Yoga has a bad rap with most men, especially with those who aren’t flexible. But yoga can help you increase your flexibility and endurance, decrease probability of injury, improve your stability, and reduce post-workout soreness and these benefits can help you in all aspects of your life (for more on how yoga can help you, click here). These 8 yoga moves are great for both men and women, but they particularly target issues that affect the male body.
8 Yoga Poses for Men
1. Mountain (Tadasana)
A confident posture conveys to the world that you are strong and capable. Mountain pose is just that. Through your feet, you strengthen your connection to the earth, and the pose one you can do anywhere – whether you’re in the yoga studio or in the office. It also strengthens the legs, glutes, core, arms, and back.
How to: Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly parted. Distribute the weight of your body evenly on the four corners of your feet: the balls, heels, and inside and outside edges. Flex your calf muscles and quadriceps. Rotate your thigh muscles, tuck your tailbone in, and work your sits bones downward. Engage your core muscles and open up your chest by rolling your shoulders back and down. Engage the muscles in your arms and point your fingers toward the floor. Lengthen your neck and gently lift your chin. Relax your face and breath. Hold for approximately 10 breaths.
2. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
If you’re like most men, you probably have very tight hip flexors and chest muscles. By stretching the hip flexors you’ll decrease your chances of injuring your lower or pulling your groin muscle. This move will also relax and stretch the hips, spine, and neck muscles.
How to: Get into Bridge pose by lying flat on your back on the floor or on a mat. Place your feet on the ground hip distance apart and close enough to your butt so that you can just tough the heels with your fingertips. Your knees should be bent so that they’re directly over your heels. Relax your arms and draw your stomach toward your spine, pressing your whole back into the floor. Press into all four corners of your feet and lift your butt and hips off the ground. Hold for 8-10 breaths.
3. Boat Pose (Navasana)
Want strong stomach muscles? Boat pose will help give you just that while also strengthening your back, arms, and legs. In yogic belief, this position also promotes healthy thyroid and prostate functioning due to the positioning of the head and neck and the engaging of the root lock.
How to: Start by sitting on the floor, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Be sure that you are sitting on your sits bones flat on the ground. Engage your core and hip flexors and lift your legs off the ground. Keep a straight spine and continually lift through the sternum. Lift your arms so they are parallel with the floor. Make sure to keep your core engaged the entire time. If you depend on your back muscles to keep you lifted, you will fall backward and put strain on your lower back. Hold this pose for 8 breaths, release, and repeat two more times.
Tip: For a more less challenging version, bend your knees to bring your calves parallel with the floor.
4. Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
Men and women can both use help in the balance department. Tree pose can help teach balance, focus, and calm your central nervous system. It also strengthens the muscles in your legs, glutes, and core.
How to: Begin with both feet flat on the floor. Lift the toes of your right foot and spread them out as wide as possible. Then, gently rest them on the ground and distribute your weight evenly through the four corners of your foot. Lock your leg muscles in place. Tuck in your tailbone. Engage your core, stand up tall, and relax your shoulders. Place your hands on your hips and focus your eyes on a spot about 3 feet in front of you on the floor. Breathe slowly, and when you’re ready, lift your left foot and place it on the right calf muscle or right inner thigh. Gently press your foot into your leg and your leg into your foot. If you feel balanced, bring your hands together in front your heart. Repeat on the other side. Hold each side for 8-10 breaths.
5. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This position is one great way to cool the agitation and anxiety that can often rise to the surface in this dog-eat-dog world. Downward Facing Dog calms your body and mind, can relieve headaches, relaxes the neck, and stretches the muscles of the legs, arms, hands, and feet.
How to: Start with your hands and knees on the mat, palms faced down, fingers spread wide, hands a tiny bit further out than the shoulders. Align your body so that your hips are over your knees and your toes are curled under. Take a deep exhale, press into your hands, straighten your arms, and lift your knees from the floor, working your heels as close to the ground as you can get (you can keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings feel too tight). Elongate your spine by dropping your head between your arms, push your shoulder blades down your spine, lengthen your tailbone away from the pelvis, and lift your butt. This will cause your body to press back through your quadriceps and rotate your thighs. Still think yoga is stretching and sleeping? Hold for approximately 8-10 breaths.
6. Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Sometimes the best thing to do when the world is stressing you out is to turn it upside down. This pose can help you relax and should temporarily reduce your blood pressure, which will help calm your body and mind. It will also stretch your hamstrings, calves, lower back, and hips.
How to: Begin the pose with your feet hip distance apart. Place your hands on your hips and fold forward, bending directly from the hips and keeping your spine straight. To help, visualize that you are leaning over a bar at hip height. Let your head hang and either letting your arms hang as well or hold on to each elbow. If this stretch puts too much of a strain on your lower back or hamstrings, bend your knees slightly to reduce the pressure. Hold for approximately 8-10 breaths.
7. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Looking to get a rocking core and some ripped thighs and legs? Then sit on back into Chair! It will strengthen your ankles, legs, butt, thighs, hips, arms, and core muscles. Holding this asana requires so much energy and focus that it increases your heart rate and can strengthen your circulatory system from the heat it stirs up your body.
How to: Stand tall with your feet together, and your big toes and ankles touching. Reach your arms above your head and bring your shoulder blades toward each other, then pull them down your back. Act as if you are holding a ball between the hands and flex the muscles in your arms. Keep your spine straight and bend at the knees, making sure to not let your knees go over your toes. Press your inner thighs together, tuck your tailbone in to engage the core and hold. With practice, you’ll be able to lower yourself far enough so your thighs are parallel with the floor. Hold this pose for 8-10 breaths … or longer if you can take it.
8. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This may look like the easiest pose on the list, but, because it requires you to still your body and mind, you’ll likely find it the most challenging.
How to: Lie on the floor. Straighten out your legs and situate them so they’re a comfortable distance apart. Relax your arms, and let them fall away from your body, palms facing upward. Elongate your neck, by pulling your shoulder blades down your back. Close your eyes, relax your entire body, and breathe naturally through your nose. Relax in this pose for at least 20 breaths.
For more yoga poses perfect for both men and women, check out Beachbody’s video series 3 Week Yoga Retreat where four yoga experts guide you through the foundations of yoga.