Can Inflexible Guys Do Yoga?

Yoga is focused on building strength, endurance, and flexibility, and many people new to the exercise, such as inflexible men, worry that they won’t be able to keep up with the demands of yoga poses.

Inflexible guys can do yoga because several kinds of yoga are specifically made for beginners and focused on improving stretching. Iyengar Yoga and Hatha Yoga are both suitable for beginners, and Bikram Yoga may be a good choice for anyone looking for a focus on building flexibility.

This article will discuss the importance of stretching and flexibility, kinds of yoga, and advice for inflexible guys looking to improve their range of motion.

Stretching and Flexibility: The Basics

Most exercises involve contracting your muscles, which leads to tightening and can decrease your range of motion. Stretching after you work out can loosen your muscles and make them more flexible, ultimately increasing your range of motion. Having a wider range of motion makes injury less likely, and improves your performance at activities requiring running and jumping.

Low flexibility can cause you to have bad posture or chronic pain, and makes you more susceptible to injury, even if you have a regular exercise routine. Being too flexible can also be a problem because it can cause muscle weakness or destabilize your joints. This means that understanding and building the right amount of flexibility is very important.

The right amount of flexibility for you will depend upon your particular demands on your body. Athletes need more flexibility for specific activities, while most people need a general, moderate amount of flexibility in all their joints, simply to perform regular daily activities.

For inflexible guys, building flexibility should be a priority. Luckily, there are many ways to do that.

Building Flexibility

If you’re concerned about being able to do yoga, you should add flexibility-building exercises to your regular exercise routine. This will prepare you for more advanced yoga positions and styles and lead to a better overall experience.

You should stretch either after exercise or after a brief warm-up to make sure that your muscles are warm and at their most flexible. Breathe through your stretches, keeping them gentle and continuous. You should never bounce in your stretches, because that can cause injury, and you should always stop if you feel any kind of pain.

You should generally hold your stretches for a short period of time, about 10 to 30 seconds each, and not right before you’re about to exercise. Even if you stretch after a warm-up, stretching before a workout can make it harder to generate power and lead to slower running and lower jumps.

You should incorporate stretching into your exercise routine at least two to three days per week, and make sure to repeat stretches about four times each during a stretching routine, especially for your major muscle groups.

However, you will find that your body has its own particular needs in order to remain limber, and you should always pay attention to your body first and foremost. Remember that you should never feel pain while stretching.

Another important factor is to make sure you have equal flexibility on both sides of your body. If you stretch one leg more than another, you may injure yourself while running or doing some other kind of exercise.

Example Stretching Routine

The following is an example six-part stretching exercise aimed at improving flexibility in the whole body. This is a great start for inflexible guys who don’t want to go into a yoga class unprepared.

  1. The Runner’s Stretch: Move into a lunge with your right foot forward, and touch the floor with your fingertips. Inhale, then exhale while straightening your forward leg. Repeat four times on the right side, and then four times on the left.
  2. The Standing Side Stretch: Stand with your arms over your head, and your hands clasped together, pointer fingers pointing upward, with your feet together and facing forward. Exhale and bend to the side, then return to center. Repeat four times on the right, then four times on the left.
  3. The Forward Hang: Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet hip-distance apart, then interlace your fingers behind you. Straighten your arms and bend at the waist as you exhale, letting your hands stretch upward. Repeat four times.
  4. The Lunging Arch: Go into a lunge, then raise your arms above your forward leg, with your palms aimed at the floor. Breathe in and bring your arms over your head, stretching as far as you comfortably can. Repeat four times, then switch sides and repeat four times again.
  5. Back Twist: Sit with your legs straight in front of you, then bend your left knee and bring your left foot over your right leg. Put your left hand on the floor and your right elbow to the outside of your left knee, then bend at the waist. Repeat four times, switch sides and then repeat four times again.
  6. The Bound Angle: Sit cross-legged, then bring your heels together in front of you. Let your knees drop as low as they can without causing any pain. Hold your shins and inhale, then lean forward with your hands flat on the ground. Repeat four times.

Remember that it takes time to build flexibility and that where you are today is not where you’ll be a month from now. Incremental changes make a big difference, and you should push yourself an appropriate amount over a long period of time rather than pushing yourself too hard all at once out of impatience.

Building Flexibility Through Yoga

Yoga is meant to build flexibility, strength, endurance, and mindfulness, and it comes in many shapes and forms. Different kinds of yoga are focused on different kinds of fitness, and it’s important to know what your goals are and what specific kinds of yoga are like before you start.

Yoga also varies greatly in levels of challenge. So finding the right kind of yoga for your skill level is also an important component to make sure that you find a routine that works for you and improves your health and well-being, rather than over-challenging you and causing injury or burnout.

There are several kinds of yoga aimed at flexibility, which is good for inflexible guys who are new to the practice:

  • Iyengar Yoga is aimed at learning the technical aspects of yoga and improving posture, and often involves heavy use of equipment, like the SANKUU Yoga Strap and the Gaiam Essentials Yoga Block. This is a good choice for beginners because it allows you the time to become acquainted with poses before trying to get into the rhythm of a more free-flowing yoga class.
  • Hatha Yoga covers the basics of yoga poses in a slow, flowing way, blending together elements of more difficult yoga classes along with beginner’s stretches and a focus on rhythmic breathing.
  • Bikram Yoga enhances yoga’s flexibility-building elements by involving a heated studio that keeps the muscles warm and allows for deeper stretching. However, it is important to stay hydrated and not go into a Bikram class hungry, as it can be a physically intense experience.

There are also many yoga-like adaptations that you can find to help you incorporate elements of yoga into your stretching routine, like this video from FitnessBlender:

Perhaps most importantly, don’t be discouraged! It takes time to build the flexibility necessary to do more advanced kinds of yoga, and it’s important to be realistic about where you are so that you are able to build your own skills. Any increase in flexibility is a reason for celebration, and are steps towards more difficult forms of yoga and other stretching exercises.

Conclusion

Inflexible guys can do yoga by starting slowly and working on their flexibility in and out of yoga classes. Flexibility is an important part of fitness, and there are many kinds of yoga specifically targeted at making your body more flexible. Several of these options are also good for beginners.

Sources

Sita

Mother of three and Yogi of 20+ years and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I am also a Certified Thai massage therapist and I have taught Gymnastics for more than 10 years. In the last couple of years, I've been a big promotor of intermittent fasting.

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