Everything You Need to Know About Yoga for Men

Health / Life

Man dress in all white practicing yoga outdoors / Photo by Getty Images


When men think about exercising, their minds wouldn’t immediately wander into doing yoga. This might be because of the belief that yoga is for women. In a 2008 study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the researchers reported that people who practiced yoga were predominantly female or around 76% in 2002.

However, there is still that 24% remaining that aren’t women. In fact, yoga has a lot of benefits for men too.


The effect of yoga for men

According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), there are over 10 million adults who are practicing yoga for health reasons.

By 2007, the NHIS reported that yoga is the 6th most commonly used complementary health practice among American adults.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) explained that yoga is practiced by these people to maintain their health and well-being, improve their physical fitness, relieve their stress, and enhance their quality of life. In some cases, yoga is practiced to help address health conditions like back pain, neck pain, arthritis, and anxiety.

One of the things that affect people regardless of gender is stress and yoga is one great way to deal with it. Terrence Monte, a yoga teacher, explained that it’s even better than going to the gym or taking it out on a punching bag because unlike these, yoga won’t make you more aggressive or more tired.

One of the most noteworthy effects of yoga for men is that you’re bound to heal and recover more quickly post-workout. Not only because yoga teaches you to respect your body’s limits but also because your muscles would be always well-stretched.


Obese man doing yoga / Photo by Getty Images


Building muscle and yoga for men

You may think that you don’t have time for yoga because you have to do your muscle-building exercises but, while it’s true that muscle-building exercises are important, you can also do that with yoga.

Certified trainer and yoga teacher Kate Abate explained that yoga is helpful for building muscle on a cellular level, called hypertrophy.

“Yoga widens [the] range of motion and increases access to more muscle fibers, allowing for more substantial hypertrophy in any given muscle group,” Abate told Men’s Journal.

Even if you exercise to build muscle, there are certain sections of muscles that you don’t pay enough attention to. Abate explained that doing yoga will help you develop these muscles too.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should stop your muscle-building exercises. Make it a point to add yoga as a supplement to these exercises instead.


A young man in a yoga pose / Photo by Getty Images


Yoga positions for men

Perhaps one of the most intimidating things for any beginner in yoga are those really complicated-looking yoga poses. But that’s not what you should focus on. You may not believe it, but you can surely do those poses given that you learn basic yoga positions and practice regularly.

A lot of yoga programs that are tailored for men who have never tried yoga before would also focus on basic yoga poses that would help you build your way up. These include the mountain, tree, standing forward bend, warrior I, high lunge, boat, locust, bridge, and the reclining big toe poses.

Perhaps the most basic of these is the mountain pose or tadasana. This is done by standing with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart, lifting up the arches of your feet and balancing the weight evenly. This simple pose will become the foundation for all of the other standing yoga poses and it’ll also help improve your posture while working your thighs and core muscles.

Standing forward bend and warrior are some of the poses that use the mountain pose as its base.


Vriksasana pose / Photo by Getty Images


Choosing yoga clothes for men

What you wear is just as important when you’re doing or learning yoga. This is because yoga calls for unbridled flexibility, which you definitely won’t be able to achieve if you’re wearing constricting clothing that would hold you back from being as flexible as you can be.

It’s important to look for a top that is loose enough that it won’t restrict your movement but isn’t too loose that it can actually hamper your performance. You can wear loose shirts, tanks, or muscle tees but if you are looking for something more yoga-specific, look for sleeveless tops made with breathable and soft fabrics. If you’re practicing yoga at home, you can even opt to go topless.

When choosing yoga clothes, opt for ones that are comfortable enough for you to move around in too. One of the best ways to tell if your clothes are suitable for yoga is if they’re easy to move around in and wouldn’t fall on your face when you’re doing bending-over poses.


Cotton white shirt / Photo by Getty Images


Choosing yoga pants for men

When choosing yoga pants, comfort is also the most important factor. There are many different kinds of yoga pants for men: there are shorts, cropped pants, and long pants for yoga.

There is really no one kind that is better than all the others. It all depends on the individual’s preference. For instance, if you feel that wearing long yoga pants would inhibit you from doing the yoga poses, it might be better for you to opt for shorts that are made with a breathable and soft fabric.

It might be better to avoid wearing basketball shorts and other kinds of shorts you usually wear to the gym because they might limit your range of movement.


Leggings for yoga / Photo by Shutterstock


Review of yoga for men: Is it dangerous?

William J. Broad, a science reporter for The New York Times, found in his research that men who are doing yoga are reporting serious injuries like strokes, fractures, dead nerves, and shattered backs.

He explained that this is likely because of the practice of yoga that pushes people to the limits of their flexibility. Which, he claimed, is not much of an issue for women but are dangerous for men.

However, there are not male-specific yoga classes and programs that are trying to make yoga safer for men, with poses that would use their strengths to their advantage.

“All-male classes, by definition, avoid the flexibility gap between women and men and instead play to masculine strengths,” Broad wrote. “The classes tend to emphasize muscle building and fitness moves like squats, as well as poses.”


A man in asana position doing yoga at home / Photo by Getty Images