If you’re a guy, it’s easy to find yoga intimidating. This feeling is understandable. As a gender, there’s a cultural push to make us work out hard, compete, and do sports that tighten us up instead of loosen us up.
Sometimes, we’re intimidated because of neglect. In this little article, I’m going to make your entrance into yoga and your body quick and transformative!
These 5 key yoga poses for men will help you ease into a practice and ease into your body. Although they are relatively simple, they are deeply therapeutic as well as strength building. They will also work miracles for your flexibility. You can master them in the privacy of your living room AND I’ve set it up so you can do it all in 10 minutes at day! Check these out!
1. Child’s Pose
bala = child
This pose is a low back saver and is the hunch reducer. Do it for your posture, do it for your pain, and do it because it feels so good.
Benefits: Child’s Pose lengthens the spine, assists the relief of lower back pain, and stretches your knees.
How to do it:
Kneel with your knees open shoulder-distance, with your toes touching.
Place your forehead on the floor.
Walk your hands forward with fanned fingers OR move hands behind you on the floor alongside your body.
Stay in this pose for 15 deep breaths through the nose.
2. High Lunge
Here is a wonderful pose for runners and couch potatoes alike.
Benefits: High Lunge resurrects your leg strength and flexibility and fine tunes your core strength and balance. It’s also great for stretching muscles of the feet and toes.
How to do it:
Set up like a sprinter with your finger tips on the floor on either side of your lead foot. Your back foot has it’s toes curled under as if you’re going to run a race.
Alignment is key. Your front knee should be above your ankle and shouldn’t waver to the left or right. Keep that knee in line with your 2nd toe.
Your front thigh should be flat like a table and your butt is in line with that front knee. That means you may have to step back a few inches to get that thigh flat! If that’s difficult you may have to prop your hands up on books (or yoga blocks) or go high on your finger tips.
Press firmly through the back heal and look forward to lengthen your spine.
As this gets easier, transition from 5 fingers of a tented hand to 3 fingers, then one finger, and then, perhaps, shooting your hands behind you in the air or out to the side so your body looks like a cross.
Always draw the tummy in and try to lengthen your spine.
Breathe as deep as you can and see if you can stay for 5 to 20 breaths.
3. Crescent Pose
Crescent is similar to the high lunge, but it refines more subtle strength and balance throughout the body, especially in the core and the legs.
Benefits: This pose goes deep into the hip flexors for extra strength and flexibility. It also strengthens and stretches the front of the legs.
How to do it:
Set up in the high lunge as above, but now the arms will reach straight in the air.
The torso is at “attention” and is straight with no back bend in the spine. Rooting down through the tail bone, draw the tummy in and try to gain length in the spine growing through the side ribs.
Stay here for 5 to 20 breaths.
4. Garland Pose
In India, they have chai and conversations sitting in a squat. Three quarters of the world goes to the toilet like this, and many ladies give birth like this. Most Westerners, however, have lost the ability to do a decent squat. Not good.
Benefits: This pose provides huge benefits for rehabilitating the flexibility in legs and knees. It also relieves constipation.
How to do it:
Feet should be shoulder-distance apart. Bend your knees so that your butt is as low as it can go without hitting the floor.
Try to get your heels flat. If this is impossible, curl up a towel or yoga mat to give you “ high heels.”
In your Squat, sit up tall with your hands in prayer on your heart with elbows pressing into the knees. For a variation, you can place hands on back of skull, drop head, and tuck chin into throat.
Stretches the ankle, groins and back torso,
Tones the belly.
bhujanga = serpent, snake
How to do it:
Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body.
Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.
On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks.
Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.
Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
Strengthens the spine
Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen
Firms the buttocks
Stimulates abdominal organs
Helps relieve stress and fatigue
Opens the heart and lungs
Therapeutic for asthma
Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.