Starting something new for the first time can be intimidating. For most men heading to a yoga class would be an uncomfortable experience. Yoga has a reputation as a practice just for woman and most classes you visit will reflect this. Doing beginner yoga poses for men at home before attending a class will help relax you. Below are 6 beginner yoga poses for men which are a great introduction to the practice. Start by holding each pose for 1-2 minutes while focusing on breathing deeply and smoothly. I would recommend doing them at home 2 or 3 times a week.
Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward facing dog is one of the most important beginner yoga poses for men. It is a staple of many of the popular yoga styles and is part of the Sun Salutation sequence. The pose will strengthen your shoulders, back, hips, hamstrings, calves, hands and wrists. Its brings the attention to all of those tight areas that usually challenge men. Internally the downward dog improves heart circulation, furthermore helping to reduce stress. As a result it is hugely beneficial if you have high blood pressure.
How to do it: Start with your palms down on the floor shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart. Curl your toes, lift your hips to the ceiling and form an upside-down “V,” with back flat. Press down through palms and elongate from the hands to the hipbone. Finally to bring more length to your spine, add a slight bend in your knees which will encourage more full-body circulation.
Upward Facing Dog – Urdhvamukha shvanasana
Man doing Upward Facing Dog
One of the more physically demanding beginner yoga poses for men. It is great for warming up the muscles as this stretch and will get your blood flowing. The focus of the posture is to open your chest and also strengthen the back and arms. Highly recommended if you sit behind a desk or a car wheel for far too many hours. In addition the pose has benefits if you have breathing difficulties. Also the Up Dog aligns the spine and invigorates the kidneys and nervous system.
How to do it: Lie face-down on the floor with your thumbs under shoulders, legs extended with the tops of your feet on the floor. Tuck your hips downward as you squeeze your glutes. Finally keeping your shoulders down, push up and lift your chest off the ground. Relax and repeat. Focus on pushing through the hands as this lengthens the body and brings the wrists, elbows, and shoulders into alignment. Avoid collapsing weight onto the wrists as this can be painful and will negatively impact the chest, neck and shoulders.
Crescent Lunge – Anjaneyasana
This is a dynamic pose that stretches and strengthens the lower and upper body, while creating stability and balance. Regular runners will appreciate this beginner yoga pose for men as it refines subtle strength and balance, especially in the core and the legs. When you do the crescent lunge correctly you will experience expansion in the front of the body which increases energy and reduces fatigue.
How to do it: From down dog, place one foot forward between your hands, stacking the front knee over the front ankle, feet hip distance apart—basically in a low lunge. Keep your back knee solid but always with a slight micro-bend, and keep the ball of the back foot on the floor. Finally press your back heel toward the wall behind you keeping the heel lifted enough so as not to injure the Achilles tendon.
Warrior 1 – Virabhadrasana
This is an awesome pose as it develops concentration and balance. It is a essential beginners yoga pose for men as it improves circulation and respiration and energises the entire body. It helps build the muscle around the thighs and knees providing more stability and protection to sensitive joints.
How to do it: Stand with your legs three to four feet apart. Turn out your right foot 90 degrees and your left foot in slightly. Keeping your shoulders down, extend your arms to the sides with your palms down. Lunge into your right knee 90 degrees; keep your knee over your foot and don’t let it go past your toes. Aim your focus over your hand for as long as you like then switch sides.
You may have some difficulty in lining up the front heel with the arch of the back foot. If you feel unbalanced, widen your stance or raise the back heel. Challenge yourself by holding this pose for 10-15 breaths, your shoulders will definitely feel the burn!
Bridge pose – Bandha Sarvangasana
Man in bridge pose
If you experience shallow breathing it can make some physical activities more challenging. As a beginners yoga pose for men, Bridge done on regular basis can make a huge difference. The pose will open the upper body and reduce the tightness you have around the torso. Bridge is also fantastic for the hips and opening the pelvis, helping to undo some of the damage caused by sitting too much. Bridge pose is an ideal warm-up for more intense back-bends as it builds core and lower body strength. It lengthens and strengthens the spine, energises the body, and stimulates the endocrine and nervous systems.
How to do it: How to: Lie on the floor with your arms at your sides. With your knees bent, press your feet into the floor as you lift your hips. In addition clasp your hands under your lower back and press your arms down for support. Finally lift your hips until they are parallel to the floor as you bring your chest to your chin. It is important to roll the shoulders back but not to overstretch the neck so lift the tops of the shoulders slightly toward the ears and push the inner shoulder blades away from the spine. Please do not perform this pose if you have a neck or shoulder injury.
Yoga Squat – Malasana
You can actually do squats away from the gym as there are many benefits, physically and internally. Even though it is a beginners yoga pose for men, yoga squat represents the epitome of balance and strength. It incorporates stretching while providing focus to your breathing. Furthermore doing it regularly you will experience internal change, purifying and relaxing the entire body. You will work the the quadriceps, hamstring, glutes, and calf muscles of the legs as well as strengthening the lower back and core.
The yoga squat done properly and consistently will rehabilitate the flexibility in legs and knees and offer relief if you have lower back pain. It also provides stimulation of the abdominal internal organs, sex glands and purify the spleen.
How to do it: Stand with your feet parallel and slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees and lower your seat toward the floor. Keep going until your hips are lower than your knees, and keep your spine vertical. If your heels come off the floor, likely from tight Achilles tendons, place a rolled-up blanket or towel under them for support. Finally straighten your spine upward and relax your shoulders. Hold for eight full breaths.
Squatting can be difficult to begin with and if this is the case you can use the following option: Sit on the front edge of a chair seat, thighs forming a right angle to your torso, heels on the floor slightly ahead of your knees. Lean your torso forward between the thighs. Place one hand on the floor between the toes if you cannot balance with both hands up. Place a folded blanket under your heels if they do not touch the floor.