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7 Mental Health Benefits of Yoga for Men

As an inflexible, out-of-shape, injured guy, I went to yoga for the physical benefits. Within a few months, it transformed my body and I became lighter, flexible, pain-free and stronger. However, what was more surprising, was the unexpected, complete overhaul of my mental well-being and how I approach my mental health.

Recently, mental health problems have become an epidemic. New survey data by McKinsey shows that almost half of unemployed Americans say that health issues are the primary reason they aren’t working. The survey polled 5,000 Americans and found that 37% of them had been diagnosed with mental health issues or sought treatment for their mental health.

According to Dr. Margot O’Donnell, a psychiatrist in Philadelphia, historically, men have been half as likely to be diagnosed with depression, but twice as likely to be diagnosed with alcoholism when compared to women. Men and boys are also more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and behavioral addictions like gambling, gaming and sex addictions. Men are also more likely to die from suicide and act violently against others. Recently, these trends seem to be balancing out, which may be a result of less social stigma around men seeking treatment, as well as cultural shifts in gender expectations for both men and women.

“I have certainly seen an increase in men of all ages and stages seeking care for depression, anxiety and addictions,” O’Donnell says. “New reports show men suffer more stress as single earners than women in the same position, that men are burning out and that they suffer increased rates of depression and anxiety after becoming fathers.”

O’Donnell says that a yoga practice can be very helpful for men to develop strong mental health habits, including impulse control, an increased awareness of their internal life, increased distress tolerance and thought diffusion, which is a term used to describe mental distancing from one's thoughts. Even if they don't have a mental illness, doing a yoga practice can be beneficial.

My yoga practice helped me to first realize that I need to focus on my mental health. And once I found my mental footing, yoga empowered me to take my mental well-being to a whole new level.

Here’s how yoga can help men with their mental health:

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