When men go to the gym, often their plan is to beef up their muscles.

Walking into a yoga class that’s usually filled with women doesn’t necessarily cross their minds as being an important part of their fitness routine, but it should be.

Yoga improves a person’s mind and body, which translates into a wide range of benefits such as preventing injuries and relieving stress.

Here are 5 advantages men can gain through yoga, and how to get started.

Relieves stress

If women are feeling stressed, one common outlet is talking to their friends or a professional.

Men tend to lean more toward a release that involves physical activity or holding in their feelings. You know, the old belief they shouldn’t show their emotions because men should be tough.

A yoga class teaches people how to breathe properly into their diaphragm, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system to slow the heart rate and clear the mind to think straight.

This transfers well into the workplace, whether it’s finishing a stressful project or dealing with co-workers or clients who are taxing your patience.

Less stress also means better sleep, which is needed for workout recovery.

Increases flexibility and strength

Some men shrug off doing yoga because they believe it requires flexibility.

That’s true, but it also teaches people how to become more flexible so you have to start somewhere. The majority of people new to yoga are in the same boat.

Some yoga poses may look odd and make men feel uncomfortable – physically and mentally – but the strength it builds is worth it.

Many yoga poses build both strength and flexibility.

Take for example the warrior pose. It strengthens and stretches the leg and ankle muscles, and also stretches the groin, chest, lungs and shoulders.

Straightens posture

Men tend to mostly work muscles in the front of their body such as the chest, abdominals, arms and shoulders.

All that muscle tightness will pull the body into more spinal flexion, which results in a rounded back and forward head posture.

Yoga can alleviate tightness, producing better posture that makes a person project confidence.

Impacts injury and recovery

By stretching the whole body, especially during Yin yoga’s long-held poses that are done while seated or lying down, the stretch gets deeper into the connective tissues. This allows the joints to open and the fluids to flow.

Stretching connective tissues also increases the range of motion, which improves sports performance, helps alleviate pain, prevents injury and speeds up recovery from injury.

It’s not a coincidence more elite athletes are incorporating yoga into their training.

Helps cross training

Yoga increases mobility in the hips and ankles and makes the hamstrings longer, which allows a person to get deeper while doing movements such as squats and dead lifts.

Tight shoulder joints will not allow you to stretch pectorals fully during pressing movements. This will inhibit you to build chest mass.

Yoga forces your body to move in ways it’s not used to, including twists, lateral bends and balancing that requires recruitment from smaller stabilizer muscles. This will strengthen any weaknesses that may otherwise lead to injury.

Enhanced mental toughness also improves getting through the heavy lifts in the weight room or cardio workouts that push your limits.

How to get started
The best advice for people who want to try yoga is to go to as many different styles of classes until they find one that resonates with them. GoodLife offers several styles of yoga.

If someone is very athletic and likes a fast-paced environment, power or Vinyasa yoga might speak to them.

People who like to sweat should try hot yoga, while Hatha or Yin yoga is a slower pace that’s a great introduction.

Frequency and results
Unlike muscle training, yoga can be done every day. However, to get into the habit the magic number is twice a week.

Depending on a person’s starting point and their commitment to consistency, improved flexibility, better breathing and a calmer state of mind should be noticed in four to six weeks.

Promotes well-being
In our fast-paced world that juggles work and family responsibilities, yoga can be the catalyst to a calmer lifestyle.

It’s also a type of training for any body shape or age.

If men can get past the stigma of walking into a yoga studio thinking it’s a “chick class” and stick with it, they’re going to see results whether they’re an athlete or not, or whether they are 20 years old or 70.