These Muscles Dont Stretch

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Another problem men commonly have with yoga is their lack of flexibility. From an early age, men are often encouraged to gain strength, but strength without stretching causes muscles to shorten, even if they gain bulk. The strongest man in the world may not be able to touch his toes.

"But the strongest man in the world looks great!" you may protest. "And who needs to touch his toes, anyway?" Flexibility is important for men for several reasons:

> Flexible bodies are most resistant to injury. Tendons and muscles become more elastic and can bend farther without tearing.

> Getting up in the morning is a lot easier, and your body is less stiff when you have good flexibility.

> Adding flexibility to your workout gives you a three-pronged approach to physical fitness: strength training, cardiovascular training, and flexibility training.

This approach is more holistic, developing all aspects of your physical body and maintaining a healthier balance.

> If you're ever forced to sit on the floor for a long period of time, you won't mind as much.

> A flexible body encourages a flexible mind.

> Flexibility can make sex a lot more fun! (Isn't that reason enough all by itself?)

Just remember that yoga can do great things for your health and your life. The exercises will tone and strengthen your body in ways that are both different and complementary to your other physical activities. Or if you're sedentary, yoga is a great way to move into a physical lifestyle. Yoga's deep-breathing exercises and meditation can also be new ways for you to discover the limitless possibilities of your body and mind. Give it a try—and welcome to the team!

The following are two styles of yoga for yoguys (and yogals!) who are looking for physical challenges:

A Yoga Minute

The following are two styles of yoga for yoguys (and yogals!) who are looking for physical challenges:

^ Ashtanga Yoga literally means the "Eight Limbs of Yoga," as defined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra. However, it has come to be seen in our society as a Hatha Yoga practice that includes an intense vinyasa workout (see Chapter 16, "A Continuous Flow").

^ Power Yoga (see The Complete Idiot's Guide to Power Yoga and Beryl Bender Birch's book, Power Yoga) is a specific, highly athletic form of yoga that is based on the Western conception of Ashtanga Yoga. It includes high-intensity, choreographed sequences of postures combined with breath and is quite popular among athletes and others seeking a physically demanding workout.

Here are some good yoga exercises for yoguys:

> Those who require cardiovascular exertion. Look for Power Yoga or Ashtanga classes in your area, or invent some challenging vinyasa for yourself (see Chapter 16).

> Sitting postures that increase flexibility in the legs and hips, such as the hero and butterfly pose (see Chapter 17, "Are You Sitting Down?").

> Standing postures to increase your confidence when it seems like you can't get your body to do anything, such as the mountain; warrior 1, 2, and 3; and lightning bolt (see Chapter 13, "What Do You Stand For?").

> Inversions to replenish and balance your entire body, such as the bridge, shoul-derstand, headstand, and handstand (see Chapter 15, "Come on, Body, Let's Do the Twist").

> Shavasana (see Chapter 19, "Dead to the World"). The corpse pose may be incredibly challenging for you, because ironically, it isn't challenging! (Well, not in the typical sense.) Practicing shavasana may be the one time in your day when you can completely release challenges and simply "be." Completely relaxing your body and mind isn't as easy as it sounds. Even if you love a good challenge, remember that you need to maintain inner balance. Life isn't always challenging, nor should it be. Maybe you yearn for a space in your life without challenges. Shavasana—indeed, all of yoga—can be that space.

> Any others that look interesting or fun to you!

And gentlemen, no matter how self-sufficient you are, consider taking a yoga class, because a yoga class is a place where you can go just for yourself. A lot of men are used to exercising in groups, but yoga lets you move, breath, and think without reference to anyone else. Taking a class will give your practice structure, plus the chance to really learn about yourself—not in terms of how others see you, but in terms of who you really are.

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Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Practitioners of yoga talk about a unification of body, mind and spirit acquired through practicing the yoga exercises and techniques. Learn more within this guide.

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