Mixed Martial Artists.
Office desk warriors.
Video game freaks.
Your last Uber driver.
What do they all have in common? Tight, overused muscles in all sorts of places.
Flexibility is a touchy subject for some mainly because people (okay, men) think its something you’re born with, and not something you can work on improving.
Maybe he’s born with it, but what about you?
Countless times have these words been uttered when the subject of taking a (dreaded) yoga class is broached: “But I’m not flexible.”
There are some things you’ll probably need to go under the knife for in order to change, but good news is that you can actually work on becoming flexible.
And by flexibility, we don’t mean crotch-to-floor splits (“YOWCH”, says your family tree) as the end goal, but a simpler one: to improve your range of motion (ROM) enough that will bring tears of pride to your mother’s (or SO’s) eyes.
When it comes to becoming as loose and limber as your manhood will allow, we want to divide your body into thirds: your top third consists of your upper body, middle third, your trunk, and final third, your lower body.
Upper Body (Shoulders, Chest, Neck)
Your upper body is both easily seen in public (which makes them the perfect PR for whatever else lies beneath and down under) and easily affected by the combination of bad habit/s and gravitational force (which is why a hunched posture is equal in body language to having had a rough day, or days).
It makes perfect sense to keep your upper body strong and tall. Not only do you look and feel it instantly, you’re less of a pain ON your ass (literally) because of your improved posture.
Now, unless you’re a rugby player or a boxer, when it comes to the upper body you only need to worry about your neck, shoulders, chest, upper back, and arms.
A pose to soften Your hard-headed Highness
Nothing like a pain-in-the-neck co-worker
to make an 8-hr workday feel like ETERNITY
Good thing is, these muscles are all fused together pretty solid, which makes it easy to loosen up the general area of your upper body. Deal with one and you’ll have affected the rest.
Stick it to the man with some desk yoga
Heck, even the Workaholics dudes are catching on
Luckily like-minded dudes are recognizing the need to stay loosey-goosey up top, like Dean from Man Flow Yoga.
What’s in it for you:
A 10-minute upper-body (thoracic) workout that looks chill on the outside, yet toasty on your chest, arm, and shoulder area.
Why it’s great for you:
The dynamic and active exercises (you’ll never hold anything for longer than a minute) require that you focus on taking deep, continuous breaths while you see how far you can go. And by breaths, we don’t mean gasps thru gritted teeth!
Arm and upper spine extensions (the opposite of flexion, which in layman’s terms is what you do whenever a cute girl walks by, regardless of whether you actually have anything worth flexing or not) that help lengthen limbs will also help release unnecessary tension and correct your posture.
Controlled twisting and side-bending helps even out any muscle imbalances between the right and left sides of your body.
Leg and core stabilizing exercises help you stabilize and help in further opening up your torso from all angles.
Here’s a by-the-minute breakdown to help you see which stretch/exercise is what:
1:19 – Spine Extension (assisted with a foam roller)
2:01 – Thoracic Spine Twists
3:57 – Yoga Tabletop / Half-lift (assisted with a yoga block/foam roller)
6:18 – Forward Fold
7:00 – “If you lack mobility in your spine, it could be a core issue”.
Right on the money, sirs.
9:45 – Lateral bends (assisted with a yoga strap/towel)
10:40 – Back bends
11:18 – High Plank
11:45 – Cobra
12:11 – Downward Facing Dog
13:15 – Spinal Twists
Have a cigar while you’re at it
A few decades ago you’d be hard-pressed to find many guys admitting to their bro-kada that they take yoga… and up to now a few still don’t for fear of heckling.
But when you have stars like Sting, Jon Bon Jovi, and Woody Harrelson (among many other celebrities and athletes) turning to the downward dog (and then some) for some hip happiness, it’s hard not to wonder why ordinary dudes all around are catching on to the ahh-inspiring and restorative qualities of yoga.
Many of us who’ve experienced physical therapy will recognize that several of the rehabilitative exercises performed on you by a PT seem similar to yoga asanas.
Yoga’s philosophical origins are said to be at least five thousand years old, while the asanas practiced today were developed more than a century ago—far earlier than any fitness discipline around today.
