Yoga is an ancient discipline that provides benefits for both body and mind. The practice has existed for thousands of years and the number of practitioners grows every year. According to a 2008 "Yoga Journal" report, more than 15 million Americans practice yoga. Although nearly three-quarters of current yoga practitioners are female, the practice has many benefits for men, as well.
Regular yoga practice can improve your athletic performance and decrease discomfort after other workouts. Yoga stretches out your muscles, which can relieve tension and muscle cramps. Yoga may also decrease the buildup of lactic acid in your blood after working out, which can relieve muscle stiffness and discomfort.
A regular yoga practice can have benefits in reducing stress. Hatha yoga, one style of yoga, focuses on slower, more meditative movements, which may be particularly useful in promoting relaxation. Yoga helps you identify tension you hold in your body and in your mind and can help you release it. Men have higher stress levels than women, which means that men may especially benefit from the stress-relieving effects of regular yoga practice.
Yoga uses your body as resistance, which builds muscle strength. The U.S. Army is using yoga workouts to train soldiers and describes the classes as being at least as intense as traditional calisthenics, if not more so. Yoga workouts can build core strength while also providing a total body workout.
Yoga can improve your mental focus, in part by clearing your mind during the workout. The same slow, meditative aspects of yoga that provide stress relief also discipline your mind, which can make it easier to focus on daily tasks. According to the website for "Canadian Living" magazine, athletes such as John McEnroe and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used a yoga practice to improve their concentration and focus, which in turn helped them win in their respective sports.