Despite the crazy heights of popularity it has reached among men and women alike, some men still think yoga is feminine or just not "cool". If you’re one of those macho guys who think yoga’s not for them, think of this: you will be in a room where you’ll see women in fitted clothing, getting sweaty, doing stretches, and bending their bodies in different ways. We don’t know about you, but we imagine most guys would find that VERY cool.
But more importantly, the thing about yoga that you should REALLY look into is how it can strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility – something that even your favorite athletes work their butts off in the gym for. So if you’re open-minded and man enough to consider doing yoga, here are some awesome yoga poses that are especially recommended for men.
The Hero pose is known to stabilize and strengthen the ankles, thighs, and knee joints. It’s considered as one of the progressive yoga poses, so don’t be too worried if you experience tension the first few times you do it; your body will adapt once you set a pattern of doing it regularly. To do the hero pose, sit on the floor with your legs folded underneath you such that your shins and knees are pressed down to the floor. Try to rest your buttocks on the floor while maintaining the position of your legs. You will feel stretching tension, but don’t force it if you feel pain (not tension, pain).
This is one of the yoga positions that targets the abs and strengthens the ankles, thighs, and spine. To do the pose, stand with your feet together then raise your arms (palms facing each other) to the ceiling as you inhale. Lift your head, stretch your neck, and drop the shoulders as you do this. When you exhale, bend your knees and squat as if lowering yourself onto a chair. Make sure your knees don’t extend past your toes. You can squat lower with every exhale until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this pose for 30 seconds while breathing in and out.
The Boat Pose is one of the yoga poses recommended especially for men because it strengthens the core muscles and promotes prostate gland function. It also works the hip flexors, spine, and arms. To get into the Boat Pose, sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then raise your arms forward so that they are parallel to the floor, and engage the core muscles as you lift and straighten your legs. Keep your back straight and let your core and thigh muscles engage to hold the position.
The Warrior is on the list of yoga poses that increases mobility is the hips and shoulders, and improves stability in the knees – something that men need when doing high-impact workouts. To do the Warrior pose, go on a lunging position with the right foot forward and the left pointing outwards so that it’s parallel to the front of the room. As you inhale, lift your head towards the ceiling, drop your shoulders, and raise your arms with palms facing each other. Lift your chest with every inhale and make sure your knee doesn’t extend past the toes.
Reclining Big Toe
Some yoga poses may require a strap to aid stretching, and the Reclining Big Toe is one of these yoga poses. Start by lying down on your back, with one leg extended along the floor and the other folded so you can hug your knee and stretch the hips. Then, loop the strap on the arch of your foot and lift it towards the ceiling – making a 90-degree angle while keeping your other leg extended straight on the floor. Inhale and exhale 5 times before switching to lift the other leg.
This is one of the best yoga poses to do if you want to strengthen your back and shoulders and stretch the hips and thighs. To do this, lie on the floor face down and lift your chest off the floor while stretching your arms behind you. As you do this, bend your knees toward the butt and reach to grip the outside of your ankles. Inhale as you lift your thighs off the floor, stretching your back farther, with your hands firmly grasping the ankles.
This is one of the best pre-workout yoga poses because it loosens the hips, stretches the hamstrings, and works the thigh muscles. Start on all fours then bend the right knee as you bring your foot forward, making sure the knee is directly above the heel. As you inhale, slowly lift the other knee off the floor and slowly extend the leg behind you. Lift your head and arms toward the ceiling as you stretch farther back, your weight supported by your bent knee and the heel of your foot.
This is a good example of how yoga poses can increase lung capacity and improve breathing by opening the chest and releasing tight back muscles. To do the Bridge Pose, lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor at a hip-width distance from each other. Your fingers should be able to reach the heels of your feet. Keep your arms to the sides and lift your hips off the floor as you inhale. Your weight should fall on your shoulders and the heels of your feet. Lift your hips higher as you inhale, and lower it onto the floor as you exhale.
Downward Facing Dog
Undoubtedly one of the most popular yoga poses, the Downward Facing Dog stretches the hamstrings, calves, and shoulders, while strengthening the arms and core muscles. Start on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart. Putting your weight on your hands, slowly lift your knees off the floor. You will immediately feel tension in your hamstrings. Walk the hands and feet a few inches apart until you arrive at a comfortable position and lengthen your pose. Keep the back straight, your gaze toward the direction of your feet, and engage your core muscles as you inhale deeply and exhale in this position for 3 minutes.
This is one of the basic yoga positions that work well as a pre-workout exercise. The Forward Fold stretches the calves and hamstrings and strengthens the knees and legs. To do this, stand with your feet at a hip-width distance from each other and gently bend forward and lower your torso towards the floor. If you feel too much pressure and hamstring tension, bend your knees a little. With your upper body bent forward, grasp your elbows, relax the neck and shoulders, and maintain this position as you breathe in and out.
These yoga poses for men are recommended because they give you better stretches before a workout AND work your muscles and stretches your body even when done alone and not as warm-up exercises. Any yoga blog will tell you that with the right combination of these yoga poses, you will be on your way to having stronger knees and ankles, better lung and prostate function, and increased mobility and agility – all of which are important to every man who wants to stay in top shape.