093. Mark Balfe-Taylor: Yoga, intuition, and discipline (transcript)

Highlight [0:00]

Chapter’s show notes…

Mark (00:00:04):
(highlight) But for others, that had lived at 9:00 to 5:00 in a routine, they always get their coffee at the same time, from the same place, they always go to lunch at the same place. They always do their yoga class at the same place, and now it’s not there. There’s a realization that comes from that of, why was I doing the things that I was doing? And did I really commit to the things that I was doing and what’s valuable in my life? (/highlight)

Introduction [0:32]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:00:35):
(chapter) Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the Movers Mindset podcast, where I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do and why they do it. This is episode number 93, Mark Balfe-Taylor, yoga intuition and discipline. Mark Balfe-Taylor prefers to go with the flow rather than plan everything out. It just so happens that his flow led to a successful career as a yoga teacher and trainer. He shares his thoughts on teaching yoga and the journey he embarked on to get there. Mark discusses the lessons he learned through traveling and his adjustment to fatherhood. He unpacks the idea of discipline, how it’s impacted his life, his practice and his work to develop it.

Craig (00:01:22):
Mark Balfe-Taylor is a yogi teacher and yoga teacher trainer who has been practicing for 15 years. He has experience in training in many different types of yoga and spent years traveling the world teaching and learning. Mark is the creator of Revitalize, his own hot yoga sequence, and recently founded The Irie Agency where he is creating yoga podcasts. For more information, go to moversmindset.com/93. We continue improving the topics we create for each episode. We’ve long had chapter maps in our audio files, so you can jump around by topic in the episodes. Now, for each chapter from the episode show notes in the forum, you can jump right to the correct spot in the transcript. Thanks for listening.

Teaching yoga [2:10]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:02:11):
(chapter) Good extra early morning, Mark. Thank you for joining me from Las Vegas. How are you?

Mark (00:02:16):
I’m fabulous. My absolute pleasure. Hi.

Craig (00:02:20):
So thanks so much for being super accommodating for sitting down with us. Let’s see, where should we start? Let me start by saying, I’ve heard a lot of conversations, like kind of as the fly on the wall, of people talking about, do you need to know the thing? Do I have to be able to play relatively good tennis to be able to teach tennis to someone? So I think of many people that I’ve talked to recently, you’re really well positioned to give me some thoughts on what do you think about, does someone have to be a good athlete to be a teacher of that particular sport or a really good yogi to be able to teach people how to yoga?

Mark (00:02:59):
I think these days, especially with social media, it’s littered with fabulous yogis showing off their skills and often intimidating as well as in placing people in order to do yoga so it becomes a-

Craig (00:03:17):
Okay, it’s not just me.

Mark (00:03:19):
… thing that amazing dancers and gymnasts show off their ability in fabulous places from beach settings to forests to, and they’re doing these elaborate poses and that’s what yoga has become for a lot of people or is shown to be. And really it’s the daily grind of doing something in a humble way that makes you feel better and more able to cope with your daily tasks and just the way you approach your life. So even though I teach a static based yoga, I’m not a big fan of the, kind of the showing off of these elaborate poses.

Mark (00:04:01):
And so, I still, in answer of your question, I feel like that people obviously need to gain experience in said topic of doing yoga and going through the motions before they can share that with others and teach others how to do it. But in my teaching, it’s all about the humble approach to chipping away at your health and fitness and calming your mind from all of the monkey chatter that we deal with on a daily basis. And so, it’s not about being a champion looking yoga practitioner in order to be a trainer of it, even though some people cast their niche in that way, I like to make people of all levels feel better about themselves doing this thing called yoga.

Craig (00:04:51):
That’s definitely a laudable goal. My limited experience within yoga I fell in, what did I know? I just went to the closest studio. I fell in with somebody who was a really good yoga instructor and that was definitely her stick was like, “Yeah, whatever makes you feel better, that’s what I would like to facilitate.” I’m going to guess, what’s something that’s jumped out at you as the difference between teaching people yoga and teaching people how to be teachers? In one case, “Yeah, those are the students. You have two students, but they’re trying to learn different things.” What’s something that’s jumped out at you about the difference between those two sorts of students?

Mark (00:05:32):
Teaching people how to do yoga is always this melting pot of individuals in the room. And you never know where everybody’s at, so there’s some gifted people. There’s some people that are trying to just lose weight. There’s some people that are mentally bombarded in their life and they’re trying to escape that and get a reprieve for the period of time that they’re just doing their practice. And there’s always this hot pot of individuals there for different reasons. And their energetics are very different day-to-day in the room. When those people then decide, “Hey, I love this, and I’m going to share it with others.” There’s a variety of backgrounds that people come from that I always think is very interesting.

