Beginner Yoga For Men
It may seem that yoga is a women’s only activity, but the same benefits women get, men can get also from yoga.
So what turns men off from yoga?
From my experience, I frequently hear from men that they are not flexible enough to do yoga or some other reason.
And I get it…on the surface, yoga does appear to be a stretching exercise in a room on a mat, but yoga is more than just a physical practice.
This article will break the misconceptions men have about yoga and how those false beliefs are preventing men, just like you, from reaping the health benefits of this amazing practice.
5 Myths Men Believe About Yoga
Yoga Is Only For Women
Yoga is surely a women-dominant industry, so you may be the only guy in the class.
But why let that stop you from getting the benefits that yoga has to offer?
It’s okay if you suck and all the girls around you make it look easy.
Just get out there, try to get better every day, and build the habit of doing yoga.
I’m Not Flexible Enough To Do Yoga
This myth sounds more like an excuse to me, but I understand how being stiff makes yoga difficult to do.
If you let that discourage you, then you are missing the point of yoga.
Yoga’s aim is not to be ballerina flexible, in fact, being too flexible could actually do more damage than good in the long run.
A major aim of yoga is to get you to accept yourself where you’re at today, and work from where you’re at.
Understand that flexibility is just one pillar within the hatha yoga discipline. Moreover it refers to mental flexibility more so than physical flexibility. So get out of your own way and make it over to a yoga class!
Think about it…if you are stiff and tense from stress or anxiety, doesn’t that prevent you from having a clear mind to reflect on your life in general and your goals for the future?
Practicing yoga poses that improve physical flexibility will also help flex your mental outlook.
Yoga Doesn’t Build Muscle
Pumping iron is not the only way to build muscle.
Of over a 1,000 different variations of yoga poses, your muscles will stretch and contract in all directions strengthening both large and small muscles and your core.
With weight lifting, you are generally engaging and isolated muscle group, whereas, with yoga, you leverage your entire body weight to engage those groups of muscles.
So your entire body is working together to strengthen those muscle groups, which is something more practical for everyday health.
You may not look burly like a bodybuilder, but with regular yoga practice, you will increase your range of motion and mobility which only happens when your muscles can fully contract.
Isn’t that optimal muscle performance anyway?
Remember, LONG muscles are STRONG muscles!
Yoga Is Slow and Boring
There are some yoga classes that are slow-paced (and for good reason). But do not allow that perception of one class or rumor to define all yoga styles as slow and boring.
Not to say that slow-paced yoga styles are not challenging (like yin yoga), but the yoga styles that are well known for being tough are Ashtanga Yoga, and its offspring, Vinyasa Flow. So you may want to explore those options.
The whole point of practicing yoga is to deal and persevere, not just through the physical aspects of the practice, but through the emotions and mental thoughts that erupt from life struggles.
Each yoga pose has the ability to unlock physical, mental and emotional tensions that will bubble up irritations and overwhelming feelings…just like regular everyday life.
So, yoga disciplines you to remain calm under such strenuous conditions. What you learn on the mat you can use in everyday life.
If the yoga class does not challenge you in this way, then maybe the yoga class is not right for you, or maybe it is. That’s your call.
Yoga is Soft and Touchy-Feely
Alright, I understand why men could get turned off by yoga when the instructor tells you to “find your center” or “listen to your heart.”
I even roll my eyes with such cornball sayings!
If you allow me to be brutally honest, when instructors come off as unbearably cliched, it could be rubbing you the wrong way because you sense a lack of authenticity or true understanding of the things they’re sharing.
There are a lot of “spiritual” buzz words that saying them may help a teacher appear deep and stoic.
Do not let those things distract you from what yoga truly is about.
Yoga is an inner practice, the practice of silence–silencing all things that distract you from being present within yourself.
So I challenge you to tolerate such distractions and irritations. See what that does for you.
It’s okay to explore your softer side. No need to be a tightass all the time.
5 Yoga Benefits for Men
Improve Concentration and Focus Boosting Productivity
An advanced yoga practitioner is not based on their level of flexibility and strength.
Instead, a better way to measure progress is by assessing their level of concentration and focus, which is one of the first lessons you learn when practicing yoga.
Could you benefit from having more concentration and better focus?
Concentration and focus are more important than ever in our increasingly fast-paced, multi-tasking society.
You can test your concentration and focus by doing tree pose — balance on one foot while the other foot is tucked against your thigh or ankle.
Are you able to stand still?
How calm is your breath?
How consistent is your breath?
Are your eyes jumping around the room?
How steady are your hands?
All of these little nuances add up to a well-executed yoga pose. Are you thriving, or are you dying for it to be over with?
Most people assume that their balance is bad if they cannot hold a tree pose, but yoga teaches you that it is actually your lack of concentration and focus that prevent you from holding the pose, from being still, and from achieving peace and productivity.
Recover and Endure Sports Training
Even if you already workout regularly at the gym, you will find that yoga provides the perfect complimentary exercise that will benefit your mind as well as your body.
