Calling all Guys! Gaiam's Athletic Yoga Series is Made for Men

It's time to grab a mat

yoga for sstrength

Guys, it's time to have a chat. Just because yoga classes are typically packed full of flexible women wearing tight pants and contorting into unimaginable shapes, that doesn't mean you can't join in with your own downward dog.

In fact, you probably should. Yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress and maintain flexibility - a fitness component that's particularly important as you age. (And even more important if you spend your days sitting with poor posture in front of a computer - a sedentary life can do a number on your hip and low back flexibility!)

If you haven't tried yoga because: 1) you're not that flexible and you don't want to look stupid, or 2) yoga seems boring - you're more into lifting weights and playing basketball, I'm here to tell you those excuses are lame.

The thing is, yoga is a slower moving activity - it requires control, focus, patience and strength. It won't get your heart racing like a killer game of pick up, but if consistently employed, it will help prevent sports-related injuries and keep your muscles pliable.

My brother is one exceptional example - he's currently an ER doctor and a former Big 10 football player. He's suffered from low back pain for years due to a football injury (actually a low back fracture), and he's tried just about everything to relieve the pain - physical therapy, medicines, massage, chiropractic care and standard stretching. He's maintained an active life, but his pain prevented him from doing certain things, like playing basketball.

He finally took up yoga about a year ago, and while his pain still comes and goes, it's more manageable than it has been since college (he graduated in 2002). And just recently, he's started playing basketball again.

That's significant.

The trouble is, it can be hard for guys to find classes where they feel comfortable.

Many men are less flexible than women, and should engage in beginner poses and slower flows that won't push them past their comfort zone. They might want to start with a form of yoga that's more restorative. While there are lots of beginner classes available at yoga studios, joining a class can feel intimidating.

The answer to the problem could just be Gaiam's recently released Athletic Yoga line of products and DVDs. In addition to man-friendly longer mats and more durable blocks and straps, the line also includes yoga DVDs featuring major male athletes including former pro football player Eddie George and pro basketball player Kevin Love.

These DVDs are really pretty amazing. Not only are the practices short and sweet (about 20 minutes per session), they provide yoga sequencing geared to those who are less flexible and need more stretching and less contortionism. As someone who tends to be tight myself, I find these practices are good for me on days when I want to take things nice and easy...

and they're also manly enough that my husband feels comfortable joining in.

Gaiam's Athletic Yoga DVDs

Here's what you can expect from each DVD in the line up.

  • Yoga for Flexibility with Kevin Love: Led by yogi Kent Katich, Kevin Love shows off his flexibility with a warmup practice, a core practice, a total body practice and a deep stretch and restore. Guys need to prioritize their flexibility, and this DVD makes it easy to do.
  • Yoga for Strength with Eddie George: Kent Katich leads Eddie George through four full 20-minute yoga for strength practices and one short 7-minute bonus practice on this DVD. The provided practices include a focus on mobility, power and balance, total conditioning and a strong recovery.
  • Yoga for Runners with Matt Giordano: Matt Giordano is a yogi and a runner, and this series of short practices leverages his knowledge of both to help enhance the running experience, targeting the areas where runners are the tightest - the hips, hamstrings, quads and calves. The DVD includes three practices - a pre-run practice, a post-run practice and an off-day training practice for total conditioning.

Each DVD currently costs $12, or you can buy any three DVDs for a total of $18. I thought they were so great that I gifted my brother with the whole set to encourage him to keep up his regular practice.

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