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5 Yoga Struggles Men Face & How to Overcome Them

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Men can be just as successful in yoga as women. Here’s how!

Many people may have the impression that yoga is better suited for women than for men. However, yoga is absolutely not just for women and it can be just as beneficial to men, if they are willing to give it a try. Anatomically speaking, it’s true that men face different struggles on the mat. Guys tend to have the strength from the very beginning, but are often lacking the flexibility to practice certain poses right off the bat. 

Fortunately, there are ways for dudes to overcome those struggles when practicing yoga. Below are the five most common struggles men face on the yoga mat and how to overcome them.

By Dan Jones

 

1. Forward Folds
Forward folds can be a real eye opener as to just how stiff your hamstrings are. In the beginning of your yoga practice, there’s a chance you won’t be able touch your toes, or even your knees – and that’s ok.

Old weightlifting dogma tells us a tight muscle is a strong muscle, which is why stretching is overlooked by many in the gym. It wasn’t till I started spending 10 minutes a day – focused purely on stretching my hamstrings – that I started making real progress.

How to overcome the struggle:
Practice stretching your hamstrings in isolation before attempting more advanced movements. Reclining Big Toe Pose with the help of a belt around the foot is great for isolating the hamstrings from the lower back, allowing you a safe, deep stretch. Make sure to keep your knee bent when you bring it towards your chest before attempting to straighten it.

 

2. Hip Openers
Men naturally have much narrower hips than our female counterparts, which is why we have much less external hip rotation. What that means for us fellas, is a fundamentally reduced range of motion in the hip area.

I found Yin Yoga to be particularly helpful. The longer time spent in poses allows you to comfortably reach a deeper stretch that can penetrate into the many layers of tissue.

How to overcome the struggle:
Child’s Pose is a great way to ease yourself into hip openers if Pigeon Pose isn’t yet accessible for you. You can determine the intensity of Child’s Pose by how wide you spread your knees (the wider your knees, the deeper the hip opener). Use blocks to rest your arms or head on and gradually remove the props overtime so that eventually, you can rest fully on the floor.

 

3. Backbends
Wheel Pose always looks impressive, but those childhood throwbacks to walking like a crab along the floor might make you think it’s easier than it actually is.

The key to a good backbend is not having a flexible back, but rather an open chest and shoulders, along with a strong core. By focusing your efforts on the front side of the body and taking time to build up to Wheel Pose, you may find that it isn’t as intimidating after all.

How to overcome the struggle:
Focus on opening up your front side through easy backbends that prepare you for Wheel Pose – such as Cobra Pose and Extended Puppy Pose. These will introduce a gentle stretch into the lower back and help open up those shoulders for more advanced backbends.

 

4. Twists
Remember a time when your back was soft and supple?

No? Me neither.

With back pain being one of the most common complaints among adults, a nice stretch is always in order. Twists are the perfect tonic for a tight core and stiff spine. This is great if you can effectively execute a twist, but gym junkies often have a hard time looking over their shoulder – let alone executing a full spinal twist.

How to overcome the struggle:
When practicing any form of a twist, start with a supine twist (meaning you’re laying on your back) and be sure to keep both shoulders on the floor during. If you allow your opposite shoulder to lift off the floor, you’ll negate the effect of the twist and strain both your neck and spine. To protect your lower back in the twist, you can squeeze a block between your knees.

 

5. Endurance
So you can comfortably run a half marathon and bench 200 lbs – you must be fit, right? Well sure, that may be true, but yoga is an entirely different beast. So many of us guys come into our first yoga class expecting an easy ride and end up getting our asses kicked – this is also the most effective way to make that the first and last class we try.

In yoga, we have to leave our egos at the door. On the mat there’s no place for competition – against ourselves or others. We explore our limits but we also respect them because forcing ourselves into poses we’re not ready for or foregoing proper alignment to keep up will only result in injury.

How to overcome the struggle:
It takes time to build up the endurance to maintain the flow with fast-paced Vinyasa flows. If you find yourself falling behind, there’s no shame in taking a resting pose to catch your breath. This is your practice after all – nobody will judge you for taking Child’s Pose or taking a sip of water. Join in when you’re ready and maintain a positive attitude.

Read the full article here

All images courtesy of Dan Jones / YogiApproved.com.

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