Oh, yoga—how ironic that such a peaceful and meditative workout such as this is making so much noise in the fitness industry? A lot of people have been practicing yoga these days. Are you one of them? If not, then you’re missing out on a lot!
Yoga practice is both scientifically and verbally proven to be an effective exercise. It not only improves one’s physique but also improves the mind and spirit of every individual. It is popular for a reason. Like every other form of exercise, yoga aims to help us enhance our lifestyle for the sake of our health without resorting to energetic movements and exhausting routines. Practicing yoga is more about finding your inner self and motivating you to live a life of fitness.
Once you join yoga classes, you’ll find yourself experiencing the following benefits:
- building strength of the body
- increasing flexibility
- toning muscles
- doing deep breaths
- learning how to focus and balance better
- losing weight
Yoga has many more benefits other than the ones mentioned above. Now you know that yoga is indeed a good workout! However, there’s a certain issue that not a lot of men are interested in practicing yoga. It appears that women are much more connected to the said workout rather than the opposite sex. Ironically, yoga is even practiced by professional athletes the members of the military as a part of their training.
If you’re a guy and you’re reading this right now, were you or were you not ever considering yoga as an exercise for you?
Why don’t more men do yoga?
Back in 2012, a study has shown that in the United States, only 18% of a total of 20.4 million people who practiced yoga are men. This proves the issue that more women engage in yoga. However, as of 2016, studies have shown development on this by presenting data that more men are jumping on the yoga bandwagon. From the 18% in 2012, the number of men doing yoga increased up to 28%!
Despite that commendable difference, why are there still men who continue to have reservations when it comes to joining a yoga class? Here are common misconceptions of men about yoga:
You need to be flexible.
One common misconception about yoga—which actually both men and women are guilty about—is that you need to have good flexibility. You need to be able to stretch your arms and legs in ways that will either make you look like a pretzel or some sort of acrobat. Men are often engaged in activities that leave their bodies and muscles tightened which is why flexibility is a rare ability on their part. Also, when it comes to yoga, some people have stereotypical beliefs that involve a slender woman or a skinny man getting into seemingly impossible yoga poses.
Women suit yoga better
Yoga for men? Nah. Some guys think that women have a better connection with yoga as a workout. It’s true that overall, women do possess a wider range of motion with their hip joints while men are more prominent for having stronger arms and broader shoulders. Maybe women do have a better body build for doing yoga poses but men’s strength can be viably used in some difficult positions such as planking and chaturanga.
Yoga is a “sensitive” workout
There are lots of guys that like to act macho and masculine. They tend to shy away from activities that involved mushy stuff—with yoga being one of them, so they say. Some men prefer not to join yoga classes because they presume that all you do in it are boring poses wherein you sit or just do slow movements. Also, it involves getting in touch with your inner self and meditating. Men tend to respond more positively towards activities or exercises that involved powerful, vigorous, and energetic movements that challenge them.
Many other misconceptions exist, but the important thing is more and more members of the male community are opening their eyes and hearts towards yoga as a good workout. It does provide lots of benefits as you add it to your fitness routine. It will keep you healthy, focused, and prepared for the other activities that you engage in. The stereotypes about yoga should be put to an end because it is actually a progressive exercise that evolves through time. The world of yoga is vast which makes it optimal for every type of person, whether you are a male or female, flexible or strong.
Reasons why yoga is for men
If yoga really isn’t your first choice of exercise, then maybe knowing the reasons why it should be might help change your mind. Having a sense of purpose will give you more motivation to engage in a certain activity. Yoga may not be as vigorous as other workouts but it is capable of bringing you benefits that are good for the body and life in general.
Reduces stress and anxiety
Stressed at work? Experiencing anxiety attacks? As human beings, we’re bound to experience these negative feelings and emotions that also affects our physical well-being. Yoga, being a meditative exercise, helps us become calmer and at peace with ourselves. It helps us form a more positive attitude that affects our daily activities. Being able to relax and meditate will lessen the probabilities of us succumbing to stress and anxiety.
Yoga may appear to be a relaxing workout but it’s actually great for building muscles. Every man wants to have a more muscular and strong body. Practicing yoga involves engaging the muscles a lot. If you enjoy lifting weights, accompany it with a regular practice of yoga. Yoga poses allow your muscles to thicken and tighten without straining them too much (as long as you know your limits).
Becoming more flexible
One of the best things you’d get from doing yoga is increasing your flexibility. All the stretching and wide range of motion involved are allowing our joints to move more fluidly. After doing yoga practice, you will realize that men are more capable of exerting flexibility than you thought.
Preventing injuries from other workouts
Yoga practice can help sustain your body better from getting easily injured. If you are active in doing sports, exercising, and other forms of highly physical activities, engaging in yoga will prepare your body to become more fit to deal with their impacts. IF your muscles are toned and flexible, you’re more capable of healing faster if your body is strained or sore after activity.
The best beginning yoga poses for men
As mentioned previously, yoga caters to different types of bodies and groups of people. Not all yoga routines are the same. You will have to know and choose which type of yoga is best for you so that you can avoid getting injured or unsatisfied with the results. Also, keep in mind that learning yoga takes time. You don’t need to be an expert on it especially if it’s your first yoga class. Just take the time to absorb it, understand it, and work your way through it.
Now, let’s begin! Here are the best beginner yoga workouts for men:
Standing forward bend pose or Uttanasana
This yoga pose is great for calming your mind and stretching the muscles of your spine.
Take a deep breath and bend forward with your arms in front of you. Try to reach for your toes, but you do not necessarily have to touch them. Your feet must be a hip-distance apart from each other. Let your upper body hang over your legs. If you start to feel some tightness or tension in your hamstrings, you can try bending your knees a little.
