the 8 best yoga poses for men
Is there any difference between a yoga pose that’s good for men and a yoga pose that’s good for women? There are similarities and differences. To answer this, I would say a yoga pose is more effective for men when it does these three things.
Focuses on common physical weaknesses in men (core & hips)
Addresses the differences in hip flexibility men vs. women
Provides modifications for inflexible men (who are usually much less flexible than women in all areas)
We've put together a list of the 8 best yoga poses for men, showing you why each has its benefits as well as how to conquer it. So without further ado, let's dive in.
1. Boat Pose
Why it’s good for you: This very challenging posture works your transverse abdominals—the deep core muscles that keep you upright, help you balance, and enable you to do just about any movement with safe and proper technique. Use this pose to strengthen your core and improve muscle efficiency in full-body movements.
Sit on the floor, bend your knees, and place your feet on the floor, with your heels a few inches in front of your hips.
Lightly grip your knees with your hands, sit as upright as possible, and lean back slightly.
Keeping your chest lifted and your torso still, squeeze your hip flexors and abdominal muscles toward each other to engage core.
Let go of knees, and reach arms forward and up, palms up.
Continue to firmly engage your abdominal muscles and hip flexors, and slowly lift feet off the floor and straighten legs. Pull sternum toward the ceiling while keeping spine neutral.
Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen the spine, and exhaling as you tighten the core.
Hold for at least 20 seconds, and up to 90 seconds.
Men often rely on their upper bodies instead of their hips and core. Their weaker than average cores and hips cause them to round their back, and boat pose turns into more of a crunch exercise. To counteract this, start with your hands lightly gripping your knees, and focus on lifting your chest lightly up and back in order to make your spine straight. If can do this while keeping your back flat, lift your shins to be parallel with the ground.
Why it’s good for you: Why it’s good for you: This deep-lunge stretch opens the hips, releases tension in your back, and decreases soreness in the lower body. Lizard helps speed up recovery and reduces the risk of injury in the hips, thighs, knees, and lower back. It also helps reverse the negative effects of prolonged sitting or inactivity.
Start in a low lunge position, with your back knee down, and your knee over your ankle in your front foot.
Shift your front foot forward and to the left a few inches until you feel a deep stretch in the front of your back hip.
Inch your back foot back to widen your lunge and deepen the stretch.
Lift your chest. Maintain a flat or slightly arched back.
Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen and lift the spine, and exhaling as you sink hips deeper.
Hold for at least 45 seconds and up to 2 minutes. Repeat both sides.
- Men have tighter hip muscles, so we’ll want to modify this stretch to account for the lack of hip flexibility. Bring your legs closer together, and don’t worry about getting your hips as close to the ground. Place a block inside your front foot, and use that to keep your chest upright while holding this stretch.
3. High Lunge
Why it’s good for you: No matter your fitness level, try to perform this lunge every single day. This full-body exercise combines hip mobility, core strength, balance, and body control to reduce your risk of injury in the knees, ankles, hips, and spine. This also builds lower-body strength and endurance for improved athletic performance.
From the top of your mat, step one foot back into a lunge position.
Bend your front knee until the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Press the heel of the front foot into the floor to engage your hip muscles; squaring your hips.
Squeeze your legs toward each other to engage inner thighs and core.
Reach your arms straight overhead, keeping the ribs drawn in to prevent chest from splaying open. Keep your butt under your torso, lower-back flat.
Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen the spine and maintain the stance, and exhaling as you sink deeper into the lunge.
Hold for 45-90 seconds. Repeat both sides.
- Men have tighter hips, and if you spend your day at a desk, they’re going to be even tighter. To address this, bring your feet closer together. Make sure you get keep your butt directly under your shoulders without arching your lower back. You’ll also want to soften your knee and bend your back leg, as this reduces the amount of hip flexor flexibility required for this posture.
4. Pigeon / Reclined Figure 4
Why it’s good for you: Pigeon stretches your glutes for faster muscle recovery, releases the lower back, and improves hip mobility. This stretch is one of the most important you can do for your back and your hips, leading to better jumps, sprints, and squats, and helping your back feel great throughout the day.
- Start in a tabletop position on all fours with shoulders over your wrists and knees under your hips. Untuck your feet.
- Slide your left knee up to your left hand, and bring the left foot across your body to rest between your right hand and right knee.
- Turn the left hip outward so the inner thigh faces up, and outer thigh faces down.
- Extend toes of right foot back as far as possible, releasing hips toward the floor as you do so.
- Rest hands a few inches in front of the bent leg, using your upper body to help square the hips straight forward.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen the chest forward, and exhaling as you sink the hips closer to the floor.
- Hold for 60 – 120 seconds. Repeat both sides.
- Pigeon is often too difficult for men who have no yoga experience, so it’s a much better idea to start off with a reclined figure 4. This stretch has almost identical benefits, but it’s much more appropriate for men who have tight hips or who haven’t done yoga before. To do a figure 4, lie on your back and cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Grab the back of your left thigh with both hands, and slowly bring your thigh toward your body until you feel a stretch. Focus on external rotation of the right hip here by turning your knee to face out. Avoid pressing your right knee forward. Make sure to do both sides.
