Yoga is the perfect mental-physical-emotional transformative philosophy for both women AND men! If you’ve ever seen the physique of a dedicated male yoga practitioner, you’ll notice that they possess an open and long physical profile, along with very strong and defined muscle tone. In addition to providing people with a calmer, grounded, and positive outlook on life, yoga would definitely benefit men (from a physical/shape perspective) were they to practice on a regular basis. There’s no such thing as not being able to touch your toes – yoga creates flexibility, but also builds an inner strength as well. You need strength and courage to support any openness you create within, otherwise you’ll feel vulnerable to your fears. Remember to allow your breath to be your guide as you move through these poses; listen to your body’s needs as you complete your routine (with no added force placed on each pose). The more you practice, the easier it will all become, and the more strength you’ll build – within and without.
This next routine is for men to follow as part of their regular practice, enabling them to create flexibility and enhance their overall sense of general well-being. I’ve included my male clients’ favourite (and most effective) yoga poses in this series – hopefully you’ll feel the same way as they do about these movements, and will reap the internal and external benefits they provide.
The following routine is to be followed in this particular order (outlined below), giving you an overall ‘star yoga’ sequence!
Meditational seat pose (Sukhasana)
Whatever your ideal sport or workout, your breath is the key process in fully engaging your body’s response to the movement. It gives you the strength and power to complete your activity – and live your precious day within the gift of this Moment.
Lets begin in a cross-legged sitting posture. Hands to your knees, and keep your spine upright; shoulders rolled back, and chest forward. Keep your chin tucked into your throat and keep your base firmly pressing into the floor. With your eyes and lips closed, inhale deeply through your nostrils. Start to count 1-2-3-4-5 on your inhale, and to the same count on your exhale. If this feels uncomfortable, lessen your count. This should not be forced, and the breath is controlled, long, mindful and kind. Repeat this for approx 10 rounds and release back to a normal rhythm for a few more breaths. Now you’re focused and ready to move to the next phase.
Gerard Butler (actor) enjoys twisting to release any tension in the back of his shoulders and chest.
High Lunging Twist pose (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)
As we twist and turn, it massages your abdomen, opens your shoulders and chest, and builds strength in the legs. It allows you to get deeper into your practice on all levels. Stand at the top of your mat. Lunge your left leg back one leg distant, keeping right leg bent and left leg straight. Bring your left hand to the inside foot and raise your right arm high, and turn from your belly, chest and shoulder. Keep your chin tucked in as you look up to your top raised arm. If your neck’s tender, please look down to your base foot. Hold and breathe deeply for 10 breaths before repeating to the other side.
To really empty your stress levels, you can repeat both sides again. To add a greater strength dimension to the pose, twist a little more on every exhalation to squeeze the muscles, massage your digestive organs and activate your core.
Orlando Bloom (actor) enjoys a dynamic flow, which builds strength and stamina.
Downward Facing Dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Now we’re going to incorporate the power of your breathing and ‘downward facing dog’ into this next sequence. As we work to move constantly, it’ll get your heart rate up and will build stamina and endurance. Follow this next mini sequence with determination (no force) and you’ll be amazed with your results. This powerful movement will increase your heart rate and allow you to start shedding pounds.
From ‘downward facing dog’ (pictured above)–
High Plank pose (Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana)
Four-Limbed Staff pose (Chaturanga Danasana)
* *Inhale forward to the ‘high plank’ and hold for 5 breaths. Make sure you don’t dip your hips or your lower back; keep your chin into your throat and lift up slightly in between your shoulder blades.
* *Exhale to lower down to ‘chaturanga’ (option, drop to your knees) – hold and take 5 breaths.
* *Inhale back up to the ‘high plank’ – hold for 5 breaths.
* *Exhale back into downward facing dog – hold and breathe for 5 breaths.
Repeat this process 3-to-5 times or more. Breathe fully and deeply into every part of this sequence in order to get your blood flowing and muscles activating. A flat, toned belly is something that we all strive for. As you follow the essential good health food rules, a taut, muscular abdominal wall will become visible.
Justin Melvey (actor + presenter) enjoys building his inner core strength.
Boat pose (Navasana)
Position yourself onto your sit bones and hold onto your legs out in front of you. Slowly draw your toes away from the floor, hovering onto your sit bones and with your legs up, straight if you can; otherwise keep your knees bent if your lower back is sore. Release your arms from your legs and bring them parallel to the floor, keeping your biceps strong and legs together. Take your gaze to your feet.
Keep your belly, legs and upper body active and fully alert. Hold and breathe deeply for 5-to-10 breaths, release your toes to the floor to rest for a few breaths before repeating another 2-3 times. For an additional variation, drop your fingertips down to one side, twisting from your belly in your boat pose. Hold and breathe for 5-to-10 breaths and repeat to the other side.
Gyton Grantley (actor) enjoys the benefits that arise from his favourite pose, the shoulder stand.
Half Shoulder Stand pose (Ardha Sarvangasana)
This half shoulder stand represents how much in life we have to shoulder, in terms of responsibility and accountability. It allows us to walk lighter in our daily life as we explore and grow as spiritual beings. When we have busy schedules, this pose soothes a busy mind and rests your heart. It is a calming and cooling pose on the body, as it stretches your upper back, improves blood circulation and encourages relaxation.
Start by lying on your back, palms facing down by your side. Bend both knees and rock your legs up and back over your head. Keep your neck and head facing forward. Bring your bent knees to the forehead and place your hands under your hips like you’re cupping them – fingers on the inside, thumbs on the outside of the body. Wedge your elbows firmly into the floor, shoulders stay down as you begin to lift your legs up to the ceiling. Support your weight of your body with your arms and upper body with little weight in the head or neck. Keep your whole body active and relaxed at the same time, to find stillness. Hold the pose for 5-to-10 breaths. To release, drop your knees lightly back to your forehead, chin stays tucked into your throat; slowly roll your spine back to the floor.
Rock your head from side to side to release your neck.
Corpse pose (Savasana)
This is a pose we all love. It’s a well deserved rest pose, one that’s an important finishing position for our individual practice… lay flat to the floor with palms facing upwards and feet rolled out to the sides. Keep your breath long, with eyes and lips closed. Let every breath deepen as you feel a great sense of peace and completely relax into a nurtured space of ‘being’.
Rest for 5-to-10 minutes before rolling out to the right side. Come up to a cross-legged sitting posture.
Always give yourself a moment of stillness within; bring your hands to prayer and make a positive intention before you go about your day, feeling strengthened and on top of the world.