Yoga workout has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It has been proven over and over again how yoga practice provides countless benefits. Not only does it strengthen our bodies and keep us physically fit, but it also promotes mental health. It leaves a significantly positive impact on our entire well-being.
However, despite the given advantages of yoga, some people are still hesitant about practicing it. These people, in particular, are men.
Don’t get me wrong—lots of guys engage in yoga. In fact, there are even athletes who add this to their workout routine. But the reality is that compared to the percentage of women who engage in yoga practice, the number of men who do is relatively smaller. In fact, recent statistics have shown among the 300 billion people who do yoga across the globe, 72% of them are females while the rest are the opposite. That data alone says a lot.
Why is this the case? Is yoga really not meant for men?
Reasons why men don’t do yoga
Yoga is pretty awesome, so it’s kind of hard to imagine finding someone who’s not a fan. However, there are various reasons why some men aren’t keen on adding yoga to their workout routine.
Here are the usual factors that keep men from practicing yoga:
Not being flexible enough
There’s a misconception that flexibility is a prerequisite in yoga. Some guys use this as an excuse as to why they don’t do yoga. But in actuality, yoga teaches us to become more flexible. You can always start from zero when you’re trying to learn something. No yoga studio or academy requires newbies to be acrobats. Flexibility is a skill that you’ll eventually develop and master in yoga classes, and that happens for both females and males.
Yoga is exclusive to women
For some reason, yoga has earned a reputation for being a “feminine” exercise. Maybe it’s because it involves getting in touch with your emotions or spiritual self? Or probably because yoga does not involve more vigorous and “manly” movements. We can’t say for sure but it definitely goes along those lines. Ironically, the individual that created yoga was a man. Furthermore, yoga requires a high level of strength, focus, and stamina. Are those things not found in a real man?
Yoga isn’t necessary if I already have a sport/workout
Some guys believe that if they’re already engaging in sports and other athletic activities, there’s no reason for them to be stretching in a studio while chanting a mantra. But mind you, yoga isn’t just about relaxation. It’s actually an all-around workout routine that keeps us physically and mentally in shape. It actually helps lessen your risk of sustaining injuries from other physical activities. Plus, it helps us develop a more positive attitude toward life and everything in between.
Why is yoga for men too? The benefits of yoga workout for men
It is no surprise that yoga provides so many health benefits. There are plenty of reasons why yoga practice will do wonders even for men. Here’s why:
It increases flexibility
Being physically strong and healthy isn’t just about being able to lift weights. Flexibility is an essential tool in maintaining fitness and wellness. Yoga practice stretches the muscles, enabling us to move better. It relieves tension in the body which makes us move around more fluidly.
Helps with general conditioning
Yoga is a mind-and-body workout that puts your overall health in a good condition. The wide range of yoga poses targets the different areas of the body and the breathing techniques promote a healthier state of mind. By having a good physical and mental condition, you can face your day-to-day challenges better.
Builds and tones muscles
Yoga is an excellent choice when it comes to building muscles. Stretching may be seen as a more gentle type of exercise compared to others but it’s essential in enhancing muscular strength. Yoga will pave the way for you to expand the abilities of your body.
Reducing the risk of injuries
As previously mentioned above, yoga provides great support if you’re also into other physical activities. By lengthening your body, toning your muscles, and increasing flexibility, you can reduce the risk of getting injured. It’s also possible for you to develop higher pain tolerance.
Relieves stress and anxiety
Stress is inevitable, so is anxiety. These can be caused by a variety of factors in our life. If you want to keep this from happening, engage in yoga. Yoga is a meditative workout that will also teach you to relax and connect with your inner energy to inhibit a more positive outlook.
What are the best yoga poses for men?
Starting yoga for the first time can be quite overwhelming. There are so many poses to know and memorize. However, if you’re a guy trying out yoga for the first time, here are the yoga poses you can add to your routine:
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
The foundation of all standing poses, the Mountain pose is probably one of the easiest but most important yoga poses. It’s often found at the start of a yoga sequence and makes a good resting pose. It helps improve posture and teaches concentration by allowing you to just relax and feel the earth beneath you.
