Most men come to yoga with aches and pain. Whether it’s from a long athletic career, or through work or day-to-day life, men are nearly always dealing with some nagging injury. A daily routine is crucial for men to begin to get out of debilitating discomfort and begin living their lives healthy and pain-free.
This full-spectrum sequence is great for guys who come to yoga as a raw beginner. It is also a nice foundational practice for someone who is more experienced at yoga. These basic poses are powerful tools for healing the body and maintaining strength and flexibility. These poses are the pillars in which to build on a strong practice and they are the most efficient way to keep your vitality. Make the time to go through this short set of poses routinely and you will be thrilled with the results.
Below are the key actions and variations for optimal alignment for men in each pose.
Stand at the top of your mat with your feet hips width apart and your feet pointing straight forward to create more space in your low back. Root your feet down evenly, straighten your legs, lengthen your back and deepen your breath.
On your inhale, reach your arms overhead with your palms facing forward to accommodate stronger shoulders, exhale: keep the lift in your back as you relax your arms at your side.
With your feet hips-width apart, bow forward and touch your fingertips to the floor just in front of your toes. Bend your knees as much as you have to touch the floor to make it accessible for tighter hamstrings for a healthy alignment in your back. As much as you can keep your fingertips on the floor, actively stretch your legs towards straight.
Inhale, straighten your legs, bring your fingertips on the floor in front of you or onto your shins, or thighs – get as tall as you have to in order to extend your back long. Tilt your chin up.
High Lunge Twist
Get onto your fingertips to engage your arm muscle and to prevent any slouch in the back. Stay on fingertips on the bottom hand as you reach your top arm up to twist.
Make sure the center of your wrist is under your outer shoulder. For many men who have broader shoulders, this might mean your first two fingers go off of your mat – they don’t make yoga mats wide enough for dudes.
Keep your elbows far enough far enough away from your ribs to keep your shoulders lifted.
If the shoulders are stronger and round forward, release your clasp and work with airplane arms or use a strap to widen your clasp.
Keep a little bend in the elbows to prevent stronger shoulders from slouching.
Widen your feet hips-width apart, look at your feet and make sure they are straight forward. Bend your knees half-way towards the mat and without moving your feet, widen your knees as wide as your feet. Tilt your hips up, until you feel your pelvis tilt up and a lift in your low back. Only as much as you can keep that lift in your low-back, work your legs as straight as they will go.
With your feet and knees hips width apart to create more space in your low back, bend your knees and sit heavy while stretching your arms overhead, palms facing forward.
Bring your right forearm to your thigh so your back doesn’t strain, and stretch your top arm by your ear.
Get as tall as you need to to avoid any slouching in the shoulders or back. This might mean you use a block under the front hand or lift the front hand off the floor.
Touch your hands down just under your shoulders to accommodate for tight hamstrings. As the hamstrings open, you can walk your hands closer to your feet and bend your elbows to bow.
Pigeon With A Thigh Stretch
If you can’t reach the foot, straighten your grounded arm and get taller. If you still can’t reach, let it go and lower your back foot down to avoid cramping in the hamstring. If you feel it about to cramp, let it go.
If your hamstrings are tighter, and you can’t touch the floor, keep your hands on your hips, or bend your front knee as much as you need, to touch the floor.
If you are not able to get your arms straight, hold the edges of your mat to get more leverage.
Keep your top knee bent in order to keep your shoulders planted on the floor.
Hold the knees rather than the feet to create a healthy placement for your pelvis and low back.
Seated Wide Angle Forward Fold
Start with your hands behind you on the floor and root your legs down powerfully, lean back and lift your low back up and chest up until you feel your pelvis tilt up. Only as much as you can keep your legs rooted and a lift in your low back, you can bow forward.