John Manrique, co-founder of Revolutions Cycling Studio in Jupiter, Florida, knew he needed to work on his flexibility, and he was interested in yoga. His first yoga experience was in a combination indoor cycling and yoga class. After taking the class, he felt the immediate benefit that yoga provided to his cycling. He now attends a yin yoga class weekly, making it an integral part of his training.

Anthony Dominici, a Los Angeles–based executive producer and filmmaker, thought Pilates “sounded a little ‘light’ for a workout.” But then he began having back pain. “My wife encouraged me to go with her to a session, and I felt better immediately,” he says. “I’ve been training now for 3 years. My back pain is gone. My upper body and core are stronger.”

Men: Yoga and/or Pilates may be the missing link in your workout routine! Discover the benefits of these mind-body methods and learn ways to begin training from Shirley Archer, JD, MA, E-RYT 200, IDEA’s mind-body-spirit spokesperson and a certified yoga, Pilates and meditation teacher.

Benefits for Men

“Men have a higher center of gravity and more developed quads than women,” says Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM, professor of exercise science at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama. “The hamstrings tighten against [the quads] to counteract the forces, and men end up tighter than women on both sides of the upper leg. Many Pilates exercises are excellent for addressing this.”

Here are just a few benefits of doing Pilates or yoga:

  • develops strength
  • enhances athletic performance
  • decreases chances of getting injured during sports
  • assists with injury recovery
  • increases flexibility
  • improves posture
  • enhances agility
  • decreases stress
  • strengthens your connection with yourself

Trying Yoga or Pilates

If you’re interested in getting the benefits of these mind-body workouts, consider these suggestions:

  • Go with a significant other, friend or co-worker who already attends a regular class.
  • Look for classes or private sessions that are taught by men, designed for men or include other male participants.
  • Take a few private sessions to learn the basics at your own speed.
  • Take an intro class. Some gyms periodically offer a sample try-it session specifically geared for the beginner.
  • Look for 30- to 45-minute classes.
  • Try a class that fuses yoga or Pilates with another exercise form. Examples include classes like yoga for cyclists or Pilates for runners.
Sample Yoga Sequence for men

“This sequence moves your spine in all directions and helps to release the psoas mus- cle, which is usually also tight in men with tight quadriceps and hamstring muscles,” says Nicole DeAvilla, E-RYT-500, yoga therapist educator in San Francisco.

Look for videos and books that show these poses, or work one-on-one with a yoga expert who can help you learn them.

  • tadasana
  • warrior II
  • chair pose
  • side-angle pose
  • wide-stance half forward bend (Keep natural curves, and bend forward onlyenough to feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Do not go farther than where thespine is parallel to the floor.)
  • warrior I
  • dancer’s pose with strap (Stand near a wall as needed for balance.)After you have had some strength and balance challenges and your muscles arethoroughly warmed up, go to the floor for some deeper stretching. Breathe deeply as you hold each position:
  • windshield wipers with twist (Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Feet aremat distance apart. Gently rock legs side to side like windshield wipers. The head can rock gently in the opposite direction as the legs move. Allow legs to move to one side, head to the other, and hold in a twist. Repeat on opposite side.)
  • legs up the wall (Lie on back and extend legs up the wall. Use the core to get into the pose. Elevate the hips and/or move far enough away from the wall to allow the back to be completely supported and the legs to extend fully. Three variations:
    1. simple legs up
    2. piriformis stretch (Bend one knee and rest the opposite lower leg on top of the thigh.)
    3. butterfly stretch (Bring the soles of the feet together, and let the knees open to the sides.)
  • relaxation

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