- Stand tall with your feet together and arms at your sides. Spread your weight evenly among the balls and arches of your feet. Make sure to focus on the present moment, temporarily forgetting about all your worries and other thoughts.
- Press your big toes together before lifting and spreading all of them apart. Then, you must press them against the floor again, one at a time.
- Straighten your legs and make sure that you are balanced well. Then, lift the balls and arches of your feet and pull your outer shins toward each other.
- Engage your quadriceps and rotate your thighs a little bit inwards for you to expand your sit bones. You must tuck in your tailbone without curving your lower back in the process. Lift the back of your thighs and maintain your hips to be aligned with the center of your body.
- Point your hip bones to a straightforward position. Slightly draw your stomach in.
- As you inhale, lengthen your upper body (torso). As you exhale, draw your shoulder blades away from your head. Expand your collarbones sideways.
- Straighten your arms, extend your fingers, and tighten your triceps. Slightly turn your inner arms outwards. Lengthen your neck and make sure that your shoulders, hips, and ankles are on the same level.
- Maintain smooth and steady breathing. Keep your gaze ahead. With every exhale, allow your spine to elongate. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
2. Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
This pose is more than just reaching out for your toes. It’s meant to strengthen and lengthen the hamstrings and calves. Having tight hamstrings is quite common among those who actively engage in a sport that involves running. It’s also considered helpful in relieving stress and helping cure insomnia.
- From a standing position, inhale deeply as you gently lower your torso with your arms extended toward the floor until your back is straight in a horizontal manner (half-forward bend). Place your hands on your thighs or shins, but never on your knees.
- As you exhale, draw in your navel to your spine and lower your torso even more to a full forward bend. If you can reach for your toes, go for it. Bend your knees a little bit so that they won’t lock. Allow your head to hang.
- If you want to return to a standing position, take a deep breath in and place your hands on your hips. Engage your abdominal muscles and press down on your tailbone as you slowly rise.
3. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
When it comes to doing the tree pose, knowing how to balance yourself is a must. That doesn’t mean you have to be able to do it perfectly on the first try. If you’re having a hard time balancing yourself on one leg, you’ll eventually master the skill with consistent practice. This yoga pose is perfect for strengthening the core and legs while also opening up the hips and stretching the inner thigh and groin muscles. Also, learning better balance will help you in engaging in other physical activities.
- From a Mountain Pose, begin to transfer your weight into your right foot by lifting the left one off the floor. Keep your right leg straight but without locking the knee.
- Start bending your left knee by placing the sole of your left foot on top of your inner right thigh. Make sure to press your foot into your thigh and your thigh into your feet with the same level of pressure. This helps in keeping both sides of your hips squared to the front.
- Concentrate on something that doesn’t move so that you won’t become distracted and lose your balance.
- Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths before switching over to the other side and doing the same thing.
4. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This is one of the most famous yoga poses because of its multiple health benefits. It stretches the arms, legs, calves, and hamstrings. It also strengthens the external oblique abdominal muscles and increases blood flow to the brain. This pose makes it look like you’re imitating a dog (but there’s no need for barking!).
- Start in an all-fours position with your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees below your hips. Curl your toes and push back on your hands as you gently lift your hips. Remember to keep your legs straightened.
- Spread your fingers and rotate your upper arm outwards to expand your collarbones.
- Let your head hang and keep your shoulder blades away from your ears.
- To take your body weight off your arms, strongly engage your quadriceps. Slightly turn your thighs inward and keep your tailbone high. Press the heels of your feet firmly against the floor.
- Make sure that the distance between your hands and your feet is similar.
- As you exhale, bend your knees and return to your hands and knees.
5. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
This is a very relaxing and satisfying yoga pose because it improves spinal mobility by stretching the back and core muscles. It’s also a chest-opener that improves the posture and helps you to breathe better. It’s also believed that doing this pose promotes a healthy digestive system.
- Start by lying down flat on your stomach. If you want to feel more comfortable, feel free to place a blanket under your hips.
