The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Yoga for Men
Hello future yogis!
Are you looking to dive into a new yoga adventure, but you're not quite sure where to start?
You've come to the right place.
Whether you're here to heal your body, de-stress your mind, or just to have some fun – the first step is always the same. While it may sound simple, taking that first step onto the mat isn't always easy. Beginners yoga comes in all kinds of styles, offered in a range of different mediums. It's easy to get overwhelmed.
Plus, yoga is usually pretty alien to fellas. Yoga is physically, mentally and even socially different to typical sports or hobbies. I'm not gonna lie, there's some weird shit involved.
If you're a bit nervous or a bit lost, I don't blame you.
Like most men who find yoga, it's something I had to seek out on my own. I never had any friends try to bring me to a class, or studios try to recruit me. So if you're in that position, it's your path to choose.
I'm not going to sell you on the benefits of yoga, or try to convince you that "real men do yoga" (what the hell does that even mean?). If you're reading this, I'm going to assume you're already sold on the idea.
This guide is all about how and where you can begin to learn yoga. How best to approach the practice, how to prepare and what you can expect to find. It's also full of male-specific tips you're not likely to be told anywhere else.
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.
Your available mediums are including but not limited to:
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. But, I know that's not available to everyone for various reasons, and it's certainly not a barrier to yoga. Learning exclusively from home is entirely possible.
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 really is a great range of content, everything from coffee-break warms ups to hour long sweat sessions. It's often more tailored to women but not to the point where it'll be limiting to you fellas.
I tend to look to YouTube for inspiration when I'm having one of those blank days and I can't seem to figure out what I want to do on the mat. 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 Flow" kinda video, but first things first.
These are the channels that I often look to, and here are 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.
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.
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. Selecting the right class in the beginning is so important to get the best experience.
For example, an Ashtanga class can challenge even the most seasoned yogis, and nothing is more disheartening than getting smashed in a class that's above your level. Whereas a Yin class won't physically push you, but 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 beginners 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. I'm totally in love with their Namoustache Pants, and they've just brought out a new range of Ram Denim Jeans that you can practice in too!
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. In the beginning, you want to select a time that fits into your lifestyle and schedule, so you can build an effective habit around it.
Yoga is best practiced as a lifestyle, rather than an exercise. Try not to approach 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 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.
Developing Your Personal Practice
Once you have the fundamentals down, I'd wholeheartedly encourage you to start a personal practice, even if you're going to classes! Yoga classes and YouTube are great for guiding you and getting you accustomed to the various poses and sequences, but it's in your personal yoga time that you really start to deepen your practice.
A personal practice offers you things that a class cannot. The opportunity to truly be alone with your body and mind. The ability to work on your weaknesses and work towards your goals. You can seriously accelerate your progression through a consistent and targeted personal yoga practice.
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 – being "good" holds no value. 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!