welcome dean pohlman as rhone’s resident yoga expert
Dean Pohlman, the creator and face behind Man Flow Yoga, hasn’t always been a yogi. In fact, he stumbled on yoga completely by accident. During his first (and yes, accidental) Bikram yoga class, Dean was activating muscles in a way he’d never experienced. After that class, he decided to stick with yoga because, well, for starters, he’s never been one to back down from a challenge but also because he was intrigued by really understanding this new way of movement, of exercise. Week after week, Dean started to see and feel changes in his body. So much so that he encouraged his lacrosse teammates (Dean played in college) to join him and soon after, decided he would not only teach but record yoga and post yoga flows on YouTube for his teammates to utilize when they weren’t all together.
Dean has come a long way since recording those first yoga workouts. Feeling somewhat disconnected from the spiritual components of yoga, Dean wanted to better understand how to utilize yoga to improve physical performance, gain strength and prevent injury. He wanted to create a space where yoga was seen as a tool for athletes, specifically men.
I founded Man Flow Yoga because I wanted more guys to be able to experience the same results I did. I wanted to teach yoga to guys in a way that made sense to them, to help them improve their fitness without having to change the way they thought.
As Dean pursues progress in the arena of introducing more men to yoga, it seems only fitting to introduce him to the Rhone community as our new Resident Yoga Expert. As we enter the tail end of the first quarter of a new year, we this time as an opportunity to commit to something new–a new challenge. Dean, Man Flow Yoga, will be offering a new yoga flow each month. Whether it’s a 10 minute routine to hit all your stiff points after a day at your desk, a mobility flow to warm up before a strength training session, a series focusing solely on strength you can expect to be challenged, both physically and mentally–all in the name of pursuing progress.
We caught up with Dean to get some more insight into who Man Flow Yoga is, who it’s for, what you can expect, and more.
I'm super excited to be Rhone's ambassador for 2022 as their yoga expert, and I'm going to answer a few questions right now and just talk a little bit about me, introduce myself to you, and hopefully I will be able to help you out with your fitness goals through teaching the type of yoga that I focus on. So here we go.
What is Man Flow Yoga and why was it created?
So, Man Flow Yoga is a unique, fitness-centric and male-focused approach to yoga that I created back in 2013 and have slowly developed over the years into the fitness-centric, strength focused type of yoga that it is today.
It's different from other types of yoga in that first off, it is non-spiritual. That's not to say that I don't appreciate the spiritual aspect of yoga or think that it's wrong to incorporate spirituality into yoga. It's not, it's completely fine. Just not my thing.
And it didn't feel right to me putting in the spiritual aspects into what I consider to be more appropriate, at least appropriate for my fitness goal, a mobility, strength and balance focused practice. So first part is it's not spiritual.
Second part, I mentioned it's male-focused. Men and women do have different baseline levels of flexibility. I'm not saying that without the right training that men and women can have similar levels of flexibility. If you take an average guy and you put them next to your average gal and you have them go through whatever movements there may be to assess flexibility levels, you will find that the female has more flexibility, particularly in the hip areas.
Men tend to also have more upper body strength. They tend to have a higher center of gravity, so they have weaker cores and weaker hips. The way that men and women will do yoga postures is different as well, especially if they're beginners. So I created Man Flow Yoga as a way to make it more accessible to guys who were less flexible and who were new to yoga. At least that would have been very helpful to me as I was getting started out because I couldn't do most poses in the way that the instructors were telling me to do.
I just didn't have that flexibility. I was very strong and I had a lot of endurance. I was an athlete at the time, but I didn't have that flexibility. So a lot of what I put into Man Flow Yoga, as far as the male anatomy focused part of it, is what I would have liked to have when I was doing yoga; finding something that was more appropriate for guys who are less flexible and who were newer.
And then I think the third big point to mention here, if I'm only going to go 3 points, is that Man Flow Yoga is really fitness focused. It's focused on the proper technique. It's focused on building more strength. It's focused on building active mobility versus passive flexibility. And It's really focused on helping you get the maximum benefit out of every pose, out of every second that you spend on the mat. And that's talking about things like the proper technique. Where should your knee be in relation to your ankle in this particular pose? Which muscles should you be working? What should you feel stretching? What should you feel in general? What should you not feel in your body? What are the benefits of this exercise? How does it help you in terms of your running or in terms of weight lifting? How does it help in day to day fitness? How is it going to be helpful for you if you spend a lot of time sitting or driving or being inactive?
TLDR: To sum it up, MFY is a form of yoga, but it's not just yoga. It includes bodyweight exercise as well as physical therapy. There’s inspiration from other workouts, largely based on yoga postures, but much more focused on building strength. It’s more fitness focused, much more appropriate for your average male, and non-spiritual as well. So that is what Man Flow Yoga is.
