Beginning Yoga Workout for Men

Though it can be hard for anyone to overcome their initial discomfort with starting a yoga practice, numbers suggest that it may be more difficult for men. Data collected by Yoga Journal in 2012 showed that 82.2% of people who participate in yoga classes are women, while only 17.8% are men.

So why don't more men take yoga classes? Studies investigating male participation in yoga are limited. But there was at least one study on (mostly) male combat veterans that suggested certain perceptions and other barriers that might stand in the way.

These potential barriers include discomfort with mental stillness, body awareness, and social connection, and perceptions that yoga is socially unacceptable, especially for men, and physically unchallenging.

Benefits of Yoga for Men

While the practice of yoga is usually associated with women in the U.S., it didn't begin that way. The history of yoga in other countries shows strong participation by boys and men.

Yoga schools and colleges in India, where yoga originated over 7,000 years ago, were established in the 19th century exclusively for boys to offer them a full education in physical health. In fact, many of the common poses were actually developed for young boys.

The top reasons for yoga participation among both men and women include enhanced flexibility, general conditioning, stress relief, improve overall health, and physical fitness. Studies have shown that regular practice may improve cardiorespiratory function, weight, and body composition while also reducing stress, enhancing mood, increasing well-being, and improving self-efficacy.

And men may find certain benefits especially appealing. For example, several studies have shown that yoga may provide enhancements to male reproductive health.

Getting Started

This routine is tailored for people with strong upper bodies, but tight hips, hamstrings, and shoulders. This describes a lot of men who exercise but don't have yoga or flexibility experience. However, some men are quite flexible and may be better served by another type of yoga workout.

If you choose to give this yoga sequence a try, you'll want to get comfortable with proper yoga gear, like a mat and certain props. You should also familiarize yourself with breathing practices.


You may be used to measuring your workout in reps, sets, or minutes. Yoga poses, however, are measured in breaths. Ideally, you want to learn to take deep, full breaths through the nose.

During practice, if a pose causes you discomfort, think of sending the breath into the area where that sensation is. Notice if your breath quickens or becomes more shallow in certain positions and try to lengthen the breath. If breathing becomes difficult in any posture, come out of the pose and rest. 

Mat and Props

You'll want a yoga mat (also called a sticky mat) on which to practice. A mat provides traction and cushioning throughout class. If you take a class at a studio, they are likely to provide clean mats. But once you develop a regular practice, you may want to invest in one of your own.

Props like blocks and blankets can really make a big difference in a beginner's yoga practice. Using props helps you get into the correct alignment and supports your body so you can stretch safely. If you don't have official props, you can try some prop hacks. For example, blocks are especially useful props, but if you don't have blocks, you can use thick books, step stools, kitchen chairs—whatever you have around the house. 


Standing Forward Bend

Standing Forward Bend

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The first pose is a standing forward bend, which can be an easier stretch for the hamstrings than a seated forward bend since gravity helps out. Don't worry about touching your toes or the floor. Just hang over your legs without locking up the knees. If your hamstrings are tight, keep the knees bent. Your feet should be about hip-distance apart. This pose is called uttanasana.

Take a deep inhale and come up to a half-forward bend (ardha uttanasana). This means coming up until your back is flat, resting your hands on your shins or thighs (avoid putting your hands directly on your knees). On your next exhale, draw your belly button toward your spine and fold back into a deep forward bend. Repeat this sequence five times, paying attention to your inhales and exhales.


Cat and Cow

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Next, come to your hands and knees. Make sure to set up with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. If your knees are sensitive, put a blanket or towel under them for extra padding. You're going to warm up your spine with some cat-cow stretches.

On an inhalation, lift your tailbone, drop your belly, and lift your head. On the next exhalation, tuck the tail, round your spine, and drop your head. Continue these oppositional movements on each breath for five rounds. 


Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Now you're going to move into downward-facing dog. You may have heard of this pose even if you've never done yoga before. It's one of the most common poses, done in almost every yoga class. The hands and knees position sets you up nicely. Curl your toes under and push into your hands.

Straighten your legs, move your shoulders back so they are no longer over your wrists, and bring your butt up high. Your body makes the shape of a "V." Let your head hang heavy. Bend one knee and then the other, peddling out the legs. You can keep your knees slightly bent if you can't straighten your legs. Stay in the pose for five breaths.



