Workout 101: A Guy's Guide to Yoga
Part of SG's Workout 101 series
When it comes to confidence, there’s plenty of places a guy can start. For some, it begins with a wardrobe overhaul. For others, it’s tackling a new fitness routine. At SG HQ, we’ve found some guys are reluctant (but curious!) about gym classes. If that’s you, check out #SGapproved fitness activities in our Workout 101 series.
I don’t know why we didn’t do a Workout 101 on yoga for guys sooner.
Because the more I look around in my yoga classes, the more I’ve realized guys are finally getting into this ancient mind-body workout.
Sure, there’s hardcore male yogis who can’t wait to break out a shirtless headstand. But for me, and a growing number of guys out there, the sweating is the spiritual part.
Thankfully, plenty of studios have popped up that get this vibe. They’re the “I’m just here for the calorie burn and muscle mass gain” studios, not the “I need to realign my chakras” spots (they’re totally cool, too, though!).
Curious about yoga for guys? Great! Then check out this primer before you sign up for your first class.
A guide to yoga for guys
Here’s what you need to know:
What is yoga
“Exhale as you move deeper into down dog and remember to engage your core.”
Sound like hippie gibberish? Don’t worry, you get used to it.
In Vinyasa yoga, the most common type of class you’ll find, you flow through sequences of movements, called “postures.” Eventually, the teacher will guide you through these moves together in a way that helps open, stretch, and restore your body from the inside out.
You can think of yoga as sort of a very chill Crossfit. You’ll build muscle through long, deep poses that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. You’ll sweat. You’ll shake. Oh, and you’ll spend quality time with some serious hip openers (and if you don’t know if your hips need opening…they probably do).
Bottom line? This isn’t the half-ass stretching you do before a run, guys.
The goal is to link your breath to each movement, with the intention of deepening the connection between the mind and body – and bringing a greater consciousness to how the two interact. What’s this mean for you? Just a reminder to stay in the moment and concentrate on your form and what you’re doing.
Pro tip: If you’re new, tell the teacher so they can be sure to queue you on when you should be inhaling and exhaling as you flow through each position.
What guys should know before their first yoga class? You are in prime lady workout land! There’s a good chance you may even be the only guy in your yoga class, though that’s changing as more guys realize the benefits of a yoga practice.
We wonder if the lack of dude yogis (dudies?) is a fear of men’s yoga clothes – let us assure you: lad leggings are NOT necessary. Basketball shorts will totally do. Just not too loose.
If, for some weird reason, you need more encouragement to go get your sweat on with a bunch of Lululemon-clad ladies, consider this:
Yoga is fundamentally a solo practice (which any instructor worth his or her essential oil will remind you of multiple times during class) so you don’t need to feel insecure about being the most novice/only guy/youngest/oldest person there.
When it comes to yoga, just do you – and check that stress at the door.
Cool yoga clothes for guys
Nike recently launched a men’s yoga line. The campaign stars athletes like Khalil Mack and Kevin Love, who both credit the practice with keeping them flexible for game day.
If you feel most comfortable wearing shorts when working out, then stick with that! This pair from Rhone is unlined but long enough that you won’t be balls out in downward dog.
If you’re looking for a little more coverage, lots of guys wear compression leggings under their shorts to yoga class and other workouts (we’ve written about the trend here). These from Starter will set you back less than thirty bucks. A perfect price for your peace of mind.
One of our team’s favorite new activewear brands, Fourlaps, has a great tank that will be comfortable if you’re a guy who can’t stand sleeves.
The company’s proprietary 37.5 technology helps cool you down when you’re hot, and keeps you warm when your body temp lowers during “corpse pose” at the end of class.
The teacher will talk you through the poses, though they don’t always stay in the front of class demo’ing the whole time. So if you’re a n00b, plan on sneaking a peek at your neighbors when you hear a move you don’t know. Especially if the teacher shows off a little – I mean, shows their knowledge – by instructing the moves all in Sanskrit.
You might know Downward Facing Dog without having to take a look around, but would you know it if he or she called out adho mukha svanasana?
The good news: If you go often enough, you’ll get to know some of these names and can feel superior (which totally goes against, like, every tenet of yoga, but I still do so here we are) when you can dive right into a pose without giving a “Huh? What’s that?” peek around you first.
Don’t worry, we’ve got a few moves to get you started.
A beginner’s guide to yoga poses for guys
Crescent lunge to Warrior Two
Downward Facing Dog to Upward Facing Dog
I don’t have research on this, but it seems like guys sweat more in yoga than women. So, depending on how strenuous stretching is for you, Vinyasa yoga may be a 3-4, or-r-r-r closer to an 8-9 on the ol’ Shower-Meter.
Not a helpful answer, I know, but I’ve come out of a class fine to head right to brunch while the guy next to me is drenched head to toe.
Another factor to consider: Heated Vinyasa yoga classes are all the rage these days, with studios like Y7 and CorePower popping up around the country. This isn’t full-on Bikram hot (which is stupid-hot and not fun, in my opinion), but it’s no walk in the park, either. If you’re practicing in a room heated between 80 and 90 degrees for a heated Vinyasa yoga class, you’ll definitely want to plan on making time for a shower.
Pro tip: I haven’t been to many yoga studios with full-scale locker rooms with all the amenities, so check before you start your first sun salutation in case you have plans afterwards.
HOW HARD IS YOGA, REALLY
For guys? It can be pretty hard at first.
Again, no research done here, but I can qualitatively say this… Men just don’t seem as bendy as women.
But the benefits definitely outweigh any initial flexibility fears. Nike trainer Rachel Nicks says, “Remember that strength and flexibility are equally important to enhance your blood flow – and Vinyasa helps you work on strength, balance, and flexibility all at once.”
Which is why so many athletes (like Blake Griffon, Russell Wilson, and well, all of Pete Carroll’s team) make the practice part of their regular routines.
Check out every workout in our Workout 101 series