04 Feb The Beginners Guide to Yoga For Men
Written by Mens Fitness
Does your girlfriend practice her super bendy, far out poses in the morning and you just stand there intimidated? Relax, yoga is more about the basic poses—not the fancy positions—that provide you with the foundation of flexibility and strength every man needs.
There are a number of yoga styles that can suit your specific needs, and finding the right one for you ensures you’ll keep up your practice. From fast-paced power yoga to hot yoga, and Vinyasa which focuses around the mind-breath connection and works the body with aggressive stretching. These are just a handful of different yoga variations designed to improve flexibility, athletic ability, mental clarity, and more!
Here’s why you should practice yoga, in any variation.
4 reasons men should do yoga
Yoga, opposed to going to amped up gyms, employs a number of relaxation techniques, which, with regular practice, can make you calmer overall. Being forced to unplug from text, calls, and email for 60 to 90 minutes doesn’t hurt either.
Build more muscle
Yoga widens range of motion and increases access to more muscle fibers, allowing for more substantial hypertrophy in any given muscle group,” says Kate Abate, a certified trainer and yoga teacher. Hypertrophy is when a muscle is enlarged because its cells are enlarged (it’s basically muscle growth on a cellular level).
Most series of yoga asanas (physical postures) include one or more spinal twists to loosen the many joints that make up your spine. This can improve your tennis game and golf swing, as well as promote detoxification and good digestion.
Have better sex
For guys, yoga helps reduce anxiety and increases body awareness and confidence; and it speeds the release of hormones that boost arousal and increase blood flow to the genital area, which is important for erections.
The 3 best yoga tips for beginners
Stay in the back row
For your first few visits, lay your mat down in the back row so you can see what the people around you are doing. This helps you learn, keeps your neck from straining to see what’s going on, and provides you with an awesome view of your mostly female class.
Yoga is not easy. Don’t freak out if your athletic build. is getting in the way of some moves. Progress is supposed to be slow and steady, and the most challenging aspects are usually what your body needs the most.
Focus on your breathing
Deep abdominal breathing is a huge part of yoga, and it activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone that forces your body to hold on to belly fat. Training yourself to breathe deeply through yoga can reduce stress. and cortisol levels in your daily life.
The 4 best beginner yoga poses for men
1. Tree (Vrksasana)
Why you should do it: Like other standing balance poses, tree pose will improve your focus while strengthening the muscles in your ankles, calves and thighs. It also stretches the inner thigh and groin muscles on the bent leg.
How to do it: Shift your weight onto your right foot, pressing it firmly onto the floor. Bend the left leg at the knee and place the sole of the left foot on your inner right thigh. Point the toes toward the floor. If this is difficult, you can also place the sole of the foot on the inner calf or ankle (but avoid the knee). Bring your palms together in front of your chest and keep your weight centered over the left foot. Press the right knee back to open the groin while keeping your hips parallel to the front of the room. Release the foot and repeat on the other side.
Pro tip: To improve your balance. , keep your attention on the floor a few feet in front of you.
2. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Why you should do it: Downward-facing dog, another pose found in the Sun Salutation sequence, strengthens the legs and arms, while stretching the calves, hamstrings, shoulders, hands and wrists.
How to do it: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands just in front of your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Press your hands firmly onto the floor, with index fingers pointing forward. As you exhale, lift your knees off the floor, keeping the knees slightly bent. Stretch your tailbone toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine. Press your heels down toward the floor and your thighs back to straighten your legs. Keep pressing the base of your index fingers into the floor and lift along your arms. from your hands to your shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades against your back and down toward your tailbone. When done, drop your knees to the floor.
Pro tip: It’s okay to keep the knees slightly bent in this pose—focus more on lengthening your spine. Use your triceps to straighten your arms, but keep the shoulders from moving toward your ears.
3. High Lunge (Crescent Lunge)
Why you should do it: Also known as crescent lunge, this is similar to Warrior I, except with the back heel lifted and the feet about hip width apart. In this position, you may find it easier to keep your hips parallel to the front of the room, but your leg muscles will work harder to maintain your balance. High lunge will also strengthen the arms and stretch the muscles of the groin.
How to do it: Start in downward-facing dog. As you exhale, step your left foot forward between your hands, keeping your left knee over the ankle and your feet hip-width apart. As you inhale, lift your torso upright and bring your arms out to the side and overhead. If possible, bring your palms together—or keep the hands shoulder width apart with the palms facing each other. Press back through your right heel and lift up through the torso. To come out of the pose, bring your hands to the floor as you exhale and step back to downward-facing dog. Repeat on the other side.
Pro tip: Don’t lean forward—keep the torso directly over the hips, and think about sinking your hips straight downward while engaging the back thigh to keep the back leg straight. Don’t let the front knee move ahead of the ankle. To give your legs a rest, drop the back knee onto a mat or folded blanket, and focus on the stretch in your groin.
4. Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
Why you should do it: One of the best yoga poses for stretching the hamstrings, it also stretches the hips, groin, and calves. Done properly, it will even strengthen the knees.
How to do it: Lie on your back. As you exhale, bend the left knee and pull it toward your chest. Keep the other leg pressed firmly onto the floor while pushing the right heel away from you. Hold a strap in both hands and loop it around the middle of your left foot. As you inhale, straighten your left leg slowly toward the ceiling. Move your hands up the strap until your arms are straight, while pressing your shoulders into the floor. Once your left leg is straight, engage the left thigh slightly and pull the foot toward your head to increase the stretch. Stay here for 1 to 3 minutes. Then lower the left leg slowly toward the ground, keeping the right thigh pressed into the floor. Continue until the left leg is a few inches off the floor. Work the foot forward until it is in line with your shoulders. Inhale your leg back to vertical. Lower the leg and repeat on the other side.
Pro tip: When you extend the leg upwards, press the heel toward the ceiling. Once the leg is straight, engage the thigh slightly and lift up through the ball of the foot.
2 challenging yoga poses for men
Why you should do it: According to Stiles, the wheel pose will open up the spine, shoulders and quad muscles resulting in improved flexibility and safeguard you from injury.
How to do it: To achieve the pose, sometimes called a “Bridge,” Stiles explains, “Lie down on your back and press your feet into the ground next to your hips. Press your palms on the ground beside your ears, elbows up. Press down with your hands and feet and lift up in your chest and abdomen. Only raise yourself to where you can breathe easily. Stay for 10 long deep breaths and lower slowly.”
Pro tip: Practice three sets in a row with rest in between for three days every week.
2. Crow Pose
Why you should do it: When it comes to building strength, increasing body mechanics and coordination, this is Stiles’ pick. A strong core is pivotal in fitness, and it will take most of the brunt along with the shoulders, biceps, triceps and forearms.
How to do it: “Come into a squat. Press your hands on the ground and place your arms inside your knees with your knee propped onto the back of your upper arms or triceps. When stabilized, lift up in your hips and belly until your feet come off the ground and your hands are the only things touching the ground.”
Pro tip: To master this pose, Stiles recommends practicing slowly lifting yourself rather than “jumping” into the pose. She says, “It’s harder to lift up, but you’ll stay focused and be able to stay in the pose longer than if you launch yourself.”
Find the Men’s Journal original article here.
Aren’t up to starting your first class in the studio? Try Yogaholics, Power Living’s online yoga platform.