10 yoga styles for all you ‘real’ men out there
Still think you’re too tough for yoga? Think again. Yoga is the complete workout for mind, body and soul, and there’s plenty of evidence out there to support that. And yet not all are convinced. There are still plenty of alpha males out there who think that yoga is a ‘girl’s sport’. It’s true yoga may not be for everyone, but there are so many different styles out there nowadays there’s a fair chance something will appeal, even to the meanest dudes out there. We don’t yet have gun toting, lion taming yoga for hedonistic hell raisers, but in the meantime try one of these styles.
Yoga for the Bro’s! Broga (from combining Bro’ and Yoga…get it?) is a style that was designed specifically with men in mind. A yoga class geared for the guys (where, in fact, women are usually welcome too) that’s strong, energetic and challenging, it will give you a decent workout just like you’d get at the gym – only better! Expect a high energy session that will strengthen and tone your body in new ways, but also leave you feeling more flexible than ever before. Great also for sports performance improvement. It’s also very inclusive too, so although initially aimed at enticing more men onto the mat, it’s open to all, and for every ‘body’, from total beginners to experienced practitioners. The idea originates from the USA but Broga is now
seen all over the world, including across the UK. Find out more at: broga.uk.com
2 Boxing yoga
If you’re nervous about stepping into a yoga studio, but think that it’s okay (as in, macho enough) to be in a boxing gym, then this one will appeal to you. BoxingYoga (boxingyoga.com) is a hybrid style of yoga that incorporates some of the moves you might see in a boxing ring. The main difference is that there’s no opponent (no sparring partner, not even a punch bag) and you’re not going to get bopped on the nose. The idea was first conceived by Matt Garcia at his North London boxing club, Total Boxer, a place where real fighters train. Described as a powerful yoga-based training system, it’s popular with boxers looking to improve their flexibility and general body fitness outside the ring. And it’s an ideal way in for all you guys looking to get started in the world of yoga.
3 Beer Yoga
What could be more macho than drinking beer? Erm, doing yoga with beer. That’s right, it’s now possible to combine these two worthwhile leisure pursuits all in one go. The idea originates from Germany (a country that knows a thing or two about beer) but is now proving popular across the world, including here in the UK. More classes are now cropping up in London and elsewhere and the venues can be pretty creative, such as old breweries. Yoga instructor Aminta Gagnon recently taught Hertfordshire’s first ever Outdoor Beer Yoga at Hitchin Lavender Fields. “Being outside is so beneficial for your yoga practice.” she says. “Students are loving the classes and the tickets are selling fast!” It’s a great idea for the warm summer months, and a novel way to quench your thirst after a yoga class instead of the usual coconut water. Plus it might just save you from that trip down the pub afterwards and spoiling all the good work you’ve just put in on the mat.
4 Yoga for athletes
Guys, if anyone calls you an ‘athlete’, you’re not going to complain, right? Well, this is definitely one for you then! You could argue that all yoga styles are suitable for athletes: whatever sport you’re into – running, soccer, surfing – pretty much any time you spend on that mat will either stretch you out or soothe your soul. One person who knows more about this area than most is Sarah Ramsden (sportsyoga.co.uk) who teaches the first teams at Manchester City and Manchester United football clubs. Perhaps her most esteemed student is former United legend Ryan Giggs, who kept playing at the highest level in the Premier League into his forties. According to Ramsden, yoga can help sports people (both boys and girls) improve flexibility, balance, stability, focus, mindful awareness and even help with their relaxation. And, using Giggs as an example, yoga can help you go on doing what you love for longer. Look, if it works for Giggsy, then surely it’s good enough for you?
5 Tequila rave
Yep, we know, those words ‘tequila’ and ‘rave’ got your attention. This unique idea comes from tattooed yoga legend David Sye, the founder of Yogabeats (yogabeats.com). It’s also been showcased at the OM Yoga Show in London. Sye is an expert in bringing people together through his Yogabeats brand. The yogi master has used yoga (usually not with the tequila part) through the years to foster peace among communities in troubled areas, from the UK’s impoverished inner cities to divided parts of the Middle East. The idea behind the Tequila Raves is simple, he says: “A shot of tequila eliminates the linear left brained mind and allows the practitioner to intimately experience the exquisite nature of their deeper physical form free from the tyranny of thought.” Tequila, he adds, is known as ‘the nectar of the gods’ and for good reason…it has been used for centuries as a ritual beverage and ceremonial offering. But it’s not just about tequila. Couple this with the huge benefits of a Yogabeats session on the mat and you’re looking at a yoga experience that will rock your world. Be wild, be spontaneous, be happy, be free!