- Let your arms rest on your sides with your palms facing the floor. Keep your legs straightened out behind you with the top of your feet rested against the floor.
- Draw your shoulders back and down to open your chest. Take a deep breath as you lift your head, chest, and arms from the floor. Straighten your arms behind you and make sure that your thumbs are pointing down. Reach through your fingers and keep sliding your shoulder down to your back.
- Lightly lift your knees by engaging your legs. Avoid tightening your buttocks too much and plant the top of your feet firmly on the floor.
- Fixate your gaze on the floor right in front of you to maintain your neck in a neutral position.
- Hold this pose for 3 to 5 breaths. As you exhale, release yourself down to the floor. Turn your head to the side and rest on your cheek.
6. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
This pose feels more amazing than it looks. It might seem uncomfortable, but it actually does great things for our body such as increasing strength in the back, legs, ankles, and glutes. It also stretches the neck, chest, shoulders, and spine. Furthermore, this pose helps in relieving stress and treating depression.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly planted on the floor. Your arms should be on your sides, extended out on the floor. Your palms should also be pressed against the floor.
- Exhale as you slowly lift your hips toward the ceiling. Draw your tailbone back as you keep your buttocks lifted off the floor. Do not flex your buttocks nor tighten your glutes.
- Roll your shoulders back and down to your body. Clasp your hands and lengthen your arms along the floor near your pelvis. Try to use your knuckles to reach for the heels of your feet.
- Your thighs and feet should be parallel to each other. Distribute your weight evenly among the four corners of both feet.
- Hold the pose for 1 minute. For release, unclasp your hands and position them palms down to the floor on the sides of your body. Exhale as you slowly and gently lay your back against the floor. Drop your knees together.
What are the best types of yoga for men?
Just like the yoga poses, there is also a wide range of yoga types to choose from. This is what makes yoga such an interesting workout. It’s inclusive, catering to people of all ages and sizes with its many styles and variations.
Here are the following styles of yoga that are best suited for men (which are also great for those starting yoga for the first time):
- Hatha Yoga: This type of yoga focuses on teaching physical postures which is why it’s often considered to be the “general” yoga style. It’s usually a 45 to 90-minute yoga class that is centered on executing the poses with proper breathing techniques and meditation. This is a great class for beginners because it teaches the most basic yoga postures.
- Yin Yang Yoga: If you prefer a more slow-paced yoga class, then this is perfect for you. This is an exercise that applies the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. The yoga poses are typically held in longer periods of time compared to other styles of yoga. (Note: It’s better to do the Yin-Yang Yoga, wherein Yin is more of the gentle type while Yang is a more active and vigorous type of yoga. Practicing both will bring balance to your mind and body.)
- Flow Vinyasa Yoga: This yoga class is a great cardio workout. It has a kind of intensity that would increase your heart rate and improve your stamina. It involves doing a series of movements at a continuous pace. This is also considered to be an aid in weight loss because of the number of calories that you burn in it.
- Bikram Yoga: This is a hot yoga class wherein you do typically do a series of 26 postures in a heated room. Here, expect that you will be sweating profusely. But this class will enable you to do the poses better because when the body is warm, it’s more capable of extending itself so it will be easier for you to move fluidly.
- Ashtanga Yoga: Considered as a modern-day style of Indian yoga, this class also follows a sequence of poses in a specific order. Here, you will learn to increase body awareness and mindfulness as well as improving your balance and coordination.
How much yoga should a beginner do yoga?
For yoga newbies, it would be ideal to start with 2 to 3 yoga sessions every week. This is just enough time to let your body get used to the poses and stretches. Gradually, as you get better, you can increase the frequency of your yoga practice. Just remember that you don’t have to push yourself to do it all the time, especially if you are just beginning. Let your body adapt to the aspects of yoga and eventually upgrade when you think you are ready.
How long will I see results after starting a yoga practice?
The general rule is that you practice yoga 3 to 5 times a week to get good results. The more you engage in yoga classes, the faster the results will be seen. The less you do yoga, the slower the results. So if you have a goal like wanting to develop a healthier and better body image, then must consistently participate in yoga sessions.
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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.