The purpose of this blog is to explain the differences between a Man Flow Yoga workout and a traditional yoga session.
Man Flow Yoga includes much more than just yoga postures. We also modify the yoga postures to better suit men, who are typically less flexible and don’t have as much yoga experience as yogis or yoga instructors. Lastly, we focus our instruction on the fitness aspects of the workout – the proper technique, the target areas, the benefits of the poses – in order to deliver the best possible results from each minute you spend on your yoga mat.
This blog includes:
- Types of Exercises You’ll Find in a Man Flow Yoga Workout
- Yoga for Men vs. Yoga for Women – the anatomical differences
- Man Flow Yoga (fitness-focused) vs. Traditional Yoga (spiritual)
Let’s get to it!
Man Flow Yoga incorporates a variety of exercises into our yoga workouts to make them as effective as possible, utilizing the best movements – both dynamic and isometric – to help you build functional strength, increase your mobility, dramatically boost your flexibility, and greatly improve your body awareness (just to mention a few of the benefits).
To be sure, yoga postures still form the bulk of our workouts, but we aren’t scared to add modifications or changes to make the workout focused on that which matters most – your functional fitness, your mobility & flexibility, your body awareness, and the physical results. Get strong, look great, and feel your best!
Types of Exercises You’ll Find in a Man Flow Yoga Workout
Here are just a few of the types of exercises you might find in our Man Flow Yoga workouts:
Common physical therapy exercises to strengthen the hips and core to address low-back pain, such as a bridge hold, a bird-dog, and side planks, are also practiced in yoga. (Although in yoga they are often translated into Sanskrit, which makes it extremely confusing for beginners, even though they have English names. I don’t speak Sanskrit – do you?)
Isometric Strengthening (Holds)
Not to mention that by default, a non-moving yoga posture is an isometric exercise – although you are still actively contracting the muscles, and there are subtle changes as you hold the exercise, it’s still considered isometric because you’re not doing reps or going through the concentric and eccentric portion of the movement.
Core Strengthening Exercises
Bodyweight Exercises / Calisthenics
Man Flow Yoga has many flow workouts, but I consider flows to be more advanced, so I don’t put them in our beginner classes simply because beginners don’t have the yoga skill they need to do a yoga flow with many transitions safely & effectively.
Stretching / Recovery Work
Mobility Work / Active Mobility Training
For example, standing finger to big toe pose is a posture that helps to build balance and increase passive range of motion in the hamstrings. Building on top of this, if you do this WITHOUT holding on to your big toe, you are now working on hamstring flexibility AND active hip flexion, helping to increase the mobility of your hip flexors. This is much more challenging and translates into better muscle awareness. Standing finger to big toe pose is a great start, but adding the leg extended WITHOUT the finger to big toe adds a missing strength element. KinStretch has also gotten popular in the past few years, and is an excellent discipline for increasing active mobility. For this reason, Man Flow Yoga has a strength-focused element in their workouts that relies on heavy incorporation of active mobility training.
Most Man Flow Yoga reinforces proper breathing throughout the workout, but don’t specifically have a breathing section at the beginning. This is mainly because we want to get straight to the full-body warm-up, and not “waste” too much time on breathing – you’ve got stuff to do, we can’t spend 15 minutes on breathing in every workout!
Self-Myofascial Release Tools
The overall result is deeper stretching, more significant improvements in flexibility, and a greater release in muscle tension. This combination is fantastic for improving flexibility in less time. (I’ve created a program specifically combining self-myofascial release, deep stretching, and strengthening called “The Mobility Project” – available in the MFY Members’ Area.)
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Now that you understand some of the other fitness disciplines you’ll find in a Man Flow Yoga workout, let’s talk about the main differences between a Man Flow Yoga workout – a fitness-focused yoga workout, tailored to men and athletes who might not be as flexible as a yogi – versus a traditional yoga workout you might encounter online or at a local yoga studio.
