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Yoga for men

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(WOIO) -

Stress relief, pain relief, and a better night's rest are all good reasons to give Yoga a try. However maybe not if you're a man.

A recent study found men are getting hurt in the Yoga Studio at a much higher rate than women, and those injuries to men are much more serious.

Yoga classes coast to coast used to be primarily women in attendance. Now there are classes specifically geared towards guys.

Rachel Moncayo, a fitness center owner, witnessed the migration of men in her own fitness center.  "Many of them are athletes, marathoners, tri-athletes and they're really enjoying the health benefit that they're getting from the practice," observes Moncayo.

Ed Fuller is a triathlete. He started Yoga two months ago at the urging of his wife. Now, he's a regular. Ed says, "It's really not for wimps. It's very strenuous and it works the muscle groups you may not work in any other kind of sport." 

Former Yoga enthusiast Michael Conti had a once active lifestyle of traveling with his wife and hiking with his son. Michael says that lifestyle is over and he now lives in pain.  Michael blames Yoga. He describes what happened, "I thought maybe I tweaked my knee or something and then it turned out to be much more serious than just a meniscus problem. It turned out to be nerve damage."

After reading The Science of Yoga: the risks and the rewards by William Broad. Michael wrote to the author. Broad states, "That letter became a turning point. I slapped myself on the forehead, I can remember doing this and thinking wow. Most of the letters I'm getting about serious injuries have been from guys."

Broad started to investigate federal data on emergency room visits for Yoga-related injuries. Although men only made up 16% of his study, they accounted for 20% of the strains, 24% of the dislocations, 30% of the fractures and a whopping 71% of nerve damage injuries linked to Yoga.

By contrast, women only accounted for the vast majority of fainting episodes.

Sports specialist Dr. Tanya Hagan says in general, there could be a few reasons for this.  She explains that "Men, with their increased muscle mass and decreased flexibility, are pushing those joints beyond their appropriate physiologic limits."

Dr.  Hagan says that men should not stop doing Yoga or stretching differently. She cautions they may need to cut back on the competition a bit. Hagan describes a gender difference in approaching Yoga, "Women see it as relaxation and a release. Men are often coming to it with a competitive edge, with "I can push it harder."

Jonathan Creamer has a web site, Yoga for men, and is a Yoga instructor. He points out people shouldn't expect to be able to walk into a studio and pose perfectly. "People don't get that. They see the magazine covers, they see the pretty postures, and they think they need to be doing that," says Creamer.

Studies show most Yoga injuries occur in class rather than at home. Broad suggests that men, who make up 18% of the 20 million practicing Yoga in the United States, tend to pit their strength against their inflexibility and injure themselves. He believes some men need to be reminded that gritting your teeth and pushing through isn't Yoga.

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