At this point, most men are aware of the more obvious physical benefits of the mind-body practice of yoga: increased flexibility, better endurance, injury prevention, but there are even greater benefits to men’s health below the surface that science is just starting to prove.
Yoga employs the body and the breath as tools to create calm and clarity in the mind. Coordinating movement with steady, conscious breath, we feel our stress less and can maintain better focus. A study published by the Journal of Physical Activity and Health discovered that 20 minutes of Hatha yoga stimulates brain function more than 20 minutes of walking or jogging on the treadmill.
Yoga brings hormonal balance. When we’re stressed, our bodies go into “fight-or-flight” mode and produce cortisol which can decrease muscle tissue, increase blood pressure and inflammatory responses, and inhibit testosterone production. The slow, steady breath we incorporate in yoga, as well as certain poses activate the “rest-and-digest” side of the nervous system, lowering blood pressure, reducing tension, and promoting the release of hormones like testosterone.
Certain yoga poses directly increase testosterone production by increasing circulation to the genital area. An easy pose for beginners that does just that is the Cobra. A study conducted by Russian scientists in 2001, wherein the participants held the pose for 2-3 minutes, found that afterwards their testosterone levels had increased an average of 16%, but some as high as 33-55%. The key to the pose is to lift your head and chest without the help of your arms, pressing the pubic bone into the ground.