Yoga offers incredible health benefits to people of all ages and genders. It’s a meditative and therapeutic activity that relieves stress, develops mental awareness, keeps you in the best of shape, helps in gaining muscular strength, improves work productivity & enhances your mood.
Despite all these benefits, only 28% of total yoga practitioners are men in the US. Only if more men could experience the life-changing effects of yoga, I’m pretty sure the number would increase.
The potential barriers for starting yoga especially for men include discomfort with body awareness, mental stillness & social connections. And it doesn’t pose physical challenges like weight training or strength conditioning. If you are already reading this beginner’s guide, I’m pretty sure that you are already aware of how beneficial it is to incorporate yoga into your daily routine
This guide is designed to equip you with all the information you require for taking the next step & starting your yoga journey. There are several yoga styles & finding the right one will help in keeping the practice consistent. But, what you get from this exercise largely depends upon what you need, which practices you do, what workout clothes and accessories you use and so much more.
Benefits of Yoga for Men
Practicing yoga is often associated with females in the U.S. but it wasn’t like this since always. The history of yoga indicates that its major participants were men. (Yoga originated over 7,000 years ago, from India, most of the schools were for boys even till many of the yoga common poses that are widely practiced were developed for young males).
The top reasons for practicing this activity are that it enhances flexibility, relieves stress, general conditioning, and improves your overall health, and improves self-efficacy & physical fitness.
In today’s world, most people work on a computer for long hours doing that can make you susceptible to strains, injuries, pains & aches. Regular yoga practice prevents all these. It improves your range of motion & flexibility, which eliminates strains & tightness while strengthens the muscles. Yoga also enhances joint durability by strengthening the connective tissues. Also, give awareness regarding poor postures. Various studies show that regularly participating in this activity improves your cardiorespiratory function, body composition and helps in managing your weight. Yoga also provides enhancement benefits to male reproductive health.
Yoga doesn’t focus on external competition; it forces you to focus on personal inner growth. It’s not a competitive game.
Yoga was primarily developed as a spiritual enhancement practice for training your body & mind. To help people to become better more aware of their nature. It’s achieved by harmonizing your mind & breath with your body by various methods. The ultimate goal of this activity is achieving liberation or freedom from inner suffering. The best thing about this therapeutic activity is that it’s welcoming to beginners.
Yoga can be practiced both at home or in the studio with a coach.
If you’re looking forward to doing it at home, we recommend you learn the basics of yoga poses. It will help you in figuring out the best yoga style that suits your needs.
You might be habitual in measuring the workout in terms of reps, sets, or even minutes. Yoga poses are quite different; they are measured in breaths. You must take a deep breath to measure properly. If a certain pose causes discomfort, send your deep breathing sensation to that area. Go shallow in certain positions by lengthening your breaths. If any pose becomes too difficult come out and take a rest.
● Mat & Props
Yoga mat and workout clothes are essential gears for practicing yoga. The yoga mat provides appropriate traction & cushioning throughout the session. Many yoga training centers provide it themselves but if you practice at home make sure you invest in a good quality mat. Other Props such as blocks & blankets can also make a huge difference, especially for beginners. Using props helps with correct alignment & supports the body so it can be stretched safely. You can also try some of the props checks if you don’t want to invest money. For example, if you do not have blocks, try using thick books, step stools, or kitchen chairs.
3 best yoga tips for beginners
1) Stay in the back row
In your first few sessions, lay the mat down on the back row and observe what people around you are doing. It helps in learning and keeps the neck from straining by looking at what’s going on. This provides you an awesome view of how people are doing it.
2) Stay calm
Yoga isn’t easy as it seems. Don’t lose it if your athletic build is coming between the way your yoga moves. Progress of this art can be slow & steady, & usually, the most challenging aspect is what the body needs the most.
3) Focus on your breathing
Taking deep abdominal breaths is a significant part of this activity. Doing so activates your parasympathetic nervous system. Which regulates the cortisol levels, it’s a hormone that forces the body to hold the belly fat. Deep breathing also reduces stress & cortisol levels in daily life.
Beginner’s Yoga poses
1) Standing Forward Bend (uttanasana)
You can start with a standing forward bend, it’s as easy a stretch for your hamstrings as the seated forward bend as gravity helps out. Do not worry about touching the toes or the ground. Focus on hanging over the legs without locking your knees. If you feel tightness in the hamstrings, keep your knees bent. Make sure your feet are opened about hip-width apart.
Then inhale deeply & come to the half-forward bend position. Keep on coming up till your back straightens. Rest both of your hands on the shins or thighs Refrain from putting the hands directly on the knees. Then on the next exhale, draw the belly button inward toward the spine & fold back into the deep forward bend. Repeat the sequence 5 times, while paying attention to the breathing.
2) Mountain (Tadasana)
It’s a simple but effective pose. Mountain builds the solid foundation for all of the other standing poses. It helps in strengthening & making your feet flexible while improving the posture & working on your thighs & core.
Start it by standing on your toes touching & heels opened slightly apart. Balance your weight evenly on the feet & start lifting the arches. Then engage your thigh muscles slightly for lifting your kneecaps, make sure you do not lock your knees while performing this. With each inhale, imagine as if you’re lengthening the spine by stretching the head upwards. Keep the shoulders relaxed with your shoulder blades drawing down on your back.
3) Cat and Cow
Cat and cow put you on your all fours. Make sure you place your wrists under the shoulders & the knees under the hips. If you feel your knees are sensitive, put the blanket or towel underneath them for cushioning. Then move to warm up your spine with the cat and cow stretch.
Then inhale deeply, lift the tailbone, drop the belly, & lift the head. On your next exhalation, tuck your tail, round the spine, while dropping the head. Practice these oppositional movements on each of your five breaths in five rounds.
4) Tree (Vrksasana)
Like the rest of standing balance yoga poses, tree pose improves the focus while strengthening your ankles, thighs & calves. It also puts a nice stretch on your inner thigh & groin muscles on your bent leg.
Start getting into this pose by shifting your whole weight onto the right foot, press it firmly on the ground. Then bend your left leg at your knee & place the sole of your left foot on the inner side of your right thigh. Make sure you point your toes toward the ground. If it seems too difficult, try placing the sole of your foot on your inner calf or the ankle. Then bring the palms together at the front of the chest while keeping the weight centered over your left foot. Then press your right knee back for opening the groin, keep the hips parallel to the ground. Release your foot & repeat the pose for the other side. To improve your balance, keep your attention on the ground.
5) Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
A downward-facing dog strengthens your legs & arms while stretching your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, hands & wrists.
Get into this pose by going down on your all fours. Put your hands just underneath your shoulders & the knees below your hips. Then press the hands firmly onto the ground, with your index fingers pointing forward. Exhale your breath, and lift the knees off the ground, make sure you keep your knees slightly bent throughout the pose. Stretch the tailbone upwards as if you are lengthening your spine. Then press the heels down toward the ground & thighs back for straightening the legs. While you do this press the base of the index fingers on the ground & lift along the arms from the hands to the shoulders. Then draw the shoulder blades against the back & down toward the tailbone. After that drop both of the knees to the ground.
You can keep your knees slightly bent in the pose if it feels hard. Also engage your triceps, stretching both of your arms.