In this Yoga for men: A Beginner’s guide, you’re going learn some yoga basics, how to perform the most popular yoga poses and tips on how to make the most of yoga. Yes, it’s true, yoga can be a bit intimidating, especially if you keep in mind the super bendy, jaw-dropping poses your girlfriend performs each morning. But hey, relax; with yoga, it’s actually the most basic poses –not the fancy postures –that will provide you with the strength and flexibility every man needs.
Having said that, there’re numerous yoga styles and identifying the right one for you will ensure that you’re motivated to keep up with the practice and achieve the best results. For those who would like to wipe themselves up and break some serious sweat, Bikram (hot) yoga is a great option. If you want a fast-paced practice, you should consider power yoga. Hatha yoga is great for beginners because it’s slow paced and dominated with introductory poses. These are just a few of different yoga styles designed to improve athletic ability, mental clarity, flexibility, and much more.
Before you get too excited about all those fancy names, and before we get into the basic yoga poses, let’s take a quick look at why you should practice yoga in the first place.
7 reasons men should consider yoga
1. Relieve stress
We all have different ways of dealing with stress. But punching a punching bag or going to amped up gyms can actually make you more aggressive and more tired.
On the other hand, yoga utilises various relaxation techniques which can make you calmer, with regular practice.
Other than working out your body, yoga also trains your mind to focus on the bigger picture and approach situations with rational thinking instead of freaking out or acting out.
2. Build more muscle
Regular yoga practice widens your range of motion, increasing access to more muscle groups. This will allow for substantial muscle growth at a cellular level in different muscle groups. Supplementing your weight training with regular yoga practice will allow you to activate the sections of your muscles that have long been ignored.
Overall, yoga uses your body resistance and weight to develop lean muscle mass. Regular yoga will lengthen your muscles and tissues, and improve blood flow. Improved blood flow translates to more oxygen to your muscles, which will help them recover faster and grow.
Yoga uses natural body weight and resistance to build lean muscle mass. Yoga lengthens muscles and tissue, improving blood flow. Better blood flow means more oxygen to the muscles, which helps them recover faster so they can grow.
3. Increase flexibility
Most yoga styles include a pose or two that are meant to twist your spine (gentle twists, of course) and loosen the many spinal joints.
In fact, flexibility is one of the biggest yoga benefits that many times goes unnoticed.
A flexible spine can improve your golf swing or your tennis game, as well as promote good digestion and detoxification.
4. Prevent injuries
Men often experience a number of injuries, pains, and aches, whether they spend hours on a couch or in the gym. Yoga can help you prevent injuries in various ways. First, it improves range of motion and flexibility, which lengthens muscles and prevents strains and tightness. It also improves your joint durability through the strengthening of connective muscle tissue.
A typical yoga class starts with the instructor reminding you to honour your body’s limits and particular needs on that day. This enhances your ability to assess and scan your body, be more aware of yourself and easily recognise issues like poor posture and correct them immediately.
5. Improves your sex life
Things just get better and better. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that yoga can boost all sexual functions in men, including performance, erection, ejaculation control and desire.
Additionally, it increases confidence and body awareness and reduces anxiety. It also speeds up the release of common hormones that trigger arousal (1).
One of the best yoga styles that will boost your sex experience is Mula Bandha. This helps you gain more control of your pelvic floor and can result in longer orgasms.
6. Calms your mind
With today’s jam-packed schedules at work and a busy social and family life to catch up with, practicing yoga can be a great way to slow everything down and breathe right.
A review study published in 2013 showed that yoga can relieve mild clinical depression, with good results even in participants who didn’t take antidepressants (2).
Additionally, another study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health revealed that 30 minutes of Hatha yoga poses stimulate the brain function much more compared to jogging or walking on a treadmill for the same period of time (3).
7. Enhances productivity
Last but not least, yoga has been known to enhance productivity at the workplace in a number of ways. The same research above (3) also reveals that 20 minutes of yoga session can improve memory and cognitive function, which can enable you to retain more information, maintain focus, have more energy and makes more confident work-related decisions. This has a lot to do with the meditation aspect of yoga.
Challenges men face during yoga, and how to overcome
Men often have the strength factor taken care of, but find themselves lacking in flexibility. This means many pauses can be challenging to execute off the bat, and sometimes even the simplest poses can be inaccessible.
It can be quite frustration to see your neighbour in the yoga class bend like a wet noodle when you cannot even touch your toes. A look at some of the common challenges and how to overcome them can make your yoga struggles less obvious.
1. Hip Openers
Men naturally have narrower hips compared to their female counterparts, this gives them a limited external hip rotation. This means that jaw-dropping hip opening poses that women seem to effortlessly execute will not be accessible right off the bat. Hip opener stretching poses such as the Pigeon pose might also be tricky to execute if you’ve tightness in your glutes, hips, lower back or hamstrings.
