It’s no secret that yoga is beneficial, helping to lengthen, strengthen and realign the body to allow practitioners to live a full, healthy life. As one of the oldest forms of exercise, it predates Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda by thousands of years. But as a practice, one thing has remained a constant: it’s forever changing.
One man is seeking to further change it. Dean Pohlman, founder of Manflow Yoga, discovered yoga as a college lacrosse player and was instantly addicted.
“I wandered into a Bikram yoga studio on accident and it was the hardest workout that I’d ever done by far,” Pohlman said, “I realized that there was an element of my fitness that I was missing out on and I started going back and regularly – three, four or five times a week.”
While Pohlman was hooked on the physical aspects of the practice, he was reluctant to adopt the spiritual elements.
Yoga is linked deeply to a history of spirituality, and the idea of removing that element from the practice is often a hot debate. In 2014, Washington D.C. was divided into two camps determining whether yoga was a taxable non-religion or whether its purposes were religious and therefore exempt from a specific tax. In the end, the district’s tax on yoga studios stayed (along with other gyms), but other cities have landed on the other side of that fence.
Pohlman falls on the non-spiritual side, with a desire to simply keep things physical. And as he sought something to fill that need for him and came up short, he created a targeted form of yoga for men: Manflow Yoga.
“I called it Manflow Yoga because more men are unwilling to go into a public class or even into a workout class at all and try to get into the state that most yoga instructors were pushing you towards,” Pohlman said, “It made me feel uncomfortable and I know that other people were feeling uncomfortable too.”
While Pholman was focused on bringing yoga to more men, he found that his “meathead yoga brand” was helping people to achieve the feats of everyday living that were important to them.
“My goal is to help you do what you want to do physically for as long as you possibly can,” Pohlman said, “Sometimes the byproduct of that is getting the lean, toned, muscular look that most guys are looking for and other times it’s just giving you the ability to just play with your grandkids. The majority of people that I’m working with are in their 40s, 50s and 60s.”
Pohlman said that he combines his 200 hour Yoga Alliance certification with his knowledge of sports training to amplify the effectiveness of yoga.
“People want to do yoga and they want to do all of the poses and gain flexibility, but one problem with yoga is that it doesn’t include all of the pulling exercises … In order to address that, I work in resistance bands with people that I work with so that they get the full compression in their back,” he said.
For bros just starting out with yoga, the learning curve can be steep. Pohlman created what he calls a “hack for yoga,” his ebook, Yoga Basic for Men.
“It has 70 poses, variations of poses, other exercises and I walk you through the technique for every post, start to finish, from your feet up to your head as succinctly as possible,” Pohlman said.
For a feel for what Manflow Yoga is all about, the Pohlman’s YouTube channel has playlists packed with targeted workouts.