Optimal Performance

Man Flow Yoga’s 3 Best Yoga Poses To Increase Fitness

Catch Dean Pohlman, founder of Man Flow Yoga on Episode #36 of the Optimal Performance Podcast to learn the 3 best yoga poses to increase your fitness. You’ll also learn how improved mobility is linked to increased longevity, improves sleep and reduces brain fog.


Mobility and proper movement patterns are closely linked to longevity. A Brazilian study found that lower mobility was linked to shorter lifespans. In talking with Dean, we learned that 80% of yoga participants are female. So guys…listen up!

Movement IS life!

If living longer isn’t enough to convince you of the need for mobility, proper movement is also a prerequisite for performance-based feats like deadlifts, jumps, squats or any other impressive feat you may see an athlete perform.

Think about it…

If you cannot perform a movement pattern slowly, under control and using only your bodyweight, HOW THE HECK do you expect to have command or mastery when performing that movement explosively or under external load?


Lucky for us, Dean – founder of the online fitness community at Man Flow Yoga was happy to provide some quick and simple fixes to help anyone and everyone see improvements in overall health and physical fitness. He also includes tips that will help us improve sleep, reduce brain fog, improve athletic performance and help us live longer. Enjoy!

[Tweet “”Progress doesn’t happen unless you push past comfort levels” – @ManFlowYoga”]


What You’ll Learn About Man Flow Yoga & Dean Pohlman in this episode:

  • How Dean turned yoga into a muscle-building workout for men
  • The missing element in most yoga practices
  • How to do your first pull-up
  • 80% of yoga participants are women – what differences should men and women look for in an optimal yoga practice?
  • “Progress doesn’t happen unless you push past comfort levels”
  • How mobility/movement dictates performance and predicts longevity
  • How yoga improves sleep and reduces brain fog
  • Dean’s Top 3 Yoga Poses For Men: Warrior 1, Pigeon, and Downward Dog
  • Anterior pelvic tilt, stacking the spine and Kelly Starrett
  • Get more from Dean & Man Flow Yoga
  • Dean Pohlman’s Top 3 tips (+ 1 BONUS TIP) to #LiveOptimal

Links & Resources

Man Flow Yoga Website





Brazilian Sit-Stand Longevity Study

Dean’s 10-Day Intro Course

Kelly Starrett’s Books:

  1. Becoming A Supple Leopard
  2. Ready To Run

Top 3 Yoga Poses For Men Instructional Video


More Tools to Optimize Your Performance

  • Get laser-like focus and enhanced memory potentiation with CILTEP
  • Smart Caffeine improves cognition and boosts energy naturally without the jitters
  • BioCreatine boosts brain capacity, higher reasoning, and improves strength capacity!
  • Natural BCAA’s made from 100% botanical sources – no bird feathers or human hair in here
  • Grass-Fed Protein combines whey, collagen and colostrum for ultimate recovery & health



Man Flow Yoga’s 3 Best Yoga Poses to Increase Fitness

Ryan: You are listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast sponsored by Natural Stacks. If you’re into biohacking, performance or getting more out of life, this is the show for you! For more on building optimal performance into your life, check out optimalperformance.com

Okay, happy Thursday all you optimal performers! Welcome to another episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast. I’m your host Ryan Munsey and today I want to welcome in a very special guest, the manliest yogi on Earth. Dean, say hello to everybody.

Dean: Hey guys. Thanks for having me here.

Ryan: So Dean is the author of ‘Yoga Basics for Men’ e-book, he’s the man behind Man Flow Yoga, which is a huge online community. Today we’re gonna be talking a lot about yoga as a boost for our physical fitness, how it can – the postures in yoga can improve what we do on a daily basis in our physical performance. So we’ll get into all that in just a few minutes. But first a few housekeeping notes. As always, make sure you head over to optimalperformance.com to see the video version of this as well as click on any of the links and the show notes, the resources that we talk about on today’s episode. And if you haven’t done so yet, please head over to iTunes, give us 5* review, let us know you like the show. And with that said, Dean, let’s get this started.

Dean: Sure.

Ryan: What I think I wanna know is when you were in kindergarten, did you wanna be a yoga master?

Dean: No. Yoga wasn’t even my – was nowhere, nowhere on my radar. Not even close. I was – I was always the fastest kid, even though I was smaller. I liked football a lot but yoga never crossed my mind as something – I don’t think I even knew about yoga until I was 12 or 13. So, no – no idea I was gonna be here.

Ryan: So, I guess that’s kind of a different way of asking: how did you become the guy behind Man Flow Yoga? Where did this start for you?

