The quote, “Numbers don’t lie,” is incredibly accurate when it comes to yoga for men. Though starting a yoga practice for anyone as a beginner can be daunting and provide discomfort, according to data collected by Yoga Journal in 2016, only 28% of people who take part in yoga classes in America are men, while 72% are women.
Though the female to male comparison may seem out of whack, the percentage of men participating in yoga practice has improved from a mere 17.8% back in 2012, so it is evident yoga for men is on the rise.
It isn’t easy to ascertain why more men don’t go to yoga class, as studies investigating male participation in yoga are limited. However, one study on mostly male combat veterans showed their perception of yoga as socially unacceptable, more so for men, and physically unchallenging.
It came to light that barriers prevent them from participating, such as body awareness, social connection, and mental stillness.
Is Yoga Good for Men?
Some of the reasons why both men and women participate in yoga are they see positive changes in:
- Physical fitness
- Overall health
- General conditioning
- Stress relief
However, studies have shown that practicing yoga regularly offers many benefits, such as:
- Enhanced well-being
- Improved cardiorespiratory system
- Better mood
- Self-efficacy improvement
- Improved body composition
- Improvement in weight
- Reduced stress
Interestingly, many studies show that male reproductive health may see an enhancement from yoga, which some men may find enticing.
For men, though, yoga is beneficial, and with such a high percentage of yoga practitioners in the U.S. being women, history states it didn’t start that way.
Surprisingly, yoga has strong participation from men and boys in other countries.
Yoga originated in India over 7,000 years ago. However, during the 19th-century, yoga schools and colleges were built exclusively for young boys to provide them with a complete education in physical health. Many of the yoga poses we see today were designed specifically for them.
Being a yoga beginner doesn’t necessarily mean one has no previous exercise experience.
Most men who start practicing yoga do regular exercise but often lack flexibility and have no history with yoga.
With this in mind, the following routine is designed for men with tight hips and strong upper bodies, as this seems to be the reoccurring theme.
However, at the risk of sounding overly one-sided, flexibility doesn’t seem to be an issue for all men, so those who are limber may be better suited to trying an alternative workout.
Of course, flexible or not, everyone is welcome to try this yoga routine. I would, however, encourage you to purchase specific yoga equipment, like a yoga mat, for example, before starting so that you are well-equipped and comfortable doing the poses.
If you don’t have any yoga equipment, I will encourage you to get some to support your body and help you get into the correct alignment.
You’ll need blocks and blankets as they help beginners’ yoga practice a lot; however, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have them or you’re not in a financial position to purchase any as you can use prop hacks instead.
You can use kitchen chairs, step stools, or thick books, plus anything else suitable in the house, in place of blocks if you don’t have any.
If you take a class at a studio, you will more than likely be provided with a clean yoga mat to use.
However, it’s always worth getting your own yoga mat, especially if you see yourself partaking in classes regularly.
Comfort is essential in yoga, and a mat will pay dividends.
Breathing plays an integral role in yoga, more so than you may imagine.
Therefore, it is in your interest to learn how to take full, deep breaths through the nose for executing each pose.
Yoga is different from regular workouts, where reps and sets are the measuring tools.
Yoga should be relaxed, focusing on feeling each body part thoroughly during the poses. Some say it produces a feeling similar to meditation.
While in the poses, become conscious of your breath. Is it more shallow in certain positions, or is it going faster?
In either one of these instances, try exhaling for longer.
Still, in any position that causes difficulty breathing, stop the pose and take a break.
A common occurrence in beginners is that certain poses may cause discomfort because the body isn’t used to what it is going through; thus, it needs to adapt.
A resolution to alleviating any discomfort is consciously sending the breath into the area where that sensation is.
It is known to help.
Men’s Beginner Yoga Poses
This pose can make men think twice about even attempting it in their first yoga workout but stick with me here.
There’s a reason why trying a pose such as this is necessary for beginners:
It increases confidence massively and gives faith in yoga.
Nobody expects you to master it in your first, second, or even fifth workout, but that’s not the intention.
There’s every chance you may very well amaze yourself as if your core and upper body are strong; arm-balancing poses aren’t anywhere near as challenging as people think.
- Start in a squat position and come up on the balls of your feet. Turn your upper arms into a shelf for your knees by bending your elbows straight back.
- Lift your butt a lot and begin shifting your weight forward. Knees should be squeezed in tightly into your upper arms.
- Try lifting one or both feet off the ground.
If this pose proves too tricky, don’t worry; move on.
2. Easy Twist (Sukhasana)/Hip Openers
This pose targets the hips as they are often tight for many men.
Not only does it increase hip mobility, but the opening through the pelvis also targets the hip flexors, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
Also, the twisting action allows you to gain strength in the shoulders and helps with the lower lumbar spine.
- Begin in a high lunge position with the right foot in front and the knee above the ankle and toes of the left foot. Push the foot into the ground and engage the back leg, ensuring it is as straight as possible.
