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Men's Health

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Yoga for Men

Yoga is becoming more popular among men, and for good reason: Besides getting rid of stress and increasing flexibility, it may lower the risk of heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure.

Dealing With Stress continued...

"To take 20 to 40 minutes out of your day to sit and be quiet, to gently stretch, and to breathe deeply," says Bulgarelli, "is a tremendous way to reduce stress." Studies have shown, he says, that the various forms of yoga can help reduce blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate, improve respiratory function, and even change brain waves.

"Yoga has tremendous implications for everyone," says Bulgarelli, "but especially for men, by allowing them to decompress and de-stress."

Bulgarelli says that in addition to its potential to prevent and even manage heart disease, yoga is a good antidote to depression as well, which is epidemic among men in the United States.

"Yoga gives you the opportunity to strip yourself down, to quiet yourself, to just really 'be,'" says Bulgarelli, "and for any men, that may be the first time they've ever done that. The meditative aspect of yoga is the perfect avenue to help you figure out what's going on in your life."

Part of Fitness Program

As if the possible benefits of yoga in terms of stress, heart disease, and depression weren't enough, there are additional advantages of yoga, especially for men, says Julio Kuperman, MD, head of neurology at St. Agnes Medical Center in Philadelphia and associate professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Kuperman is also a yoga instructor and director of yoga teacher training at the Baptist Power Yoga Institute in Bryn Mawr, Penn., and has been practicing yoga himself for the past 25 years, long before many men turned to the discipline.

"I believe the present popularity of yoga in America will continue to grow by leaps and bounds as the baby boomers continue to age," says Kuperman. "The male population in particular remains a mostly untapped potential constituency, for yoga has much to offer my gender-mates as we age."

Yoga has much to offer men of any age, too, Kuperman says. It is one of the few physical activities that has a "de-compacting" effect on the body. (Swimming and gymnastics are other examples). This is essential, says Kuperman, to counter the effects of gravity associated with activities such as running or jogging. Yoga also provides much-needed "symmetry relief" to such asymmetric endeavors as racquet sports and golf, which torque the spine in only one direction.

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