Best Yoga Poses for Men
Best Yoga Poses for Men

For many in our modern society, flexibility is seen as a feminine virtue and strength as a masculine one. This viewpoint may be shifting but in many ways it still predominates.

Since yoga is generally associated with flexibility, the image of yoga in the popular imagination is that it’s, you know…for girls.

Thankfully, more and more men are showing up to yoga classes, often as a way to supplement an existing physical training program, but just as often for the unique benefits of yoga itself.

One of the ways we can cultivate peace of mind is through the pursuit of optimal health, and this involves building a balance between strength and flexibility in the body.

So if you’re a man (or even if you’re not) and you’re looking to make gains in strength, stability, endurance and flexibility the poses that follow are a good starting point.

These will not only counteract the chronic tightness that men, especially naturally strong men, often experience in their legs, back and shoulders; they will also help to break down the fascia surrounding the muscles, allowing them to grow larger.

A couple of yoga blocks and a strap or belt will come in handy for this practice

Cat-Cow Tilts

Cat-Cow Tilts
Cat-Cow Tilts

Return to a tabletop position.

On an inhalation tip the tailbone up and back as the belly lowers towards the floor and the chest is pulled through the arms, lift your gaze at the end of the movement.

On an exhalation tuck the tailbone under as the back rounds and puffs up towards the ceiling. Spread the shoulder blades and allow the crown of the head to relax towards the floor at the end of the movement.

Repeat at your own pace of breath allowing each movement to last the whole length of the breath.

Mini Vinyasa Flow

Mini Vinyasa Flow
Mini Vinyasa Flow

Step the legs back and lift up into a high plank with the shoulders spread and the back slightly rounded.

On an exhale bend the arms and slowly lower halfway down until the upper arm is parallel to the floor, the elbows can come away from the ribcage but try not to let them fall too far out. This is called Chaturanga.

On an inhale press into your hands pulling yourself forward onto the tops of of your feet and draw the chest through the arms, lengthening the whole front of the body. This is called Upward Dog.

On an exhale tuck the toes under, slightly bend the knees and send the hips up and back. This is called Downward Dog.

On an inhale return to high plank and repeat the sequence several times

Malasana —  Garland Pose

Malasana —  Garland Pose
Malasana —  Garland Pose

From a standing position, step the feet almost mat width apart, turning the toes outward slightly. On an exhale slowly sink down into a low squat.

Place the hands in a prayer position in front of the chest with arms inside the legs.

If the hips are tight you may wish to support the sitting bones with a couple of blocks, but make sure to bring the weight into the feet and draw the trunk through the legs to open the hips.

Hold for 10 breaths.

On an inhale press into the feet and slowly return to standing.

Utkatasana — Chair Pose

Utkatasana — Chair Pose
Utkatasana — Chair Pose

Stand with the feet hip distance apart.

On an inhale lift the arms up overhead and lift the gaze.

On an exhale slowly bend the knees and send the tailbone back so that the thighs are nearly parallel to the floor. Continue to open up through the chest, lifting the hands towards the ceiling.

Try not to allow the knees to drift too far in front of the heel, keep the weight back.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths.

On an inhale press into the feet and slowly return to standing.

Padangusthasana — Standing Forward Bend Pose

Padangusthasana — Standing Forward Bend Pose
Padangusthasana — Standing Forward Bend Pose

Stand with the feet hip distance apart, hands on the hips.

On an exhale hinge forward from the hips keeping the back straight. Allow the hands to rest on 2 blocks placed underneath the shoulders. If mobility allows, you may take hold of the big toes with index and middle finger.

If the hamstrings are very tight and the back is significantly rounded, bend the knees to allow the back to straighten.
Hold for at least 10 breaths.

On an inhale bring the hands to the hips and rise up to standing.

Anjaneyasana — Crescent Lunge Pose

Anjaneyasana — Crescent Lunge Pose
Anjaneyasana — Crescent Lunge Pose

From standing, step the left foot back far enough so that the right thigh is almost parallel with the floor. The left heel will remain off the floor with the toes tucked under.

Keep the hips square towards the front of the room and straighten the back leg.

On an inhale lift the arms up towards the ceiling, opening up through the chest.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

For an added challenge, bend the knee to just above the floor on an exhale and hold.

Utthita Parsvakonasana — Extended Side Angle Pose

Utthita Parsvakonasana — Extended Side Angle Pose 
Utthita Parsvakonasana — Extended Side Angle Pose

From standing, step the left foot back far enough so that the right thigh is almost parallel to the floor.

Turn the left foot out to a 90 degree angle and square the hips and shoulders towards the left.

On an exhale bring the right hand to a block or to the floor on the outside of the right foot.

On an inhale swing the left arm across the body and reach towards the front of the room. Bring your gaze to the lifted hand

Hold for 5- 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Side Plank — Vashistasana Pose

Side Plank — Vashistasana Pose
Side Plank — Vashistasana Pose

From a high plank, start to grip and press into the floor with the right hand. On an inhale lift the left hand toward the ceiling and stack the feet on top of each other.

For an added challenge, lift the left leg up towards the ceiling, keeping it straight.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths. On an exhale return to a high plank and repeat the other side.

Crow Pose — Bakasana Pose

Crow Pose — Bakasana Pose
Crow Pose — Bakasana Pose

Place a couple of blocks hip width apart and sit in Malasana with your feet on the blocks. Place the hands on the floor and squeeze the knees into the outer upper arm as high on the arm as possible.

