A quick internet search on yoga will reveal that it can feel like a woman’s world, but yoga is growing in popularity with men, too. There’s no reason for men to feel shy about practicing yoga. In fact, if you look at the history of yoga, it was codified and practiced primarily by men.
It can definitely be intimidating as a man to walk into a yoga class, often full of women performing graceful poses. A man may not feel immediately excited by "just" holding some stretches while breathing.
In the beginning, men may be more drawn to dynamic styles of yoga such as power flow, vinyasa, or Ashtanga. However, yoga encourages non-judgment, so it doesn’t matter how stiff or awkward anyone is, what matters is you show up!
If you’re a man, dad, granddad, husband, or boyfriend looking for some reasons to get into yoga, here are five below!
1. Increase Your Lung Capacity
It’s no secret that deep breathing is a key component of a yoga class. Because humans don't have a user manual, most people don’t know how to breathe properly. Instead, many take shallow breaths up high in the chest. This restricts oxygen to the brain, muscles, and entire body.
Practicing yoga teaches you how to use your diaphragm, which is your breathing muscle. This, in turn, helps you to oxygenate your body. Breathing is a cleansing process, so deeper, slower breaths lead to increased immunity and longer life span.
2. Become More Flexible
Let’s face it: men are commonly perceived as being less flexible than women. Why not do something about it? Grab your buddy and head to your next yoga class to get a deep stretch on.
Target areas for men generally include tight shoulders and tight hamstrings. When you stretch regularly through yoga postures combined with deep breathing (to bring in more oxygen), this helps to prevent injury and increase a safe range of motion within the joints.
This is particularly helpful for men who are athletic or into sports. It can also help to improve posture, especially if you sit at a desk all day.
3. Expand Your Mind
For men who feel stuck in a rut with their workout regimen or perhaps just hitting a wall in any area of life, it can be time to try something new.
Perhaps you are dealing with stress or anxiety and deep down desire an all-natural alternative to help yourself. Social conditioning may tell men that being vulnerable or emotional is a weakness. In this case, emotions may become repressed.
Yoga is a healthy outlet that can expand your mind, encouraging you to try new things while preventing harm to yourself and others.
4. Put Your Muscles to Use
You may have muscles, but can you use them? Because men produce more testosterone, they tend to build muscle quickly and easily. However, our bodies were made to move and not just be defined as lumps of muscle. Can those core muscles hold you in crow pose? Can the strong shoulders help your headstand?
Beyond just the look of developed muscles that is the goal in other workouts, yoga challenges the body to move in a variety of ways, some of which are outside the normal range. This helps develop smaller stabilizer muscles so there is more harmony. Yoga helps you learn to test the boundaries of your body and develop body consciousness.
5. Challenge Yourself
When was the last you relaxed? Can you sit still for 10 minutes? It may sound boring but there is an entire world to explore on the inside. The practice of yoga not only strengthens your body through physical poses but also the mind through meditation.
Yoga also teaches you to calm down and lose the competitive edge. It’s not about how much weight you can lift at the gym, how long you can hold a chaturanga or even how long you can hold your breath (kumbhaka). Invite yourself to surrender, accept yourself, and release old patterns.
5 Yoga Poses for Men’s Target Areas
1. Cow Face Pose (gomukhasana) for the Shoulders and Hips
- Cross one knee tightly on top of the other or simply cross the legs.
- Keep the sitting bones even in the floor or elevate the hips on a cushion.
- Reach one arm up and bend it down as the other arms reaches back.
- Clasp the hands behind your back or use a strap if unable to reach.
2. Bound Angle Pose (baddha konasana) for the Hips
- Bend the legs and bring the soles of the feet together.
- Open the knees so legs make the shape of a diamond.
- Take the feet further away from your hips if the knees are elevated.
- Remain here or play with folding forward.
- Feel free to use the support of blocks under the hips, knees, or head.
3. Sphinx Pose (salamba bhujangasana) for the Chest and Spine
- Lay on the belly and bring the elbows under the shoulders, forearms parallel.
- Press the arms down to lift the chest up.
- Lift the belly muscles inward and gaze forward.
4. Warrior Two (virabhadrasana B) for the Inner Thighs
- Take one leg forward and step the other back with the foot facing the side.
- Bend the front knee to 90 degrees over the ankle (not past it) so the thigh drops parallel to the floor.
- Sink the hips down and ensure the torso faces the side of the mat.
- Open the arms wide to a T and gaze over the front hand.
- Feel expansion through the thighs and chest.
5. Dragonfly Pose (parsva bhuja dandasana) for the Inner Thighs
- Take a seat and open the legs wide.
- Use a cushion to elevate the hips if the legs are tight.
- Use props to support as you fold forward on an exhale.
- Hold yin-style for up 5 minutes to get deep into the fascia, the connective tissue of your body.
Yoga Is for Everyone
While it may be true that yoga has been incredibly empowering for women in the 21st century, one of the philosophical principles of yoga is the balance of masculine and feminine energy.
It can also help any practitioner, man or woman, dive deeper into what exactly their masculine and feminine energy is for them- is there excess or deficiency anywhere? These are the types of questions men who practice yoga can begin to ask from an objective point of view.
During These Times of Stress and Uncertainty Your Doshas May Be Unbalanced.
To help you bring attention to your doshas and to identify what your predominant dosha is, we created the following quiz.
Try not to stress over every question, but simply answer based off your intuition. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else.