MEN, YOU SHOULD BE DOING YOGA! HERE’S WHY.
In Australia, many people believe yoga is a female’s-only practice. They think it doesn’t build enough strength for men, that you need to be very flexible in order to get even through a class, and that it’s obligatory to go for an after-class latte when it’s all done. But CORE+ yoga instructor Simon Phelan says these are nothing but yoga myths (although you’re welcome to go for a latte, if you wish).
We sat down with Simon to find out why yoga is an amazing practice for men, the physical and mental benefits that will result, and where to start if you’re interested in trying it… but can’t help but be a little intimidated of the yoga mat.
You’re one of the highly experienced (and loved!) instructors at CORE+. Tell us a bit about your journey with yoga?
Yoga has been a major part of my life for 20 years. I first started to practice Iyengar yoga, but my first official training was in Bikram yoga in Palm Springs, California. I then went on to study in Rishikesh, India where I studied Ashtanga and Vinyasa, and I have since trained in Yin and Pilates too.
There’s stigma that yoga isn’t for men. What are your thoughts on this?
I believe the mindset is shifting, as most football teams and sporting clubs that I know of are incorporating yoga into their training schedule. In India where I have spent a lot of time studying, it’s the complete opposite — yoga is considered a male-dominant practice. Yoga is being taught in schools and clubs around the world, so it is definitely becoming part of the mainstream! My advice to anyone who is unsure about yoga is come along, try a class and find what works for you.
For someone who has never tried yoga before, it can sometimes seem a bit intimidating — particularly with all that flexibility and mindfulness. What you recommend to reduce anxiety here?
The main thing I hear from people as to why they don’t do yoga is “I’m not flexible!”, but flexibility is only one element that will come over time with more practice. Turning up and standing on your mat is really all you have to do to take part in yoga. You will learn to be aware of your breathing and moving your body to the point that is comfortable for you, you will never be expected to do anything that doesn’t feel right, and of course you can talk to your instructor and let them know how you are feeling.
A common myth is that yoga doesn’t build strength. What level of strength is required for yoga, and can males expect an improvement in strength from regular yoga classes?
The great thing about yoga is that you don’t need to be of a certain fitness to practice, and strength will come from regular practice. Not just physical strength either; your mind, your breath, and every element of your life will improve. Yoga is a means to a healthy, rounded life.
Tell us a bit about the poses / movements one can expect from a yoga class? Is it necessary to know the names, and are they as tricky as they often appear?
It’s not necessary to know the names of postures in Sanskrit as there are English names as well, like Downward Dog, Child’s Pose, Triangle, Crow and so on. There are around 84 yoga postures, and most styles of yoga will borrow from this repertoire and put them together in a flow-like sequence. There are some very complex postures that only after years of dedicated practice would you even consider attempting them, but the yoga room is the safest place to start.
What are the top five benefits of yoga for males?
Easy! Health, wellbeing, confidence, strength and flexibility.
Got a question before you attempt your first CORE+ yoga class? We’re here to help! Drop by the CORE+ Facebook page and ask away.