Broga: 6 Things Every Man New To Yoga Must Know
If you’re a man thinking of taking up yoga, or you’ve just started, then you must read this. It will save you time, confusion and even a bit of embarrassment.
Eyes Wide Shut Guys, when in down dog, learn to close your eyes and get into the pose. Why? One, to feel your way into a deeper stretch. Two, and perhaps more importantly, if you’re in front of a woman and she’s moving through her vinyasa, you could be making it awkward. You may want to be staring at your belly button, but trust me, those eyes may wander and make someone feel uncomfortable.
Kiss My Asana. When you’re in prasarita (a wide-legged forward bend) and you’re in a full class, please be considerate. Stagger your position with your neighbors, and as recommended in the point above, close your eyes. You also want to make sure you’re giving your female neighbors plenty of space coming in and out of the pose, just in case it looks like you’re trying to be a little too… neighborly.
Catch an eyeful. When you’re starting out in yoga, more likely than not, you’ll be in regular exercise clothes rather than yoga gear. If so, choose wisely. There are a lot of poses in yoga where you will be either sitting or standing with your legs apart. Trust me, neither you nor the person next to you wants to see more than they bargained for.
Don’t let it all out. Learn to understand your body. And specifically, how you digest certain foods. Before starting yoga, it never occurred to me that what I ate might cause flatulence (except for some obvious offenders, naturally!). In yoga, there’s a lot of twisting and bending, and all that rotation can quite literally squeeze the air right out of you!
Figure out what foods give you gas (for me, it was almonds – especially if unsoaked!). And if it does come out and it’s a silent but violent one (oh, forgive us!), then forget the ujjayi breathing and breathe out as hard as you can through your mouth. If it’s a loud one, then act like nothing’s amiss!
Forget the bar. When I started yoga regularly, I was the only guy in the class for the first six months. My classes were at a traditional gym, and it always amazed me that half the guys working out were obviously trying to get a hard body so they could pick up women at the bar later (a gross generalization, I know!).
All the while there’s plenty of great women right in their very gym! In no way am I encouraging you to go to yoga for the women, but look at it this way: if it’s a case of spending an hour at the gym surrounded by sweaty, testosterone-seeped men or spending an hour surrounded by dextrous women who are in tune with their minds and their bodies… the choice is yours.
Don’t deceive yourself. Most men I’ve met who’ve never done yoga or have no real concept of it, think it’s easier than it is. It always surprised me to see guys who could deadlift their body weight not be able to hold downward dog for even a few seconds! Don’t fool yourself into thinking yoga is easy. It’s as hard or as easy as you want it to be, but I’ve seen even the “easiest yoga” beat the toughest dudes.
So men, if you want a tough workout that can lay a solid foundation for all other workouts you do (I still do Crossfit, cycling, and other team sports), then grab a mat, some concealing shorts, eat sensibly, close your eyes and jump straight in. You’ll love it!
Finding the Right Yoga Class for Right Now: A Guide to Feeling Good Today
As a yoga teacher, student, and all around believer of the power of yoga, I’ve invited my fair share of people to classes over the years. Regardless if the class is at a studio, in my living room, or outside at the park with kids playing nearby, there’s one thing I’ve come to expect: excuses. For so many people, there’s always some sort of reason to not practice yoga – sometimes to not even try it.
While I understand that time is short and each day is different, I’ve also practiced yoga long enough to know that no matter how you’re feeling, or how much (or little) time you have, yoga will always – always – make you feel better.
There’s no one perfect type of yoga. There’s also no one perfect type of yoga student. With a practice that has been around for centuries, it has come across enough people to learn how to adapt. In fact, if there’s one thing that yoga is – it’s flexible. Thankfully, you don’t have to be…or at least not physically. The only requirement for enjoying a yoga class is having an open mind and a flexible way of thinking, especially if you’re trying something new.
And, of course, you need to know how to find the right class.
