Does it surprise you to hear that men account for less than a third of the participants of a typical yoga class? This might sound like a small number of male yogis to you. Only a few years back, a typical yoga class was made up of only one-sixth male participants. When you think of it this way, the growth of male yoga participation has virtually exploded in recent years. It’s almost as if the yoga community is under siege by men.

Why? Men who have tried yoga seem to understand that yoga is a workout that incorporates more than just physical attributes. The physical workout is intense, but the mindfulness is just as important. It allows men to work on their psyche at the same time as their body—to alleviate their worries and bring a calm and quiet into their day in a way that no other workout can do. Once they’ve tried it, many men find they enjoy yoga just as much as women do.

Market analysts suggest that the growth in the yoga industry in recent years might in fact be due to an increased interest in yoga from men. Perhaps men have stayed away in the past because most classes were all-female, and they emphasized flexibility, but things are changing. Innovations in forms and expansion in areas where yoga is offered may have contributed to the willingness of men to try yoga. Here are some other reasons.

Help with Other Sports Training

Male fans of yoga say it has helped them reach new heights in their sports of choice. Ultra-marathon runners say yoga helps them to avoid injuries by balancing out the tightness in their muscles. It also gives new options for stretching out the tight muscles in the hips, lower back, and hamstrings that habitual runners get. Hockey players say yoga has helped them stay grounded on the ice. Surfers credit yoga with increasing core muscle strength and balance and allowing them to ride bigger waves.

Relief from Chronic Pain and Illness

Men who suffer from chronic illnesses, like rheumatoid arthritis, find relief from inflammation in the practice of certain types of yoga. The relaxation and breathing helps in recovery and keeps the body from tensing up in stressful or painful situations.

Part of Working a Substance Abuse Program

Men who have found themselves susceptible to coping with problems through the use of drugs and alcohol have found some relief through the practice of yoga. For some men, yoga encourages making healthier choices in the face of stress.

Increased Stamina

Yoga has been shown to increase stamina in people who practice it regularly. In addition to building muscle strength, it improves respiratory health and boosts energy.

Increased Confidence

Yoga makes men more confident, particularly since professional athletes like LeBron James took up the practice. Something about not being afraid of going in to a class full of women makes a guy feel extra confident. Plus, there’s the increased muscle definition and athletic prowess that comes along with regular yoga practice.

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