Keep the back rounded as you lean forward into the hands, gripping the floor strongly with your finger tips. Try to lift one foot off the blocks, then the other and finally both at the same time, balancing on the hands.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths. Lower the feet on an exhale.

Shalabhasana Pose — Locust Pose

Shalabhasana Pose — Locust Pose
Shalabhasana Pose — Locust Pose

Lower yourself down to your belly.

Bring the legs together and reach the arms down alongside the body, pressing the back of the hand into the floor.

On an inhale, press the hips into the floor as you lift your legs and your chest off the floor, lifting the gaze slightly. Keep your legs straight and together.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths. Lower on an exhale.

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana — Dolphin Pose

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana — Dolphin Pose
Ardha Pincha Mayurasana — Dolphin Pose. Credits www.openfit.com

From a tabletop position, place the forearms parallel on the floor and enter forearm plank.

Keep the shoulder blades spread as you begin to walk the feet in towards the arms. Keep the back as straight as possible. Knees can be slightly bent.

If can walk in close enough to get your hips above your shoulders you can attempt to lift one leg, then the other, or both into a full forearm stand. Practice this against a wall before doing it in the centre of the room.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths. Lower to a forearm plank on an exhale.

Laghuvajrasana Variation — Camel Leanbacks Pose

Laghuvajrasana Variation — Camel Leanbacks Pose
Laghuvajrasana Variation — Camel Leanbacks Pose

Come onto your knees, standing up in the legs. Place your hands on your hips.

On an inhale, open the chest and look up but keep the back straight.

On an exhale, lean back, keeping the back perfectly straight, don’t come into a backbend. Press strongly into the tops of the feet and lower until the front of the legs start to  engage strongly.

Hold for 5 breaths.

Come back up on an inhale.

Repeat 3 times.

Upavishta Konasana — Seated Wide-legged Forward Fold Pose

Upavishta Konasana — Seated Wide-legged Forward Fold Pose
Upavishta Konasana — Seated Wide-legged Forward Fold Pose. Credits zenyoganicaragua.com

Sit on the floor with the legs wide, at about a 90 degree angle.

On an exhale, begin to fold forward from the hips. Try not to round the lower back. If mobility allows you may take hold of the big toes with index and middle finger and draw the chest towards the floor.

At first, you may find it more beneficial to simply sit up straight with your hands pressing into the floor behind your back to hold the chest up and keep the back straight.

Hold for 15 – 20 breaths.

Purvottanasana — Reverse Plank Pose

Purvottanasana — Reverse Plank Pose
Purvottanasana — Reverse Plank Pose

Sit on the floor with the legs together, straight out in front.

Place the hands on the floor 6 – 12 inches behind your hips, shoulder width apart, fingertips facing forward. Point the toes.

On an inhale, press into the floor with hands and heels lifting the hips up as high as possible. Bend the knees enough to plant the whole foot on the floor.

Keeping the foot planted, begin to straighten the legs by raising the hips and opening up through the chest.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths. Lower on an exhale.

Navasana — Boat Pose

Navasana — Boat Pose
Navasana — Boat Pose

Place 2 blocks on the floor alongside your legs, slightly in front of your hips.

Sit on the floor with the legs together, straight out in front.

As you lean back, lift the legs off the floor, keeping the legs and back as straight as you can.

At first, you may wish to bend the knees. If so, continue to draw the chest forward and the shoulders back. Resist rounding the back.

Hold for 5 breaths.

Gomukhasana in Virasana — Shoulder Stretch Pose
Gomukhasana in Virasana — Shoulder Stretch Pose

 

Place 1 or 2 blocks on the floor. Sit on the blocks with the tops of your feet and shins on the floor, knees together, hips between the feet. This is Virasana.

Holding a strap in the right hand, reaching the arm over the head with the eye of the elbow facing back. Bend at the elbow reaching the hand down the back.

Reach the left arm around the back, taking hold of the other end of the strap and reach the elbows away from each other.

If mobility allows, you may not need to use the strap. In this case simply bind the hands between the shoulders.

Hold for 10 – 15 breaths.

Setu Bandhasana — Bridge Lift Pose

Setu Bandhasana — Bridge Lift Pose
Setu Bandhasana — Bridge Lift Pose

Lying on your back, draw the heels towards the sitting bones and plant the feet, hip width apart.

On an inhale, press into the heels, lifting the hips towards the ceiling. Begin walking the shoulders under the back so that the weight is in the shoulders, not the back.

Either press the hands into the floor to lift the hips higher, or interlace the hands behind the back, pressing the elbows into the floor to lift the hips higher.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths.

Lower slowly on an exhale.

Salamba Saravangasana — Shoulderstand Pose

Salamba Saravangasana — Shoulderstand Pose
Salamba Saravangasana — Shoulderstand Pose

Lie on your back with legs together.

Lift your legs off the floor, sending the toes up towards the ceiling until you can lift the back off the floor.

Press your hands into the lower back. Point fingers up.

Walk the shoulders together as much as possible so the weight is in the shoulders and not the upper back or neck. Ensure the chin is away from the chest.

Keep the weight in the elbows and hold for 10 – 15 breaths.

Remember to Relax

Don’t forget to rest on your back in Savasana at the end of your practice. Try to remain there for at least 5 minutes.

This will allow your muscles to recover and gives your nervous system permission to relax and integrate the new patterns you’ve been imprinting throughout the practice.

This challenging practice might seem a little bit daunting at first but a little patience and persistence will pay off big time. Stick with it and you’re sure to have success!

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