Stress relief, pain relief, a better night's rest - all good reasons to give yoga a try, right? Maybe not if you're a man. A recent study found that men are getting hurt in the yoga studio at a much higher rate than women, and the injuries are much more serious.
In an early morning session at a yoga studio, men outnumber women by three to one. A year ago it was all women; now there are even specially geared classes for guys.
Rachel Moncayo witnessed the change 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,” Moncayo said.
Ed Fuller is a triathlete. He started yoga two months ago and now he's a regular.
“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,” said Fuller.
But former yoga enthusiast Michael Conti now lives in constant pain and blames yoga.
“I thought maybe I tweaked my knee or something, and then it turned out to be much more serious,” Conti said. "It turned out to be nerve damage."
After reading "The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards," Conti wrote to its author William Broad.
"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," said Broad.
Broad started to investigate data on yoga-related injuries and found that men were getting injured a lot more than women.
Sports specialist Dr. Tanya Hagan says there could be a few reasons.
“Men, with their increased muscle mass and decreased flexibility, are pushing those joints beyond their appropriate physiologic limits,” said Hagan.
So should men stop doing yoga or stretch differently? Dr. Hagan says no. They just need to be less competitive.
“Women see it as relaxation and a release,” Hagan said. “Men are often coming to it with a competitive edge.”
Studies show most yoga injuries occur in class rather than at home. Broad says men need to be reminded that gritting your teeth and pushing through isn't yoga.