Many top-level athletes and bodybuilders incorporate yoga into their routines because they saw how the practice increased their range of motion allowing them to perform better and preventing sports injuries.
Yoga has also helped athletes improve their endurance, power, and speed.
Because yoga focuses on body awareness and relaxation, athletes are able to recover faster from regular practice, which leads to peak performance on game day.
Improves Performance in Bed
It’s not seeing women doing suggestive yoga poses that boost sex drive.
Many studies have shown that yoga’s mental and physical benefits improve sexual function in both men and women.
Besides making you flexible (which your partner will appreciate) yoga has also shown to boost libido, erection, and ejaculation control.
Another important sex benefit yoga provides is that yoga reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation, so you and your partner can be “in the moment” and not thinking about your stupid boss and stressful work emails.
Yoga helps regulate the parasympathetic nervous activity, relaxing the body and mind, and therefore, improving sexual response.
Learn to Remain Calm Under Pressure
Life is stressful and for people working hard in any aspect of life are going to feel internal and external pressures to succeed.
Calmness and composure under pressure are skills that yogis have been studying for centuries, and these skills are vital with the growing presence of hustle culture.
As we mentioned earlier in the post, the point of practicing yoga is to persevere through the emotional and mental waves that erupt from life struggles.
I want you to ride the wave sometimes, and not get crushed by it every time.
Every twist, stretch, and contraction your body feels in a yoga pose has the ability to trigger those irritations and feelings of stress to bubble up.
So the practice is to improve your breath capacity so you can remain calm through difficult challenges.
That’s why there are many stories of yogis controlling snakes and fending off tigers.
Yogis realized that you can control the fiercest animals when you overcome your most unruly and nasty emotions and thoughts.
Yoga can help improve your self-talk and give you the even-mindedness you need.
Overcome Anxiety and Depression
The healthcare industry does not deny that chronic stress is one of the main causes of deteriorating health and wellness leading to severe anxiety and depression.
Yogis realize that you are not well if you are physically fit but do not have mental and emotional stability.
This balance of mind and body is finally being recognized in psychology and neuroscience, where healthcare professionals are incorporating yoga techniques and meditation to preventative care and therapies.
Yoga means being in “union” with your body, mind, and spirit so you are capable of dealing with the joys and pains of life.
If any aspect of “You” is not in peak performance, then how can you expect to deal with unemployment, divorce, or failures of life?
Practicing yoga will not exempt you from life struggles. Instead, it will transform and empower you to learn, accept, and heal from life events so you can continue living life with fulfillment and contentment.
Problems in life are going to happen, but suffering and avoiding them is a choice. Yoga can give you the mental strength and flexibility to figure your situation out.
What Do Men Wear to Yoga?
Asking what to wear to yoga is a legitimate question, especially since there are not many yoga clothing options for men.
Our advice is to keep it simple, but here are some tips on what clothes will work best for practicing yoga.
Personally, I wear a dark tank top and some basketball shorts. I just want to be able to move and not too hot.
Form-fitting T-Shirt or Tank Top
I see a lot of guys wearing their old college t-shirt or undershirt to yoga practice.
That works. If it’s baggy, then it may slip up and show off your belly.
You can either tuck it in or wear form-fitting tops so you are not bothered by your clothes slipping off.
You need to focus on not slipping out of a pose!
Even better is to wear fabrics that are moisture-wicking like polyester, nylon, and spandex blends. Your Under Armor or Nike Dri-fit can work, but most men don’t wear a full spandex get up during yoga class, as an FYI.
But wear whatever makes you feel comfortable.
I sweat like a beast, so I always bring a yoga towel with me. so you may even want to consider getting a yoga towel if you sweat buckets.
Breathable Athletic Shorts
There are yoga pants for men, but we suggest wearing regular athletic shorts to yoga.
Pay attention to fabric stretchiness and breathability.
Most guys are not going to have a good time wearing full-on sweat pants or heavy cotton shorts that are like sweat pants.
Generally, men wear baggy shorts to yoga, and sometimes a compression short under so they don’t expose their goods.
You can even find shorts with lining and breathable fabric so you can perform poses without feeling self-conscious.
No Shoes or Socks
Men are so used to covering their feet, but in yoga, it is essential that you practice barefoot.
Certain poses apply pressure to your feet and ankles strengthening them to ward off injuries like shin splints, or severe conditions like sciatica.
But if you really want to cover your feet, here are our yoga sock and yoga shoe suggestions if you want a pair.
Best Yoga Shorts for Men
- Comfortable and stretchy
- Quick dry, moisture wicking material
- Drawstring/elastic waistband
5 Rookie Mistakes Men Make in Yoga
Yoga is different from sports, and I often see new yogis, particularly men, bringing their athletic training into their yoga practice.
Intense athletic training works in the field, but it could lead to serious injuries in yoga practice.
Relax man…no need to be intense all the time.
