Why Man Flow Yoga?

It’s easier if I start at the beginning, back in 2012…

Dean - Collegiate Lacrosse Player (I was a collegiate lacrosse player back then)

My first yoga experience was on complete accident.

While looking for the tailor, I wandered into a Bikram yoga studio. I had always wanted to try yoga, but the opportunity just hadn’t presented itself.

As it so happened, I was already planning on going to the gym after visiting the tailor, and a class was starting in the next 15 minutes. I approached the instructor, wearing my lacrosse hoodie and sweatpants, and asked whether or not this class would be useful for me.

Dean - Collegiate Lacrosse Player (I was a collegiate lacrosse player back then)

She told me that it would really help with my flexibility, my endurance, and toning up my muscles. I definitely needed to work on flexibility. And who wouldn’t want to improve muscle tone? So I said, okay, let’s do it.

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What happened in the next 90 minutes completely shattered every preconception I had ever had about yoga.

Not even halfway through the class, I was drenched in my own sweat and utterly exhausted. My legs were shaking, my arms were exhausted (even though we weren’t using any weights), and I wanted nothing more than to leave the packed, overheated room and exit into what would have been a refreshingly cold winter day. But I stayed.

I was moving my body and exercising in completely new ways, and feeling soreness in muscles I didn’t even knew I had. I also knew that by challenging myself I was becoming stronger, and there was no way I was going to give up mid-workout. (There were women there who were at least double, maybe triple my age. If they could do it, then I certainly could!)

When the class finally finished, I exited the room with an immense feeling of accomplishment. That 90-minute Bikram yoga class is still the hardest workout I’ve ever done. I knew at that moment that yoga would be a regular part of my workout routine - maybe for the rest of my life.

I kept doing yoga. Initially it was because I didn’t like not being able to do something, and I wanted to get a solid grasp on this new form of exercise. But after a few weeks of doing yoga, I started to notice some significant changes in my body.

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In the first month, I noticed:

  • Greatly improved flexibility, mobility, and range of motion.
  • More strength and endurance (particularly in my legs, hips, and core.)
  • Improved core strength and stability.
  • A stronger spine, increased spinal mobility, and increased back strength.
  • Increased body and muscular awareness.
  • Decreased recovery time, less soreness.
  • Improved breathing and breathing awareness.

Yoga was making me better - Photo Credit - 2018 - Dennis Burnett PhotographyMy body was definitely changing.

Yoga was making me better at my other workouts, and I was getting stronger in ways that I never had before.

My body and breath awareness skyrocketed. Flexibility was drastically improving - it was downright uncomfortable at first, but my body was becoming SO much more mobile the more I worked into the discomfort of muscle tightness.

But it didn’t stop there.

Here’s what I noticed in the second and third months of doing yoga consistently

Dean Standing Shirtless
  • Increased muscle tone and size in my lower-body, core, back, and shoulders.
  • Improved cardiovascular ability.
    I actually had a slight asthma condition, but my oxygen levels improved from 90% to 125% as a result of yoga!
  • Greatly improved fluidity of movement
  • Improved balancing abilities.
  • Improved performance on the lacrosse field and in the weight room.
  • Greatly improved posture as a result of constant core awareness.
  • Correction of anterior pelvic tilt

I was starting to look more toned and even add muscle. My on-the-field performance for lacrosse was also improving. I felt way more in control of my body, able to move with less effort to accomplish the same goal, and somehow felt more powerful but lighter at the same time. I was even beginning to think about posture constantly. My abs were always engaged, my shoulder blades pulled down and back, and people were assuming I was 2” taller than I really was!

I wanted my teammates on my lacrosse team to get the same benefits I was.

Teaching Yoga to Lacrosse Players It wasn’t in the team budget to hire a yoga instructor, I decided to teach the lacrosse team myself. Lacrosse is pretty tough on your body, but taking the time to get stronger in new ways, stretch, and breathe, had an incredibly positive benefit on my teammates. My teammates were apprehensive at first, but after the first session they wanted to do it every conditioning session.

We did yoga weekly following that - sometimes twice per week! Eventually we were doing a few minutes of yoga after every practice, to help with muscle recovery and injury prevention - not to mention it just felt fantastic after an hour or more of running, dodging, and hitting one another.

