Men’s yoga for the over 50 or for those who’s body makes them feel old before their time!
Yoga for men over 50 can be a fantastic way to keep on top of your diminishing joint mobility. It’s also an effective way to break down negative postural habits that can form with the onset of the years. Likewise, anyone who works in a physically demanding job will likely be feeling the effects on their joints and back way before hitting fifty. Yoga for men of all ages, but especially yoga for men over 50 and tradesmen, can help with issues such as sciatica and back pain when practised regularly.
These supported stretches show you how to get around some of the typical gripes experienced with men’s flexibility. The yoga poses can also be practised in the privacy of your own home (as I know some of you guys out there are still shy about joining a yoga class).
Childs pose in Men’s Yoga
Childs pose is usually one of the most problematic poses in yoga for men over 50. This can be due to tightness in the muscles and tissues of the lower back. However, the inability to get into Childs pose is often due to restrictions in the knees. This could be due to damaged knees, or to tightness in the upper leg muscles that in turn pulls on the knees in this pose. Tight front of the ankles can also be restrictive in Childs pose.
Workaround such restrictions by placing a pillow between the back of your legs to help relieve the pressure on your knees. You can also roll a blanket up and prop it under the front of your ankles. As opposed to holding your head in position away from the floor, bring your forehead to a block to support it. Be sure to tuck your chin to lengthen the back of your neck and to release as much of your weight back towards your heels as possible.
This pose decompresses the lower back and back of the pelvis and can help with relieving back pain. Its will also stretch out your thighs and ankles and is very calming for your nervous system.
Forward folding when you can’t touch your toes
Standing forward fold
Many men seem to think that the ability to touch your toes is a marker of success in yoga. But the reality is that most men will fall short of touching the floor when doing a forward fold. This may be due to tightness in the backline such as with the hamstrings, calves and along the back itself. To compensate for these restrictions a lot of men tend to round forward into their forward folds from the mid-back.
The idea of this pose is to keep the spine as long as possible. This requires a hinging forward at the hips, as opposed to rounding forward through the upper back. To facilitate this movement, keep a bend in the knees when hinging forward and then cross your arms underneath you. This will help to weigh you down deeper into the pose. Alternatively, try bringing your hands to supports near your feet. This helps you to take your weight further forward onto your toes, giving you more length through the back of the legs.
Hamstring and calf stretch
To further ease into tight backs of the legs come into a kneeling position and extend one leg out in front. Use blocks for your hands and then tilt forward from the pelvis, keeping your spine straight. If your knees are sensitive then fold the mat a couple of times to support your base knee, or use a cushion as support. Drawing your extended leg toes back towards you allows you to access a deeper stretch along the back of that leg.
Yoga for men with tight hips (which is most men!)
Bound angle pose
Create a diamond shape in front of you with the soles of your feet together and knees dropping out to the side. To help with an anterior pelvic tilt in Bound Angle pose, sit on a prop such as a block.
As well as stretching the lower back and outer hips, this pose works into the inner thighs, groins, and knees. Typically men’s knees will be a lot higher than women in this pose due to anatomical differences in the pelvis and hips. If you feel it too much in your knees then try pushing your feet further away from you. Propping underneath your thighs can also help to alleviate some of the pressure.
Supine Figure of Four Pose
Supine Figure of Four Pose is a great way to target tight outer hips and hip rotator muscles. Notably, the piriformis muscle buried deep in the buttocks is prone to cause aggravation by pinching on the sciatic nerve. The gravitational component is taken out of the pose here, which allows you to spread your back restfully along the ground.
From a bent knee lying position cross one ankle over the opposite knee and then draw both legs in towards you. If you can’t reach behind your base leg without raising your shoulders off the ground then use a strap. This will allow you to relax your upper body and focus on releasing into the buttock of your top leg. If you’re quite outwardly curved in your upper back (Kyphotic) then you may need to bring the back of your head to a cushion in this pose.
Reclining Butterfly pose
Further balance out a rounded forward (Kyphotic) posture with Reclining Butterfly Pose. Roll up a pillow under the small of your back, another along the spine, and bring your legs into the diamond shape as before. Once again prop under your thighs or knees to allow the front of the hips to fully open. To stretch out tight or shortened muscles in the chest, bring your hands out either side of you with bent elbows and upward-facing palms.
Time to get practising guys!
Normally what we most avoid is actually what we most need. Often men’s excuse for not trying yoga is that ‘I’m not flexible enough to do yoga!’ Now you wouldn’t take driving lessons if you already knew how to drive a car, would you? So why then would you need to already be flexible to start practising yoga? Isn’t that the whole point? I guess in some ways yoga is like learning to drive a car. But instead of driving a machine, you step into the driver’s seat of your body and mind to better direct them towards a state of balance. So don’t be shy guys! Give these yoga poses for men a go at home and see just how amazing they make you feel afterwards.
For more advice on how to improve your home yoga practise click here.