How did you first get started with yoga?
So I first got started with yoga by complete accident. I was looking for this tailor but I stumbled into a yoga studio instead. I was about to go work out after that anyways, and I thought “OK, maybe I'll just try a yoga class.” I'd been wanting to do this for a while, I'd heard that flexibility could be good for me, so I gave it a shot. I didn't think it would be difficult, I didn't think it would be that hard, but I decided to give it a shot.
Halfway through that class I was totally exhausted, completely and utterly exhausted, just totally drained. It was only halfway through and the instructor said “,OK, it's half half time!” And I was like, are you joking? You're kidding, right? There's no way. So that work out completely humbled me. It showed me that there were so many different ways that I still needed to work on my fitness. And back then, I intuitively knew that if something challenged me that it had the potential to help me get a lot stronger. So I kept on going back because of the challenge. And then after that I kept going back because I noticed just how much it helped me in the other physical activities that I did, made me better as an athlete. It helped my mental fitness. It helped a lot. I mean tremendously with my flexibility, my mobility, my balance. It made me feel more fluid, lighter, but somehow still just as powerful.
So I started yoga on a complete accident. I kept doing it because I noticed how well my body was benefiting from it, from doing it consistently.
What are the benefits of adding yoga into one's fitness routine for both athletes and the casual weekend warrior?
So I can sum this up really easily, but benefit number one is that you're going to get better at your other workouts. You're going to feel better doing them. You're going to have a lower risk of injury, better muscle activation. If you can do it, you're going to have a deeper range of motion. You're going to be able to get more power out of the movements. But the bottom line is you are going to get better at your other workouts if you can do Man Flow Yoga consistently with those other workouts.
The second way that it's really going to help is in your recovery and taking care of your body. A lot of people just don't do any restorative or recovery work. Taking the time to do things like deep restorative stretching, working on your breathing, working on workouts that aren't as intense but are just as helpful to your overall fitness. This is all incredibly important but it’s something that gets overlooked a lot. You can get a lot of these benefits by doing these types of work; by doing mental yoga, by doing restorative yoga, a few times per week.
Those are the two big benefits that I'll focus on.
How have you created a space specifically for men in the world of yoga? How are you making it more approachable and accessible for men?
When I started Man Flow Yoga, the ratio between men and women at yoga studios, and just in the yoga world in general, was a lot different than what it is now. There were much more females to males than there are currently. Now it’s balancing out a little bit. But when I first started, it felt like you were definitely the only guy (and you were most likely the only guy) in the yoga studio or in the yoga class. Or you were just one of a couple or a few.
Most people doing yoga were female. And the thing is that men and women have different bodies. Men generally, not saying everybody, but generally men are less flexible than females, and they also have a higher center of gravity. So men tend to use their upper bodies more and women will naturally use their hips and core more. Whereas men will try to lift something with their arms, women will try to use their legs in their core. Those are the anatomical differences. Not to say that you can't train your body to become more flexible than a female and a female can't be less flexible than a man.
In general, men and women do have these differences–that was my experience. When I was doing yoga, I found that I was just unable to do a lot of these moves that females were doing. Conversely, I had much more success with certain moves than experienced female yogis were able to do so. It was much easier for me to do upper body stuff, to do poses that required more upper body strength.
The huge gap between flexibility levels made it feel like I was doing something wrong or just kind of made me feel like I had to push myself beyond what I was capable of doing because I had to get to the same level that the women around me were doing. And really what I needed was someone who could teach me. “Hey, you're a guy. This is probably where your flexibility level is. Here's a modification that will work for you.”
So the way that I've developed this yoga for men space is by focusing on men's fitness needs, focusing on the typical guy in terms of:
His differing levels of flexibility
The different yoga experiences. Men in general don't have as much yoga experience as women.
If you ask guys what their typical workouts are, maybe the in the past they've lifted weights, done running, done some form of cardio. But a lot of them haven't done yoga. So most guys are coming into this with beginner or no experience at all with yoga. So I focus on teaching the proper technique to make sure that they're doing it safely, that they're getting it, doing it effectively and getting the best workout that they possibly can. I also include pose modifications that make more sense for somebody who's less flexible.
How is your approach within Man Flow Yoga different from what someone might find at a traditional yoga class?
I've actually been doing calls with actual, successful customers over the past couple of weeks, so I won't tell you in my words, I'll tell you specifically what they say. The first thing that they talk about is the technique. It's the emphasis on proper technique. It's knowing which muscles to engage, how to add strength to a particular pose, not just mirroring what the instructor is doing, but really focusing on engaging those muscles. Proper technique, the little tweaks, just the tiny differences that you can make to a pose to make it more effective or to make sure that you're doing it properly.