I wanted my teammates to be able to continue to do yoga even while we weren’t together. Most of them didn’t want to go to a yoga studio, since they liked the way I taught it. So I bought a relatively inexpensive HD camcorder, recorded some workouts, and created a YouTube channel.

I decided to give the channel a name that would specifically speak to men, as a way of letting guys know that yoga wasn’t just for women. After some quick thinking, I decided on Man Flow Yoga - and that’s how all of this started!

Vintage Flow 1-29-2013 Vintage Flow 9-16-2013 Vintage Flow 2-9-2013 Vintage Flow 7-21-2013

Man Flow Yoga Label

But even after a few months of yoga, 6 times per week, there were still things I didn’t know and I wasn’t getting answers from traditional yoga.

The Problem with Tradtional Yoga

I still didn’t have a clear idea on what I was supposed to be doing during each pose. In fact, compared to what I know now, you could accurately say that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

I was unsure about:

  • Proper technique
  • Which muscles should I be engaging
  • How my body worked, and how yoga fit into it
  • The specific benefits the exercises had on my fitness
  • How to incorporate yoga into my workout routine
  • The postures I should be doing to improve my performance as an athlete

I also didn’t enjoy the teaching style – it was too spiritual.

I was there because I wanted to get stronger, but the instructors wanted to give me a spiritual experience. I understand that some people want that approach, but for me it just seemed like the spiritual speak talk could have been replaced with more about the postures.

For instance:

  • What should your knee be doing in Warrior 2?
  • Should you bend your knees if you can’t touch the ground?
  • What if you feel shoulder pain during the “chaturanga” (the yoga push-up)?

I wanted answers to these questions, and I wasn’t getting them from traditional yoga resources. I wasn’t even able to find this information online! Surely, there must be a yoga for athletes program somewhere, right? There wasn’t.

And that’s because fitness isn’t the main focus of traditional yoga.

fitness is not the main focus of traditional yogaTraditional yoga isn’t meant to be just a workout - it’s a holistic practice. So instead of learning yoga in a way that would improve my performance, make me stronger, and prevent injury (the same reasons why so many professional athletes were now taking up yoga), my only option was to get as much relevant information as I could from a class that wasn’t made for me - a highly ineffective process.

Here’s just a bit of what I experienced. (Can you relate?)

  • Being in a yoga studio, looking around at everyone else because you were unsure of how you’re supposed to be doing the pose.
  • Wanting to leave the class because the instructor has started chanting, and you’re there because you want more hip mobility and core strength.
  • Being concerned about injuring yourself, because you weren’t sure whether or not you were feeling the pose the way you were supposed to.
  • Feeling uncomfortable because you’re the only guy in the room, and you don’t want people there to think you’re a creep
  • Not being able to touch your toes or go as deep into the postures as everyone else, and pushing yourself to go further even when it didn’t feel right.
  • Looking at somebody effortlessly twist their body into a pretzel, while you struggled with a simple variation.

Yup, I went through that on a weekly basis for years.

Uncertainty, feelings of inadequacy, physical pain from pushing myself too hard (not just discomfort), and just feeling downright annoyed at times.

So I asked myself:

How can yoga be as popular as it is, without there being a type of yoga designed for guys who want to improve their fitness?

And then I had a crazy idea…

What if I did something about it?

I had no business experience and no intention of going into business (my goal was actually to work in international relations), but I knew that if guys could do yoga in a way that met men on THEIR terms, then they would love the results - just as I had. And that’s when I decided to make it my mission to help more guys get stronger with yoga.

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.

I’ve come a long way since 2013, when I was recording videos in the kitchen of my college apartment. "I" is now "we", and we’ve grown to an audience of over 200,000 people, released 3 DVDs, published a #1 book with a major book publisher, self-published an eBook that hit #1 in 4 categories, and created a community of men dedicated to improving their fitness with yoga.

I’d love for you to join us.I’d love for you to join us. Click below to learn more about joining the Man Flow Yoga Community, and how joining our community and getting access to our workouts, programs, & tutorials can help you reach your next level of fitness.


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