Dean: Yoga started for me when I was on my way to getting my pants tailored. I was home for winter break, I think it was my junior or my senior year of college. No, senior year of college and I was looking for the tailor. And I was walking through the building, I opened up a random door and it was a yoga studio. I was like: ‘Oh, yoga studio. I’ve been wanting to do yoga since I was a freshman in college.’ And I – I was already dressed to work out, I was gonna go to a Lifetime Fitness and I asked them: ‘Hey, will this help me with this? Or what’s this gonna do for my body?’ And they were like: ‘Oh, you’ll get more toned, you’ll get more flexible, you’ll build core strength.’ Like that sounds awesome. I wanna get a little bit more lean, get a little bit more cut. That sounds a- that sounds fantastic. So I went in, I took the class. Um, before I went in they told me: ‘Oh by the way, you don’t need to wear a shirt.’ I’m like: ‘Oh, awesome. This is even better.’ The Crossfit approach. And so I went in and got my ass kicked, completely. 90 minutes, 26 poses, it’s Bikram yoga so super difficult, really hot. It’s a mental challenge as well as a physical challenge. And I just realized how weak I was in certain areas. And from that moment on I was hooked just because – just because I realized how much improvement there was – there could be, so.

Ryan: Yeah. And I have to say, I’m a huge fan of Bikram Yoga myself. So I wanna know, you know, with Man Flow Yoga, how close, you know what is Man Flow Yoga and how close is it to, you know, what we know as Bikram?

Dean: So, I would – I would define Man Flow Yoga as um, a fitness-centric approach to yoga that focuses on developing flexibility, core strength, endurance, bodily control, bodily awareness and overall strength. If you do yoga already, I would – it’s somewhere between Bikram yoga and power yoga and a slow burn yoga. So the emphasis is really on slow, controlled movement, holding the poses for an extended amount of time, which you don’t get in a lot of power yoga classes, it’s more quick. Bikram, it’s even – the poses are even longer than in Bikram yoga where you hold the pose for, like, I think it’s 30 seconds or 20 seconds. But in Man Flow Yoga we hold the post for even a minute or 2 minutes. They’re much longer holds. So the emphasis is much more on isometric strength building as opposed to 1 breath, 1 movement which is the power yoga or the Vinyasa approach. So that’s – that’s the description of Man Flow Yoga in terms of how it’s done.

Ryan: Okay. So what’s the benefit in doing it that way?

Dean: The benefit is that you’re going to build more muscle that way because you’re holding the pose for longer. You know, it’s the same as like doing more reps in the gym. Um, a lot of people can hold a pose for 1 breath or 2 breaths, just like somebody can go to the gym and they can – they can knock out, let’s say, I mean, even – even modest, even like someone who’s modestly strong. Like, let’s say they can rep out 225 in the squat rack. But if they go into a yoga studio and I get them to hold just a basic lunge position for 30 seconds, they’re dying. They just don’t have that isometric endurance. So, we focus on building all the things that you wouldn’t typically get from your other workouts that help to – to – that help to improve the stability of your joints, which helps to prevent injury, which makes your auxiliary muscles stronger, which helps develop – it’s kinda, it’s more calisthenics approach, you know. More bodily control, lean muscle. So, those are – those are the, I’d say the main benefits. That’s what makes it different and that’s – that’s what makes it I think better. Or at least, I won’t say better but it’s a different kind of strength building than other types of yoga.

Ryan: And it sounds like you’ve kinda designed it to be something that integrates into a fitness program rather than, you know, being a standalone thing.

Dean: Yeah! And I kinda fell into the trap for a while when I got into yoga that: ‘Oh, this is all you need, this is your total fitness package. We do everything in yoga.’ And I bought into it. And after a while, I noticed my shoulder, like I had rotator cuff issues just because I wasn’t doing – there’s no pulling, you know, there’s no – there’s no rowing. There’s no pull-ups in yoga which is a fundamental movement you can’t replace.

Ryan: Right.

Dean: You know, you do exercise those muscles. We do things, we do isometric contractions but we don’t do – there’s no substitute for actual resistance. So, in Man Flow Yoga we admit that there are other – there are other – there are gaps in your fitness program. Or that – in our workouts. So this is a compliment to your other workouts. It can be primary, but there’s still about 20% of other stuff that you need to do that’s not covered in what we do.

Ryan: Yeah, I think as I was looking through your website that was one thing that really stood out to me. I liked that you pointed out hey, this is great, there are a few, you know, basic movement patterns as you mentioned that are lacking. Specifically, the rowing or the pulling so, you know, with this being just one tool in our toolbox, it is a great tool.

Dean: Yeah.

Ryan: How are you um, how do you suggest people build in or integrate the pulling that’s missing?

Dean: Well the easiest way to do it is to get a pull-up bar and you get some resistance bands. That’s what I do. I don’t have weights. I sling a resistance band around a fixed point and I just, I do – I do variations of rows, you know, palms face – palms out and then fingers facing in. So, just different exercises to get the muscles in my back. And then I have a pull-up bar over my door. And it’s not so much about reps there. It’s really about – it’s the same kind of approach to yoga, it’s more about creating stability and creating strength. So really slow reps or just getting on and hanging. So, you know, it’s a really simple approach to – to fitness.

