by Michael Lamb for Sweat Shorts.
Until around 1937 yoga was male dominated practice. Priests and mystics developed and practiced yoga for thousands of years as a path towards enlightenment. Today yoga, in the western world, is predominantly practiced by women.
We hear men say, “Oh no, yoga is for women… it is not for me.”
Have you ever thought that? Or heard someone say that? You know the benefits of yoga, so why don’t you go to a class? Maybe you don’t have a mat? Maybe you’re inflexible? Or maybe you’d rather lift weights? Whatever your reason, all men can greatly benefit from yoga. And that is why I decided to reach out to yogis around the world and see what yoga poses are best for men.
Here is the question I asked 42 yogis: “What 3-5 yoga poses should all men practice daily?”
My hope was to get the best yoga poses that address common problems found in men (tight hamstrings, hips, shoulders, etc.). That way, no matter the excuse, you can spend your time practicing the most beneficial poses for your health and flexibility.
Crescent Lunge with Interlace
Why: strengthens quads, hamstrings & core while offering a stretch to the chest.
From a standing position at the top of your yoga mat, step one foot towards the back of the mat while staying on the ball of the foot and keeping feet hips width apart. Begin to bend front knee to stack over front ankle coming into a Crescent Lunge
. Draw your tailbone down while hugging in around the waist and stacking shoulders over hips. To modify bend back knee to keep shoulders over waist. Interlace your hands behind your back, or grab onto a towel with both hands behind your back creating space between the front of the shoulders and opening the chest. The key here is to think of broadening the clavicles to target the chest, while keeping the the shoulders stacked over the wait to target the front of the back leg. Stay for 3–5 breaths then repeat with opposite leg in front.
Why: strengthens lateral line of the body & stretches lateral line of the body.
From a standing position at the top of your yoga mat, step one foot towards the back of the mat with toes facing the long edge of the mat. Keep front toes facing forward and align the front heel with back arch as if you where walking on a tight rope. Bend the front knee stacking it over the ankle. To check the length of your pose, extend your arms out and your feet should approximately line up under your hands . Open hips towards the side of the mat as the tailbone lengthens and the ribs knit back to stack the shoulders over the waist. While keeping the structure of the pose from the feet up and the arms extended out, flip your front palm up and reach your arm up and back towards back leg while resting back hand on thigh. Think of contracting the one side of your waist while the other side is lengthening. Stay for 3–5 breaths then repeat with opposite leg in front.
Why: strengthens legs & core while creating length in the hip flexors & front body.
From the top of your yoga mat, step one foot towards the back of the mat with the heel lifted and bend the front knee aligning it over the ankle to come into a runners lunge with the hands supported on the floor. Begin to slide the back leg further back and lower the leg to the floor so the area above the knee cap rests onto the ground. As you move your hips forward, begin to lift the chest and place your hands on the front leg stretching the front of the hip of the back leg. Think of drawing in around the waist to support the low back and open the front side of the body. Stay for 3–5 breaths and repeat on the opposite leg.
Why: stretches chest, spine & hips
Lie on your back and bend your knees into your chest, keeping your head and shoulders resting on the floor as you take both knees over to one side. Concentrate on opening the chest, spine and hips on the side opposite of the knees. Hold for 3–5 breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
Reclined Thumb to Big Toe
Why: stretches hamstrings
Laying flat on your back, lift one leg and use a strap or towel over the ball of the foot to stretch the hamstrings while being able to relax head and hips on the floor. Relax into the pose noticing the changes of the tissues on the back of the leg. Concentrate on keeping the back of the knee soft and pushing the ball of the foot into the towel or strap to stretch the belly of the hamstrings muscles. Stay for 1-2 minutes and then repeat on the second side.
to see the original article with input from all 42 yogis.