Mark (00:06:16):
And I do two different trainings. One is an intensive and one is a weekend only. And they attract very different types of individuals. So if I do a month intensive training, those people are often in transition, they’re changing their lives. They’re going through a divorce, they’re moving States, they’re in this transitional [crosstalk 00:06:36] phase and they’re like, "I’m going to become a yoga teacher because I’ve got this time. And that type of training always turns out some different interesting character from those that are trying to multitask. And they’re doing a weekend training, they’re very interested in this thing called yoga and they’ve got their life going on during the week.

Mark (00:06:56):
They’ve got their full-time job. They’ve got their full-time job plus family, and yet they’re still finding time to do the whole of their weekends to do a yoga training as well. And so, in answer to your question on that is like, there’s two different types of trainings for me, that I experienced two different types of attractions of people. The transitional group, the people that are doing it as a complete career change, it’s a lot easier because it’s like immersing yourself into teaching a language. So you arrive in Spain and you only speak Spanish.

Craig (00:07:27):
Yeah. You get in the pool. Right?

Mark (00:07:28):
[crosstalk 00:07:28] so it’s just something that you pick up and you immerse in. And it’s often easier to come out the other side integrating some of these awesome, awesome teachings that we’re trying to share with others and so they get it quicker. Whereas you have to be a really motivated individual to be able to multitask, there’s your career and your family. And then be taking up all your spare time to do the training on the weekend and then to integrate that and get all of the pieces of the puzzle down to share it with others. And people often think that it’s an easier thing than it actually is. Because ultimately you don’t teach sequences, you teach people and it circles back to managing and dealing with people.

Craig (00:08:13):
Have you found, I don’t coach or teach or train people. I just talk and talk. Have you found any difference, has this come up, that’s something you’ve noticed as a trend, have you found any difference between people who go into like, “Okay, I’m pretty good at yoga. I want to now become a yoga teacher,” and they already know the why. Like, “I want to become a yoga teacher because I need to reboot my life and I want to become… That’s what I’m going to do for a business.” Or like, “My life went to shit so I’m going to become a yogi.”

Craig (00:08:45):
And I’m thinking, some people would show up with a particular why, and some people would show up, maybe they have an inherent why, I want to be cool or whatever. But have you found that the different types of students, those with a why and those without a why, do they succeed? Is there a correlation between who succeeds?

Mark (00:09:04):
Yeah. As you pointed out, some people are, they’ve decided that how they’ve changed by committing to do a regular practice is something that they want to share with others. And that gives a certain drive to people that comes from a really authentic, genuine place. And I say that because that was truly my experience when I first came, I was going through a quite toxic phase of my life. Prior to me finding a hot yoga class, I had done unheated yoga on my travels. And I always had a very similar experience. My experience was, a competent bendy healthy yoga person was delivering a class and I was desperately looking, trying to copy from these elaborate names and trying to copy the sequence and often hurting myself trying to keep up with said bendy person.

Mark (00:10:09):
And as much as I enjoyed the feeling of doing some of these moves, I was always somewhat lost in a class. And I was always feeling like I was on a desperate catch-up to try and do that. And because I had always done it intermittently, I had never committed to the regular grind of practicing a way and becoming super familiar with a sequence. And so therefore, it was always a really uphill battle. And as much as I loved it, I was never very competent at doing it. And then I went through this very, very toxic phase of my life where I was slightly hedonistic, and searching to relieve the toil of my mind in all the wrong places and hot yoga for me was the hardest thing that I had ever tried to do. I wanted to vomit all the way through the class.

Mark (00:10:57):
I wanted to run out the room, screaming. I made it through and it felt like I’d achieved something by getting through this hot sequence. And it was very addictive. The next couple of days, I was reveling in the way that I felt afterward. I was drawn to go back and I was doing it while I was in South Korea, like you do. And so, I didn’t have a lot of other ways to entertain myself. So I inadvertently found myself in a way to be able to commit to this practice. And I had this very quick upward trajectory of calming myself down, feeling like I had some sense of worth, and starting to gain some competency in the delivery of this style of class. It was made very clear to me.

Mark (00:11:43):
It was a very verbal exchange as opposed to a copy along to someone extremely competent that had been doing it for the last 10 or 15 years themselves. And it was a lot more agreeable for me to be able to follow this practice. And I then wanted to do a teacher training after a year and a half of doing it because I had seen such a dramatic change in myself. And I thought it was something that was really valuable to share. Yeah. Physically-

Craig (00:12:14):
Just a physical change. I’m thinking the mental part is probably what surprised you the most?