Ryan: So I’ve got a question for you then, talking about pull-ups. Let’s say we have somebody listening that may not be able to do pull-ups. How do you get somebody from 0 pull-ups to doing their first pull-up?

Dean: Negative pull-ups. Get on the bar, put a chair underneath it, hold yourself up as much as you can and then slowly descend building negative strength. I would say that. And then also – I’d also recommend at that point using, you know, like a lat pulldown. There’s nothing wrong – there’s nothing wrong with using weights. I think sometimes that’s a big misconception. There’s nothing wrong with using weights. And I used weights when I was younger and I loved it, but there also is a lot of potential for getting injured with weights because people get in and they’re like: ‘I just wanna lift heavy weights! You know, I wanna feel like a man and pump iron.’ And like well, that’s great but you won’t feel like a man for very long if you don’t do your technique correctly. So, I just like the body weight approach because it’s a more, I don’t know, call it nostalgic or a – or a return to the source thing or, you know.

Ryan: Yeah, I can see that. I mean, as a strength coach I can – I completely understand what you’re saying. I mean, if you can’t master a movement pattern without an external load, then adding an external load is – is, you know, only going to make it a lot – it’s gonna be a lot more dangerous if you know, it –

Dean: Can we – can we put that quote onto a t-shirt? That was beautiful. That was fantastic.

Ryan: Sure, sure! But yeah, and so I think – and maybe what you’re saying or what you’ve noticed and I’ve noticed the same thing is that if you start to play with body weight stuff and calisthenics that there’s – there’s almost like this feedback loop where it’s – it’s self-correcting, it’s almost impossible to do it in a way that will injure yourself. Either you do it right or you’re just simply not able to do it. At least, maybe not – it’s maybe not 100% but more so than hey put a 225 bar on your back and go do some squats. There’s a lot of ways to get that done, but not correctly.

Dean: Yeah, and I think that’s where the yoga approach fits really well into – into that because so many people, when they work out, they do their exercises in terms of reps. And we don’t do reps. We do – no, we’re just gonna sit here and you’re gonna focus on your form. We’re gonna tweak your hips 1 centimeter this way, a centimeter the other way. We’re gonna lift your hips just a tiny bit. We’re going to reach the tail bone down 1 more inch. We’re going to engage your lower abdominals by correcting your spine, you know, half an inch. So it’s these tiny little subtle movements that you don’t do when you’re moving quickly that I think is the real benefit in yoga and developing basic movement patterns like you were talking about.

Ryan: So, with – with corrections that are that fine and – and minute, I can see how you’d be able to – to do that in a studio if you were in person. How are you able to accomplish that in an internet community?

Dean: You know, you’d be surprised. I – I assumed that when I started that that would be really difficult, to notice these subtle changes. But the thing is that it’s – it’s worked extremely well, it’s been extremely effective. And again, that was a surprise to me. I thought like: ‘Oh, I’m not gonna be in person. So how am I going to make these little adjustments?’ But the thing is that I eventually just got good enough where I was queuing people in terms that they could understand and using language in a way that their bodies responded. So it was almost as if I was there. And then in my videos I talk people through the workouts in terms of how I started. So I remember how I was doing yoga when I first started and all the little tweaks that I had to make as a beginner. And I talk about those whenever I teach as well. So, I’ve had people say: ‘It’s so weird. Your – it’s like you’re in the room with me and you’re noticing what I’m doing when you’re making those little tiny adjustments.’ So to answer your question, you can see more than you think via webcam. And number 2 it just takes good instruction.

Ryan: Okay. So are people sending you videos or are they just watching you do it? I guess, explain to your listeners how –

Dean: Yeah.

Ryan: – what’s the experience for somebody doing Man Flow Yoga?

Dean: Sure. So most of what I do is teaching the instructional videos. So, you know, [unclear 00:13:49] viewing a video on YouTube. Or going into the Man Flow Yoga member’s area and watch, you know, work out there. And then I – I work with a smaller amount of – much smaller amount of people um, in webcam [unclear 00:14:05]. So that’s one-on-one, just like we’re doing this conversation right now. I just – actually I have my setup right here. I just step back a little. Yoga mat’s here, you can see me and that’s how I do my webcam training. So that’s the experience for people who need that more hands-on training. Well, not literally hands-on. But people who want a little more personalized approach. And the other people it’s the video or the app or the e-book, which is all, you know, text-oriented.

Ryan: Okay, cool. So one thing that, you know, it’s called Man Flow Yoga and I think I saw the statistic on your website that something like 80% of yoga participants are women.

Dean: Yeah.

Ryan: Most content is directed towards females, obviously marketing. I mean, you see yoga pants everywhere.

Dean: Right.

Ryan: There’s not a lot of dudes in yoga pants.

Dean: That number’s increasing, unfortunately.

