men, you need to drop the excuses and stereotypes, roll out a yoga mat, and give yoga a shot.