Baron Baptiste, creator of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga and assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, put this sequence of poses together to stretch guys' strongest spots like the shoulders, hips, and groin and strengthen their weakest ones like the low back and knees which don't get much love at the gym. Baptiste recommends practicing all of these poses in the order presented.
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Stretches knees, ankles and thighs
How-to: Begin in a kneeling position with knees touching. Bring your heels out alongside your butt, keeping your shins and ankles pressing into the floor. If you can, sit between your legs. If this is uncomfortable, place a phone book or block beneath you (as shown) to lessen the tension in the knees and ankles. You will feel a strong stretching sensation, but you should not feel pain. This is a progressive pose. Your body will adapt to it over time. Hold for 1 minute and keep your breath slow and deep. Rest, and repeat a second time.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨
Why it's good for you: Hero pose stabilizes and strengthens the vulnerable knee joints while lubricating the connective tissues in and around the knee with blood, oxygen, and fluid. This is an essential pose for runners.
Strengthens abs, spine, arms and hip flexorsÃ¢â‚¬Â¨
How-to: Sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor in front of you. Place your hands behind you and lean into your arms for support. Engage your core muscles and keep a perfectly straight spine as you lift your right leg and then your left, bringing them to a 45-degree angle with the floor. Bring your legs together and imagine squeezing a book between your thighs to keep them active. Lift through your sternum and slowly straighten your legs while keeping your torso straight (if it starts to collapse, keep a slight bend in the knees). Press through the balls of your feet and spread your toes wide. Reach your arms toward the front of your mat, on either side of your legs, in line with your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, working up to a minute or longer.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨
Why it's good for you: In addition to strengthening the core and back muscles, boat promotes healthy thyroid and prostate gland function.
Stretches hips, shoulders, and thighs; strengthens back
How-to: Lie facedown and reach your arms back toward your feet with your palms up. Bend your knees so your heels come in toward your butt. Inhale and grab your outer ankles. Press your ankles into your hands and your hands into your ankles as you lift your thighs off the floor. Continue pressing your legs up and back as you breathe deeply and fully. Hold for 30 seconds, repeating two or three times. If you are very tight in the hips or quadriceps, you may want to try one leg at a time.
Why it's good for you: One of the best stress-busting poses, bow opens the chest to allow you to take in more oxygen. Strong abs are great, but without a strong back can lead to injury. Bow pose takes care of this by helping create muscular balance.
Stretches chest, neck, spine, and hips
How-to: Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. You should be able to tickle the backs of your heels with your fingers. Place your arms on the floor alongside your body, palms down, and as you inhale lift your hips off the floor, pressing them up. Keep your knees directly over your heels. For an added shoulder stretch, slide your arms under your body, interlace your fingers, and press the backs of your arms into the floor as you continue to lift your hips. Hold for 45 seconds and with each breath, lift your hips a little higher. Exhale when you lower your hips. Repeat three times.
Why it's good for you: Many men are tight in the intercostal muscles and connective tissue surrounding the rib cage, which can limit lung capacity. Bridge pose opens the chest and releases those tight muscles, allowing for fuller, easier breathing. Over time, practicing this pose can improve performance in all physical activities and help ing relieving upper respiratory issues.
Stretches shoulders and hips; strengthens upper and lower bodyÃ¢â‚¬Â¨
How-to: From crescent lunge with your right foot forward, spin your left toes out to face the left and press your heel down. Your back foot should be parallel with the front of your mat. Inhale and reach your arms overhead with your palms facing each other. Drop your shoulders down your back. Bring your torso up away from your front thigh. Don't let your front knee extend past the toes. Try to rotate both hips to face forward. Hold for 1 minute. Switch sides.
Why it's good for you: Warrior increases space and mobility in areas where men need it most—shoulders, hips, and knees. It also generates great stability in and around the knee, which is key for high-impact workouts.
Loosens tight hips by stretching the groin; strengthens arms and legsÃ¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨
How-to: Start on your hands and knees. Step your right foot between your hands into a lunge, keeping your right knee directly above your heel. Inhale and slowly lift your back knee off the floor. Press your back heel toward the wall behind you as you begin to straighten your back leg. Inhale and lift your arms overhead. Keep your spine long as you hold for 1 minute and breathe. Switch sides, doing each side twice.
Why it's good for you: Tight hips can cause lower back pain, knee strain, and injury, which can keep you out of the game, out of the gym, and suffering at your desk. Adding crescent lunge to your pre-workout routine can help you open your hips.
Stretches shoulders and chest; strengthens thighs, calves, spine, and ankles
How-to: Stand up tall with your big toes touching. Inhale and raise your arms overhead you're your palms facing each other. Drop your shoulders down your back as you lengthen up through your neck. As you exhale, bend your knees and sit down and back as if you were sitting into a chair. This is like a squat with your feet together. Do not let your knees extend in front of your toes. With each inhale lengthen your spine. With each exhale sit down a little deeper. Eventually your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Drop your tailbone toward the floor to take any stress out of your lower back. Keep your core muscles engaged and keep your knees and thighs pressed tightly together. Hold for 30 seconds.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨
Why it's good for you: No gym necessary! Chair pose torches abdominal fat while strengthening the thighs and legs.
Stretches feet, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves; strengthens arms, legs, and core
How-to: Start on your hands and knees with your shins hip-width apart. Place your hands under your shoulders and spread your fingers wide. Pressing firmly through your hands, lift your knees off the floor, and straighten your legs. (If you have tight hamstrings, a gentle bend in the knees is fine). Walk your hands forward a few inches and your feet back a few inches to lengthen the pose. Squeeze your thighs as you press them toward the back wall. Reach your heels toward the floor—they might not reach (which is fine). Relax your head and neck and move your shoulder blades away from your ears. Set your gaze between your feet. Engage your core muscles. Breathe deeply. Hold for 3 minutes, rest, and repeat.
Why it's good for you: Guys especially experience back pain that stems from chronic tightness in the hamstrings and hips. Down dog releases those areas and the shoulders, while building upper body strength. If you can do only one pose a day, start with downward dog.
Stretches hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthens legs and kneesÃ¢â‚¬Â¨
How-to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, gently hinge forward from your waist, lowering your torso toward the floor. Bend your knees generously to take any pressure out of the lower back and hamstrings. Grab opposite elbows with opposite hands; breathe deeply and let gravity pull your body toward the earth. Relax your head, neck, shoulders and torso. Slowly sway your torso or gently shake your head. Hold for 1 minute and roll back up to standing.
Why it's good for you: This is a great move to use as part of a warm-up for any workout. Excess tension often gets trapped in our head, neck and shoulders, and that buildup can lead to headaches, insomnia, poor circulation, and decreased lung capacity. If you practice this pose with slow, steady breathing, it can lower your blood pressure over time. Ã¢â‚¬Â¨
Stretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves; strengthens the kneesÃ¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨ How-to:
Lie on your back and lift your left leg at a 90-degree angle to your right leg extended along the floor. Flex both feet. Bend your left knee and bring the knee in toward your chest using your hands. Hug it tightly against your body to relax your hip. Next, loop a strap around your left foot and slowly straighten the left leg back to 90 degrees. Press your right thigh firmly down against the floor. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat twice on each side. Why it's good for you:
This pose stimulates the prostate gland and improves digestion. Runners may find it useful for relieving sciatica caused by a tight piriformis.
Then relax in corpse pose (savasana), lying flat on your back with your arms alongside your body. Close your eyes and breathe naturally. Stay here for at least 2 to 3 minutes, allowing every muscle to melt into the floor beneath you.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨
To get more great moves for your man, visit the Men's Health Yoga Center