Ryan: [laughs] So I guess the question there is, you know, I think you make sure that the differences between men and women are addressed so that men can get the most out of yoga. Can you explain some of those differences?

Dean: Well, yeah. One of the main differences is, of course, the physical anatomy. Women were – women evolved to be able to give birth which means they have much more flexible hips, their center of gravity is lower which means that women will use their core and they’ll use their legs whereas men tend to rely on their upper body strength. So physically there’s differences. And then not to mention flexibility. But you’d be surprised how many women are just as inflexible as men. Not as much but surprisingly there are many women who are just as inflexible in their shoulders or their upper body because they spend just as much time hunching as men. So, flexibility isn’t always the case but definitely the hip mobility is a big thing. Number 2 is just the physical goals of men and women. You know, men want to look like professional football players. And women, for whatever reason, like to look like the very, very, very skinny girls on Cosmo, or whatever it is. Um, you know, of course that’s shifting, thank God, to the more capable-looking women now.

Ryan: Good word.

Dean: Capable. Thank you. Just came up with that. And so there’s a lot of um, so there’s differences in terms of what people want to look like. So there’s workouts – we have to make a workout that caters to people’s, what they want to look like. So that’s another big thing. So those are the – those are the 2 big differences, I’d say. I’d say that the – the mental approach is the same. It’s probably a little harder, there’s probably a little more push involved than you would get in a typical yoga studio. There definitely is a little bit more push involved. I like to put emphasis on competition. Even though you’ll talk to most yogis and they say: ‘Oh no, it’s not about competition at all.’ Well, here’s the thing, without competition you’re not going to push yourself. I know that I didn’t get stronger through weightlifting or I didn’t get stronger as an athlete by showing up to the field and noticing that we all weren’t trying that hard. I no- I got to the field and noticed wow, these people have been trying and been practicing so hard. And when I got off the field I’d get back on on my own and start practicing more. So that – that’s what drives you to be stronger. So I also try to put the competitive element back into – back into physical fitness of yoga.

Ryan: So, give is an example or 2 of how you’ve done that. Is it just: hey, hold this pose longer than you did last time or something different?

Dean: Yeah, I – it’s – it’s emphasizing that progress doesn’t happen unless you push past your comfort levels. A lot of yoga emphasizes don’t go past where you’re not, you know, don’t go past the point of where you’re comfortable, progress will come with time and it’s a much more oh it’ll happen when it happens kind of approach. And that’s not what I’m about at all. And that’s in my – in my personal history and in my – and in my history with teaching people, people don’t progress unless you push them to go past their comfort level. So, yeah that’s part of in – in the instruction thing push it, you have to go longer, you have to do better than you did yesterday. Remember, you’re not making progress unless you’re going – you’re not making progress unless you’re pushing past your comfort levels. And then also, on top of that, respecting. On the other spectrum respecting your limits to some extent, you know. Knowing when to avoid pain or how to tell the difference between discomfort and pain, which obviously we don’t wanna have because that leads to injury. So it’s – it’s a fine line. I usually emphasize, if you get to like a 6 or a 7 on the discomfort level, that’s okay and anything above that, 7, 8 that’s when we start getting into, okay maybe you need to back off a little bit or you’re going to pull something, so.

Ryan: Okay. We always want to try to make everything on our podcast actionable or something that our listeners –

Dean: Yeah.

Ryan: – can implement into their life.

Dean: Good.

Ryan: So let’s talk a little bit about why the average person needs to do more yoga. Then of course, how do we implement that into our life? Into our daily routine or – or weekly fitness.

Dean: So, the reason why yoga is so important is because in almost every other exercise modality, whatever physical fitness that you’re doing, the emphasis is not on slow and controlled movements. It’s on reps, it’s on moving quickly, there’s not enough attention to detail. You know, even when you’re using – when you’re using weights, yeah, sometimes at the beginning we slow down. We say: ‘Alright, this is what your good squat looks like.’ But even that is not much time, you know, because we’ll get to the actual weight and it’ll speed right back up. So, the big thing about yoga is that we slow everything down. Take time to work on bodily awareness. We take time to develop those basic movement patterns which can translate to everything you do. So me teaching you a lunge in yoga, with just your body weight, translates into you doing a lunge when you’re doing – when you’re playing sports, you know, if you need to get down into a position to start sprinting, if you are lifting weights and you need to do a lunge. If we’re doing a squat in yoga, you do squats outside of yoga. But we slow it down. We emphasize the very basic movements and very subtle changes. Like – like okay, draw the knees back, weight in the heels, make sure your glutes are engaged. Notice your spine in the mirror, it should have a slight arch at your lower back. So we emphasize those things that people should be doing and that can be applied to everything else. So that’s – that’s reason number 1 people need to be doing yoga. So, and again, I say need because you need that slow, controlled movement. The second is because of the emphasis on balance. You know, we don’t – we very rarely, you know, how often do you see someone doing this at the gym? Just standing on one leg. And it’s – it’s something simple that helps to reduce your risk of injury, it helps to strengthen muscles that you aren’t typically using. But it’s something that we don’t take the time to do. And that leads me to my 3rd point, which is yoga is all those things that you know you should be doing but don’t do for your fitness. Like taking care of your body, stretching, letting your muscles relax, recover, to lengthen. Um, you know, but the last part of your workout where you say: ‘Oh you wanna stretch? Oh no, I’m just gonna go home.’ You know, that’s [laughs] – and it’s so important to keep your muscles healthy. And ultimately you’re going to be stronger and more flexible – and by the way, flexibility means more strength, if you’re not sold on flexibility. The more range of motion you have, the more power you can generate. So ultimately that extra stuff that you’re doing in yoga is what’s going to help you be better in everything that you’re doing. So physically, that’s why you want to do yoga. And there’s so many other benefits that come with it and I don’t even need to talk about them for them to happen. So that’s – it’s – it’s just an exercise like no other that I’ve encountered just because all of the different benefits that accompany it.

