Yoga Poses

How to execute various Yoga asanas (poses)

10 Yoga Poses For Men

 

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Dudes, this one’s for you. Yoga is not just for women. You Y-chromosome carriers can reap some huge rewards by getting on a yoga mat and getting your body moving. In fact, men may benefit even more from certain yoga postures than women, thanks to the larger and tighter muscles men generally boast.

If the idea of propping yourself up in a backbend or twisting and binding is a little too intimidating, fear not. You can still experience asanas galore that open the legs, hips, chest and shoulders and even some that help build muscle throughout the body. Try these 10 to get you started.

1. Standing Forward Fold

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Uttanasana, or Standing Forward Fold, opens the back of the legs, the hips and the back. Making this pose even more appealing for non-bendy men is that it’s easily modified. If you can’t reach the floor, keep your hands on your thighs, calves or ankles or use blocks to shorten the distance.
In addition to stretching muscles, Standing Forward Fold lowers blood pressure, eases headaches, improves circulation and helps you sleep better. And if you allow gravity to do its job in this pose and relax your head and neck, you can also reduce the tension you carry in your upper body.

2. Warrior One

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This iconic posture stretches men where they need it most—the hips and shoulders. On top of opening these tight areas, Virabhadrasana is a strengthening posture. It builds the muscle of the thighs along with the areas around the knees, which means more stability and protection for sensitive joints during high impact sports.
Want more powerful shoulders? Try holding this pose for 10-15 breaths and you’ll never again question whether yoga is physically challenging.

3. Chair Pose

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Back to that question about whether yoga is physically demanding for tough guys?
Chair pose, or Utkatasana, may bring even the macho-est man to tears. Chair pose works the quads, ankles, butt and shoulders, while also opening the chest—helping you develop greater stability. It’s also useful for improving flat feet and stimulating the abdominal organs.

4. Downward Facing Dog

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It’s the pose that just makes you say aaaah. Downward Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, brings the attention to all of those tight areas that challenge men—the hamstrings, calves, arms, shoulders, back, hips and more. And while it stretches the body, Down Dog also strengthens the arms and legs.
Perhaps even more important for men is what Downward Facing Dog does for the heart. This amazing asana strengthens the heart as it improves circulation, reduces stress and helps high blood pressure.

5. Upward Facing Dog

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The other dog posture, Urdvha Mukha Svansana, can help to open the chest and strengthen the back and arms. This posture will help anyone who sits behind a desk or a wheel for far too many hours each day by opening the abdomen and hip flexors.
For men who also enjoy more strenuous forms of exercise, Upward Facing Dog is a great way to warm up and get the muscles stretched and blood flowing before expecting the body to go all out.
Up Dog also helps anyone struggling with breathing difficulties.

6. Boat Pose

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Another amazing strengthening posture, Boat pose, or Navasana, will give you rock hard abs as it also strengthens the hips flexors and spine. This posture is particularly beneficial to men for what it does to stimulate the prostate gland and even just raise awareness and reduce tension in the pelvic region.
If you’re the type of guy whose key to your heart is through your stomach, you’ll enjoy boat pose for its ability to stimulate the digestive system and keep everything moving smoothly.

7. Butterfly Pose

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Baddha Konasana increases blood flow to the pelvis, kidneys, prostate and bladder…and I don’t need to tell you what other part of your life can be helped by better blood flow to the pelvic region.
Butterfly pose is also a good way to draw attention to mula bandha, the root lock, which also brings awareness and more energy to the area around the hips. (wink, wink)

8. Half Pigeon

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Tight hips? Half Pigeon will be your best friend. This posture is a challenging one, but you can ease yourself into it as your hips open more and more. Since it’s a powerful way to open the glutes, hamstrings, adductors and hip flexors, Half Pigeon can help you when you take part in physical activities, carrying heavy objects, etc.
Once you release the tension in your hips, you’ll also feel the benefit in your lower back and other areas of your body.

