Do you want to try a yoga class, but you're worried you'll be the only guy there? Prepare yourself…you might be!
Regardless of how female-oriented yoga has become, it's still an excellent way for men to exercise both the mind and body. In this article we explore yoga for men and offer ten helpful tips to get you started!
Why Should Men Take Yoga Classes?
Yoga is good for you. It's that simple.
Men avoid yoga for many reasons. Generally, it's seen as a “girly” class, and many men don't think it's hard-core enough for them. Classes are seldom marketed as “yoga for men” like they are “yoga for beginners.”
Also, men generally aren't as flexible as women. That can be a huge deterrent, but no beginners start yoga routines able to do stretches and asanas in the way yogis do.
Often, men are not aware of the many benefits of yoga. It promotes wellness and mindfulness. Yoga poses help stretch muscles such as your hamstrings and release tight areas such as hip flexors.
In addition to building strength, these exercises can reduce muscle and back pain. Yoga will improve your flexibility and posture and help you enjoy better sleep. Yoga will also improve your range of motion, and these are just a sample of the benefits.
Your first class will be challenging. You'll probably leave red-faced and sweating, maybe feeling a bit wobbly on your legs, but you'll be dying to go back for more.
If you can't find a yoga for beginners class, go to a regular class and speak to your yoga teacher before class begins. Instructors can offer adapted poses for different levels of students. Let the teacher know you're a beginner and share your goals, as well as specific pains you want to overcome.
10 Tips on Yoga for Men: Beginners
1. Practice Basic Poses
If you're a bit nervous and unsure about what to expect, look up a few basic yoga poses to get you started. Child's pose and downward dog are examples of common poses you will find in most yoga classes.
Doing some yoga practice at home will give you an idea of what to expect. Remember, a tremendous benefit of attending a class is that your yoga instructor will show all participants how to pose correctly during your yoga class, even those who aren't complete beginners.
If you study on your own at home you may think you have the pose correct but you could be getting it wrong and even risk injury.
2. Figure Out Why You Are Going
Are you practicing yoga for weight loss? Do you have upper back or lower back pain? Perhaps you want to build your upper body strength. Are you trying to relax for better sleep, or are you bored with your regular cardio workout routine?
Yoga increases strength. Also relaxing your body and taking deep breaths calms your nervous system so both your mind and body can relax.
If you know why you're going, then you can find the best classes tailored to your needs. You can also talk to your yoga instructor. It's a smart way to make sure you get the most out of the class.
If you're in pain, chat with the yoga teacher before the class to avoid injuring yourself.
3. Research The Kind Of Yoga You Want To Practice
Take a look at Vinyasa, Hatha, and Bikram, to name a few. They all differ slightly.
Vinyasa yoga is also called power yoga. It is fast-paced and increases strength and endurance like many cardio workouts.
Bikram is a type of hot yoga. The room maintains a temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. Proponents of these classes say they can sink into poses more easily and get a more intense workout.
4. Practice To Gain Flexibility
Most people aren't naturally flexible, regardless of gender. You have to work on it; then, you will notice improvement over time.
Participating in yoga classes will quickly improve your range of motion and the ability to stretch. Practice might be challenging at first, but you'll be able to touch your toes…or knees…in no time! After several classes, you'll be more inclined to practice backbends and lunges after your warm-up.
5. Poses Get Easier
Many yoga poses are difficult, even for more experienced yogis. If you can't hold a pose, don't worry. Your yoga instructor will help you practice other poses while you work up to harder ones.
As you build strength and body awareness, you'll be able to tackle more challenging poses, but listen to your body and avoid going beyond what is comfortable. If you push yourself too hard too soon, you can injure yourself.
6. Your First Class Will be Tough
You might be number one down at the gym or be able to smash that obstacle course, but yoga is different. This exercise is a mental and physical challenge. You have to work at it, which is one reason it's so fun. You'll soon discover the rewards are amazing, and you enjoy going to the yoga studio often.
To feel successful and gain maximum benefit, avoid comparing yourself to others. A strong principal tenet of yoga is nonjudgment. Breathing helps you get through asanas and avoid getting frustrated.
Several poses will feel awkward and unachievable at first. That is a normal reaction. Continue practicing to increase your flexibility and build strength. If you don't excel straight away, notice the improvements you feel, how you bend deeper, and breathe to control your poses.
7. Dress For Class
Loose clothes are the way to go. You need to be able to stretch without your clothes hindering your movements. Just make sure they're not too loose, or you may have all sorts of other problems! Shorts and T-shirts are fine.
You want to be comfortable, and generally, as long as you're wearing clothes, yoga instructors don't mind what they are!
Shoes are not worn in yoga, so wear what's comfortable to class.
8. What To Bring
Grab your yoga mat, water, and a towel. These are the three main things you need to bring with you. The water is absolutely essential because you will sweat a lot! You need to keep hydrated, or you'll suffer from a headache and muscle cramps.
A towel is handy because, again, you'll sweat buckets. Your yoga class might provide a mat, especially for your first class. Some studios let you rent mats each week. If you enjoy the classes, it's worth investing in a mat yourself so you can know it's clean and practice some yoga workouts at home too!
If your classes use yoga blocks, you might want to bring your own block or look into using one the class provides.
9. Bring An Open Mind
Yoga classes focus on building a mind-body connection through meditation and deep breathing as a form of stress relief. This can feel unnatural and make you feel a bit self-conscious, so keep an open mind. You'll begin to enjoy and appreciate the ability to build strength while relaxing,
10. Enjoy Yourself!
Yoga is a workout, but you can enjoy yourself. Breathe in the community, support, and nonjudgment yoga classes offer while you release the tensions in your body and mind. You might find you crave your yoga practice.
The Final Word on Yoga For Men: Beginners
Currently, men represent 18% of the 20.4 million people practicing yoga in the United States. However, this number has increased by 150% in just four years. So, if you start now, you will be one of the trailblazers!
You have everything you need to get started, so jump into a class. Relax and have fun!