A Man's Guide to Yoga

Most guys face similar obstacles to fitness. If you're not stressing out, you're scraping up time to work out - and sometimes your goals are murky.

Yoga isn't a cure-all. But we heartily prescribe accompanying your workout with the ancient practice. Its benefits are obvious.

Yes, yoga links the mind and body, a concept that sounds a little bogus until you actually do it. But just as important, yoga boosts energy and speeds up your body's recovery. It can even help with back pain.

And you can do it without the trappings you may associate with yoga. Leave your Sanskrit dictionary at home and wear whatever you want.

Find a yoga class here, at iyogalife.com.

If hitting the mat still seems frilly, consider the nearly 3.5 million men who are probably sleeping better than you because they've mastered their breathing. Or the NFL players who swear by it.

"The thing with yoga is that it's counterintuitive to a guy's natural way," says Jessie Brazil, a yoga instructor and certified health and fitness associate for the Health Fitness Corporation. "A guy sees it as stretching. He doesn't see it as a workout."

Results take time. Yoga is about total body strength — and seamlessly merging it with your other passions: Sex, travel, you name it.

Venturing into contortion territory is simple. Take a beginner's class, then work the following poses into your life.

There are yoga poses for every guy pursuit. Here are a few adapted from iyogalife.com

Weight Lifting
Lifters might see yoga as too light a workout. Wrong.

"The phrase I like to use is 'find the edge,'" says Brazil. "You want to push yourself until it's difficult." Most yoga is a series of controlled, comfortable stretches. And it won't incapacitate you: You'll feel pumped.

Slip these two poses in between your workouts to help reduce soreness.

Cobra Pose
Weight lifters tend to overwork their chests and biceps. This pose tones and strengthens the entire spine.

Lie on belly with forehead touching the floor. Place palms facedown near the middle of ribs. Draw legs together, pressing the tops of feet into the floor. Draw elbows close to the sides of your body. Next, using the strength of your back (not the force of your hands), slowly lift chest off the floor, rolling shoulders down your back. Your arms are for support, while the muscles of your back and legs are responsible for the backbend. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, breathing evenly, and then slowly release to the floor.

Warrior I
Focusing on the upper body means your legs need some work. Right-handers tend to have tighter right hips, too. Warrior strengthens your legs and balances hip strength.

Stand tall with feet together and arms by your sides. Separate feet 4 to 5 feet apart, keeping them parallel. Inhale and lift arms up overhead shoulder-width apart, palms facing each other.

Exhale and turn right foot and leg 90 degrees out to the right. Turn left foot in, toward the right, at a 45-degree angle. Rotate hips and torso to face the same direction as your right leg. Try squaring both hips so they face the wall in front of you.

Take a deep breath. As you exhale, bend right knee so your right thigh and shin form a right angle. Bend knee as far as you can while keeping the outer edges of your back foot pressing flat into the floor. To align spine, focus on drawing ribs in toward your body, pressing tailbone toward the floor and elongating the back of your neck. Hold for 3 to 10 slow, deep breaths through your nose.

To come out of the pose, lower arms, straighten right knee, and return feet to their starting position. Repeat on the left. (adapted from iyogalife.com)

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