Broga: 6 Things Every Man New To Yoga Must Know

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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.

Turning Perspective

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!

Can Yoga Sculpt Your Body?

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As a personal trainer and yoga teacher I often get asked this question: Can yoga really sculpt my body? The answer is yes. Yoga is a totally viable form of exercise.

Dr. Dean Ornish’s famous studies found that the relaxation you receive from practicing yoga and meditation are just as important for the prevention of heart disease as the fitness benefits of cardio. I started doing yoga because I wanted the yoga booty. Ultimately what keeps me going, over a decade later, is the sense of inner peace I feel after each and every class. You can’t mimic this same feeling after lifting weights for an hour. In our fast-paced world, this is the mass appeal of yoga.

Yoga lets you sculpt, tone, and mold your body using your body weight, instead of using weights to increase your muscle mass. This builds leaner muscles, with more natural tone and definition. Bone is living and is continually being absorbed and renewed. Weight-bearing exercise, like balancing on one leg in tree pose (vrksasana), puts healthy stress on your bones. This causes new bone to be laid down in the stressed areas, thus strengthening your bones and helping to prevent osteoporosis. Also, yoga moves your joints through a full range of motion. This helps in the prevention of osteoarthritis. As we become older, balance and coordination become a concern. Yoga helps us to keep our freedom into old age.

To really get a workout you need to up the intensity by practicing a more vigorous style of yoga like power vinyasa. You could also try holding postures for a longer period of time, or moving through the same postures several times.

Ultimately, yoga increases your body awareness and helps you to feel more comfortable in your own skin. When you feel good about yourself, you radiate that out into the world.

Yoga teaches us mindfulness. When we are mindful, we make better lifestyle choices. We eat healthier and drink more water. Overall, we are happier, kinder people. As your yoga practice evolves, so will you. Allow it to be an exciting journey into the deepest layers of yourself.

Try different styles of yoga to challenge your muscles in new ways. Keep your routine exciting and fun to prevent boredom.

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