9. Bridge Pose

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It’s not unusual for men to experience tight muscles throughout the torso, but Bridge pose can help open the upper body and release those tight muscles. Whether you realize it or not, tightness in this area make for shallow breathing and can even make other physical activities more challenging.
Over time, practicing bridge pose will create more space in the chest and make for easier, fuller breathing.

10. Reclining Hand To Big Toe

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Here’s another one that may be hard at first, but this posture opens the lower back to get energy moving more freely, and when it does, it also stimulates the prostate gland and improves digestion.

Women may still outnumber men in yoga studios, but the tides are changing. A growing number of men are making their way to the mat to stretch, strengthen, breathe and open. If you’ve been wanting to try it but have been slightly intimidated, try these postures at home until you’re comfortable with the idea and see how much yoga can help every aspect of your life.
From there, give yoga classes a try. Who knows, you may soon be inviting your buddies to join you for yoga class.

~Liz Rosenblum

How To Do Warrior I

 

How To Do Warrior 1

Whenever my students have a pose they absolutely cannot stand, it’s almost inevitably Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I). And, for a long time, that always surprised me. Finally, one day, I really tried to break it down during my practice. Then I got it.

This is a super dynamic pose. Think about what’s happening in the body — every limb is involved and they’re all going in different directions.

The torso is extended so there may also be a small backbend going on here.

The shoulders are drawing together and down, and the gaze is lifted (either up or out).
There’s also the often-taught direction that the hips must be squared to the front of the mat — but so often, due to skeletal structure, muscle tension, and/or muscle strength, this is impossible and the effort will lead to knee pain or injury.

And if that’s all the student is focused on —squaring the hips? Well, the rest of the pose falls pretty drastically apart.

(click on Infograph to enlarge)

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Instead, I tell my students to have a firm foundation in the feet first. Personally, I like a wider stance here because it frees up the pelvis and gives me more space for rotation.

Stack the front knee in line with the front ankle and foot, and draw in and up on the pelvic floor, which will give you some grounding and balance. Then, use that low belly muscle lock (Uddiyana Bandha) and rotate the abdomen and rib cage around to the front of the mat. This is where we’re truly looking for that rotation. Now you have a little space to breathe.

From here, the arms extend up (I put my palms together and gaze up because that’s traditional in my Ashtanga practice, but the arms can just extend straight up or even out if you have rotator cuff issues) while the shoulder blades draw together and down.

The gaze is focused, either up or out — whatever the neck comfortably allows. The arms are also rotating inwards. Think of rolling the triceps together or of rolling the pinky-sides of the hands toward each other. This will give you so much more space in the shoulders, allowing you to spread the collarbones.

Then? Settle in. This is a beautiful asana and will build so much strength in your body, yes, but also in your mind and in your breath. Remain mindful and feel the extension — both hands, both feet, heart, belly, and chin lifted in celebration of your practice.

Hip Openers

Standing in Vrksasana (Tree Pose) is a great hip opener.

Tree Pose in a local apple  orchard!

Tree Pose

Tree Pose

  1. 1.  Stand in Tadasana or Mountain Pose and shift your weight slightly to the left foot, keeping the foot firm on the floor, do not lock your knee.
  2. 2. Bend your right leg and bring the foot up placing the sole against the inner left groin, toes pointing toward the floor with center of pelvis directly over the foot.
  3. 3.  Keep the pelvis in neutral position with top rim parallel to the floor.  Lengthen the tailbone toward the floor making sure joints are stacked and spine is erect.
  4. 4.  Firmly press the sole of the foot against the inner thigh resisting with outer leg.
  5. 5.  Raise arms overhead, palms facing (your branches) keeping the shoulders down and gaze softly at a fixed point (your Drishti) to help hold your balance.
  6. 6.  Hold from 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Step back in Tadasana and repeat on opposite side.

BENEFITS:  Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles and spine; stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders; improves sense of balance; relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet.

CAUTIONS:  Headache, insomnia, low blood pressure, high blood pressure (don’t raise arms).