Here are 5 rookie mistakes men make in yoga.
Not Using Yoga Props
Using yoga props doesn’t make you look weak or dumb.
They can actually improve how you do a yoga pose, so you really get the full benefits of the exercise. So do not get offended if your yoga instructor hands a yoga prop to you.
Try it out and see if it works for you.
In the beginning, when your hips and quads are tight, you will barely be able to touch your ankles, even with knees bent and feet hip-width apart.
Use the yoga block to bring the floor closer to you. This can make your practice enjoyable instead of struggling through it.
Holding Your Breath While Doing Poses
It is normal as a beginner yogi to feel very uncomfortable doing certain poses and feeling the tension.
And you want to find these sensitive and tight areas to begin to release that physical agitation.
But I see a lot of guys that hold their breath when feeling discomfort and try to power through the pose.
That is NOT what you do in yoga.
The lesson of yoga is to breathe through the discomfort, and you will notice with every breath that the tension fades away.
Holding your breath is a bad habit you learned from childhood–it was what we were told to do when getting our vaccinations or ripping off a band-aid.
Withholding our breath teaches us subconsciously to fear the situation, and that compounds into us avoiding pain. So yoga teaches you how to calmly deal with painful situations instead of avoiding them.
Forcing Yourself Into Poses
It’s hard to not compare yourself to the other people in your yoga class.
While you are struggling with a pose, how the heck does that person make it look so easy?
I hear a lot of guys say that they are only doing ‘good’ yoga if they can perform a pose well.
That is totally false and also a dangerous way to think of measuring your progress.
First of all, yoga is a lifestyle, not a fad sport, so there are a lot of yogis who practice for decades. You may be comparing yourself to a veteran yogi who was exactly where you were 12 years ago. That’s an unfair comparison in my opinion.
Second, yoga is an individual activity and it is relative to you, and no one else.
It is about accepting where you are currently at and not where you think you should be.
Instilling this mindset is so important in our fast-paced, high expectations and delivery culture where we will never be good enough or produce fast results.
Simply go to class, put in the hours, and build the habit of stretching your mind and your body.
Falling Out of Poses or Fast Transitions
This rookie mistake is more about preventing injuries than transitioning through poses incorrectly.
Yoga challenges your sense of equilibrium and balance, or that you thought you had good balance. So as a beginner yogi learning the poses, you may feel tempted to fall out of a difficult pose or abruptly transition between poses.
Now I do believe in the mantra, “no pain, no gain,” but yoga can be very intense and if you hurry through poses or muscle through them, you will put yourself at risk of an injury.
A muscle strain could take months to heal.
So go ahead and push yourself to your personal edge where the discomfort is tolerable, but not unbearable.
When you do find that you unknowingly went over the edge to unbearable pain (it happens to even advanced yogis) train yourself to calmy ease out the pose.
Use your breath to calm down your thoughts, slowly untangle from the yoga pose, and if needed, stand in mountain pose, easy pose or childs pose to regain your composure, then continue on.
Expecting Fast Advancement
Continuing off the last rookie mistake, new yogis feel they have to really push themselves to “catch up” to the other yogis.
Do not believe that you are only doing yoga if you can perform the yoga poses perfectly.
In yoga, we do not inch forward in progress, we move in quarter-inch progressions.
Yoga is designed to be an inner practice, so this could frustrate some men who want outward achievement like what traditional sports provide.
You will notice that the advanced yogis are not the practitioners who contort themselves into ballerina postures.
The advanced yogis are the people you may not even notice in class because of their deep stillness, patience, and calmness.
Developing that kind of attitude takes years of yoga discipline of hard acceptance of oneself’s progress.
View yoga as a lifelong practice because it is a science and study of understanding life.
Yoga means accepting where you are currently, not because you feel defeated or have to surrender to your circumstances. It means realizing and understanding yourself so you can live life consciously and make more thoughtful choices.
Yoga Poses to Prevent 6 Common Injuries in Men
Most of my male students come to yoga because of either sports or work injuries. A third reason is that their wife or girlfriend ‘dragged’ them in.
I’m a guy and I know how men hate being slowed down from injuries.
So to prevent you from getting injured or to heal from an existing injury, here are some recommended yoga poses to 6 common injuries in men.
Note that before you any new kind of vigorous exercise including yoga, you may want to consult with your doctor to get their opinion first.
Lower Back Pain
- Standing Forward Bends
- Standing Back Bends
- King Pigeon
- Downward Dog
- Childs Pose
- Triangle pose and its variations
- Rabbit Pose
- Forehead to Knee
- Warriors and Its Variations
- Sun Salutes
- Upward Dog (lift hips and thighs off the ground)
- Wide-legged Forward Bend
- Reclining Hero
- Standing Side-Angle Stretch
- Shoulder stand
- Supine Twist
- Fierce Angle Squat
- Warrior Pose and Its Variations
- Modified Garland Pose
- Half Moon and Its Variations