A good few years ago I decided to try out rock climbing.
Having been inspired by Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2, this seemed like a super fun thing do.
I went to a remote region in northern Gauteng and under the supervision of an excellent rock climbing expert I gave rock climbing a try.
At the time I was in my best physical shape – I was very muscular with six percent body fat and strength to boot.
For all this power that I had, it didn’t do me any good!
All I recall was getting stuck half way up rock faces, straining till I was blue in the face and my muscles trembling because the weakest ones were getting worn out the quickest.
While struggling to figure out a route half up, the guide at one point yelled loudly from way below “Don worry, there’s a foot hold next to your hand” – My hand was next to my face. How the hell was I going to get my foot there!
I remember thinking “Being a Yogi would be pretty useful about now”. It’s not a realization you want to have halfway up a cliff.
Flexibility has More Benefits
This experience made me realize that flexibility is actually very useful. All the muscle I had didn’t help one iota. In fact it hindered me more than it helped.
I’ve experienced similar things with other activities like swimming, breakdancing and running.
This has brought me to the conclusion that flexibility is more fundamental than we think.
This is why I think guys should do more Yoga. The baseline mobility and flexibility it offers gives us the ability to execute better in other activities.
With the running you get longer strides. With the swimming you can lengthen your body better in the pool. With the break dancing you can do airflares better.
For guys if we want to be better at sports, Yoga is a great place to start.
Even more fundamental than flexibility is breathing . Breathing is incredibly underrated and Yoga can help here too.
In Yoga our ability to achieve deeper stretches can be aided significantly with a well timed slow exhale. In fact, breathing throughout the entire exercise has other potent effects.
Slow breathing helps lower blood pressure by chilling out the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve connects our brain, our heart and gut in a very intricate way.
The connection between the brain, heart and gut via this vagus nerve is so deeply intertwined that it’s referred to as the “Mind-Body connection“. Whenever we breath deeply and slowly, such as in Yoga then we drop our blood pressure and boost our immune system.
For guys this is critical because we in particular need to chill our competitive drive sometimes.
The Shadow – Dorian Yates
Dorain Yates is a world renowned body builder. He won the Mr Olympia six times during his career and is a legend in that discipline.
He stands along sides the greats like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney.
I watched an incredible interview between Brian Rose and himself on London Real. I was stunned to realize that a six time Mr Olympia champion was now doing Yoga in Spain – and he did it to challenged his body and his mind.
Yet again my perspectives were realigned. If a man ten times tougher than me sees fit do something as compelling as Yoga then maybe there’s something to all this stretching and breathing.
It makes sense for us guys to do Yoga.
The foundational benefits it’s provides are profound and significantly enables other physical activities. Beyond that the benefits it provides to our state of mind and immune system are incredibly useful.
I think we will start to see more men doing Yoga and embracing it as a way to gain massive performance and mental advantages.
Don’t be surprised if at some point the Yoga studio has more guys than girls.