Despite the title, I do not actually believe there are any types of yoga designed or more suited for men. I don’t believe there will be much difference between men and women in terms of what is useful and helpful for people.
I do however believe that men are less inclined to start practicing yoga because of the misconception and stigma that yoga ‘isn’t manly’.
I feel that yoga is valuable for everyone to practice. So, this post is going to walk you through how we can break down these stigmatising beliefs around yoga, and how men can step into their power and begin their yoga practice today.
What does society tell men?
Society tells all of us things that are absolutely NOT TRUE.
For men, these things may be that certain things, certain sports, certain practices make you more of a man.
Sometimes society tells men that you should not show your feelings, you should not acknowledge your feelings, and your feelings should be dismissed and ignored.
What does this lead to? Anger? Frustration? Overwhelming emotions triggered at the smallest of things?
This is because your emotions are NOT there to be pushed down.
Yoga teaches this, and helps people practice this every day. But guess what, men are apparently also shamed for practicing yoga. Apparently yoga is not manly, and is not desirable for a man to be doing.
I think something that can also put men off of practicing yoga is the idea that you need to be flexible, or need to have experience before starting yoga. This is entirely untrue.
You do not need to be flexible to practice yoga. Yoga is NOT about becoming flexible. Yes, you will stretch further and further and this will inevitably make you more flexible. However, you do not need any flexibility to start, and if you did start yoga and became no more flexible, this is absolutely fine.
It is not a goal.
So, I hope you can see there is nothing standing in your way between you and your new yoga practice.
Why men should practice yoga
I think that everyone should be practicing yoga.
However, I think there are some benefits that may really resonate with men. And these may be benefits that are unique to yoga, and you may not find as much in other exercise.
Get in touch with your emotions
Quite often (and quite sadly) these days, men are taught from a young age to suppress their emotions, and ignore them.
If a young boy cries over something, he may be told to move on and man up. Whilst this makes things easier in the short term (only in the short term – so the parents doesn’t have to see their child cry), this can have a real detrimental effect on men as they grow up.
Basically, this can lead men to suppress their feelings in a variety of different situations. Without knowing how to healthily express emotions can make them even more difficult to manage and navigate. And means they are more likely to present themselves in seemingly random ways.
We know that yoga really focuses on acceptance of unpleasant sensations, emotions and feelings.
Unfortunately, going to yoga and practicing this may be the first time men have been encouraged to do this in their life. Meaning it can be overwhelming at first.
However, what it really leads to is the healthy acceptance of life’s negative feelings and situations. Which makes for a more peaceful and happy life overall.
Helps with your other sports
Do you play any sports? Do you run, or swim, or walk regularly?
Just try googling ‘yoga for (chosen sport)’ and I guarantee there will be something there.
Yoga can be extremely restorative, meaning it can be a perfect cool down, or perfect recovery exercise when everything feels a little tight and sore.
I know from experience that yoga for running can be very beneficial.
And it is so important to properly stretch and cool down your muscles after working out, or on your rest days. Doing so actually encourages the stretching and repair of your muscles are you have worn them down through exercise.
This ultimately leads to a speedier recovery after a tough workout – meaning you’re able to get up and give it another shot much quicker.
3 poses to try today
So how can you get started today? Try these 3 easy poses!
This pose mimics what you may think of as a standard lunge. Here, you want to get deeper into the lunge so that your palms are both touching the floor, and are either side of your foot. Try to keep your palms on the floor, and begin to look up to the sky. Remember to breathe in and out.
If this feels quite difficult, simply come out of the pose a little, move your knee closer to your front foot, and try again. You’ll want to feel the stretch in your hip and quad.
One of my favourites – child’s pose will give you a good stretch whilst also not feeling too difficult.
Start on your hands and knees and gently bring your bum down to your heels, whilst stretching out your arms in front. You want to feel the stretch in your lower back and your shoulders. This should feel pretty good.
This one may feel a little more challenging, but give it a go and see how you get on. Start with your legs a little wider than shoulder width apart, and slowly come down into a squat position (but lower).
If this is difficulty and you feel part of your feet lifting up from the ground then pop a yoga block underneath you to lean on.
When you get into the pose (however it looks for you), place your palms together and bring them as close to your chest as you can. Close your eyes and breathe.
There is nothing stopping you!
Sometimes the grips of what society deems as ‘manly’ or ‘normal’ can be really stifling. If you take a look at what it really is, it’s nothing.
There is nothing physically or mentally (apart from yourself) stopping you from stepping into a practice that you really want to start.
To get different results, you have to do different things, and this can take a lot of courage on the first step. After this, you’ll probably wonder why you worried so much in the first place.
All the best