- Now bring the left hand down under the shoulder to the side of the right foot, and reach your right hand into the air while spreading your fingertips and staring in the same position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Standing Forward Bend
First things first, if your hamstrings are tight, you don’t need to touch your toes here; but aim for knees slightly bent, although this pose is more manageable on the hamstrings than, say, a seated bend.
The name of this pose is uttanasana.
- Take a deep breath in, come up until your back is flat, and rest your hands on either your shins or thighs. You should be in the half-forward bend, otherwise known as the ardha uttanasana.
- As you exhale, draw your navel in toward your spine and move into a deep forward bend.
Focus on your inhales and exhales throughout.
4. High Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
This pose targets the hip flexors, quads, and the opening of the hips, similar to the easy twist.
However, you must engage the glutes to protect the back as many people use too much lower back during the stretch.
- Ensure feet are in the same position as the easy twist; however, as you get into position, create a slight bend in the lower back by raising your arms and reaching them behind your head.
5. Bridge Pose
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet parallel. As you inhale, lift your hips off the floor into the pose.
- Keep arms by your side and don’t let your feet or knees come out to the side.
- Lift the hips for 5 breaths and release. Rest for a few seconds then repeat.
6. Cat and Cow
- Start on your hands and knees, ensuring your wrists are under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Feel free to put a towel or blanket under your knees to make the pose more comfortable.
- As you inhale, lift your tailbone, lower your belly, and lift your head. Exhale and tuck the tail, round your spine, and drop your head.
- Keep alternating these movements on every breath for 5-6 rounds.
7. Half Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana)
This pose is fantastic for the hips. However, it can be a challenge if they are tight.
Specifically, this pose works well for those who exercise a lot or partake in high volumes of physical activity, whether that is their job, etc., as the hip flexors, adductors, glutes, and hamstrings all get adequately stretched.
- Starting on all fours, put your right knee behind your right wrist, so your toes are parallel with your hands. Your right foot should be crossing towards your left side.
- Next, stretch your left leg behind you and sink your hips to the floor. If you find this position challenging to get in, you can place a yoga block under your right hip.
- Keep your spine straight and stay in this position for 60 seconds, releasing any tension.
- Repeat on the left side.
If you’re feeling adventurous and would like to stretch even deeper, you can bring your head down over your leg towards the floor, as this will open the hips more.
8. Cobbler’s Pose
- Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together, knees out to either side, allowing the groin area to be fully stretched. Some may find this challenging, so sit on a folded blanket to make it less so.
- Take in some deep breaths and exhale.
Make sure your spine is straight as you bring your feet in towards your body.
9. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
This yoga pose strengthens the lower back and will help you in sports that involve running, jumping, or dynamic movements that work the lower back.
Countless hours of exercise while neglecting stretching and releasing muscle tension is an open ticket to an increased risk of injury.
A male yoga practitioner will build strength in the spine from doing the cobra pose.
- Lie on your front with legs extended behind you.
- Ensure the tops of the feet are flat on the floor, and the forehead is rested on the ground.
- Palms shoulder be underneath your shoulders, flat.
- Now press the palms down into the floor and keep your legs and feet firm, too. As your palms are pressed down, lift your torso and straighten your arms.
- Lift your chest high and keep length in your spine.
10. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
This yoga pose requires balance.
- Start by putting your weight on your right leg and bending your left knee to lift your left foot off the floor.
- Put the sole of your left foot on the inside of your right side leg. Aim to put the foot on the inner thigh, but no worries if you can’t.
- Center yourself, focus your gaze on a fixed point, hold for six breaths, and then swap legs.
Now, if your core is weak, you may find you will wobble or even fall, but this is perfectly fine.
Keep trying it repeatedly, and eventually, you will crack it and have superb balance and improved core muscle groups.
11. Downward-Facing Dog
This is a ubiquitous pose that most people have heard of, even if they’ve never done yoga before.
- Start on your hands and knees with hands just in front of your shoulders and knees directly below your hips. Curl your toes under and push into your hands.
- Straighten both legs and move your shoulders back while bringing your tailbone up high so that your body forms a “V” shape, and allow your head to hang heavy to relieve any tension.
- Bend one knee and do the same with the other, peddling out the legs.
- Remain in the pose for a count of six breaths.
Plank position is another hugely popular pose that folk who don’t practice yoga regularly do.
- Begin in the downward-facing dog; bring your body forward, so it is positioned over your wrists.
- Drop your hips, but your legs stay straight, so you’re in the push-up position.
- Stay in the position for 5-10 breaths and imagine a line of energy from your head to your heels.
The plank position strengthens your core tremendously. The longer you maintain the pose, the stronger your core will become. However, once your arms start shaking or your hips dip, the time has come to drop out of the pose.
About the author
I'm Chris. I have a vast interest in all things relating to health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. I also love to improve my mindset and learn how to increase my productivity. If you'd like to say hello or ask me a question, please visit my contact page, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter (@liveliftlife).