Why you need to be more Flexible

There’s a reason why Australian men are bending over backwards to get to the yoga studio…

According to the Australian Psychological Society, Australians who often or always engage in relaxation or mindfulness activities such as yoga or meditation (26%) report a higher overall wellbeing, whereas those who rarely participate in relaxation and mindfulness activities experience a reduced quality of wellbeing (39%).

With the mental health benefits of yoga and mindfulness activities proven, today on the International Day of Yoga, Mick Cunico, National Fitness Manager at Fitness First Australia and practicing yogi, answers common questions about yoga and how it can benefit our overall health and wellbeing.

Yoga is becoming increasingly popular among men. Why do you think that is?

Many people – men in particular – are catching on to the ways yoga can increase performance in the gym. Benefits such as greater mobility and flexibility, a stronger core, better balance and increased endurance all go a long way to making gains in other areas. For example, a simple Downward Dog strengthens and stabilises all the muscles needed to push a bar overhead. It also stretches your hamstrings and calves, a major problem areas for many squatters. 

How can yoga and mindfulness contribute to your overall health and wellbeing?

I believe calmness is contagious. Learning how to calm the mind on my yoga mat has provided me with the ability to remain calm in all kinds of situations in life. Yoga also does wonderful things for maintaining mobility and movement as our bodies age. 

What mindfulness activities can full-time working men embrace to help combat stress? 

We often use technology to invade our space, so why not use it to give us some space? I’ve founds apps that offer a guided meditation, such as Headspace, are great for taking some time in the day to clear your head, and it only takes about 10 minutes. The Apple Watch also has a breathing app that helps you calm your breathing for a minute – a great little trick for those moments in your day when things get a little overwhelming.

What are the latest trends in yoga?

 Lots of different variations of traditional yoga practices have become popular – think Hip Hop Yoga, Aerial Yoga etc. They can be great fun and very accessible for those new to yoga. The community focus around yoga is also growing, with a whole host of large gatherings and unique events specifically celebrating the yoga community. 

For a long time, the powerful practice of Vinyasa or Flow Yoga dominated the yoga scene, but we’re also now seeing the slower pace of Yin Yoga grow in popularity as more people turn to yoga as a means of restoration and recovery from training at higher intensities in the gym. 

What type of programs does Fitness First offer for male yogis?

Yoga is certainly not just a woman’s game! We’re seeing more and more men enjoying a regular yoga practice in our clubs. Flow Yoga classes are most popular at Fitness First, with Gentle, Hot and Dynamic variations to suit all levels and abilities. Hot Flow Yoga is practiced in a heated studio, not only bringing another level of intensity, but allowing you to safely explore and improve flexibility. At the opposite end of the intensity spectrum, our Yin Yoga classes offer less challenging poses, but longer holds for a calming, restorative practice. 

How should our readers celebrate International Day of Yoga today?

Get along to a class! If you’re brand new to yoga, there’s no better time to give it a go. Check out these tips for first timers – http://getthere.fitnessfirst.com.au/fitness/what-to-know-before-your-first-yoga-class/

Looking for a Pose Guide? Check this out: Yoga Poses

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