It’s a privilege for OlderBeast to publish this guest post by Dean Pohlman, CEO & Founder of Man Flow Yoga. MFY is a great online resource for guys new to, or advancing in, yoga for fitness. I’ve been using it as part of my routine and I really like it. Thanks for your perspectives here, Dean! -Mark T.
In my experience, four distinct types of guys benefit tremendously from trying yoga. Are you one of them?
Unfortunately, some guys who would benefit from yoga can’t get past the popular misconceptions that it’s for girls, it’s too spiritual, or it isn’t hard enough. But if you’re secure enough in your masculinity to give yoga a chance (yes, I’m calling you insecure if your excuse for not doing yoga is “no way, yoga is for women!”), then invest a few minutes to see if one of these “yoga types” described below sounds like you.
Whatever type you may be, the bottom line is that doing yoga at least twice a week will help you move better, feel better, and even look better. Read on to learn how!
Type 1: The Chronic Pain Sufferer
Profile: Your body hurts no matter what. Your fitness goals are to do whatever you need to, with as little time and effort as possible, in order to avoid pain in daily life.
If you go through the day with consistent pain that’s not induced by exercise or certain movements, you have chronic pain. The most common chronic issue is lower-back pain, but lots of guys also suffer from knee, shoulder and neck pain. The most likely causes: (1) past injury or surgery, (2) inactivity, or (3) sitting too much.
Chronic Pain Sufferers benefit from yoga because it helps address the muscle tightness and weaknesses that lead to chronic pain. Yoga builds strength and flexibility in neglected areas.
You probably don’t want to spend much of your day exercising (if at all). So what’s most useful for you are effective, short, and to-the-point workouts that build the strength and mobility you need to complete everyday tasks, without having to worry about consistent pain.
Type 2: The General Fitness Seeker
Profile: You’re not training for anything specific, but you’re interested in weight management, building muscle and looking good, and being able to move functionally. You’re more focused on the results of working out rather than the fitness itself.
You’ve probably tried other types of fitness with mixed success, and you’re on the lookout for something new, exciting, and hopefully effective.
Most of what you know about yoga is stuff you’ve heard in pop culture or in the news. You might assume that as a workout, yoga isn’t very effective. Or that it’s overly spiritual and mainly for women. Then you hear that yoga can be a great workout, too; that it can get you results. So you’re a bit skeptical, but also interested.
After your first yoga workout, you may be surprised at how tired you feel. “Wow, this yoga stuff is hard,” you think. Maybe the workout feels more effective than other workouts you’ve done. Maybe you like it because your joints don’t feel like crap the next day, but your muscles are still telling you they were worked. Whatever the reason, you’re intrigued and you want to do more.
For the General Fitness Seeker intrigued by yoga, the question is where and how to keep going with experimentation. You may find expert-led, online video instruction is your best bet. Why?
- Going to a studio isn’t always practical
- You might also not want to go to a studio as a beginner, because the last thing you want to do in front of a group of people (most likely, dominated by women) you don’t know is something you can’t do well yet.
By following a video at home, you can learn on your own, practice at your own pace, and then venture into a yoga class when you feel ready. Of course, you’re going to need a good, fitness-focused class for that, with an instructor who understands the specific difficulties guys face when it comes to yoga, and is focused on helping beginners learn from the ground up.
Type 3: The Aging Fit Guy
Profile: You are a long-time practitioner of strength training and/or endurance sports. But that discomfort you’ve felt in your shoulders in upper-body workouts is turning into more than discomfort. Or your knees ache more than they used to. Or you’re bouncing back less quickly from difficult workouts.
If this is you, it’s time to face it – you’re not 20 anymore. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop working out. It just means you have to adapt to your changing body.
As we age, the first thing to go is mobility. Then balance. You’ll also notice recovery doesn’t happen as quickly as it used to. These are all natural developments. So rather than comparing yourself to when you were younger (and yelling at kids to get off your lawn), you should do workouts that help address these aspects of your fitness instead.
For the Aging Fit Guy, yoga is the ultimate rejuvenator. More mobility releases strain on your joints and makes your movements feel smoother. More core strength means more power. Better muscle activation means more strength and more control. Better balance means all of the above. Taking time to focus on recovery means you don’t feel as sore.
