The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Yoga for Men
Yoga is a little different for men right?
I mean sure, it needn't be.
After all, it's the same poses for everybody. But in reality, we face our own unique challenges both on and off the mat.
Sometimes it feels like we're a stiff square peg trying to fit in an impossibly bendy round hole. Wait, that sounds wrong..
Lucky for us, the rewards are so worth it.
Greater strength and mobility? ✓ Improved athletic performance? ✓ Better health and happiness? ✓ and the list goes on..
If all men truly understood and experienced the benefits – everyone would be doing it.
So whatever your motivation, you've decided to give it a shot, but you're not sure where to start?
You've come to the right place.
In this guide you'll learn all the paths you can take on your yoga journey – and which is right for you.
You'll find out how best to approach the practice, how to prepare and what you can expect to find. All from the angle of a dude who's been there and tried it all – and made the embarrassing mistakes so you don't have to.
So I'm here to tell you – man to man – how to get started on your yoga journey.
Where Should You Start?
We're lucky enough to live in a world where yoga is freely available to us, as long as we have a will and a solid internet connection.
You'll never be short on information, but finding the stuff that's right for you is becoming harder than ever.
After all, there's a metric ton of yoga stuff online these days, and there are a wide range of teaching mediums available to you:
So where do you start?
That depends on your budget, your goals and your access to yoga studios.
Getting expert guidance from an experienced teacher is going to be the most effective way to start, so if you can make it to a real-life class then I'd recommend starting there (more on that later).
But, I know that's not available to everyone for various reasons. Whether it's distance, money or something else entirely – life can get in the way of making it to studios.
Fortunately, access to a yoga studio is not a barrier to yoga. Learning exclusively from home is entirely possible. You'll just have to be thorough.
If you are looking to learn from home, I'd recommend using a combination of online mediums to give you a well-rounded yoga education.
Starting here of course!
Yogi Goals is here to provide real and authentic advice tailored to regular guys looking to explore their yoga journey. There's a wealth of content to be found on this site, but where there is value elsewhere on the internet, I'll be sure to link you to it.
YouTube is a fantastic option for beginner yogis.
It's a gateway to more high-quality yoga content than you can shake a stick at – and it's completely free!
There's a great range of content, everything from coffee-break warms ups to hour long sweat sessions.
I tend to look to YouTube for inspiration when I'm having one of those blank days or if there's something specific I'd like to try. With the guidance of the instructor and the on-screen visual cues, it becomes a much easier practice.
To begin, you should be looking for a beginner series that takes the time to explain the fundamentals of moving and breathing. It can be tempting to dive into the "Ignite Power Fat-Shredding Flow" kinda video, but first things first..
These are the channels that I often look to, and their videos I'd recommend you start with.
Yoga with Adrienne
Adrienne is really down-to-earth and immediately puts you at ease. Her videos are very beginner friendly and it feels like she's right at home practising with you.
Allie - The Journey Junkie
Allie produces super high-quality videos from her Zen-Den, with expert and engaging instruction. She has a series for everything, and a wealth of content to get through.
Yoga with Tim
Tim's laid-back approach really helps you relax and engage with his videos. He often works with male yogis in his videos, so you get expert instruction on how the male body interacts with poses. I think there's lots of great value to be found for us guys.
The Real Thing
At some point in your yoga journey, I'd highly recommend you find an experienced teacher to practice with. The sooner the better really.
Yoga is going to have you moving your body in ways you've never experienced before. Even the basic poses have elements that aren't as intuitive as you'd think.
Trust me, unlearning bad habits is way harder than starting with good ones.
That's why it's so helpful to have a real teacher there that can offer guidance and correct your form. At least in the beginning, while you get your fundamentals down.
Side note *I’ve taken classes by many different yoga teachers and while I've never had a “bad” class, the amount I of enjoyment and value I got from each has varied dramatically. If you find a teacher that resonates with you right away, fantastic. If that's not the case then please do try others before you let it put you off the practice.
Yoga classes come in all shapes and sizes. With varying degrees of complexity, chanting and all-round weirdness.
Some are definitely more appropriate for beginners than others, which means that selecting the right class in the beginning is vital to get the best experience.
Take an Ashtanga class for example (not literally). That shit can challenge even the most seasoned yogis, and have them weeping on the floor with exhaustion. Imagine how a beginner would fare..
Well nothing bad would happen really, but you'd get absolutely nothing from the class except a massive ego check.
Whereas a Yin class on the other hand. It won't physically push you, but as it's mostly passive stretches, it won't teach you much of the yoga fundamentals either.
Also, there are the likes of Kundalini, which appears to be absolute madness.
If your studio offers a beginner series, that's your best place to start. They're tailored to absolute beginners and have a sort of workshop vibe with a slow and methodical pace. Over the course of a few weeks, you'll be gradually introduced to the fundamental poses and breathing techniques. You can find out what to expect from your first yoga class here.
