Yoga practices can benefit both boys and men. For example, in India in the late 19th century schools exclusively for boys were set up to offer them a full education, including physical culture. Designed to meet the needs of growing boys, they combined the art of movement with yoga asanas. In turn the weight-bearing postures of yoga helped in the growth of strong bones, whereas bending and twisting poses helped to maintain the boy’s flexibility.
When a boy reaches puberty not only does his body develop, but his chakras develop and become more active too. Regular yoga practices helps to maintain balance in these different chakras, keeping the adolescent boy strong, energetic, balanced and healthy. Yoga poses can also build muscle tone, strength and enhance physical fitness and performance. Practiced throughout adolescence, yoga helps to eliminate body aches that result from the hormonal and body changes that occur as the boy’s body grows into a man’s.
In adulthood, yoga can help a man better manage stress, keep his muscle strength and flexibility and improve his circulation. Engaging in regular yoga practice can also help improve the quality of sperm’s motility as well as a man’s sperm count, help reduce the likelihood of prostate disease and reduce the size of the prostate if it is already enlarged. Since the development of normal and mature sperm is the key to male fertility and because it takes 72 days for mature sperm to be produced, factors such as having had a fever, having taken certain medicines, smoking or alcohol use can affect sperm production. Therefore living a healthy yoga life style can contribute to maintaining a healthy reproductive system for men.
Some yoga practices that can support men’s reproductive health are maha-mudra which affects sperm quality and count and boat pose which will helps to tone pelvic floor muscles keeping the prostate gland healthy. Practicing mula bandha may help prevent inguinal hernia, and control testosterone secretion. That is because this practice helps stretch the muscles of the pelvic floor, improves circulation and balances functioning in the pelvic area.
During middle age, if a man experiences swelling of the prostate, which does not cause pain but causes excessive urination due to pressure on the bladder, then compression postures such as yoga mudra and locust can flush out the prostate, bring in fresh blood and prana and improve tone. Men with inflamed prostates should avoid postures that press down into the pelvis and they should go only halfway into a less compressing posture. Pranayama can also be practiced in conjunction with these postures. Kapalabhati (a cleansing breathing technique) is an excellent practice for moving energy into the pelvis and is especially helpful for prostate enlargement and for inflammatory conditions like prostatitis. Other pranayama’s like dirgha or ujjayi breath can help cool and relax this area.
Another way yoga practices can support men’s reproductive health during middle age is by helping to regulate weight. This is because yoga practices have been reported to improve serum adiponectin (a protein that is involved in regulating glucose levels as well as fatty acid breakdown) and leptin levels (a hormone made by fat cells which regulates the amount of fat stored in the body) along with serum lipids (fats in the blood).
As men age, their production of DHEA as well as testosterone and other androgen hormones decline. DHEA is a steroid hormone made by the adrenal glands that is then converted to androgens, oestrogens and other hormones. Yoga acts on the endocrine system to improve the health of the reproductive system. Not only has research found that yoga practices modulate the neuroendocrine axis keeping our hormones and body systems in balance, but it helps to boost immune system functioning helping combat infections and the growth of malignant tumours. Studies have found that there is a relationship between meditation practice and the levels of melatonin produced by the pineal gland while further research has made encouraging reports about the influence of melatonin on prostate tumours.
Therefore, across their life span yoga practices can be of benefit to males by having a positive effect on their general overall health as well as prostate health, men’s overall energy levels, sperm production and quality as well as hormone levels. Of course there is another side to yoga and the reproductive system so I spoke to yoga teacher, Sami, to find out more about women, yoga and the reproductive system so stay tuned!
Article by Alexandra