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We often hear from women that it can be intimidating to walk into a weights room full of hulking men… but have you ever tried being a guy walking into a yoga studio?
Where do I look, what do I do, how do they all bend like that?
Was I meant to have my own yoga mat? She looks like a pro, I should try and copy her… oh wait will she think I’m a creep? So much for the zen mindset.
Yoga is a brilliant tool for every athlete. While these intrusive thoughts might be putting you off, it is well worth finding a way past them so that you can enjoy the practice. The best way to do that, is to understand what yoga is, what its benefits are and how you can practice yoga feeling relaxed and empowered.
So breathe in for five, out for five and enjoy our beginner’s guide to yoga for men.
What is yoga?
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and for many it is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
Yoga poses use physical strength, breathing techniques, concentration, mindfulness, flexibility and stability in a way that is accessible to everyone.
Some poses may seem well out of your reach, but the most gentle armchair yoga is practiced in elderly care homes.
So trust us, you can do it! It’s all about finding the right yoga practice for you.
The benefits of yoga workout
The benefits of yoga for men are vast: it really is a holistic body, mind and spirit experience. Starting your day with just 10 minutes of yoga can really set you up for success. Here’s why:
The more flexible you are, the more you’ll be able to lift. Think about when you're pushing yourself to the limit on your squats, you’ll find your squat depth is the first thing to go.
Increasing your flexibility will give you more control and more confidence to get down low.
Yoga builds muscle
Yoga is a workout and some practices can be pretty intense! Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga flows or power yoga are not for the faint hearted and probably best avoided by beginners. However, even the relaxed forms of yoga such as Hatha yoga help you build muscle mass.
Gentle yoga can be done on your rest day, as it increases blood flow and keeps your muscles engaged without putting too much strain on your body.
Over time, a weekly rest day yoga could have a real impact on your overall progress.
Aids recovery and reduces the risk of injury
We can often be guilty of skimping on our post workout stretches, so doing a dedicated yoga workout ensures that we look after our muscles and joints. It also helps with our posture meaning we are less likely to get injured.
You’ll sit better at your desk and over time, your yoga practice will improve your form when performing compound movements.
Stress reduction - leave it on the yoga mat
Never underestimate the impact of stress on your overall health, as well as your progress in the gym. Excess stress releases all kinds of unwanted hormones and substances into our body that make it harder to sleep, can encourage fat gain and generally make us less efficient at everything we do.
Regular yoga practice is a brilliant meditative tool for those of us who can’t stand the thought of actually meditating. After a vigorous yoga session, you might actually enjoy lying on your back in Savasana for five or ten minutes - you’ll meditate without even realizing you are doing it!
Core strength and stability
Crunches and leg raises are all well and good for getting you that six pack, but if you want to develop real inner core strength, yoga is the answer. If you have a weak core and it’s holding you back from progressing in your squats, try a core strengthening yoga practice once a week and watch those barbell plates rack up!
It improves your sex life
More stamina, better moves, stronger swimmers.
Need we say more?
Beginner yoga poses for men
- Downward Facing Dog - nourish those hamstrings! Get onto all fours with your hands shoulder width apart. Then move your back side up and back until you are in a v-shape, feet hip width apart.
- Forward Fold - a great stretch for after leg day. Begin standing with your hands on your hips (mountain pose) and bend forward at the hips, moving your forehead towards your knees. Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Tree Pose - improve stability and balance to support sports performance. Stand in mountain pose with your toes spread wide for stability, then use your left hand to slowly lift your left foot so that the bottom of your left foot is pressed into the inside of your right leg. Start with your foot placed on your lower leg, and slowly work your way higher each time you practice. Repeat on the other side.
- Chair Pose - if you are a fan of feelin’ the burn, you’ll love this one. It really works your thigh muscles. Stand with your feet slightly more than hip width apart, raise your arms straight above your head and bend your knees, getting your thighs as close to parallel with the ground as possible.
- Crescent Lunge Pose - ease those tight hips! Start in downward facing dog, raise your right leg behind you and then step it forward between your hands. Sweep your hands forward and above your head, palms facing each other. Your right knee should be fully bent with a small bend in your left knee. Repeat on the other side.
- Pigeon Pose - perhaps the hardest on the list, but a must for anyone who lifts weights. From downward facing dog, bend your left knee and then bring it to the floor with your left foot placed on its side in front of your groin. Make sure your hips are square to the front of your yoga mat and bend your upper body forward if you can.
And throughout all of these yoga poses remember to take deep breaths and focus on body awareness.
Tips for getting started with yoga - yoga at home or a yoga class?
Our first tip is to find a yoga instructor that you really like, whether that’s online or at the gym. If you are looking for an online practice tailored for men, check out Man Flow Yoga.
There are thousands of free yoga videos on YouTube, Yoga with Adriene, Yoga with Kassandra and Yoga with Tim are all popular yogis.
Yes, they all have their quirks! So try out a few lessons with each and figure out who you like best.
Both yoga classes and at home yoga are worth doing, but if you are just starting out, attending the occasional class can be really helpful. The yoga instructor will guide you into the right position and ensure you are getting the most out of the session.
Tips for yoga classes
If you are going to brave the one of your local yoga studios, here are a few tips for your first class
- Get there early so you can grab a place at the back of the studio. That way you can watch what everyone else is doing and you won’t feel eyes on the back of your head!
- Go with a friend who has experience of yoga so they can advise you if you are unsure.
- Tell your Yogi (the yoga teacher) that it’s your first class. Yogis are gentle, generous souls by nature and they’ll be sure to make you feel very welcome and help you with the yoga poses.
- Don’t compare yourself to others, particularly the older women who have been doing this for decades. Yoga isn’t competitive and there will be students in the class who are better than the Yogi. The only goal is a healthier body and a happier mind.
- Hatha yoga is a slower practice, great for beginners, but ask about the level of the yoga class before you go. Most yoga classes are suitable for beginners but some yoga studios run intermediate and advanced yoga practices too.
- Invest in a high quality yoga mat and yoga blocks for extra support.
Get ready for yoga
Felxibility is something that is neglected by many, especially men. But the benefits are holistic and they can help you build a healthier body that will inturn help you build a strong physique.
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