We get it: Yoga might not be the most intense workout—at least, most forms of it aren’t—and it probably isn’t the first thing that pops in your mind when thinking of a fitness class you want to try.
But fitness is all about branching out of your comfort zone, right? And there are some very good reasons you should consider adding in yoga to balance out your workout routine.
That’s originally why Brendan Rooney, an instructor at YogaWorks in New York City, first gave the workout a try.
“My entire fitness program was based off of exertion, pushing my body and mind to the limit almost every day,” he says. “Eventually, the constant ‘go-go-go, push-push-push, more-more-more’ caught up with me through various injuries, burn out, and boredom. I needed something that could balance the force I exerted running and weight lifting.”
Adding yoga can do wonders physically as a cross training option, but it also has other benefits that you’ll notice outside the gym, too. Here, 5 reasons you should sign up for that yoga class—and make it a regular part of your workout routine, too.
Yoga Benefit: Your Sex Life Might Improve
Have trouble with blasting off too soon? Yoga might be able to treat premature ejaculation (PE). Researchers from India compared men with premature ejaculation problems who did yoga or were given a medication for PE for three months, and found that all of those in the yoga group reported an improvement in their ejaculation timing. That’s compared to 82 percent of those in the medication group who experienced an improvement.
Plus, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men who practised yoga for 12 weeks reported improved sexual function overall—including on measures of desire, satisfaction with sex, performance, ability to control their ejaculation, and their orgasm.
The study authors believe yoga’s benefits for your sex life is likely due to a combination of things, including better pelvic muscle tone, improvements in mood, and a reduction in anxiety.
Yoga Benefit: You’ll Be More Productive At Work
Add some yoga to your routine and you might just do a better job at work, too.
According to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 85,000 workers in the U.S., mindfulness-based interventions like yoga can improve employee wellbeing and ease productivity issues like burnout.
This kind of practice can increase workers’ mental resilience, the researchers say, which helps them deal with stress. And that’s especially true for people in high-powered positions who may be more vulnerable to burnout.
What’s more, a 2013 study of 367 workers from the Netherlands found that a six-month intervention including both a yoga workout and a general workout per week led to greater feelings of workplace vitality—feeling higher levels of perseverance and resilience, and lower levels of fatigue.
Yoga Benefit: You’ll Beat Stress
Much of the workplace benefits can also be tied to yoga’s effect on stress. But the effects of that can be much further reaching, too.
In fact, yoga’s positive effects have been shown on a cellular level when it comes to reducing stress. A study published in the journal Immunology found that those who did yoga suppressed the activation of certain genes that cause inflammation, a common response to stress that can lead to some serious health implications.
On top of that, yoga has been found to increase your body’s ability to respond to stress more effectively, by reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and easing respiration in stressful situations that typically increase these responses.
Yoga Benefit: You’ll Sleep Better
Whether you struggle with insomnia or simply can’t fall asleep easily at night, yoga may be the remedy you’ve been missing.
A 2013 study found that older participants who did yoga reported having significantly fewer sleeping disturbances and spent a shorter time falling asleep. Plus, they were less likely to use sleep meds to help them nod off. They also scored higher on measures of sleep quality than those who didn’t do yoga.
There are a few possible reasons for this, the researchers write. It’s possible that the simple physical and mental exertion required in yoga caused by the stretching and relaxing of muscles can simply help you sleep better. But the breathing exercises in yoga may play a role, too. The researchers say they can help improve the strength of your respiratory muscles, which can help guard against sleep-wrecking conditions like snoring or sleep apnea.
Yoga Benefit: Your Mobility And Posture Will Improve
You’re still a young guy—so why are your joints and muscles stiff and achy? Credit sitting too much and doing the same movements day in, day out, Doug Kechijian, D.P.T., of Resilient Performance Physical Therapy in New York City, told us previously.
Your lifting routine might also play a role too, especially if you’re not countering your added muscle gains with mobility moves, says Rooney.
“While many men may spend a great deal of time bulking up their arms, abs, and chest, all of that muscle tightness pulls the body into more spinal flexion, or a rounding or slumped back,” says Rooney. “Add to that the fact that many people spend a large deal of their day sitting down at a desk, looking down at a computer or their phone… this only helps to reiterate that habitual pattern of a sinking chest, shoulders rolling in, and a dropped head.”
Yoga helps counter those effects, as well the results of sitting in an office chair all day. In fact, after young, healthy adults performed hot yoga for eight weeks, they experienced increases in their lower back, hamstring, and shoulder flexibility, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found.
By Emily Shiffer