A MUM is on a mission to improve men's physical and mental health through yoga.

Emma Shields from Gourock says having her son Dara was the motivation she needed to teach herself yoga at home using online videos.

Now the 39-year-old is a fully qualified yoga teacher and runs a range of classes - including one specifically for men.

Although she runs classes for both sexes, Emma is keen to dispel the myth that yoga is just for women.

She said: "I think women know when to switch off better than men.

"Men like to be the strong ones and women can vent a lot more.

"The class allows men to completely switch off and get away from everything for an hour."

Emma says many athletes such as Andy Murray, Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs, use yoga to increase their flexibility, strength and co-ordination and lessen chance of injuries.

She added: "I've run three sessions so far and the guys already say they feel better and are sleeping better.

"One of the guys who comes along is a firefighter and he says yoga ticks all the right boxes for him.

"I just want to debunk the myth that yoga is for flexible, slim women.

"It's for everyone - all shapes and sizes."

Emma, who is also a qualified therapist, said her son Dara, who is six, is the inspiration behind her venture.

She said: "After having my son, I wanted to improve my core strength and started doing yoga using online videos because being a single parent I couldn't get out that much and found it difficult to go to classes at night.

"The benefits I felt were not just physically but mentally as it de-stresses your mind.

"I wanted to get out there to set a good example to my son.

"Initially I was really scared and thought' I can't do this' as I'm effectively performing in front of people when I teach and it's a big responsibility.

"But I absolutely love it and I can feel myself growing as a teacher every time I teach a class."

Scott Martin, a Greenock firefighter, says the class has been great for him.

The 43-year-old said: "I have been quite pleasantly surprised.

"Yoga is something I had been looking into doing for a wee while but most of the classes are predominantly girls so I felt a bit awkward about it.

"It's great to have a men-only class.

"With my job I obviously do a lot of training and just with age, I've been getting more niggles and I'm not as flexible as I was.

"The class has really helped and it's a great way to de-stress."

Classmate Paul Kane, 44, from Greenock, added: "I've always been pretty fit as I run but when it comes to getting a good warm up and a good stretch out I'm a bit stiff as I'm getting older.

"Yoga is great, especially after a day in the office as you get to chill out a bit."

Emma runs her EmShanti Yoga classes at Gourock and Ashton Church Hall.

The men's class is on every Thursday evening from 6pm to 7pm.