Why don’t men do yoga?
“My husband said he felt bored,” said Praneetha Akula, a 36-year-old Silver Spring resident who was visiting the studio on a day off. “He didn’t let himself enjoy it.”
Akula is like many women who do yoga and want their spouse or partner to give it a try. But the many myths about yoga stand in their way: Yoga isn’t a decent workout; it’s too touchy-feely; you have to be flexible to do it; men’s bodies just aren’t built for pretzellike
Adrian Hummell has heard all the excuses.
“What happens is, a guy who doesn’t know about it, he associates it with things like Pilates or aerobics, and they think of it as a chick workout,” said Hummell, who has been doing yoga for the past three years and now teaches Bikram yoga, a particularly strenuous form of the practice, in Bethesda.
“It’s almost a joke when guys say, ‘I don’t think I should do yoga because I’m not flexible,’ ” he said. “It’s like saying, ‘I’m too weak, so I can’t lift weights.’ ”
Hummell and many other yoga practitioners extol its many benefits beyond a pleasant post-class buzz. Several studies have linked a regimen of yoga classes to a reduction in lower back pain and improved back function. Other studies suggest that practicing yoga lowers heart rate and blood pressure; helps relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia; and improves overall physical fitness, strength and flexibility, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. Still, despite numerous studies, no firm evidence has been found to show that yoga improves asthma or arthritis.
The center is funding research to determine whether yoga can benefit in the treatment and care of diabetes, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple sclerosis.
Loren Fishman, a Manhattan physician who sees patients suffering from a variety of ills, says his prescription is often yoga.
Fishman recalls one of his recent patients, a subway track worker with a back injury. The man’s primary-care physician suggested physical therapy, but the man requested yoga instead, so Fishman started him on gentle stretches to ease his pain.
“I see more people like that,” said Fishman, director of the Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic and an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University’s medical school. “If they need an injection, I give them one. But I see more and more people, and what they need is yoga.”