Mark (00:12:17):
Yeah. (quote) It was mentally how my approach to my daily life was changing because this was now a fundamental piece of the puzzle. And I wanted to be less hedonistic. I wanted to commit to doing this thing. I wanted to explore getting better at this thing. And there was all these noticeable changes, and I felt good and I felt energized. And I was like, if this can make me feel that way, even though I’m not that gymnasts dancers type that came, that found this easy, I was the guy that couldn’t touch my toes.

Mark (00:12:54):
I was the guy that didn’t feel like I can make and complete the class. And if I was then competently finishing the class and feeling so much better, I was like, I have to share this with other people.(/quote) I feel good. And so, circling back to your original question is, I was in that category of people that through my experience wanted desperately then to be able to help others that didn’t feel like it was something that they could do because they were overweight or they were unfit, or they were going through their various troubles in different stages in their life.

Craig (00:13:29):
Yeah. Their story is complex, right?

Mark (00:13:30):
So I was in that category of person. Now, there’s the other group of people that come and do a teacher training that like, “Oh my God, yoga is so easy. I’m so fabulous at this. I can do all of these hard things,” and there’s nothing wrong in that either. It’s just like, they’ve actually got away to… They have a platform to show where their other fitness health pursuits tie in with this thing called yoga, and it was so much more accessible to them. And so, they come in kind of in a indifferent place that they can really explore what their body can do. And I’ve had some experience with yoga competitions, and yoga competitions seems like-

Craig (00:14:12):
I looked, I went up. Yeah.

Mark (00:14:14):
Exactly. [crosstalk 00:14:15]

Craig (00:14:15):
But honestly, people do floor routines in gymnastics. Gymnastics is a competition, but they don’t get out there and hit each other. It’s a demonstration. So we’re all totally cool with gymnastics competition. So as soon as I thought about it for a second, I’m like, “Oh no, I get it.” And then I looked a little bit at it and I thought, “Oh, yeah. Well, let me see how well can you do the sequence? Or what sequence do you create?” Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off about competitions.

Mark (00:14:38):
No, no. But it’s exactly that. It’s showing what the practice has enabled you to achieve. And so, if you make the analogy with the old martial arts schools back in Hong Kong and one school showing demonstrations to other schools about what the technique can yield, I feel like that has actually been something that has occurred in India for many, a year that different schools of yoga actually tout the benefits of their system. And then demonstrate it by a competition. And that concept in the West is not something that contemporary yoga has moved along with. We’ve got all of these ideals in the West about what yoga should be, a little bit more vociferously than actually the way it was in India, where it’s kind of showing off the demonstration of your technique and its approach slightly differently.

Mark (00:15:26):
So competition is normal in India and kind of frowned upon by certain segments in contemporary yoga. But really it’s just to show off, look [crosstalk 00:15:36] what different people are going to achieve. And so, there’s another group of people that come in at a slightly different level that are very adept in their body. And then there’s the group that just really gained this monumental change in their being from doing yoga. And I think the two groups of people coming into a teacher training and their why is slightly different, but both are cool. More people doing yoga is a good thing in my mind.

Craig (00:16:02):
It’s a good thing.

Mark (00:16:02):
It doesn’t matter what started you that.

Tattoos [16:05]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:16:06):
(chapter) I’m notorious for left turn. So with the turn signal left turn, I saw a photograph of you and you have a tattoo on left arm video reversal. And I think it’s either a, maybe it’s a Korean symbol, but it’s either Chinese for chi or Japanese for ki, depending on what. Am I right?

Mark (00:16:25):
One is Taiwanese-Chinese and it’s the year of the rat. So it’s my birth year, and on the other side I’ve got an arm, and that was my first ever tattoo.

Craig (00:16:37):
What’s the story behind whichever one of those you want to tell me, almost they’re from the same day? I don’t think so but.

Mark (00:16:44):
Well, I was a hedonistic, but I was a happy hippie. So I got the symbol of a arm to show that I’m kind of a peaceful character. And peace was the goal once upon a time when I was 18. I was just trying to promote peace and love and I think I’ve been on that trip. I’m now 48 and I’m still there, so that could be worse.

Yoga Journey [17:10]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:17:11):
(chapter) Let’s talk a little bit about, I’m not a big fan of talking about COVID in 2020 because there’s so many people doing that so much better than I can, but I think in this case, there’s actually, I think you’re a good person to ask this about. So you wound up creating your own sequence of yoga positions or moves, however you want to pharaoh, I don’t know. I’m not a yoga guru, so I don’t want to slaughter it. But you have your own sequence that you created. And to me that looks like it’s part of you trying to create a vehicle for your own wellbeing.

Craig (00:17:41):
Like, I’ve put in all this time and effort and all these things, and I need to create something that’s mine so that I can then monetize it and make a business out of it. And I’m, first of all, is my read on that correct? And then the next question is like, what would you say to people who were on a parallel track, so they’ve put in a crap ton of time on something and they’ve really become a master at some skillset. And now they say, okay, now I want to take control of my own future and create a business or a book or a product or a tool. Because it feels to me like you’ve done that pretty successfully. So I don’t know, first of all, am I reading it correctly? And then what would your thoughts be on reproducing then?

Mark (00:18:20):
Yeah, you are. And I kind of need to give you a little bit of a background about how that come about, otherwise, that would be a bit of a head-scratcher for people. I kind of, I think I Forrest Gump my way through my yoga cool. And the reason for that is, as I alluded to before, I was this slightly toxic character in my choices. And I was head in a stick. So here I am, I discovered hot yoga. I’m now able to touch my toes, but I’m not going to dazzle anyone in my practice. And I decided having been an English teacher for three or four years in South Korea. And I was teaching business English at a university, and it was not my path. And I was dragged by an ex-girlfriend to do this class because I was drinking too much.

Mark (00:19:13):
And it was the hardest thing I ever did. And so after a year, I’m like, wow, if I can have this quite cool change, mentally and physically I want to share it with others. So I’d split it with that girlfriend. And I decided to use all my savings, fly to Beverly Hills, like you do from South Korea, drop my dog in Trinidad with friends. So I went via Canada to Beverly Hills, drop my dog on way to use my savings on this elaborate Bikram Yoga training with this little guru Indian guru that teaches all the celebrities, and live in Beverly Hills for nine weeks learning this hot yoga sequence. And so, it was very elaborate. Sent me back $12,000, and there I was in yoga land for nine weeks.

Mark (00:20:00):
And I left that training and I was never going to impress anybody too much with my Instagram pictures of my practice, still at that point. And I went back to South Korea, and in order to teach Bikram Yoga, because they don’t have a lot of people that are familiar with the culture. Bikram Yoga had made a deal with a gym whereby they wanted to go into the Asian market. So there was Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong that had this gym that made a deal with Bikram Yoga. So it was a five story gym, and one floor was Bikram Yoga and it was taking hot yoga to the East and it was starting to get it popularized. So the people that they had chosen to spirit this yoga, where the elaborate yogis.

Mark (00:20:47):
These were the competition standard yogis that can do amazing things and feet behind the head. And they were yoga champions. And there was me. And so, I went back but I had the advantage of being a British and well-spoken in the room. And in Korea, privately teaching English, British English was quite sought after. There was a lot of American military and a lot of American teachers and Canadian teachers and very few British. And so, therefore we taught the class in English, there were celebrities and pop stars. And it was a trendy place. It was like the Beverly Hills of South Korea but [crosstalk 00:21:26].

Craig (00:21:25):
That’s true. A perfect storm.

Mark (00:21:27):
And I found a lot of success. And so, after six months of becoming quite a popular instructor even though I wasn’t, I was good with my words, I wasn’t so amazing physically to inspire people. One day I was in class and the amazing boss that I had, was a female who was very adept at speaking Korean and I wasn’t, even though she’d been there much less time. And this is why I’m saying I’m kind of the Forest Gump my way through this is, she decided not knowing the culture as well, to dress down an elderly man that was extremely successful by not letting him leave the room, which is very commonplace in Bikram Yoga. It’s like, “Go back on your mat. You’re fine. You can do this. You don’t need water. You don’t need to go outside. You’re going to stay in the room. You’re going to be fine.”

Mark (00:22:14):
So it was all normal practice in the West, but the big difference was culturally as a female speaking to a male, as a younger female speaking to an elderly male, and doing it in front of 60 other people and doing it in pigeon Korean. So she started speaking English to him and he didn’t quite understand. She elaborately spoke to him in Korean, which was rude because she didn’t pick the right honorific language to speak to an elderly person in the Asian culture. So basically, she made him lose face in front of the room. He then got very irate, pushed her out of the way, stormed outside and you could hear him screaming for the rest of the yoga class. And we were all pulled in immediately afterwards for a big meeting. She was fired on the spot, and in a group of 40 teachers, they chose me to be the manager because I had for the last four years been teaching business English in the country and understood the culture.

Mark (00:23:19):
So there I was the least gifted of all the yogis. There were others that had had studios that have been teaching for a number of years, there was competitors that were great, and Mark, got chosen to be the manager because I understood the culture. So all of a sudden I was in a managerial position and running a lot of teachers. And so, that was my initial path in, it was a hard path because it’s not easy to win over that group of people under those circumstances. And then I moved to Las Vegas, like you do, to become a manager in Las Vegas. So I’m not the normal trajectory on how to get there. And I arrived in 2008 and just as [crosstalk 00:23:59]

Craig (00:23:59):
Oh, good choice.

Mark (00:24:01):
So there was chaos. And my studio owner had decided that he didn’t want to align only with Bikram Yoga and he wanted to break out and branch out and try different styles. So we were encouraged to do different trainings. And so, I did a Modo training, it was Moksha at that point. And they were a Canadian group that have many studios. They’re fabulous owners, Ted and Jess Robertson. And so, we did a training with them, and then I did Baron Baptiste. Then I did Yen and I did a couple of other things. And as his manager, I helped them transition away from Bikram Yoga to add into these fitness elements and all these other styles. And then I fell out with the owner. And so, I was tossed out onto another transitional phase in about 2013, about five years later, I was on the bounce. And that’s when I created Revitalize. So I’d gained this experience and I decided that as Bikram Yoga was on a demise because there was a lot of negative news stories. I’m not sure if you’re so familiar with the Bikram Yoga demise.

Craig (00:25:08):
I have one. Yeah. We’ll say the personality at the front was-

Mark (00:25:14):
Abusing his position, his power.

Craig (00:25:15):
Okay. That’s good. That’s a good way to put it. And unfortunately I think it colored what people think of, like people who have heard of Bikram have a negative connotation. I don’t think the persona has any coloring on the quality of… Because it’s a sequence of 26 moves and it’s done in a hot space and everybody’s still doing hot yoga, so I don’t think there’s anything functionally, physically bad about Bikram Yoga, but it’s just the whole thing got tarnished.

Mark (00:25:40):
It did tarnished. And having been in that community for a long time, there’s a lot of amazing practitioners and people who do it religiously. And I was one of those people at that point for that first five-year period. And so, without delving into any of that, that was the way that the community was moving. And so, it was a prime time to offer alternatives for people interested in the hot yoga style. So this didn’t come from a place of better them, where we thought we could outdo the sequence. It was, what are we going to do with teachers that have only trained in this big investment of Bikram Yoga and now they don’t have a place to go. If that Bikram yoga studio is changing? They don’t have other styles. They’ve made this 10 to $12,000 investment, and they don’t have anything to be able to do outside of Bikram Yoga.

Mark (00:26:36):
So depending on which region of the country they were in during this demise depends on whether the studio owner now mandating a full change, whether or not they’re going to keep that sequence or not. And there was a lot of uncertainty. So I actually created Revitalized, which was perceived by some to be, thinking that you can do something better than when you’re a non-champion yogi. And you’re coming from this conceded angle, where really, it was offering an opportunity for others that have a way to become an all YT, which is a registered yoga teacher through yoga Alliance, teaching hot yoga which wasn’t in existence at that time.

Mark (00:27:17):
At that time there was very few people that were all YTs that were interested in the heated styles. They were all the unheated styles. And so, what to do with that group of people that liked to practice in the heat, which I still am a huge fan of because if you are slightly more toxic and less gifted in your body, the heat, the humidity helps a lot for you to be able to open up. And even though you can do that in other ways, it’s an easier route for some people to be able to get in and move their body and get their body moving. And therefore the styles that were created were then picked up later by the company, TrueFusion, the owners of TrueFusion. And they thought that what we had stumbled across with these different styles was a franchise that they were willing to pursue.

Mark (00:28:08):
And so I fortunately found myself in a place where I was backed to create the yoga apartment for TrueFusion so that we could offer these other styles and two teacher trainings, and then take people that were from the Bikram community and give them a new avenue to be able to explore teaching hot styles. So again, I was lucky. Again, I landed on my feet and then I found myself with a very well backed owner who wanted to franchise the concept. And so, we added bootcamps and pilates and spin and boxing classes and all things group fitness under one franchise. And we fast tracked, a couple of years later we were getting celebrity backing through the Shark Tank, through Alex Rodriguez and by Jennifer Lopez, which when you get celebrity endorsement, it means that you stumbled across something that was appealing to the masses.

Craig (00:29:13):
So that’s a very long story, but I’m glad that you took the time to unpack all the little filigrees and curlicues on it because I don’t coach. I’m not a life coach. So people don’t come to me and say, Craig, how do I dot dot dot? That doesn’t happen. But I do fly on the wall, see a lot of conversations where people are going, gee, how can I take this passion that I have for a thing that I love and turn it into my own ability to control my life?

Craig (00:29:41):
And there were like six points in your story where the key to your journey was serendipity, like being in the right place the right time. Being the guy who had done, not in advanced preconceived, but had done the most homework. So you had the experience and the culture or the experience in like, yeah, I purposely have a British accent. And I learned British English. No, that’s just where you were born. So the things that you just stumble upon, but that shook the time with, those become strengths. And I’m wondering, have you ever really thought about what really made it all work was your choosing to take the steps?

Craig (00:30:20):
So you probably could have in the meeting went, “No, I don’t want to be the manager,” and either quit or just backed up and they’d pick somebody else. Or there are other opportunities where you could have said, “I don’t really want to go to Beverly Hills. That’s too far. I love my dog too much.” So all these opportunities in there where, you chose to take a jump, to take a leap. I’m not trying to play the par core card, but I’m wondering if you’ve noticed that? What do you think of my saying that?

Mark (00:30:45):
Yeah, 100%. I kind of live my life like that up until that point. I’ve traveled like 65 plus countries. I couldn’t understand people that wanted to go to school, university, straight to their job, but retire at 45 and then do the things that they wanted.

Craig (00:31:04):
And then start.

Mark (00:31:06):
It didn’t make any sense to me.

Craig (00:31:07):
I agree. It doesn’t make sense.

Mark (00:31:09):
(highlight) When I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I still don’t really, I wanted to go out and explore the world. So at 17, I started backpacking and I started traveling and I got little experiences, and it hindered my education for sure. But it also, I still ended up getting a degree. I’ve got a degree in medicine chemistry, I got there eventually. And I got the travel bug and I would always travel safely. I would save a bunch of money and I’d go and travel and then I’d come back safely. And I lean on my parents to help me.

Mark (00:31:46):
And I would do all of that. And then I got older and I wanted to do that in a different way. And I bought a single ticket. And when the money ran out, I would have to make it work. And I wanted to explore becoming a man in that way. And the reason for me saying this is that I lived that backpacking dream by following my intuition and following my path in what felt right and what my gut was saying and stumbling across the next character that would give me some advice that would then promote me to explore going to a new country or a new place in the city.

Craig (00:32:25):

Mark (00:32:25):
And that was a unique lifestyle compared to many others. And it was very intuition based and it was very, let’s just, this seems to be the right path at this time. And living that way was really fabulous for me, even though it coincided with a slightly hedonistic lifestyle. It was a very pure lifestyle, too. I didn’t have anything of any value outside of a Walkman, but I didn’t care about that, and money. And the next job that got me to the next country, just seem to always fall on my lap at the right time. For example, I ended up in Australia and at the end of my year in Australia doing a variety of different jobs, I was playing it very cool.

Mark (00:33:11):
I don’t know where I’m going to go next. I don’t have savings. I don’t have family that can throw me a bunch of money and help me to get home. I’m not in that situation and I’ve only got a month left on my visa, and I’m not sure of my next path. And there I was sat in a coffee shop and I read in the newspaper, teaching English in Taiwan, Korea or Japan, all you need is a degree. And my ears pricked up and I was like, “Well, I have a degree.” And so, I gave it a ring and I had long hair at the time. I actually had long dreadlocks.

Craig (00:33:43):
Dreadlocks. I heard. Yeah.

Mark (00:33:45):
I was like dreadlocks to my waist. And that’s the kind of character that I was. And I got this job on the phone. And my final question was, “Is appearance going to be a problem?” And they were like, “Well, yeah. In Korea, anything below the shoulder level it’s not going to be great.” So I shaved my hair. And the next day I was in Korea getting a training to become a teacher. I was sent a flight. I was picked up from the airport. I was driven to my apartment. I was given three days of training. And literally a few days later, I was sat in South Korea as an English teacher with a shaved head thinking, “Wow, just last week I was in Australia as a hippie with dreadlocks and never considered teaching English in my life. And here I am.”

Mark (00:34:40):
And because I’d made that step of going with the flow, following my heart, trusting my gut, trusting my intuition. I’d had all the experiences that I had up until the point when I decided to embark on a yoga career. So going with the flow was something I taught myself how to do. And I’m still doing that now post-COVID, for the aftermath of the effects of COVID on our industry. (/highlight)

Craig (00:35:07):
So many things up. You hit the hammer for me on following your heart. And I’m wondering, so rattling around in my head, I’m a big pundant about attention. What puts one’s attention on, whether or not you make those choices on purpose. And years ago, decades ago, I used to think social media was the problem. And now I’m like, no, actually it’s just symptom. People want to have their saccharin lives fed to them. That’s like, they just don’t realize that’s what they’ve asked for. And then we know we’re all like a bunch of people.

Craig (00:35:45):
I can think of a cute movie references and stuff, but anyway, circling back.

Learning intuition [35:49]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:35:49):
(chapter) How about an actual question. Was there ever a point, so I’m thinking the story about how you got from Australia to Korea might be up, but was there a point where you first realized that what you were doing, that scale to like, yeah, read the newspaper. Oh, there, that’s the thing. Because there were a part where you realized that you were able to do that and then you went away, and I didn’t use to be able to do that. I’m wondering, how closely can you pin in time?

Mark (00:36:14):
I can pin in exactly. And I’ll give you a classic backpackers scenario. I’m going to be a backpacker and I’m going to Southeast Asia and I’m going to visit all these countries. So you get a lonely planet guide and you meticulously plan your routes, and you plan it to the detail of restaurants that are there and hotels that you’re going to stay at and sites that you’re going to visit. And this is very much like having a five star organized trip planned for you, which is for me the complete opposite of the reason why you’re a backpacker and you’re not on an organized tour following a megaphone around while someone’s shouting on [crosstalk 00:36:59] giving the allotted amount of time exactly for the next thing that you’re going to be taken to see.

Mark (00:37:06):
And then you can say you’ve seen Asia and understood it and away you go. Whereas the reality of the backpacking experiences, the people that do that and write journals, I’ve met a lot of people when they were backpacking and they were like, I’m going back to my hotel room to sit there for the next two hours writing a journal about all the things that I’m doing, whereas they’re stopping themselves from actually doing the thing that made the journal interesting in the first place. So I learned just by the characters that I was there and the approach and what I felt safe doing, because it was a foreign country, in a foreign land with foreign things. And I didn’t know how I was going to get from A to B.

Mark (00:37:48):
And (quote) I realized that the scourge of the backpacker was the guide because the safety of the guide made you plan and stopped you from interacting with the locals, trusting your intuition, getting out speaking to people, experiencing what this back’s packer life truly was through the safety, the need of the safety net that the book created. So the day that it all changed for me was the day that I decided to fly to Thailand without a lonely planet guide and trust that everybody I met along the way was going to give me suggestion and tips on things to do. And that I was shrewd enough. And I gained experience enough at point to be able to have the firm of traveling in this way. And that’s what I was going to do on that trip. And it was just as easy, but what huge different was, I actually had to get out and speak and meet people. And I actually had to interact. (/quote)

Craig (00:38:52):
Had to immerse engage.

Mark (00:38:54):
And that to me was a revelation. And it gave me a sense of trust in myself. And it felt like it was a coming of age moment, just like I’d been sent out into a jungle in some tribe where I had to go to survive for three weeks, which I’m making John Beede analogies because I have to survive. So we’ve got his book and he’s written a great book, and it [crosstalk 00:39:20] all this kind of cultural difference. And I felt like my backpacking was just my way of becoming a man. It was less reliant on everything from family to this safe way of backpacking. And once I’d done that, it all went wrong when I acquired things. The more I got attached to things, when I went to Korea and at first I didn’t have anything. So I was still able just to up and change apartment and it wasn’t a big deal or change country, or go off and get a breezer.

Craig (00:39:52):
It got messed up, I can call a cab right now.

Mark (00:39:53):
Because I didn’t have anything to worry about. But then I got this university position and I got a nicer apartment and then I furnished it. And then I bought a dog, which was very questionable at that point over what was I thinking at that time? I had this amazing walks that I could do with him. And then my life got a lot more complicated because then I had to manage the things and move the things.

Craig (00:40:18):
Well, the things you own wind up owning you. Right?

Mark (00:40:21):
[crosstalk 00:40:21] Right. No, but it sounds cliche. But honestly it was like that. And that highlighted to me that we then live in this very safe way all the time. And then I had kids and stuff, too. So that makes that more complicated.

Craig (00:40:38):
I wouldn’t have said complicated. I’d say it makes it more interesting and more fun, but okay, we can use complicated. It’s certainly true.

Mark (00:40:44):
In the lifestyle that I had, it makes it more complicated.

Lessons from fatherhood [40:47]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:40:49):
(chapter) Yeah. Exactly more complicated. We can go in there. What’s the most surprising thing, and you can also say pass if you don’t like my questions, what’s the most surprising thing about being a father?

Mark (00:40:59):
Surprising? I’m going to answer it in a slightly different way. I am not your classic father in that, the day-to-day fatherly tasks, I feel like the way that I’ve approached my life has to influence the way that I parent my children and therefore I’m slightly alternative in my approach to life and the way that I’ve led my life. And therefore I find it was surprising for me as the character that I was, that was kind of anti the establishment, in as an individual rebellious and then the needs to be routine orientated with kids and dealing with schools and principals and rules. And-

Craig (00:41:55):
Getting home.