Ryan: Okay, so –

Dean: And then, implementation. That was the second point.

Ryan: Yeah, so let’s – before we talk about that, I wanna mention 2 things that came to mind while you were going through that answer. One of our very early podcasts we had Tim Anderson on. They do a lot of crawling and –

Dean: Hm, okay.

Ryan: – as it relates to athletic performance, he had a very cool quote that I’ll never forget. I actually saw him speak at Wake Forest and we had him on the podcast. But he said: ‘If you can own slow, you can own fast.’ So when you talk about going through these movements and doing them slow, I can’t tell you how many athletes I’ve seen since he’s said that where, you know, when I see them crawl and I see them do a slow and controlled lunge, they can’t control their body. You know, so how do you expect to be able to get on the football field or, you know, even in daily life if you can’t control your body when you’re trying to? You know, what’s gonna happen when you’re either on the field or as you get older and you slip and fall or any of those things? And the second thing is, there was a study in Brazil a few years ago – I’ll try to find it and I’ll put it in the show notes so you guys go to optimalperformance.com to see the video version of this and hopefully if I can find this study I’ll put a link to it. But there was a – there’s an incredible link between mobility and longevity. And in the study they put people on the ground and said you have to get from the seated or – or laying on your back position to standing using as few points of contact on the ground as possible. So like if the side of your leg or your knee or your hand or your elbow – each of those is a point of contact, and the fewer points of contact that you use the higher or – yeah, the higher your score was and the people who had to use the most points of contact, there was – I forget the percentage but – so I won’t even say it but there was, they had a shorter lifespan.

Dean: Wow!

Ryan: Yeah. So it was – it’s really crazy. We’ll get that study and I’ll put it on the – in the show notes. So yeah, I mean, those are things that – that support exactly what you’re saying. You know, we need to be able to move better, we need to be able to control our bodies. If we can’t then how can we possibly expect to perform optimally?

Dean: Yeah! And, you know, the thing is if you don’t have range of motion – range of motion, I’m convinced, is the – is the lowest level on the pyramid of your physical fitness. If you cannot move in, right, if you cannot move in a position, if your arms do not go like this how can you expect to hold weight about your head like this? If you can’t get down into a squat, how do you expect to hold a weight in a squat? So before anything you have to have range of motion. And the more that you expand your range of motion, your flexibility, the more potential you have for physical fitness. You know, people – weightlifters and football players I see, they’ll get to a point where they stop getting stronger because they’re just – their range of motion is here and their strength is here but there’s no room for it to grow out.

Ryan: Right! And our body is built for survival. It knows, hey I can’t – I can’t continue to put this ability on top of something that won’t support it. So, you know, if you have that foundation and it’s as broad and as big as it can be, you know, then you have room to expand those, you know, those higher levels of the pyramid, as you said. That’s great – it’s a great visual.

Dean: Yeah, yeah. I completely agree.

Ryan: Okay. So – so help us implement some things into our daily life where we can either increase range of motion or improve some strength that maybe we don’t have.

Dean: Sure. So, I have to plug my 10-day intro here, just because this is exactly what I created it for. It’s 5-minute lessons, average of 5-minute lessons for 10 days and it goes through explaining situations in your body and usually 3, sometimes up to 6 exercises that address these situations.  So for example, relieving lower back pain. How to address the root causes of your back pain, how to increase your core strength. Um, and the point of me saying this is that in order to get started all you need to do is a couple poses or a few exercises every day in the morning, at night, and just see how it affects – or before your workout – just see how it affects – just see how it affects things. If you do it in the morning, you’ll wake up, you’ll have more – you’ll wake up quicker, you’ll have more energy, you’ll have more awareness, less brain fog. If you do it at night, you’ll actually sleep better. If you have 10 minutes, if you do yoga for 10 minutes or even 5 minutes before you go to sleep, I guarantee you that your sleep will be more sound. You’ll have higher quality sleep as opposed to if you did not do yoga beforehand. If you do it before a workout or you do exercises that help to activate those muscles that you don’t use in your – when you’re sitting. So, doing things that activate your core, your glutes, your posterior chain, things that don’t work during the day. It can make your workout so much more effective. It’s kind of like turning on the light switch for all these muscles that don’t work, that don’t typically activate. So, implementation is just find a couple poses, you know, or just go through a list of poses and do a couple in the morning. Do a couple before your workout. And just see what the difference is. And once you – once your body says: ‘Oh, wow! You know, I felt different here than I did yesterday.’ You’ll in- you’ll notice the difference and you won’t wanna – you won’t wanna go without doing it. So I would say just find some specific situations that you want to apply them to, take a couple minutes, do them on both sides and you’ll notice a difference pretty quickly.

