This might shock you. It might even offend you. But I need to tell you something. Yoga is not the end-all, be-all of physical fitness. Practicing yoga and nothing but yoga will leave your body imbalanced. However, these imbalances can easily be corrected with just a few exercises, and it can take as little as 5 minutes per day. Below, I’ll list the 4 movements that yoga lacks, as well as 2 movements that are in the grey area. After that, I give you specific exercises to address each. Enjoy! Watch the video below or read the blog to learn more.
Here’s what most yoga lacks:
1) Pulling / Rowing with resistance, scapular stability exercises
2) Wrist flexion, ulnar deviation and radial deviation
3) elbow flexion (specifically exercises that engage the biceps)
4) variation – outside of poses that you are trying for the first time, you are not training your body to move in different ways. At some point, you have performed every [useful] combination, variation, or extended form of each pose.
And my sorta-lacking list:
5) ankle weakness – strength and mobility
6) cervical range of motion – ear to shoulder stretch
1) The answer to a lack of pulling, rowing, and scapular stabilizing exercises:
Australian pull-ups, chin-ups, or strict pull-ups. Best to do these slow and in control. Also good to hold at the bottom of a pull-up and at the very top of the pull-up.
Rows with resistance bands. Strict horizontal rows, and rows with 90 degree external rotation and palms facing down to start.
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Scapular stability exercises (rotator cuff strengtheners) – external rotation, internal rotation, and strict goalpost arm levers.
2) The answer to lack of wrist flexion:
3) Making up for the lack of bicep work:
Hammer curls, strict bicep curls, chin-ups
4) Addressing the lack of variety:
Do different types of exercise. Learn to move in different ways. Try new things. Continue to teach your body new patterns of movement.
5) How to fix weak, immobile ankles:
calf raises, walk on your toes the length of the mat, more focus in warrior poses / lunges on ankle stretching (pressing into the outer edges of your feet), running on grass with minimalist shoes, focus on technique in running, propelling forward off the toes (calf extension)
6) Addressing the lack of cervical strength and range of motion:
Ear to shoulder stretch, chin tucks.
I understand that many of you will want a visual for these exercises, which is why I’ve created a video that goes through all of the above exercises.
To summarize, I want to say that yoga is a fantastic, full-body workout. 85% of what I do is yoga, and the rest of what I do is exercises like those listed above. I look forward to your comments and feedback, but mostly I hope that this post helps people think a little bit more about their yoga workouts (and make sure that they are supplementing their fitness routines appropriately!)
Don’t have any resistance bands? Turn any door handle, railing, or post into a gym. Click here to get the ones that I use. (They’re only $30, and they are a very effective travel-friendly alternative to gym equipment!)
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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