I think the best part about the Man Flow Yoga San Diego retreat was the intimacy and the personal attention that everyone was able to experience. We were able to find a nearby yoga studio (Yoga Arts) a 5-minute drive away from the resort that was a beautiful room to practice yoga in. We were able to pack 8 yoga sessions into just under 3 full days of yoga. By the end of the trip, everyone’s yoga practice had completely changed.
Henry, who has been working with me once a week for the last 3 months via webcam, fearlessly attempted everything we did. If he couldn’t do it, he grunted and pushed and screamed until he collapsed from exhaustion. Luis, an Albuquerque Bikram-yoga enthusiast, had an opportunity to delve into technique that a standard Bikram class was unable to offer. Leo, coincidentally also from Albuquerque, began to understand the reason why his hamstrings weren’t getting any looser and his shoulders were as tight as… well, someone who doesn’t do yoga. Then we had Edgar, who completed an Ironman a mere 3 days before arriving in San Diego for the retreat, who seemed to learn every new movement with ease and skill while pushing himself to hisl limits. Hector, a Corepower yoga instructor, went beast mode in every class, demonstrating fantastic form and (I hope!) learning some new moves to teach in his own classes. Finally, Jessi, a Long Beach native and professional fitness instructor, attended for a full day of 3 sessions, including 2 difficult Man Flow Yoga power sessions and an inversion clinic, and demonstrated that some of the girls can hang with the boys plank for plank.
The growth from everyone was just fantastic. It was so satisfying seeing everyone improve day by day. I’m honored that I had the chance to help improve everybody’s technique and give them an awesome vacation. The classes were challenging and extremely informative. I poured everything that I knew into every class. I wanted all the participants to walk away from the experience not only with memories, friendships, and proper technique, but also an understanding of how they can create a plan to go about correcting their own imbalances and improving their yoga practice, so that they can become healthier and happier with themselves, feel more confident, project their confidence to others, and ultimately be happier in life! Outside of classes, we explored the city of San Diego, tried new foods, drove around in an SUV bumping classic 70s and 80s music (as well as Nicki Minaj), and had a stupendous Argentinian dinner. Come Sunday morning, the yoga class didn’t even feel like a class. We were smiling and laughing while pushing through poses that required strength, endurance, and concentration, and it felt impossible that we had only known each other for 3 days.
The shoulder flexibility and inversion clinics were great. We had a lot of firsts in that class, and some SIGNIFICANT improvements in poses like crow. The detail that I emphasized every pose and exercise in helped give people a new understanding of what they were trying to do in the poses. Participants stopped mimicking what the people around them were doing, and we actually broke the technique down, step by step and inch by inch. The result of 3 days of this was nothing short of mind-boggling.
The retreat reaffirmed the imbalances that guys have when it comes to doing yoga in traditional yoga world. For some, it was the first time that they had an opportunity to work with someone who was focused on yoga for man’s body. Here’s what working with a batch of yogis proved about the yoga industry, yet again:
Very few instructors actually teach a proper high plank to low plank to up dog transition.
Guys need to relax their shoulders more, and instructors need to instruct them that it’s an active relaxation (pulling your shoulders down).
Guys need more modifications. LOTS MORE.
Men’s hamstring and hip flexibility need to be preceded by proper spinal alignment. Straighten the spine, then work into the other stuff.
Yoga instructors need to pay more attention to technique, and excuses that it’s too hard when there are lots of people is bullshit. If you are attending a yoga class and not receiving personal adjustments or assists, you might as well crank up your heater in your bedroom and find a workout on YouTube. At least it’s free there.
It’s an unfortunate reality that the majority of instructors and yoga studios in the yoga industry are rewarded when they allow people to continue with poor form, rather than hurt their feelings in offering corrections. It’s not that they want them to have poor form, they are just scared of losing their clients by offering too much constructive advice. Whatever the reason, the reality is that people are not performing poses correctly and are not maximizing the utility that they can receive from doing yoga consistently. Even worse, people are actually getting injured doing yoga because there isn’t enough focus on technique, or even a proper understanding of anatomy on the parts of yoga instructors.
I didn’t write this recap of the retreat to highlight the shortcomings of the yoga industry in general. But I would feel remiss to mention it when people who have been doing for years or even decades come to one of my classes for the first time only to learn (from someone that has probably been doing yoga for a shorter period of time than they have) they they’ve been doing it wrong for years.
I couldn’t possibly talk about everything in detail that I was covered at the retreat. Yes, I taught tons of yoga poses, including lunges, hamstring stretches, balancing, arm balances, inversions, and restorative stretches, but we also covered all of these movements in relation to everyday life, and how every body part is interrelated and what you do in one area has a direct translation to another area. We talked about how you can begin incorporating yoga into your everyday movements, so that you benefit from yoga even as you sit in an office chair. We talked about the mentality that you need to have in order to make progress. I gave every participant a detailed recap of what they needed to work on and how they can go about doing it on a daily basis.
The bottom line is that these retreats aren’t just a vacation. They are an intensive learning experience. It’s summer camp for adults, except your parents aren’t forcing you to go. Most importantly, they are an opportunity to connect with like-minded people and form lifelong connections. I have no doubt in my mind that people from the retreat will still be talking with one another a year from now. The next Man Flow Yoga retreat will be announced soon. I’m looking at the British Islands in August. Clear your schedule, people.