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Let’s face it, stretching and recovery are never taken seriously.
Flexibility and mobility are areas of fitness which are the most overlooked. It’s not as sexy to be able to do a forward bend and get your head to your shins, as it is to be able to bench press twice your body weight for reps.
Stretching is saved for a half assed 30 second tricep stretch at the end of a workout before calling it a day.
One of the scariest thoughts for me is that I won’t be mobile enough as I get older to be able to enjoy my sons life to it’s fullest. I don’t want to be the dad that struggles to run, can’t get out of the chair or injures himself from turning too quickly.
Despite ladies making up the majority of a Yoga instructors clientele, there are huge benefits for dads to be hitting the mat.
Here are 5 reasons that dads should give Yoga a go.
1. Increases range of motion
Hitting the weights make for bigger, stronger muscles but in the process of repairing them, they also become tighter, if not looked after.
Not only that, everyday life means we sit a lot at desks and tables, creating tight hips, pecs and shoulders. With a decreased range of motion comes a higher risk of injury from something as silly as twisting one way too much or too quick.
In a 2014 study conducted by the International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, test subjects were split into two groups and put through a 1 month program of static stretching and yoga, to see which was better at increasing range of motion. Although both groups saw improvement, Yoga proved to be better at doing this than static stretching.
Plus, opening your shoulders up will make you look bigger anyway as a result of not being hunched and rounded. Winning.
2. Improves breathing
According to Dr Jonathan P Parsons, professor of internal medicine at the OSU Asthma Centre at the Ohio State University, "healthy people without chronic disease, even at maximum intensity, use only 70% of possible lung capacity”
At rest, this is even less.
Yoga encourages you to slow your breathing down in challenging situations and you’ll find this becomes more of a focus as the intensity rises. This teaches your body to take in more, if not the same amount of oxygen from fewer inhalations, which in turn, allows the body to oxygenate itself in a more efficient manner. Important for cardio, strength and muscle building.
Or for trying to catch a runaway, bed-bound toddler.
3. It's great for active recovery
Recovery isn’t just recovering from a week of intense working out but from day to day life too. We all need that time to ourselves to just recharge.
However, not all yoga is created equal.
The purpose of active recovery is to move at a lower intensity than your average workouts. Focusing more on Yin Yoga or a slower Hatha flow will keep blood flowing to tired muscles and a tired mind, speeding up recovery.
4. Increases your strength
I’m a big fan of utilising the body to create strength within itself. It is possible to build lean muscle mass with Yoga, since you’re using the body to create resistance.
There are different types of strength but the type of strength that’s more suited to everyday fathering is relative strength.
In short, people with a higher level of relative strength take longer to fatigue and move their own bodyweight more efficiently through space.
Focusing on something a little more intense such as Vinyasa and arm balances / inversions will increase your relative strength massively, putting you in control of your own body.
Plus, your kids will think you’re a superhero if you can balance on your hands.
5. Improves sexual performance
Because we aren’t just dads, right…?
A 2010 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that Yoga improves all sexual functions within a man, including desire, performance and erection.
This happens through increased blood flow to the little man, as well as an increase in body awareness and the removal of toxins that can impair performance.
If you’re a lady reading this, even more reason to convince your partner to start hitting the mat. You’re welcome.
Where do you start?
It’s hard to understand where to start but Dean Pohlman over at Man Flow Yoga is the perfect place to give yoga a go.
Check him out. There's no airy fairyness about it, no spiritual stuff, just practical, straight to the point exercises and yoga that you will start seeing benefits from quickly.
There are a few programs to choose from but I would recommend his GuYoga program.
The rest of his programs are quite specific in their goal (upper body, back, arm balances etc.) and great programs to progress towards but GuYoga is aimed at providing an easy all round experience for beginners.
Alternatively, if you're a bit of a reader, he does have a best selling book on Amazon too which talks you through what yoga is (and isn't) as well as providing you with 20+ routines to get your teeth into.
Give it a go and leave a comment below on how you found your first sessions.
In a bit.