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Yoga for Men
When yoga first hit mainstream popularity, a lot of men were still hesitant to get into yoga because they thought yoga exercises were a bit feminine and are more meditative than physically challenging. Now, more and more men and even professional male athletes are getting into yoga, and finding that yoga exercises do indeed work wonders in building and strengthening the muscles, and increasing flexibility and stamina.
Yoga is in no way gender-discriminatory. BUT, there are certain poses and yoga exercise sequences that can be tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of men. Here are some examples of such poses.
This pose is especially recommended for men because it promotes and improves prostate gland function and works the core muscles. It also engages the arm muscles, strengthens the spine, and works the hip flexors. To do this pose, start by sitting on your yoga mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Raise your arms forward, bringing them to a parallel position to the floor. Then lift your legs off the floor and straighten them. This will immediately engage your core muscles as you keep your back straight and use your thigh muscles to keep yourself balanced.
Men commonly experience tightness in the muscles around the hips, as well as the shoulders and hamstrings. The forward fold addresses these problems by stretching the back and thigh muscles and strengthening the legs and knees. To do this pose, stand with your feet at hip-width distance then bend forward and lower your torso towards the floor. Grasp your elbows with opposite hands, relax your neck and shoulders, and let gravity do its work. Breathe deeply in and out while holding this pose, and then roll back up to a standing position.
The Hero Pose is a progressive yoga pose, so expect to feel a little tension the first couple times you do it. Gradually, your body will learn to adapt to the stretch you feel in your leg muscles. This yoga exercise is especially recommended for runners because it strengthens the knee joints, ankles, and thigh muscles. To perform the Hero Pose, sit on the yoga mat with your legs folded, your knees and shins pressed down to the ground. You can also try lowering your buttocks to floor while maintaining your legs’ folded position to get more stretch. You will feel tension, but don’t force it if you feel pain or severe discomfort.
The Warrior series are yoga exercises designed to stretch and loosen muscles in the hip and shoulders. Warrior I, especially, stabilizes the knees which significantly helps men do high-impact exercises. To do the Warrior pose, do a lunge with one foot forward and the other foot pointed outwards. Keep the foot directly under the knee, making sure it doesn’t extend past your toes. On the inhale, raise your arms with palms facing and relax your shoulders, and lift your head to face the ceiling. Take deep breaths and let your chest heave up with every deep inhale.
The Bow Pose is another yoga exercise that stretches the thighs and muscles around the hips. It also builds muscle strength on the back and shoulders. To do this pose, lie face down on your yoga mat. Then keep your arms outstretched behind you, bend your knees, and lift your thighs off the mat while simultaneously lifting your chest off the floor. Increase the stretch in your arms and back as you reach further behind you to clasp your hands around your ankles. Lift your thighs and chest on the inhale, and let your body relax with every exhale.
Other yoga poses recommended for men include the Crescent Lunge (which is part of the Sun Salutation series), the Bridge Pose, Chair Pose, and the Reclining Big Toe, which you can do with the help of a strap or band to help you ease into the stretch.
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