Yoga routines for men reduce fatigue and train muscles to respond differently. A sportsman who practices yoga as a cross-training fitness method will see greater improvement in his sport of choice.
Ballet, Yoga…and Football?
Football fans may recall stories from the early 1970s about Pittsburgh Steelers' wide-receiver Lynn Swann performing ballet and tap dance to improve his football game. Basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is also famous for his decades-long practice of yoga. Although once considered a novelty, many pro and university sports programs now include cross-training in dance, yoga, tai chi, and Pilates.
ESPN.com featured a story in 2005 about the University of Memphis team cowering before its yoga instructor, a strong but tiny woman. One player stated about the yoga preseason session, "A couple of girls get up there, doing stretches and holding positions longer. They drop into a pose and you think, 'They're expecting us to do that?'"
Medical research supports the cross-training theory. Yoga routines for men activate the "de-compaction" factor. Running and jumping jars the body, as an individual is constantly fighting gravity. So, just as swimming is a healthful alternative to active "ground" sports, yoga helps to realign the body, increase flexibility, and ease pressure on joints. Yoga also breaks the "memory" of muscles used to moving in a systematic fashion, thus making them stronger.
Other benefits to cross-training with yoga include:
- Increased strength without extra bulk
- Better concentration
- Improved breathing
- Greater endurance
- Relief from training boredom
This writer's husband, who rarely does yoga, admits that after performing a 45-minute Vinyasa flow routine, he's worked up "a bit of a sweat - just not as much as when I play racquetball." He's also commented that he "feels" muscles differently the next day, but doesn't feel sore. Therein lies another benefit of yoga: it's a lighter fitness program to perform between more vigorous workouts.
But, make no mistake: you can choose to perform yoga at an energy level that best suits you and your fitness goals.
Neal Pollack offers a funny commentary on athletic cross-training in this Slate article.
Popular Yoga Routines for Men
Many active athletes enjoy the intensity of Power yoga, Hot yoga, and Ashtanga yoga. However, it's not always about the intensity as much as establishing focus and centering. Building these characteristics will only help your other fitness endeavors.
If you're looking to improve performance in your sport of choice, or to enhance conditioning, there are more yoga routines for men available than ever before.
To tap into specific sport needs:
- Yoga for Athletes offers customized yoga routines that target the muscle groups utilized in 16 different sports, including cycling, football, hiking, basketball, and rock climbing.
To build strength and endurance:
- Try Rodney Yee's Power Yoga for Strength, one of five parts of his Power Yoga series that increase overall athleticism.
- Bryan Kest's Power Yoga Complete Collection offers three different workouts that help maintain strength for ball sports and running.
To relieve muscle tension or release the spine and hamstrings:
- Baron Baptiste's Power Vinyasa Yoga is an intermediate yoga flow sequence that helps anyone who twists and turns a lot, such as in golf or racquet sports.
- Also try Yoga Conditioning for Athletes, created by Rodney Yee to open up areas of the body frequently tightened by certain sports.
To improve focus, breathing, and flexibility: