As much as the shit sandwich 2020 has turned out to be. We all have to learn how to adapt to get through the rough times. However, realistically, most of us are far better off than many others.
One part of adapting in 2020 has been learning how to exercise indoors for the majority of the day. We have had to flex our imaginative skills when it comes to staying active in lockdown. With access to studios and gyms cut off or limited, there has been a mass return to the at-home workout. If only millennials had a comparable celebrity to Jane Fonda's workouts in those leg warmers!
Many guys have struggled with this transition as a whole. With the majority of male fitness centred around strength and weight training. A process that is fairly challenging when it comes to working out in the home space. We have had to examine the fitness landscape and look beyond the weights pit to maintain a shred of strength
One alternative fitness channel that has been in the zeitgeist, but generally a sleeper in the realm of male health, is yoga at home. The surprisingly challenging task of folding yourself into a pretzel could be the key to staying trim in iso.
We chatted with the talented Mark Osmundsen, a burlesque dancer and yoga expert. Mark is the founder and CEO of yoga platform Movement Culture Co, and is a Movement Guru at Yoga Glo. He knows his stuff when it comes to yoga at home.
check out Movement Culture Co for amazing live yoga workouts from Mark.
The first question that was burning on our lips. How on earth do we maintain or even start a consistent yoga practice?
Mark: I think that one of the most important things right now is to block out time for ourselves, and especially our practice. We are working weird hours, eating at weird times, and usually not taking time for self-care, so actually putting it on the schedule or blocking out time will ensure that you make space for this necessary bodywork.
For sure, we are definitely maintaining weird schedules, and a lot of us are short on time even when we are at home. Our schedules generally allow us to work out in strange time frames, is there any short yoga formula flows we can master.
Mark: Whenever you get a chance. Just take some time and do a few Sun Salutations that will wake-up and invigorate the body. If you're feeling anxious, angry, or sad, take a moment on the mat (just 5 minutes), to float through these moves only thinking about your breath. Then after the movement, take another minute to be still. Quiet the chatter of your mind and just focus on your heartbeat.
This is great for finding that five to stay focused, but for anyone looking to maintain strength and connection to their body, what yoga at-home style is the best?
Mark: Doing Vinyasa yoga is a great way to build up strength and stamina in the body and a wonderful introduction to a yoga practice. If you are beginning your practice, start slow and be frequent with it. The more you engage with this philosophy of movement, the more you will feel the changes in your everyday life.
Amazing, so can yoga be an alternative to a traditional home workout in regard to fitness gain?
Mark: Of course, yoga combines the strength and cardio elements of many workouts, as well as increasing flexibility and blood flow. If you are far along on your fitness journey, I would recommend continuing strength/resistance training and adding yoga 1-2 times a week to help with muscle repair, balance, and alignment.
I believe a lot of guys struggle with yoga, as it is generally the opposite of weight or strength training. What are the common mistakes for guys to look out for in their yoga practice?
Mark: Trying to be a hero. Most men attempt to train ALL out ALL the time, and in yoga, this is a disservice to your practice. In yoga, you want to connect with how the body feels, where you’re at in your flexibility and strength, and to be a conscious practitioner of the yogic practice. It’s not about pushing yourself to the point where you feel sick or injuring yourself trying to “land” a pose.
That explains so much, I often try to push through yoga poses rather than settle into them. Yoga is working for you it seems, what are your go-to flows that get you pumped for the day?
Mark: I like planks A LOT. So something where I would feel myself supporting my body weight, and I do love headstand inversions. But to be honest, my meditations are the number one way to get myself pumped for the day. I need time to centre myself, and that serves me best for whatever work/workouts I end up doing throughout the day.
For anyone jumping into yoga for the first time. Do you have any advice on how to remain focused on their flow during a session?
Mark: Let yourself explore more, be more curious. When I first started doing yoga over a decade ago, I wanted to try and be “right” and try to prove myself for some reason, and that really doesn’t serve you in yoga (or in life actually). The best thing you can do is just be present, listen (to yourself, space, and your instructor) and just live in a state of curiosity for awhile. Have fun exploring yoga, the rest will come.
For such an impactful fitness form it's surprising more men are not flocking to studios. As a yoga instructor, why do you think yoga is less practised by men?
Mark: Well like any codified form of movement/dance, it's stigmatized. Because of the ephemeral nature of the movement that is not for violence or sport, society has conditioned a lot of men to think of it as unnatural for them to practise. Toxic masculinity seeps its way into every area of life. From what we believe we should eat, how we dress/speak, and even WALK. Do yoga. Despite whatever gender construct you’ve been hammered to believe, do yoga. Live as a human and explore yoga as a practice of humanity.
Okay, now the important question, what is your go-to outfit when you hit the mat for yoga at home session?
Mark: I mean, the fewer clothes the better! If I’m not practising at home then I’d usually wear some short shorts and a tank top, maybe leggings if I’m really feeling myself that day!