Ryan: Alright, so that was a great answer and I think our listener’s ears perked up on a couple of those benefits. You know, obviously improved sleep is something that we would all enjoy. You also said reduced brain fog, which is near and dear to our listeners.

Dean: Thank you, CILTEP.

Ryan: [laughs] Right?

Dean: Love it, I love it.

Ryan: Awesome.

Dean: I have to – wait, give me one sec, I need to plug you guys because I – I filmed 4 DVDs in one day. 13 workouts. We did – I kid you not – we were filming for 13 hours with a couple breaks between them. And we got through all the workouts and I’m – I’m going to give props to CILTEP because I think that’s a huge part of the reason why I was able to do all those workouts and maintain focus for 13 hours of filming.

Ryan: And how many days – how many days would that have normally taken you?

Dean: 3. [laughs]

Ryan: [laughs] Alright.

Dean: I mean, I usually do 2 hours a day. So we did, you know, 8 hours in one day. I mean, 8 hours of workouts in one day, 13 hours total. It was insane.

Ryan: That’s – what is that? 4 times the productivity. We’ll take that.

Dean: Yeah!

Ryan: That’s awesome. Awesome.

Dean: You know, and with a week-long recovery, so.

Ryan: So, what about these – these poses or yoga can help us reduce brain fog? How is that gonna work?

Dean: Because when you’re focusing on, I mean, so it’s the basis of actually meditation. And I don’t talk about meditation in terms of the workouts because I think that there’s – those are 2 separate things. That’s why me and – that’s why me and a lot of other yoga don’t get along, because I separate meditation from the physical fitness. And – but when you’re – when you’re focusing on just moving very slowly in a pose and focusing on your breathing and checking in with every little part of your body, that shifts away the focus from: oh crap; I need to do this; my girlfriend’s mad at me. You know, this is going on, this is going on. All these other things that cause stress and cause brain fog and it allows you to focus on the moment and focus on your breathing, focus on your body. And that’s what helps to eliminate – I mean, that’s what helps to make you think more clearly and helps eliminate brain fog. So it’s, you know, it’s very often called moving meditation. And, you know, I completely agree with people in that exercise is a form of meditation. But even more so with yoga because it’s slower, there’s, you know, you’re not breathing quickly. There’s a lot of emphasis on controlling your breath, controlling your body. And I think that that controlling on the external part of your body helps to control, you know, the internal part of you as well. You know, your body works inside out. If you can affect the body, you can affect the mind. So, you know, just taking a couple minutes to do a moving meditation, so to speak, is what helps to eliminate the brain fog.

Ryan: Okay. So, it reminds me of a quote that I heard from a mentor of mine one time that says: ‘Motion dictates emotion.’ You know, so everything’s connected. The mind, body, spirit, all of it. So, you know, if you need to kinda reset things, you know, just 5 minutes of either breathing techniques, breathing exercises or some sort of, you know, just get up and move, be physical, whatever it may be.

Dean: Yeah.

Ryan: Dean, I wanna – I wanna press you for maybe your top 3 yoga poses for men. And what we’ll do is if you have a video that demonstrates each of these already then we can embed that video on the blog post for this podcast so that people can see how to do ’em and how you would cue those.

Dean: Sure. Top 3. It’s like choosing your favorite kid. [laughs]

Ryan: [laughs] You can – you can go 5 if you need to.