When something has lasted far longer than your grandmother is when you know a practice WORKS.
Trunk (Spine, Hips, and Groin)
Whether or not you buy into the spiritual aspect of yoga is not related to the various take-aways that a practitioner can receive from constant practice.
Why exactly do you need to loosen up your trunk, anyway?
Your trunk holds your bits together, literally. Which means if you’re tight and rusty around the middle, it’ll only be a matter of time before you see it trickling down (or up) toward your extremities.
You don’t want to be the tito who clutches his lumbar the moment someone cracks a funny joke.
It's a way to get rid of the Dad Bod, too. Constantly moving your trunk is a cue for your brain to stop storing some of the beer you had from last weekend’s inuman sesh in your love handles. You wish, ha!
Collectively, men have tighter hips because you don’t need to bear children (*cue that collectively male sigh*).
While dudes enjoy less bone degeneration as you age (compared to women, who lose considerable bone density once they hit menopause), men’s bones are stronger, and as a consequence, stiffer. Hence the need to keep your joints well-oiled.
This is definitely one way to warm up to hit a birdie
Here, Raghunath (aka Joe Rogan’s Star War shirt-wearing yoga twin) shows you how to make your hips as loose as Channing Tatum’s.
What's in it for you:
A quick 5-minuter on how to work your way into 5 basic yoga poses.
Why it’s great for you:
The 5 basic yoga poses that Raghunath walks you thru will help you fight “desk neck” (or “text neck”), strengthen upper and middle back muscles along your spine and trunk, and enable you to ground yourself and develop your core strength (a real man needs no support!).
Your by-the-minute breakdown with benefits, here:
1:16 – Downward Facing Dog / DownDog
Downward Facing Dog gets you in a position where your spine is forced to extend in a way that makes you use your arm strength to keep from sinking into the ground. This gravity-defying pose works the arms and gives your core one helluva workout.
3:02 – Plank
Oh yes. In order to do the next pose below, you’ll need to master this first. While keeping the hips level with the shoulders is definitely more manageable than what is required of the above, the fact that you’re expected to keep shoulders over wrists makes it an awesome way to work on the muscles that line your spine.
3:59 – Chatturangga
Chattu-whaaa? In layman’s terms, this is a mean tricep workout. Whether the legs stay bent or straight doesn’t change the fact that you’re still supposed to lower with control, and shoot the body forward so that your ribs go towards your wrists.
4:27 – Upward Facing Dog / UpDog
If you end up lowering successfully onto the floor without tripping over your breath, then you’re ready for an upper-back strengthener. This Upward Facing Dog is the perfect complement to the DownDog, giving the front of your hips and chest a nice stretch after the chatturangga.
5:34 – Child’s Pose
Fetal position opens up the back and hips and lets your shoulders and arms rest while your knees get a nice stretch. Speaking of your knees…
Lower body (Hamstrings, Quads, Calves, Feet)
Any leg-heavy activity gives you tights calves, hammies, and hips—and since you want happy knees, you definitely need to stretch.
Still stretching PRIOR to a workout? If you must stretch, then sports medicine doctors suggest to NEVER hold a stretch for longer than 30-60 seconds.
Start your workout at a normal pace, and stretch AFTER the muscles are sufficiently warmed-up.
Here’s some things that you can do to keep your tree trunks in tip-top shape.
Give those quads some loooove
Get on the floor and touch those twinkle toes
Get on your back and let your hammies ham it up
How ‘bout some hip action to wrap things up?
Pull a Jim Carrey and show off your Hero pose
Not only does flexibility translate to staying injury-free, it earns you major points for the next time you hop in the sack.
When it comes to bedroom performance, real ladies (NOT the porn stars you watch) know that its not about the size or girth… but more about the motion in the ocean, right?
Get loose, limber, and ready to join the Humping Capybaras
But whether or not you’ve got a honey to satisfy in the sack, there’s plenty of reasons to give these exercises a try.
And first of them is, well why the heck not? What have you got to lose aside from a little pride and a lot of knots? It’s time to start being flexible about becoming flexible.