Mountain Pose or Tadasana
This is the very foundation and starting pose for the other yoga positions. It is considered to be one of the most basic yoga poses. It improves your posture and engages your thighs and core.
Doing this position will make you look like you’re just standing. Stand with your feet slightly apart. Try to lift your kneecaps a little as you engage your thighs, but make sure that your knees don’t touch each other. Reach your head towards the ceiling to lengthen your spine. Don’t forget to take deep breaths!
Tree Pose or Vrikshasana
Doing this pose will help enhance your ability to focus. It will strengthen the muscles in your legs and feet as well as the inner thighs and the groin.
Stand with your right foot planted firmly on the ground and gently lift your left foot. Make sure to place the heel of your left foot on the inner part of your right thigh. If you find it difficult to balance yourself, you can opt to place your left foot heel on your inner right calf instead. Place your palms together above your chest and keep your weight balanced on your left foot.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose or Adho Mukha Svanasana
If you want to strengthen your arms and legs, this is a good way to do it. It also stretches the shoulders, calves, hands, and wrists.
To do this pose you must go on all fours then gently lift your knees off the ground. Keep your palms planted firmly in front of your shoulders and then stretch your tailbone towards the ceiling. Make sure that your legs are straight by pressing the heels of your feet on the floor.
Bridge Pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
This is another great pose to stretch your body. It will stretch your front side as well as your ribcage and muscles in your spine.
Lay down on the floor or yoga mat and then gently bring your hips up with the support of your arms and legs. You don’t have to lift your hips very high, just make sure that your tailbone is aligned to your bended knees. This will lengthen your spine. Breathe deeply as you lift your hips higher and higher.
Locust Pose or Salabhasana
If you’re looking to do backbends, then this is a good way to start. The locust pose strengthens your buttocks and the back muscles. It also engages the muscles of the spine and stretches the shoulders, chest, and thighs.
Do it by lying on your stomach and your forehead against the floor. Place your arms at your sides with the palms of your hands facing down. Inhale deeply and then exhale as you lift your head, chest, arms, and legs off the floor. Take another deep breath as you stretch your legs back and your head forward. Let your weight rest on your belly and core. Doing this pose will surely lengthen your spine.
The five best yoga styles for men (and beginners)
Before you start doing yoga poses at the studio (or your home), you must first determine which style appeals the best to you.
With so many variations, it’s understandable that yoga can be a bit confusing. How do you know which type of yoga workout is the best one for you? If you ever feel overwhelmed, here’s a guide on which yoga styles are highly recommended for men:
Yoga Hatha is the one usually referred for beginners to try. Hatha is a slow-paced workout that involves doing one pose at a time while having breaks in between. It allows the yoga student to rest before moving on to the next position as guided by the yoga instructor.
Yin is centered on allowing your body to relax. Here you will be doing passive movements that involve powerful stretches. The goal is to cultivate the calm energy inside of you which actually helps balance all the active energy that we have, coming from the other activities in our daily life. If you really want to reduce your stress and anxiety, then it would be good to join a yin yoga class. You may read more about it here.
Unlike hatha yoga and yin yoga, vinyasa is more about continuous movements. It’s a more fast-paced type of yoga that is accompanied by proper breathing techniques. If you want less rest and more movements, vinyasa yoga classes are a good way for you to start with.
This yoga style is similar to vinyasa, except it’s like its strongest level. It involves a series of continuous and complicated movements that will surely get the yoga students sweating all over. The perspiration allows the body to produce heat and remove the toxins from it. This one is also difficult even for some very experienced yoga practitioners.
If you are familiar with hot yoga, then Bikram is one of its variations. This was discovered by one of the well-recognized yoga instructors, Bikram Choudhury. You will be executing a series of 26 different poses but the catch is that you will be doing it in a yoga school in Singapore or a room that’s heated up to 40 degrees celsius. Just imagine how much sweat that’s going to be!
Are you ready to get started with yoga now?
Before you head off and grab that yoga mat, assess yourself first and check if you’re ready to get into yoga. If you are, then that’s great! Yoga is a good workout not just because of the health benefits but also to the life-changing experience. Yoga may not be as strong and vigorous as other types of workout that a lot of men are into, but it certainly will strengthen and electrify your body in ways you can’t imagine.
Taking beginner yoga exercises will open your eyes to the world of yoga. It will establish the equal importance of strength and flexibility. Also, almost all of your body parts will be engaged as you do the yoga poses: your hands, arms, feet, hips, legs, back, and many others. It will help you develop a better tolerance and healing ability from injuries and it will also help you cultivate a positive attitude in life.
Yoga will set you free.
More and more guys are getting into yoga—it’s time for you to be one of them!
Frequently Asked Questions
According to some yoga experts, a beginner should do yoga as frequently as two to three times per week. The duration should be an hour or an hour and a half for each session. However, if you feel as though you cannot do it for that long—which is completely understandable considering that you are still a beginner—you can try practicing yoga for at least twenty minutes every session.
As you start to become better at it, you can slowly increase the frequency up to what you can manage and what’s recommended by your yoga instructor or medical consultant.
Here, the principle of “the more you do the more you get” is applied. This means that the more you practice or engage in yoga will allow you to experience more of the benefits it brings. Consistently doing yoga still takes some time before showing the actual results, like other forms of workout, but as long as you do it diligently, you will surely get the results that you want faster than you think.
It’s important to stay focused and motivated but also know your limits. There will be times when you will be having an off day, but don’t let that hold you down. Yoga has a learning process to it and the great thing about it is that yoga instructors allow you to progress at your own pace.