- If you want to practice pigeon, the other modification is to use a prop under your hip, to bring the ground higher up. You can use a pillow, a folded blanket, or a sweatshirt for this. Simply place the prop under the front thigh, allowing your hips to rest a few inches higher off the ground.
5. Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold 2 (with Strap behind back)
Why it’s good for you: This position stretches your inner thighs, relieves tension in your spine, and helps prevent knee injuries; while also stretching your shoulders, strengthening your upper-back, and opening your chest. It’s a great full-body posture to target multiple areas of mobility and strength.
- Stand with your feet 4 to 6ft (1.25–1.75m) apart, and slightly turn your toes inward. Engage the arches of your feet, and press into outer edges of feet.
- Engage your quadriceps and squeeze your inner thighs toward each other.
- Interlace your fingers behind your back, making sure to keep your chest open, and shoulder blades pulled together & down toward your hips. Bend your elbows as much as you need to in order to keep your chest open and avoid internal shoulder rotation.
- Hinge at the hips and bring your chest forward and down, maintaining a flat back.
- Squeeze hip flexors and core toward each other, and fold forward as far as you can while keeping the back flat. Keep your fingers interlaced, arms lifting away from your back with your chest remaining open.
- Hold for 45-90 seconds.
- Men have tighter hips and tighter shoulders, especially if you’re living the desk life. To address this lower level of hip flexibility, bring your legs closer together and bend your knees significantly. For your shoulders, you’ll want to hold a strap behind your back, palms facing your body (externally rotated).
6. Warrior 2
Why it’s good for you: Why it’s good for you: This is an essential lunge posture that builds strength and mobility in the hips, ankles, and core. It’s useful for office workers to combat the negative effects of sitting, as well as for athletes to improve hip mobility for more agile change of direction and injury prevention.
- Stand in a wide-legged stance with your feet 4 to 5ft (1.25–1.5m) apart.
- Turn front foot to face straight outward, and bend the knee until it is directly over your ankle.
- Place hands on hips to ensure hips are level. Squeeze legs toward each other to engage inner thighs.
- Keeping your torso over your hips, extend your arms to the sides, palms facing down, and press the fingertips of your opposite hands away from one another.
- Turn your head to gaze down your left arm. Lift ribs away from hips, and maintain tension in legs.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen the spine and grow taller, and exhaling as you sink the hips deeper and engage core.
- Hold for 30-90 seconds. Repeat both sides.
- Due to hips that did not evolve for child birthing, you’re going to want to bring your legs closer together if you’re an inflexible guy. It also helps to stagger your stance slightly by making your back foot is closer to the side of your mat (the direction your torso is facing) than the front one.
Why it’s good for you: This is one of the best spine and core strengthening postures in yoga. Cobra also improves lower-body and hip strength, builds muscle in your back, and helps prevent injury. It’s an absolutely essential posture for people who sit often during the day, as well as for athletes to improve overall performance.
- Lie on your stomach, and place your hands under your shoulders with your elbows pointing straight back, close to your sides. Spread your fingers wide and relax palms under your shoulders.
- Engage and rotate thighs inward so kneecaps point straight down and all toes are touching the floor.
- Squeeze your big toes, ankles, knees, and inner thighs toward each other.
- Press your pelvis and tops of feet into the floor.
- Inhale as you use your core (not arms) to lengthen spine forward and slightly lift your chest away from the floor. Press the crown of your head away from shoulders, looking forward once your neck has lengthened.
- Pull shoulder blades down and toward each other, squeeze elbows to sides, and use your hands to pull (not push) your body forward and up.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lift slightly higher, and exhaling as you increase engagement and maintain height.
- Hold for 20-45 seconds.
- Most men aren’t as mobile in their spines, so don’t worry about lifting your chest very high off the ground. The good news is that the benefits of this pose really occur in the first few inches of the lift. Avoid using your arms to hold your body up.
Why it’s good for you: This balancing posture provides a deep hamstring and calf stretch, while improving strength and mobility in your core and hips. It’s great for your knees, ankles, and spine.
- Start in a high lunge position (knees off the floor) with your hips squared forward, arms along your side.
- Shift the weight into your front foot, lean forward while keeping your chest upright, and then lift your back leg off the ground.
- Balance on your front leg while extending the back leg straight back, hips remaining squared forward.
- Bend your front knee as much as needed to keep your back flat. Keep your arms along your side.
- Keep your chest pulling forward and up to avoid rounding in your spine. Core remains engaged, chin pulled in toward your throat.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat both sides.
- Men are notorious for tight hamstrings in yoga. That’s why it’s easier for women to touch their toes than it is for men. To address this, you can use blocks to help bring the ground up to you. This makes it so you can still get a great stretch in your hamstrings, but without the added stress on your spine of a c-shaped hump in your lower-back.