10 Tips For Men New To Yoga

Above: Everything guys need to know before stepping foot in a yoga studio

With the start of a new year your fitness resolutions have probably kicked into high gear. Perhaps you’ve decided to go where few of your friends have ventured before… the yoga studio. Once considered a new age activity only practiced by hippies and women, yoga is for everybody. The ancient Indian discipline is a physical, mental and spiritual activity known to transform the body and, in a survey completed by Statistics Canada in 2005, is practiced by 1.4 million Canadians.

Venturing into new fitness territory can be intimidating: where do you start, where do you go and what you need? We developed 10 tips for men new to yoga that will help you choose the right practice, as well as prepare your mind and body. Namaste!

1. Research

Remember when your mom would pester you to “Do you homework?” She wasn’t just making sure you passed eleventh grade calculus, she was bestowing a life lesson onto you. There are numerous yoga studios and styles of practice; finding the right place and type of yoga is important and key to its enjoyment. Yoga Journal has a list to help you to find the practice suited to you; from hatha (a blend of two or more styles) to Bikram (hot yoga). Plus, a good old Google search on the Internet will also help.

2. Equipment

Wearing heavy sweat clothes to a yoga class is not recommended, when you’re holding plank position for more than five breaths it’ll feel like you have lead weights strapped to your body. Don lightweight clothing that has dry wicking properties; shorts and t-shirts made from this type of fabric will do and if you don’t own any head to Lululemon. And don’t forget to bring a towel, water bottle and, most importantly, a yoga mat.

3. Do not be late

You would never be late for an important business meeting and the same rule applies when you’re going to yoga class. Latecomers are frowned upon and some studios will turn you away should you be tardy. Arrive at least 15 minutes before class, this allows you enough time to pick out a spot in the studio and settle in for the practice ahead.

4. Take it to the back (at first)

Do you want everyone to see you mess up on your first try at yoga? No, of course not! Grab a spot in the middle or back row of the studio, you’ll avoid embarrassing yourself should you mess up a pose but, most importantly, it allows you to observe what the teacher and the rest of the class is doing.

5. Keep your eyes to yourself

People of all shapes and sizes take yoga, which means don’t be surprised when you see women decked out in tight fitting Lululemon pants and skimpy sports bras. It is wholly inappropriate ogle the opposite sex in yoga class. This is an environment that is meant to be a safe place for all, so keep your hormones in check and eyes to yourself.

6. Remember to breathe

When the instructor has you holding boat pose for what seems like an eternity and the muscles in your stomach feel like they’re going to spontaneously combust, remember to breathe. The most important part of the yoga practice is your breath. Breathing evenly and deeply during class, from start to finish, is vital to remaining focused and present in the moment. It also increases endurance, helps you hold poses longer and flow in and out of different positions like water.

7. Prop yourself up

Don’t be afraid to grab props, such as a block and a strap, when you’re setting up to get your yoga on. Using these tools during your practice isn’t a sign of weakness, it does the opposite. These items can help boost your practice to achieve proper alignment, reduce the risk of injury when experimenting with a new pose and even increase the difficulty level of a pose you’re already familiar with.

8. No pain

You know the popular phrase “No pain no gain?” Well, that doesn’t apply in yoga. The practice is about listening to your body and only pushing yourself as far as you can safely and comfortably go.

9. Do not judge

This applies to all yogis whether you’ve been practicing for 10 days or 10 years. It’s very easy to judge yourself and others when a giant mirror is situated at the front of the classroom where you can see everything and everyone. Check your ego at the door; all who attend class come with different skill levels and muscle strength. This is not a competition and no awards are given out to the person who holds their downward dog the longest.

10. Time out

Even the most experienced yogis will take breaks during class to sip water or go into child’s pose – you’ll quickly learn this pose once you start practicing. And if they can do it, hell you can too!

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