Dean: Alright. So, one of the – the first one that comes to mind is called a Warrior One pose. And the reason I like it so much is because it’s a big hip stretch. And it’s also core engagement, there’s also chest opening. So, we have – we have a stretch in your hips that can help to relieve pressure from the lower back. That can make your day – that can – it won’t let you – you won’t notice aches and pains around your lower back, around your hips. So, number 1 Warrior One. And then also of course the chest opening, that’s involved in Warrior One which helps to – whenever you’re in this position, whenever your chest is exposed, that helps to heighten your awareness. That helps to wake you up. So, number 1 a Warrior One. 2 is, I’m going to put Pigeon and this is a deep stretch for your external hip rotators, for your glutes. And the reason why I’m putting that here is because even though I played sports for years, I played lacrosse in college, I didn’t find a stretch anything like Pigeon until I started doing yoga and I realized just how tights my glutes were and how much potential was being held back from my lower body strength because I wasn’t doing this stretch. So, and then also in terms of everyday life, your glutes get very tight during the day and that will also pull on your lower back, causing lower back pain. So number 2 is Pigeon. My number 3 is going to be Down Dog. And the reason for that is because it’s a total body exercise. And it’s not a resting pose. It shouldn’t feel like just a stretch, it’s a total body exercise that helps to develop lower – lower abdominal awareness which is huge. If you don’t have lower abdominal awareness, you can’t do a deadlift properly, you can’t do a squat properly, you won’t be able to ever do a hand stand. And it’s so hard to learn. So, I would say that Down Dog for that reason alone is important but also because it helps to open your chest, it helps to stretch – it helps to create space in the vertebrate in your spine, it helps keep your back healthy. It helps to stretch your extremely tight hamstrings, helps to stretch your calves, the tightest muscle in your body. And it also strengthens your forearms and your sta- your stability. So there’s just so much going on in Downward-Facing Dog that I’m gonna put Down Dog in there as number 3.

Ryan: That’s awesome.

Dean: I think – I think that’s a solid, uh –

Ryan: Yeah!

Dean: – solid lineup.

Ryan: That’s very, very solid. So, I think it’s really cool that you mentioned the lower abdominal awareness. And awareness, I think, is a great word for it there. Will you – or can you, I guess, give some verbal cuing or coaching for our listeners who may be saying: ‘Alright, well I have no idea what he means by that.’

Dean: Sure. So, the easiest way to find lower abdominal awareness is to lay down on your back and lay your knees above your hips so that you’re kind of making an l-shape with your body and your lower legs can be parallel to the ground. So you’re make a, whatever, you know, this shape is with your bo- wait, it’s this. So you’re making this shape with your body.

Ryan: Yeah.

Dean: And then, just working on lifting your chest just a tiny bit and driving – or reaching your tailbone toward the wall that your butt is facing. And lower abdominal awareness, it just means being able to feel the muscles between your pubic bone, below your belly button, behind your pubic bone. It just means being able to feel those muscles engage. And it’s so – it’s amazing what happens when those muscles engage, everything else falls into place. That is your core, that is your center. If you can find awareness here, everything else falls into place. Your lower back releases almost immediately, it’s – your spine will stack right on top. I mean, you’ll have a straight spine or it’ll just – the way your spine is supposed to be. It helps with, I mean, you need that position for a squat, you need that position for if you wanna do hand stands for gymnastics movements. And if you can find that everything else falls into place, again. So trying it from that supine position with your knees just over your hips. And then also, they’re gonna see video of this, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Dean: Okay, so demo time. If I have a block. I don’t have a block so I’m just gonna use a foam roller. But just putting a foam roller between your thighs or something between your thighs like this, and then making this little internal rotation with your thighs. So I’m gonna send the foam roller behind me, okay? And then from here I’m gonna reach the tailbone down. So this little pelvic tilt –

Ryan: Yeah.

Dean: – to bring your butt under your body. So think pelvic tilt. Think a reaching tailbone down. And that lines up everything. So reaching your tailbone down is another way to think about it. And then getting as tall as you can, chest open, palms facing forward to help open your chest. This is, I mean this is – that’s your basic. And everything that you do can come back to that lower abdominal awareness. So if you’re doing an exercise, whether it’s a deadlift, whether it’s a hand stand, a squat, whether it’s a push-up, you can always come back and say: ‘Is my – do I have that lower abdominal awareness?’ And if you do, you’re protecting your back, number one, but you’re also strengthening your core. So, that was a long enough explanation –

Ryan: [laughs] No it’s – it’s great. That was really good. To me it’s – what you’re saying is said by a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. I know last year at the Bulletproof conference, the key note speaker was Kelly Starrett and he talks about it as spinal integrity and he used the exact same words you did where, you know, your spine is stacked. You know, if you flex your glutes, if you – the cue I like is take your belt buckle to your chin. So as you were standing there and you talked about that pelvic tilt, as you made that move your belt buckle come up towards your chin.

Dean: Yeah!

Ryan: The bottom line is: most people live in anterior pelvic tilt. So that was the way you were when the pelvis was tilted, the front of your pelvis was tilted down.

Dean: Right.

Ryan: And that leads to tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings, all kinds of, you know, shortened glutes, low back pain. It impacts your breathing patterns. All that stuff affects everything including those performance things that are at the top of the pyramid that you mentioned, whether it’s handstands or deadlifts or squats. So, it’s a very important thing for people to be aware of and try to fix.

Dean: Yeah. And it – and totally, you’re right on. And Kelly Starrett is amazing, by the way.

Ryan: Yeah.

Dean: His books are – his books are fantastic.

