When people walk by a yoga studio, they often see that it’s filled with pastel mats and glittery toenails. The idea of being in a class full of women inhaling, exhaling and contorting the body into pretzel-like positions doesn’t sit well with a lot of men. In fact, most men wouldn’t be caught dead doing a downward dog in a pair of painted-on yoga pants.
Yoga is best known for its ability to improve flexibility and connect the mind with the body. Because of this, some men don’t see yoga as “real” exercise. They view it as something “women-folk” do to get their mind off of demanding bosses and cranky children. When guys hit the gym, they want to pump iron, grunt and sweat. If they’re not doing any of these things, they don’t feel like they are truly working out. There is no way all the bending, stretching, breathing and breaking wind is beneficial. Right? Wrong indeed.
Yoga presents many benefits for men. It can boost energy levels and speed up the healing process in the body. When one goes through certain yoga movements, the body is twisting allowing for massage to the adrenal glands, pancreas, and thyroid glands. Massaging these organs helps to improve overall organ functioning and blood flow. Yoga can ease tension deep in the connective tissues and help realign the body. In addition, a PubMed study showed that the regular practice of yoga can improve reproductive health in men.
Hatha, asana, ashtanga and mantra are only a few of the types of yoga out there. Hatha and ashtanga tend to be the style of choice for a lot of people. A person should experiment with several different styles to find one that fits.
Below is a quick yoga routine men can do to begin their yoga journey. While the movements aren’t designed to kill, they will certainly challenge the body.
Get down on all fours and spread your knees and hands a bit wider than shoulder-length apart. Press the top part of your feet flat. Sit on your heels, lean forward and stretch your arms as far as you can. Rest your forehead on the floor and maintain the position for up to three minutes.
Start on a mat on your knees and hands. Keep the knees under the hips and your hands just in front of your shoulders. Turn your toes under and breathe out and lift your knees off the floor. Extend your tailbone up. Press the heels in the floor and hold the position for one to three minutes.
Lie face down on an exercise mat. Position your toes behind you. Put your hands flat on the floor beside your ribs. Breathe in and use your hands to push your head and chest up. Lean your head back until you feel a deep stretch. Hold the position for one to three minutes.
Sit on the floor and extend your legs in front of you. Straighten your back up and flex your feet. Lean back and lift your feet off the floor. Put your hands under your thigh and pull gently to stretch your lower back. Slowly lift your legs higher and rest the palms of your hands behind your head. Hold this position for five to 15 breaths.
The benefits of yoga for men are endless. It not only improves flexibility, but it energizes the body and boosts overall health. Beginners should go at their own pace. If a person cannot hold the stretches for the recommend amounts of time, it’s no big deal. Hold them for as long as it’s comfortable and build from there.