I loved my beginner series. Just being around a bunch of people who all suck at yoga as much as each other, falling over, laughing and learning together.
If you can't find a studio that runs a beginner series, they will almost certainly run regular beginner's yoga classes. Whilst they won't be aimed exclusively at first-timers, the pace is definitely slow enough for you to join in and pick it up as you go along.
What Do You Wear?
Yoga wear for men isn't quite as straightforward as it is for women.
Most of our typical clothes are too baggy or too restrictive, and we have extra "bits" to keep in check.
But don't worry, there's probably something in your wardrobe that you can get started with, and the range of dedicated men's yoga clothing is so much better these days.
First things first, work-wear and street-wear are not appropriate. I can't imagine anything worse than practicing yoga in jeans or trousers. As for the workout clothing you might already own, these can work:
Striking a balance between comfort and fit is the aim of the game. You want something that's not too baggy, so that your teacher can see your alignment and you're not getting swamped in fabric. But you also don't want clothing so tight that it restricts your movements. Unless they're yoga pants – which men absolutely can wear!
Ideally you also want a sweat-wicking material, so while cotton can be okay in a pinch, it's not suitable for yoga where you're going to be sweating a lot.
If the climate (and the yoga studio) allows it, feel free to go shirtless too.
I always do.
If you are looking to grab yourself some top-quality yoga wear made specifically for men – I fully recommend clothing by OHMME (note, I am an affiliate). They have some really smart looking, high-performance clothing, that are equally fit for practice and general wear. Check out their range right here.
Developing Your Personal Practice
Classes are great, I love them.
They're perfect for learning new poses and mastering your technique (and making friends!).
But the real magic happens at home in your personal practice. Once you've got the fundamentals down, I'd wholeheartedly encourage you to start a home practice too.
Practicing alone, means you're able to reconnect and centre yourself without the distractions of a class. You'll soon see why it's so powerful.
It's amazing what you can achieve when you practice on your own agenda.
The ability to address your weaknesses and work towards your goals. You can seriously accelerate your progression through a consistent and targeted personal yoga practice.
When to Practice and How Often
Traditional wisdom tells us the best time to practice yoga is in the morning. But in truth, the best time is the one that works for you.
It's no good practicing at the "optimum time" if you can't stick to it.
So if that's as soon as you wake up, great! Or if it's a half-hour window once you've put the kids to bed – so be it.
Select a time that fits into your lifestyle and schedule, so you can build an effective habit around it.
After all, yoga is best practiced as a lifestyle, rather than an exercise. Try not to think of it as something you do once a week when you feel like it, but as something you do regularly as part of your routine.
To truly benefit the most physically and mentally from your practice, consistency is key.
A great way to start is to commit to a short practice of sun salutations each morning.
They'll energise you for the day and will go a long way to limbering you up and keeping you healthy. Most importantly you will develop the habit of unrolling your mat each day and dedicating yourself to your practice.
What You'll Need for a Home Practice
To start, not that much really.
After all, one of the greatest benefits to a home practice is the freedom to practice when, and how you want – at no cost.
I have a nasty habit of rushing out to buy everything a new activity could ever need ( don't be like me). When you start looking at buying your first yoga setup, it's good to have a little focus.
So no, you probably don't need that yoga trapeze just yet..
But for a full practice, there are some must-haves.
#1 - A Yoga Mat
The bread and butter of your yoga setup.
The price and quality of yoga mats vary dramatically, but as a one-off purchase, it's worth paying to get a solid one.
To be fair, many people can get away with using a cheap mat. But as your typical man is going to be bigger and heavier than your average yogini, you might find that your Wallmart mat just doesn't cut it.
Poor cushioning and durability will quickly take its toll on both you and the mat.
The Manduka Pro is a great choice. It's big and thick enough to fit men of all shapes and sizes. Plus, talking about a one-off purchase, Manduka offer a lifetime guarantee on their mats!
That's right, this could be the one and only yoga mat you ever need to buy. You can buy one here:
#2 and #3 - A Yoga Block and Strap
If you've already been to a class, you soon realise how useful a block and strap can be for your practice.
There are many pose variations that are only accessible if you've got these things for support. If you can't reach the floor, you can reach for a block. If you can't reach for your leg, reach for a strap.
You can definitely practice without them, but you'll be limited in some areas.
A simple block and mat will do. Check out this inexpensive set on Amazon.
To begin with, that's about it!
There are lots of other useful yoga accessories. From bolsters and blankets, to sticky toe socks and aerial trapeze sets.
They all have their uses but they're not all necessary right way.
Let's Wrap Up
That's a lot to take in, right? Don't sweat it.
Yoga is a process, not a destination.
It doesn't matter if you struggle at the beginning, or even after years of practice. Trust me, you'll always be able to find a practice that challenges you.
You can forget about all the advanced moves and practices for now. Don't worry about how you look, or how close you can get to touching your toes.
Go into your practice with an open mind and heart. Everything else will come in time.
Finally, just keep at it!