6 DDP Yoga
This ain’t your mama’s yoga! American wrestling star Diamond Dallas Page originally developed his DDP Yoga for athletes like himself who had suffered years of injuries due to high impact sports. However, for the first 42 years of his life, Dallas admits he was a guy who “wouldn’t be caught dead” doing yoga. That changed after he ruptured spinal discs during the height of his professional career. He was so desperate to keep his childhood dream alive, he was willing to try anything…and so he tried yoga for the first time. It worked wonders for him in his recovery, eventually allowing him to get back in the ring and compete, and now he wants to tell the world, creating DDP Yoga after mixing elements of yoga with his rehab plus traditional workout principles. A great motivator and speaker, Dallas has worked with thousands of people since, inspiring positive change and helping students achieve goals such as major weight loss. He believes that anything is possible with dedication and hard work.
7 Power Yoga
Surely with the word ‘power’ in the title it’s good enough for any ‘real’ man? This is a strong, flowing, Vinyasa-based yoga, that’s an offshoot of another dynamic style, Ashtanga, popularised years ago by Madonna. You’ll find lots of other strong Vinyasa styles out there too. Great for fitness: build strength and stamina as you synchronise your breath to the movements. Energetic and uplifting, this style is popular with guys and girls for good reason. A really powerful form of yoga, where regular practice will improve your flexibility no end, plus the endorphin hits you’ll get will carry you through to next week. And you’ll get a buzz from moving on to advanced postures, which feels amazing (and looks great on your Instagram account!). Plus, you’ll find these styles in pretty much any yoga studio, wherever you go, so it’s highly accessible. Feel the power!
8 SUP Yoga
Surf boards, California, The Beach Boys, gazing out to the Pacific…these things cannot – and should not – be separated from yoga. Fortunately, someone came up with the idea of doing yoga on a board out in the water. And thus Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga came into being. If you thought yoga or surfing were difficult, try doing them together. It’s a core crunching workout like no other, where your balance will be tested to the max if you don’t want to end up in the water. SUP Yoga is fun and hugely popular on both sides of the pond these days (it’s another style to originate from the USA) and you can usually find a class in or around most major towns or cities. These can take place pretty much anywhere there’s water – lakes, rivers, even the ocean – although the choppier the waves, the more challenging it becomes just staying on your board. A great way to reconnect with nature, get a good workout and have a laugh with some mates, everybody should try SUP Yoga at some point. And if you can’t surf, you still get to carry a board around with you, look cool, and at least pretend that you’re a blond-haired beach bum from Venice Beach.
9 Bikram Yoga
This is the yoga style that Scottish tennis ace Andy Murray (and countless others) got addicted to. And if it works for a Wimbledon champ, then it could well work for you too. Full Bikram classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises, inside a room heated to 35–42 °C (95–108 °F) with a humidity of 40%. It’s hot, hot, hot, so be prepared to get very sweaty. It’s also physical so it’ll appeal very much to those looking at yoga for a good workout. Having said that, Bikram Yoga – devised by controversial figure Bikram Choudhury – has changed lives too. Indeed, the life changing aspects of all yoga styles is not to be overlooked, so whatever type you end up practicing, get prepared for transformation, both inside and out. As well as Bikram, there are lots of other hot yoga styles up and down the country, where you don’t need to follow such a fixed format. All will deliver a powerful (and sweaty) full body workout with the prospect of deep inner transformation.
Yes, that’s right…mindfulness! What’s sitting in a field watching the clouds go by got to do with being butch and manly you ask? Well, ask the US Marine Corp. The US elite fighting force has implemented and studied the effects of mindfulness training. Marines who received so-called Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training prior to their deployment reported a significant decrease in stress-perception in the field. “For me this is where true strength arises,” says London-based mindfulness expert Neil Seligman, a former barrister and the founder of The Conscious Professional (theconsciousprofessional.com), “the capacity to meet both good times and adversity with resilience.” Mindfulness – whether that’s sitting in a field or sitting on a bus on the way to work – builds mental toughness. It may even make you a better lover in the bedroom too. Our minds and emotions are key in developing and maintaining intimacy, and establishing a deep connection with our partner, adds Seligman. So how can mindfulness help? “Well, mindfulness teaches us to be 100% present to our senses, all of which are stimulated during sex.”