Pilates and Yoga has long been associated as a form of exercise just for women. Men often think that it is not strong enough for them, or that they aren’t flexible enough to participate. But this could not be further from the truth! Pilates and Yoga both offer physical and emotional benefits for men, in ways that might surprise you.
1. Build strength and alignment whilst developing neglected muscle groups – Historically, some men have trained in a way that overemphasises certain muscle groups in their workouts, such as abdominals, biceps, triceps and quads. This overtraining can result in muscular imbalance leading to injuries. By practising Yoga and Pilates, men can bring their bodies into balance and alignment by focusing on these often-neglected muscle groups that are essential for overall strength.
2.Helps prevent and repair injuries – Pilates helps to strengthen your body’s structure and support weaknesses that may have developed over years of neglect from a sedentary lifestyle. Through resistance exercises, it strengthens bones and builds muscles to prevent further injury. Conversely, Yoga stretches your whole body, including your muscles and fascia, helping to gently alleviate the pain you may have in your joints.
As Yoga only requires light, but often challenging poses, they help to increase strength and flexibility which in turn helps to decreaseyour risk of injury. Ralph, 76 years young who is a regular Pilates class attendee at Inna Essence, feels that, ‘Regular sessions of Pilates reformer has helped me maintain great core strength and stability. This is hugely beneficial for me when doing gym work and has reduced the chance of further injuries to my lower back’.
3. Build core strength and improve posture – Pilates exercises focus on using your core to power movement in your limbs, which stands to reason why a lot of people think Pilates is only about building strong core strength. This is not the case – Pilates also helps to create a strong, flexible spine that assists with increased mobility and good posture. Additionally, Yoga is one of the best ways to combat pain and misalignment, helping to strengthen your back, neck, and shoulders, resulting in better posture. Encouraging proper posture goes a long way to preventing future aches and pains.
4. Improves flexibility – Being flexible is not a prerequisite to Yoga or Pilates. That’s like thinking you need to be strong before you can lift weights. Practising Yoga will help improve your flexibility and balance, while strengthening your muscles as well. Without this flexibility we feel stiff and sore and no amount of pumping iron will help. In addition, Pilates movements focus on stretching, helping to prevent injuries and muscle strains, and increasing your range of motion.
5. Reduces stress and helps you to live more consciously – Yoga is one of the best ways to naturally boost your mental health by clearing and calming your mind. Yoga has been found to increase your body’s ability to respond to stress more effectively, by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure.
Liam, a Yoga teacher at Inna Essence adds, ‘Yoga is an all-round workout for the whole body and mind. It provides a mixture of strengthening, flexibility and helps to create a more peaceful mindset’. Like Yoga, Pilates forces you to pay attention—you’ve got to focus on your breath while working through each movement and concentrating on correct form. In addition to this, learning new poses and seeing your progress are great ways to challenge yourself physically and mentally to achieve new goals.
So, if you are looking for a new challenge, or a form of exercise to compliment your existing gym regime, then Pilates and Yoga are just for you. It not only helps you to build strength, improve your flexibility, prevent injury and reduce stress, but it is an amazing exercise option that many men have yet to tap into. The secret is out, Pilates and Yoga – not just for ladies!
Written by Renee Cotey