Plank Pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Plank position may be familiar to you if you follow workout trends. From downward-facing dog, shift your body forward so that your shoulders are back over your wrists. Your hips drop and your legs stay straight like you are about to do a push-up.

Imagine a straight line of energy from the crown of your head to your heels. Just holding a plank is a good way to strengthen your core. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths, making sure you can hold your alignment for the full time. If your hips start to dip or your shoulders sag, it's time to come out. 


Tree Pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Stand up and shake out your legs. Now you're going to work on a balancing pose. Shift your weight onto your right leg and bend your left knee to lift your left foot off the floor. To come into tree pose, you're going to place the sole of your left foot on the inside of your right leg.

If you can get it to the inner thigh, great. If not, place it lower down but not directly on the side of your knee. Find a fixed point to focus your gaze on and hold for five breaths. It's OK to wobble and even to fall. Just come back up. The nice thing about tree pose is that you will quickly improve your balance with regular practice. Be sure to do both legs. 


Cobbler's Pose

Cobbler's Pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

When you are done with tree pose, come to sit on the floor. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out to either side to stretch the groin area in cobbler's pose. If this is tough, try sitting up on a folded blanket or a block. You can also put blocks (or pillows) under each knee for support. Take deep inhales and exhales here.


Bridge Pose

Supported Bridge Pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet parallel. Reach down and make sure you can graze your heels with your fingertips. On an inhalation, lift your hips off the floor to bridge pose. Try to interlace your fingers behind your back and tuck your shoulders under for a shoulder stretch.

If that doesn't work, keep the arms by your sides. Don't let your feet turn out or your knees splay. Keep the hips lifted for five breaths and then release. Rest a few breaths and then lift up again. If you have a block handy, a supported bridge with the block under your sacrum is also an option. 


Lunge Plus a Twist

Bend your knees as much as is necessary to bring your palms flat to the mat. Step your right foot to the back of your mat, keeping the left knee bent over the left ankle. Keep the right knee down on the mat. You can come up with your fingertips or use blocks under your hands if needed. Take several breaths in this runner's lunge.

Then plant your right hand firmly on the floor or on a block and lift your left arm toward the ceiling, coming into a twist. Notice if twisting makes it harder to breathe. Stay 3–5 breaths, then release your left hand to the floor, step your right foot forward to a forward bend, and repeat on the other side. 



Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Crow pose in your first yoga workout? Yes, and I'll tell you why. People with strong upper bodies and cores can often do arm balances soon after they start doing yoga. Breaking down these poses that may seem impossible at first demystifies yoga and builds confidence. You won't necessarily get there right away, but it's fun to try.

From a squat, come up on the balls of your feet. Bend your elbows straight back, turning your upper arms into a shelf for your knees. Raise your butt a lot and begin to shift your weight forward. Squeeze your knees tightly into your upper arms. Play with lifting one foot or maybe both feet off the ground. If you feel you are not ready for this pose, no problem. Just skip it.


Corpse Pose

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Each yoga session ends with a rest in corpse pose, also called final relaxation. The idea is to lie completely relaxed, enjoying the effects of your practice and clearing your mind ​for a mini-meditation. 

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cushing RE, Braun KL, Alden S. A qualitative study exploring yoga in veterans with PTSD symptoms. Int J Yoga Therapy. 2018;28(1):63-70. doi:10.17761/2018-00020

  2. New Study Finds More Than 20 Million Yogis in U.S.. Yoga Journal April 12, 2017

  3. Gaskins RB, Jennings EG, Thind H, et al. Recruitment and initial interest of men in yoga for smoking cessation: QuitStrong, a randomized control pilot studyTransl Behav Med. 2015;5(2):177-188. doi:10.1007/s13142-014-0295-7

  4. Gaskins RB, Jennings EG, Thind H, et al. Recruitment and initial interest of men in yoga for smoking cessation: QuitStrong, a randomized control pilot study. Transl Behav Med. 2015;5(2):177-188. doi:10.1007/s13142-014-0295-7

  5. Sengupta P, Chaudhuri P, Bhattacharya K. Male reproductive health and yogaInt J Yoga. 2013;6(2):87-95. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.113391

  6. Cushing RE, Braun KL, Alden SW, Katz AR. Military-tailored yoga for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorderMil Med. 2018;183(5-6):e223-e231. doi:10.1093/milmed/usx071

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.