Ryan: Yeah.

Dean: Let’s plug Kelly while we’re at it.

Ryan: Okay! Might as well, right? We’ll put a link on the show notes to that stuff, too. Hey, speaking of links. Dean, tell our listeners where they can find more of you.

Dean: So you can find more of Man Flow Yoga at manflowyoga.com, M-A-N-F-L-O-W yoga.com. I launched my member’s area last month, actually the beginning of this month. And so we’re offering 7-day free trials. So you can sign up for a 7-day free trial, get into the member’s area, look around at all the workout, library – the workout library that we have is filled with 25 high-quality workouts with a diet and nutrition section, with a lifestyle section, and also lots of really cool community features. So instead of just being an online resource, this is actually a community. We have a private Facebook group. We pair you – every paying member is paired with one of my brand ambassadors – a ‘Manbassador’. So, I know, I know. But, so everyone is paired with a ‘Manbassador’ so that they can help guide them through the member’s area. So they can help integrate them into a community, like I said. That’s a really – you said this at the beginning but that’s what really makes this unique is that this really is a community. So, manflowyoga.com and then of course if you want to see some of my earlier stuff and, kinda, you can even watch kind of the evolution of Man Flow Yoga, you can check out the YouTube channel, youtube.com/manflowyoga and you can see a lot of my teaching style there. I’m also on all other social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well. So, and that’s all Man Flow Yoga. M-A-N-F-L-O-W yoga.

Ryan: Alright.

Dean: Nobody took it yet!

Ryan: Alright, well you got it!

Dean: Yeah.

Ryan: Alright. So, Dean before we let you go, the question that all of our guests answer: your top 3 tips to live optimal.

Dean: 3 tips to live optimal. Alright. These are all, before I say [unclear 00:42:29] – these are all things that I only started doing in the last 3 years. I think I was living in – I was living in the matrix until 3 years ago. So, first thing is to live in the moment, to be present in what you’re doing. To take joy in whatever it is that you’re doing to – to kind of bask in the emotion of what you’re doing or to really experience life. ‘Cause ultimately, the only moment that you have is now. Tomorrow will never exist. So, my first tip is to um, is to be in the moment, to live in the present. Number 2 is to, well, movement is obviously one. Number 2 is movement, I’d say. So, just getting up, just moving, whether it’s – whether it’s yoga, whether it’s running, whether it’s weights. Just get up and move. Get your body moving. Everything else, you know, your health falls into place when you’re – when you’re moving properly, when you’re exercising. You know, some exercise is better than others but if you’re not moving, I think everything else suffers. So take care of yourself and move. And then number 3 is eating. I mean, these aren’t – these aren’t crazy tips! But eating properly is – is so important to living optimally. If you’re not – everything that you, I mean, your output is determined on what you take into your body. So, pay attention to what you’re eating. And the sooner you start paying attention to what you’re eating and noticing how different your life is when you’re not having things that slow you down during the day, but things that help you keep your energy up throughout the day it’s just – it’s – it makes such a big difference in your life because you don’t have periods of time in a day when you’re slowing down and you’re like: ‘Ah, I need a cup of coffee,’ or you’re tired. You’re always awake, you always have energy, you always are moving, you’re always enthusiastic about things. So that’s – that’s my number 3. And it – and there’s many more. Can I – can I say one more?

Ryan: Absolutely!

Dean: Okay.

Ryan: We’ll go bonus tip.

Dean: Bonus tip, yeah! Bonus tip is you have the ability to control your reaction to everything that happens in your life. Happiness is not determined by what happens to you, it’s determined by your outlook on everything that happens. Nothing happens to you, things just happen and your reaction to it, if you can look beyond what your expectations of what it was supposed to do for you or how it was supposed to go and just look at it in terms of: ‘how is this positive for me?’ In terms – instead of: ‘okay, but this is how I expected it to go’, your life is going to be a lot better. If you can stay positive, if you can look at things in terms of just, things just happening instead of things happening against you. So always be optimistic, don’t play the victim. And don’t post negative crap on Facebook.

Ryan: [laughs]

Dean: So, that’s my number – that’s the number 1.

Ryan: Dean Pohlman, Man Flow Yoga, this has been awesome. Dean, thanks a lot for hanging out with us today.

Dean: Yeah Ryan, thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.

Ryan: So, for all you guys listening, make sure you head to optimalperformance.com. Get the video version of this, a lot of stuff that you’ll be able to see Dean demonstrating for us, we’ll have links to the resources that we talked about, we’ll embed some videos on those top 3 yoga poses: Warrior One, Pigeon and Downward Dog. And also, if you found this episode of Optimal Performance Podcast helpful, please think about somebody else that you know who will benefit from listening that maybe isn’t a listener already, share the podcast with them. Help us reach more people and make the world stronger, happier, healthier, help them perform optimally and live optimally. That’s it! Talk to you guys next Thursday! Thanks for listening!