If the Pigeon pose is not yet accessible to you, you can start with a child’s pose. You get to decide the intensity of this pose by how far wide your spread your knees –the wider you spread, the more you will feel the hip opener. You can use blocks to support yourself by resting your arms on and remove the props gradually over time so that you can eventually rest on the floor indecently.
2. Forward folds
Trying out Forward folds can reveal just how stiff your hamstrings are. At first, you might not even be able to touch your toes during the forward fold pose –and that’s fine. Men usually have tighter hamstrings compared to women, and our daily practices don’t make things any better. There is this old belief that a tight muscle is a strong muscle, which makes most men ignore stretching workout. If you have tight hamstrings, it can take quite some time to unlock them. And this can be even worse if you’ve spent years behind a desk.
Start by practicing stretching your hamstrings separately, before trying out the compound movements. Try the Reclining Big Toe Pose using a belt around your foot to isolate and work the hamstring. This will allow for a deep, safe stretch.
The Wheel Pose really looks impressive, however, walking like a crab on the floor in a wheel formation might only remain a childhood throwback to many men. A lot has changed since you were a kid, and there’re a number of legitimate reasons why backbends can be challenging.
While a flexible back is important, the key to proper backbends is having open shoulders and chest. Men who lift weight often have a limited range of motion in their chest area, shoulder and upper body in general. Many years a bad sitting posture before the steering wheel or desk doesn’t make things any better either.
You can start by focusing on the front upper body using simple backbends like Extended puppy pose and Cobra Pose. The Puppy Pose will be usefully in opening up your shoulders and freeing your arms so you can perform more advanced backbends, while the Cobra pose will gently stretch your lower back.
Whether it’s because of our daily activities or bad posture, the 21st-century life somehow has a way of stiffening up our backs and cause all kinds of pains and aches. It’s not easy to stretch your back muscles in the same targeted and fashioned manner as you would your legs’ and arms’ muscles.
If you have a tight back and core, twists are the best remedy, but that is if you can execute them perfectly. Hardcore gym goers can often have difficulties looking over their shoulders, leave alone performing a full spinal twist. In an attempt to get stronger and bigger, men get to sacrifice their range of movement.
The best Pose that will help you restore your range of movement and the ability to do twists is the Revolved Abdomen Pose. During this pose, you need to keep both shoulders on the ground and hold the pose for at least one minute.
Basic yoga poses for men to get you started
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
It sure looks easy, but it’s the foundation of most other yoga poses that require balance and awareness.
How it’s done: stand tall with your feet together, weight distributed evenly on your feet and shoulders relaxed. Breathe in deeply and raise your hands over your head, arms straight and palms facing each other. Reach your fingertips towards the sky as far as you can. Exhale, relax your shoulders and lower your arms back to your sides.
There are different variations of the pose. Here is a video with one of the variations of the pose, nicely described.
2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Consider this post a reset mode as it relaxes your nerves and gives you time to take a breath after a series of demanding poses.
How it’s done: start from a kneeling position and tuck your toes under. Extend your arms up and forward as you stretch the upper body forward and downward. Bring your forehead down until it touches the mat with your stomach resting on your thighs. Hold and breathe.
3. Downward-Facing Dog
This pose is great for stretching your shoulders, back, hamstrings and pretty much everything.
How it’s done: come onto knees and hands position with your fingers pointing forward and palms a few inches past your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lift your heels off the floor, resting your knees against your arms. Keep your toes on the ground and hold for about five breathes.
4. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The Cobra Pose will cushion your spine and triceps, and strengthen your lower back.
How it’s done: Lie on the floor face-down with your toes flat and feet together. Place your hands on the mat, downwards just below your chest and lift your waist and your head, while inhaling. Pull back your torso and keep your elbows straight. Tilt your head back, keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Come back to the ground as you exhale.
5. Tree Pose
This is all about balance.
How it’s done: Stand with your arms at your sides. Shift your weight on your right leg and place the sole of the left foot inside your right thigh, with your hips facing forward. After you’re balanced, bring your hands to the front, palms together. Inhale while extending your arms over the shoulders, with palms still facing each other. Hold for about 30 seconds.
Well, those are just the basic poses, but as earlier mentioned, they form the foundation of the more complex poses. There’re definitely numerous other poses, once you’ve mastered the basics, you can then choose more advanced poses by narrowing down to your specific goals –balance, power, flexibility, endurance, etc. And remember, practice and consistency is the keyword.
Also, yoga could be a fantastic tool for weight loss. The physical practice of yoga can be quite rigorous and a good calorie-burner. Certain disciplines like Ashtanga, Bikram and Vinyasa can burn up to 600 calories an hour, which is quite a lot. When paired with a healthy diet, one can definitely expect to see pounds off from the yoga practice alone.
Here are 7 main reasons men should consider Yoga:
Build more muscle
Improve sex life
Calm your mind
So, when are you getting in the mat?
Latest posts by Sajal Mahato (see all)
- 7 factors why you might be struggling to lose weight - January 30, 2019
- 11 yoga poses for flexibility for men - January 3, 2019
- Does Calorie Counting for weight loss really Work? - November 30, 2018