You may find that yoga satisfies all of your fitness needs, and switch over to a yoga-focused routine. Many people find that a yoga-focused workout routine actually get better results than their previous one. It certainly makes you feel better on a day-to-day basis, avoids the pound-and-ground on your joints inherent in other types of fitness, and is something you can do consistently every day.
Then again, maybe you still want to keep up your other workouts. That’s great, too, because as long as you do yoga consistently you’ll actually get better at whatever else you’re doing. Your movements will be smoother, you’ll be able to complete more of your scheduled workouts, and you’ll even notice your physique improving. (Not that the physique is the most important thing – we’d rather be functional, but having more definition in our muscles and a slimmer waistline would be great, too!)
Type 4: The Peak Performance Seeker
Profile: You may be a “Weekend Warrior” playing team sports, an endurance athlete of the running, cycling and/or swimming variety, or a CrossFitter. You take your fitness extremely seriously. You track workouts, plan out meals, avoid eating unhealthy foods (for the most part), and know exactly what workouts are scheduled for the week.
If this is you, there’s no lack of motivation to exercise. There’s no way you’re giving up your other workouts, but you’ll do yoga 1-2 times per week if it means you’ll improve your fitness and get better at what you already enjoy doing. For you, yoga can be useful because it addresses the holes in your existing routine. You already have strength and endurance. So what you need to work on are balance, core strength, and mobility. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to spend a few minutes on recovery work, either.
Most likely, you already know about the benefits of yoga, because you’ve heard about it from one of your other fitness buddies, or read about it in your fitness research. The only thing holding you back is finding the right type of yoga, because you want a no-nonsense, fitness-focused yoga; one that helps reach specific fitness goals, instead of forcing you to sit down, chant, and practice your spirituality (you don’t have time for that, or you’d rather just do it in private).
For All Types: How Do You Get Started?
If one of these type descriptions sounds like you, and you’re not already doing yoga regularly — you should give it a serious try.
There are two alternatives for how to go about it.
You can find a yoga studio, and a yoga teacher there, that work for you. Or you can find an online instructor with an approach that feels right for you and your needs. Both methods work, and it just depends on what you prefer.
1. The Studio Method. Use Yelp or Google to find local yoga studios you feel comfortable traveling to. If it’s 30 minutes away, most likely you don’t have time for that. Look at the descriptions of the classes they offer. Read the instructors’ bios. Once you’ve found someone you think you’ll like, sign up for a class. Most studios offer a 1-week or 1-month pass at a discounted rate, so you can test it out before committing. There are many types of yoga, but the most important factor in deciding whether or not a class is for you is the instructor him/herself. Try out a bunch of different instructors, and figure out which one you like best. Go to a yoga class at least once per week.
2. The Online Method. There are two variations here:
(1) YouTube/mass online yoga website. If you know what you’re looking for, you can use YouTube or other online video streaming services that offer hundreds or even thousands of yoga workouts to choose from. The only problem: you can’t really be sure of what you get until you get a few minutes into the workout. That means you’re going to waste some time trying to find what you want. But, if you’d like to save money in the interest of spending more time finding what you’re looking for, YouTube is a good route.
(2) The Man Flow Yoga method (that’s me). This is a comprehensive online training resource with a larger variety of workouts, programs, and tutorials. The focus is on teaching yoga for fitness to guys new to yoga — the technique, the benefits of the postures, and what you should be feeling in each pose. As a result, you’ll be able to complete the classes and be confident you’re doing poses correctly. All content is available in the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area. You can get started with a 7-Day Trial for just $1 here.
Special note for OlderBeast readers: Get 20% Savings on any membership to the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area when you use the code “olderbeast” at checkout.
About Dean Pohlman
Dean is founder and CEO of Man Flow Yoga, the largest online brand of yoga for fitness for men. He’s also author of the #1 bestselling ebook Yoga Basics for Men (in four categories on Amazon), creator of the top-4 bestselling Yoga Boost DVD in the Fitness & Exercise category on Amazon, and yoga trainer to professional athletes.
Dean started Man Flow Yoga in 2012 while he was a lacrosse player for the University of Wisconsin, teaching yoga to his teammates. He quit his job to pursue Man Flow Yoga full time in 2013, and has never looked back. His mission: show men how yoga can improve their fitness by utilizing a down-to-earth, no-frills, fitness-centric approach.