Newsflash, dudes: we’re onto you. We know you secretly love yoga. We know you were inspired by our round up of awesome-guys-who-do-yoga, and the need to unravel your mat was born then and there. We know you’re notoriously tight in the hips, hamstrings and quads. Lifting weights and running track may be good for strength and endurance, but the flexibility part is usually left unattended.
Yes, we get it. Yoga is for your bendy girlfriend, and although she looks good in her spandex and you appreciate her downward dogs, you can’t seem to fathom doing it along side her. I mean, how does one even breathe through their third-eye?!
There has been however, an increasing amount of male yogis cropping up in studios (all you guys hiding in the back, I’ve noticed), thanks to the more male-oriented (a.k.a broga) classes available. When it comes down to it: yoga is a great way to stretch, improve flexibility and mental clarity.
“I find that in a yoga class, men want two things – improved mobility and greater range of motion as well as something that challenges them. ” Kate Kendall
So the secret is out, there is no longer a need to lure you in, other then to say that these five poses will rock your world; due to the simple fact that they’re amazing stretches for your body. Your hamstrings, hips and chest will send you thank you notes.
Great for: hips and glutes
A physical and mental challenge, half pigeon is considered the #1 hip opener; and guys usually tend to “ooooh” and “aaaah” when easing into it.
From a downward dog, bring your right knee to your right wrist, right foot to left hip. Place a block under your right hip if it’s too far off the mat. Keep your right foot activated in this pose, and try to lengthen your torso forward towards the top of the mat as you exhale, keeping the hips square as best as you can. This pose may seem a bit intense to get into at first, so a modified version (and just as effective) is to lie on your back and cross your right ankle on top of your left knee, then thread your hand through your legs and grab ahold of the back of your left thigh or shin. Whatever pose you choose, keep your foot engaged to protect your knee joint. Stay 5-10 breaths then switch sides.
Great for: hips, inner thighs, groin, hamstrings and chest.
Runner’s lunge is a popular stretch with athletes since it targets the muscles that are most engaged when running, jumping or squatting. Another great hip opener, the runner’s lunge can double as a quad stretch if you choose to twist and grab ahold of your back foot, or simply keep your back knee off the mat.
From a plank pose, bring your right foot outside of your right hand and come onto the knife edge of your foot. Slowly start to fold forward or gently push your knee away from you (as pictured), this will open up the hip and inner groin area. Take 3-4 breaths. To intensify, twist to your right and grab ahold of your left ankle or foot. Pull the foot towards your glutes and sink lower into your hips for a deeper front hip and quad stretch. This stretch is can be quite intense, so be mindful of the “good” kind of pain versus bad.
Great for: shoulders, triceps, upper body, core, and a few laughs.
Crow is a fun arm balance, mostly because it’s the first arm balance yogis learn, and there is an immense sense of accomplishment when both feet finally lift off the ground without face planting. Guys have a natural strength which makes this pose usually quite accessible, not to mention works the core and shoulders.
Placing your hands flat on the mat, squat down and bring your knees into your armpits or hug them around your triceps. Start to engage your core and hug everything in as you push forward and distribute the weight into your hands, grounding your knuckles into the mat. Look forward and focus on one point as you start to lift either foot of the ground. This may take a few tries, but its a guaranteed laugh whenever you take a tumble.
Great for: opening up the pelvis, shoulders, chest, and strenghtens the glutes
Bridge is great to open up the chest and shoulders, which is a much needed stretch for guys who spend a lot of time lifting heavy weights. Laying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the mat. You should be able to touch your heels with your fingertips so walk them back towards you as needed. As you inhale, send your hips up as high as you can, keeping your feet parallel and your legs together as if squeezing a ball in between your thighs. For an added shoulder stretch, interlace your hands behind your back. Stay 4-5 breaths and repeat 2-3 times.
Great for: shoulders, lower back, hamstrings, calves, and nervous system.
Male or female, you can’t deny the benefits of downward dog. This basic pose does everything from relaxing you to challenging you with it’s endless variations. Downward dog can be quite challenging for male athletes since it requires subtle adjustments and a certain flexibility that when done right, really bring those “aha” moments into the body. It’s imperative to keep your back flat in this pose so bend your knees before trying to send your heels to the ground and sending your hips up. Press down into your hands and image your body lightening from your wrists to your hips. 4-5 breaths.