Questions to Consider
For all of the woes technology brings, one of its biggest boons is the fact that you have access to literally everything you need exactly when you need it – including a great yoga class.
Like anything in life, in order to get the results you want, you have to know what you want. When you start looking for the right yoga class online, you have to start with an understanding of where you are right now and where you want to end up. Being really honest with this is the best way to learn how to fall in love with yoga. As I begin searching for the class I want to practice, I’ll ask myself a few questions to check in with where I am and what I need:
- How much time do I have?
- How much time can I make?
- When is it the easiest to practice?
- When do I need to practice the most?
- How do I feel right now?
- How do I want to feel when I finish?
Thankfully, the best online yoga studios and libraries have recognized the benefit of finding just the right class, which is why they have a variety of filters and categories that you can select for your search. A lot of days, I use these filters almost as I would a deck of tarot cards: Take a moment to shuffle and tap and then see what shows up.
A few scrolls later, I’m on my mat, in my class, enjoying something that feels like it was made just for me. (Note: It’s wonderful.)
What Feels Right for You?
When I’m helping a friend or student get started with their online practice, I usually point them in the direction of a selection of my favorite categories and let them know what they can expect from them. In time, these categories become like your favorite studio – there when you need them and with those special teachers you love dearly.
There’s rarely a better time to practice than first thing in the morning. Not only is this where time seems to be the most flexible (it’s just a matter of getting in the habit of waking up and getting up), but traditionally there are a lot of energetic and spiritual benefits that come from practicing with the rising sun. Case in point: the known-by-almost-everyone sun salutation. Morning yoga classes will greet you sweetly and then wake your body up from head to toe. Knowing that you’re just getting out of bed, teachers create classes that are gentle with the body, giving you time to warm up before getting your body moving. The intentions set in morning yoga classes help you create a container for your day, giving you the sense of balance and steadiness you need to move forward gracefully, confidently, and purposefully.
Yoga for energy style classes are another great way to start your day, but they aren’t just geared for mornings. I find energy classes particularly helpful for when you hit that mid-day wall. While some of these classes are the “regular” studio class length (60 minutes), there are several energy options that will be shorter, making them a great go-to practice for lunch breaks and bridging that gap between one part of your day to the next (i.e. from work to home, from home to school, from having the house to yourself to welcoming home family, etc.) Basically, when you think you could use a cappuccino, try reaching for one of these yoga classes.
Who couldn’t benefit from a stress relief yoga class? Just the simple act of participating in daily life is stressful, especially when you add the constant inundation of technology. Stress relief classes are a great choice before you go to bed or after you finish a day of work (that includes the work stay-at-home parents do, too!) I have a few short stress relief classes saved to my library so that I can easily get to them the moment I start to feel my breath shortening, my shoulders creeping up towards my ears, and that all-too-familiar clenching that happens in my jaw when I’m feeling irritated.
While trying to “achieve” flexibility is never the goal, improving your body’s physical flexibility can help keep you comfortable and healthy – for decades. Yoga classes designed for flexibility will meet you where you are and help you find ways to lengthen the muscles in your body. Choosing a class for flexibility is a lot like choosing food that’s healthy – you can’t go wrong. If you know specifically that there’s an area in your body that’s tight, search for a class that’s geared to address that particular muscle or area. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel – especially if you return to a few of your favorite practices again and again.
Like stress, there are few people who haven’t experienced back pain in their life. And, for many people, back pain isn’t just a one-time occurrence, it’s chronic and frustrating. While some back pain is caused by an actual singular event, the majority of back discomfort is caused by years of tight muscles, stress, and bad posture. Yoga classes for back health will help relieve the discomfort you’re experiencing while also strengthening the muscles in your body necessary to help prevent some of the discomforts with time.
Instead of thinking about the class you “should” practice, get in the habit of finding the class you really need. Once you learn this lesson, a whole new world of yoga opens up for you – and it’s awesome.