So big emphasis on the technique as well as strength. And then also focusing on active mobility instead of passive flexibility. Active mobility is being able to apply force in extended range of motion, not just getting your body into that position, It's being able to control it there, to be able to push or to hold or to pull in that extended range of motion and that active range of motion. Active mobility trends have far greater benefits in terms of translating into your other workouts in terms of overall strength, in terms of longer lasting flexibility, than passive stretching does. Which is what you'll find in most typical yoga classes.
TLDR: If we're just keeping it simple it’s the active mobility, the strength focus, and the muscle activation. And then the proper technique, those are what really set Man Flow Yoga apart from other types of traditional yoga.
What would you tell a guy who's hesitant about trying out yoga?
I would tell you that yoga is going to help you get better at whatever you're currently doing with your fitness. If you're a runner, if you're an athlete of some type, if you lift weights, yoga is only going to help you get better. If you're someone who's hesitant about starting yoga because you don't have a fitness routine, I'm going to point out the convenience and the accessibility of following along to a yoga class on your phone or on a computer. Being able to do it at your own pace, at the time that you want, in a judgment free zone.
These are all things that make it a lot easier, especially for guys who are overweight. If you were to go out and just do something like go for a run that would really, really hurt your joints. You’d want to build control with your body, being able to do something that is incredibly low impact, something that's going to help you build strength but is relatively gentle on your body. Yoga is a fantastic option for that, just as long as you're doing the proper technique, as long as you're doing it in a way that helps you build strength. Not just focusing on passive stretching, but yoga is going to help you get stronger.
Yoga is going to be easier if you're just getting started with working out consistently. When you compare that with other types of workouts, the regret that I hear from people about starting yoga is that they wish they had done it sooner. So really, there's not a lot to lose here!
And lastly, what's really cool about yoga is that you feel the benefits immediately after the workout. A lot of workouts you have to do consistently for a month or two or even three and then you notice “ ,Hey, I'm feeling stronger, I'm feeling better. I'm looking better in the mirror.”
What's cool about yoga is you feel better instantly. You feel less stressed, more aware of your body. You feel stronger, like your movement is better. So those are the things that happen immediately. You will notice the benefits of doing a good yoga workout immediately. You don't have to do a full 30 or 60 minutes. Even five minutes is going to be helpful. Start manageable and build up. Make sure it fits into your schedule in a way that's easy and that you're experiencing the benefits and feeling better as you're doing it. We're really excited to welcome you aboard.
As Rhone's resident yoga expert, what do you hope to get out of this collaboration?
We're excited to get more men on the mats. Rhone is my go to apparel brand. I have been working on and off of them informally since 2016. I think maybe even 2015. I'm really impressed with the way that Rhone has built their business with their incredible brand. I love the people at Rhone. I love the products that they make, so I'm just looking forward to connecting with the customers and connecting with the Rhone audience that they've managed to create. So I'm looking forward to helping you guys out, to providing you with workouts, to providing you with tools, hopefully providing you with information and inspiration to help you get started with yoga because it was so helpful for me, it was something that I didn't really consider doing.
But as the typical athlete who has played college sports, who has lifted weights for most of their life, who has done sprints, who has done all these other types of workouts, yoga has been something that has truly transcended my physical fitness and helped with my mental fitness. It’s helped me be more aware of myself, helped me with my stress, with managing anxiety, being able to manage my life outside of my workouts. It's something that's not only going to help your fitness, but something that's also going to help you mentally and emotionally. And I'm just looking forward to sharing that with other people because it was so helpful for me. I know it can be helpful for others, too.
Last question, and of course, we have to know what are your favorite pieces of Rhone gear to flow in?
So I have about 25 of these Reign Short Sleeves. Literally every color you can think of. If they've made it, I probably have it. So if you're looking for a comfortable shirt that can double as a workout shirt or as a casual shirt, Rhone's Reign Short Sleeve is fantastic.
Then you have the Swift Short Sleeve which is a tech shirt. If you're looking for something that's more moisture wicking. If you're going to sweat a lot, they have some fantastic workout gear to help you stay cool. The Swift Short Sleeve also comes as the Swift Tank. I love it. I think it's a great light, good looking tank top that I use a lot.
As far as their shorts go, I love their Mako Shorts. They come in a lot of different lengths, so choose whichever one you like. I particularly enjoy anywhere from 5 to 7 inch lengths with my shorts.
And then if you're looking for a really high quality built in liner short, that are really nice, thicker, will handle anything, will move with you, that are moisture wicking, keep everything in place, then the Versatility Short is fantastic. That is just an excellent short for any workout. Highly recommend them as well.