Yoga is for men, yoga is for women, yoga is for everyone. If you don’t already practice yoga, you should start tomorrow.
Our lives are not simple. For 16 hours a day, we choose to face the world and tackle a variety of challenges that influence us at varying levels. Health, romance, career, friendship — these are just a few of the big-ticket items. While bringing discipline into each of these facets is important for success, it’s also useful to understand what they all mean to a single, united you.
We at The Manual believe yoga can help bring a big-picture perspective to life, one that includes physical, mental, and spiritual cohesion. While it is a great workout, yoga is not just a stretching routine. Even more importantly, it’s a time to practice mental reflection and take a break from, well, everything else. It’s a time one designates to focus on themselves without the rest of the world encroaching. It’s your time. And if you think yoga isn’t for men, think again.
If you are anything like this author, the thought of finding, enrolling, and (worse yet) attending a yoga class is daunting. If this rings true to you, my advice is to forget it. Instead, consider starting at home with an online teacher. There are multiple free online resources that can create a path of least resistance as you build up a regular routine. A favorite is Yoga with Adrienne; this great teacher that offers YouTube-accessible videos for beginners and pros alike. Adrienne is sort of hilarious and weird, which makes a newbie feel right at home in an awkward new practice. Her series, 30 Days of Yoga, is a great place to begin.
Speaking of practice — ready to give yoga a try? For the guy that can’t yet touch his toes, consider the following five poses as an intro to the basics of yoga. We’ll focus on easier stretches that provide relief for those of us that might spend too much time at a desk. Grab a mat or find a soft piece of carpet, make sure nobody is looking, and let’s get weird.
Child’s Pose: Start Small with the Small of Your Back
Ease into a lower back stretch that also opens your spinal column, hips and shoulders. Get settled into this pose and let your troubles flow from your forehead to the mat.
- Start on your hands and knees with toes touching and tops of feet flat on the mat.
- Spread knees wide to the edges of your mat and sit your buttox on your heels.
- Breath in and sit up with a straight back, then breath out slowly and bow forward.
- End with your chest resting on your thighs and your forehead on the mat.
- Make sure your arms are extended forward — comfortably — with palms face down.
- Breath steadily and enjoy. To really expand the back, take deeper breaths.
Cat/Cow: Bring Flow into your Neck, Shoulders, and Back
Release head, neck, and back stress while warming up the body.
- Start on hands and knees in a tabletop position: hands directly under shoulders and knees under hip sockets.
- On an inhale, slowly tuck your chin into your chest while rolling spine and shoulders upwards. Think of an angry cat.
- On an exhale, slowly lift your head and look upwards, opening the chest and arching the back downwards. This is the cow.
- Rinse and repeat. Ensure your transitions are in line with your breaths and are slow and comfortable.
Forward Fold: Get Rd of Stress and Anxiety
With your blood flowing, get a full body stretch with a forward fold. Once there, let all your troubles drip from your head to the floor.
- Stand with feet hips-width apart. Stand tall and take a deep breath.
- On an exhale, fold forward from the hips with a straight back — as much as possible.
- If you’re tight, bend your knees as much as you’d like to help reduce strain.
- Let your arms hang loosely in front of you. Touch the ground if you’d like.
- Feel free to find movement and spin left and right by moving your hands towards either side of your feet.
Bound Angle: Connect Your Legs and Lower Back
Let gravity stretch your thighs, butt, and lower back. And all you have to do is sit there.
- Sit down with your legs in a butterfly position, soles of feet touching and knees spread wide.
- Grab your feet and pull your heels inwards.
- Find a comfortable position and allow gravity to pull your knees downwards.
- Focus your mind on the sensations in your body and enjoy the stretch.
Savasana aka Corpse Pose: Relax and Focus
Lie flat on your back and let your mind find some peace. Feel the weight of the earth on your back and appreciate the fact that you are alive.
- Lie flat on your back, arms loosely at your side and feet hip width apart.
- Enjoy some peace.
- Cry if you want to— this is your time.
If you’ve read up to this point and still aren’t sure, try just one position. Get into that Child’s Pose and settle for a couple of minutes. Trust us. Yoganna love this.
And if you love yoga already, you might need a proper pair of pants.