Yoga for Men vs. Yoga for Women
Man Flow Yoga is made for men and especially inflexible men. If you can’t reach down and touch your toes, no problem. We show you how to do the postures in a way that you get the same benefits as somebody more flexible and more experienced. After all, you’re here to work on your flexibility, right? You shouldn’t have to be flexible in order to do that, and the way we structure our workouts reflects that belief.
A yoga for men workout (one that is actually designed for men) should reflect the anatomical differences between men and women. First off, men are [typically] not as flexible as women. Women have far more flexibility in their hips, so postures that come easily to women are often very difficult for men. A good yoga for men class should understand this, and cue the postures accordingly. This usually means bringing your feet closer together in standing lunge-like postures like high lunge, warrior 1, or warrior 2, and/or bending your knees in poses that stretch your hamstrings or adductors.
Other differences between men and women include our dominant body parts, and where we prefer to hold our centers of gravity. Women tend to use their hips and core more, while men usually default to using their shoulders, chest, and upper bodies. For this reason, core-focused postures that are easy for women, due to the way their bodies work and their bodyweight distribution, can be very challenging for men. One great example of this is the “boat pose”, which is a seated balancing posture focused on strengthening the core and hips. Use the same cues to coach a man and a woman through this exercise, and you’ll likely get two very different results.
The point here is that men and women are different, and just like women and men have different expectations for the amount of weight they can lift in the weight room, they should have different expectations in their mobility levels for yoga as well.
Man Flow Yoga (fitness-focused) vs. Traditional Yoga (spiritual)
Does Man Flow Yoga include a spiritual aspect? No. Man Flow Yoga is 100% fitness-focused, and that’s because we spend so much time talking about proper technique, what to feel in your body, and the benefits of the exercises that there just isn’t time for anything else. (Plus, we don’t think the spiritual aspects belong in a workout.) This is contrary to almost every form of yoga out there.
Is the inclusion or exclusion of spirituality in the workout gender-specific? Of course not. In fact, the more people that I have conversations with, the more I realize that women, just as often as men, are not interested in the spiritual aspects of yoga. But for one reason or another, it’s something that most fitness-focused men [and many women] definitely don’t want in their workouts.
Most yoga incorporates some form of spiritual practice in addition to breathing and postures, but there are certain types of yoga (the most well-known of which are probably Man Flow Yoga, DDP Yoga, and Body by Yoga) that do not incorporate spiritual aspects into their fitness-focused approach.
Because we do not include the spiritual aspects, this gives us time to go through the physical aspects of the workouts in more detail. Whereas traditional yoga classes have less time to describe the proper technique [because they’re also using time to go through spiritual stuff], we have plenty of time to tell you:
- What you should be feeling (and not be feeling) with your body
- The target areas of each posture
- The benefits of the poses as they pertain to your fitness
- Modifications to make it easier if you’re not as flexible
- Anything else relevant to the fitness aspects of the postures
This doesn’t mean we’re anti-spirituality in yoga.
You can practice yoga however you want. In fact, many people who practice Man Flow Yoga appreciate the more traditional, spiritual aspects of yoga. But in order to gain a better understanding of the technique and physical side of yoga, they supplement their existing yoga practice with the fitness-focused Man Flow Yoga approach.
The important point here is to note that Man Flow Yoga focuses on the fitness aspects of yoga in order to make sure you are getting the most effective workout you possibly can, helps to keep you safe and injury-free by practicing with proper technique, and creates a non-spiritual approach to yoga for those uninterested in the spiritual side of yoga.
Thank you for reading this blog on the differences between Man Flow Yoga and more traditional yoga workouts.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what you can expect from Man Flow Yoga workouts. But the best way to understand those differences is to experience them for yourself!!
Below you’ll find one of our most popular workouts on YouTube, the 15-Minute Morning Yoga for Confidence & Energy. Give it a shot and you’ll notice the fitness-focused, technique-oriented approach of Man Flow Yoga workouts!
For access to structured workout programs with scheduled workouts, check out the Programs in the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area. Get started with a 7-Day Trial for just $1 (includes access to all 30+ programs and 320+ workouts!)
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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