Mark (00:41:55):
Yeah. And it was always very tough for me. I was surprised that I was able to do that, but I also surprise myself that when I became a parent, I became the stay at home dad for my first child. My ex-wife, she went back to work after three months. And the surprising part about parenting was that this head in a stick, backpacker, rebellious character that used to be a dreadlock character that was traveling around the world, was now in a Moby wrap with a three-month-old and actually taking into it like a duck to water and loving the fact of being given this opportunity to parent, because I didn’t have that relationship with my father is a very important for me to do it right.

Mark (00:42:47):
But 16 months later I had another one. And then I realized that it was very tough to have a toddler running round and one in a Moby wrap. So my full respect goes out there to all females dealing with that. Hands up, it’s the hardest job on the planet. So bravo to everyone that finds that easy because it wasn’t easy for me. But parenting, I absolutely love. I surprise myself on being able to meet the routines and the rules of dealing with schools, et cetera. And that laid out ways of parenting, especially in America where it’s a little bit different.

Craig (00:43:27):
I was going to say America is a little bit even more than, yeah.

Yoga and discipline [43:31]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:43:32):
(chapter) I was like, I’ve done a few of these, as an inside joke. And I always, I just want to never say anything. I just want to like sit here and listen to people talk the whole time. And then I always feel like I’m steering, even though you’re doing all the talking. So I often ask people, “Is there anything that was on your mind that we haven’t got to that you would really be put out if we didn’t get to?”

Mark (00:43:54):
(highlight) Yeah. I feel like talking about the direction of contemporary yoga and the importance of kind of old school discipline, is something that’s important to me that’s been my discovery of, I was very lucky with TruFusion in that once we created our franchise, we then spread and I had to, I was tasked with teaching trainers from different regions, which is hard pool of people to win over. Because if I’m a California and superstar trainer and then suddenly I’ve got this British guy from Las Vegas that doesn’t impress me in the room, telling me about this sequence it’s a tough-

Craig (00:44:37):

Mark (00:44:38):
… or pull of people. But it’s nothing different from my original way that I came in to becoming a manager back in 2006. So it’s unearthed the mentality of contemporary yoga to me. And what I mean by that is, yoga these days is presented in a way that it creates people acting as a yogi. So there’s a yogi way that you should be, you should be a vegan and you should be promoting yourself in certain ways. And you should be in barking on this lifestyle. And it’s not really taking into consideration the balance and the majority of balancing your lifestyle, your habits and your approach to using yoga functionally to make you a better person. It’s got this elaborate, you should be beautiful and you should have a six pack and you should be able to do these things. And you promote people on this perfect lifestyle and that you never lose your temper and you never have F bombs. And it’s very, there’s this illusion that you’re creating of what a yogi is. This kind of more perfect person that’s out there.

Mark (00:45:53):
And contemporary yoga is driving people towards easing back and listening to your body and not trying too hard. And if there’s a hurting knee is modifying this and modifying that. And it’s sacrificing, the discipline and the routine. And the commitment to your practice that the old school yoga used to have as its fundamental pillar. And in the Bikram Yoga style, it was very much like a biggest loser type of love, that you don’t know how strong you are. You don’t know how toxic you’ve been. You don’t know what you can achieve by committing to this. So part of the militance and the discipline was to unearth your power from within. And I feel like if you’d give people a crutch, they take it. If you tell people that it’s okay and you can ease back today and you give all of these ways to modify everything down, it’s the sacrifice of what can be achieved by going through the motions, getting through the feeling of that you want to vomit. Not realizing that you can come out the other side being a better person, being less toxic, purging your sin, sweating profusely, cleansing your body, that there are all these benefits that can only be achieved when you actually get some tough love.

Mark (00:47:17):
So a lot of the styles that I created were to deal with the mentality of person like myself, that approach to my life is not in the pure perfect way. It’s that I’m a very much more humble, real person that has made a lot of mistakes that is doing my best to try and find a better path. And the discipline for me got me back on track. So with TrueFusion, a lot of our styles that were created, had this fundamental pillar of this discipline. And it was quite different from the direction of a lot of contemporary yoga. It’s not mindless teaching. It’s being mindful to push yourself as much as you can on this particular day, at this particular point. And if you’re working around the industry, you can modify this shape to make sure that you don’t tweak it, but you’re also trying as hard as you can [crosstalk 00:48:12]

Craig (00:48:12):
You’re not backing off.

Mark (00:48:13):
And never letting yourself back off and never giving yourself to crutch. So for me, I really want to emphasize that you don’t get anywhere by taking the easy path. You have to push yourself and go through something. It’s not ignoring. (/highlight)

Craig (00:48:31):
I agree. 100%. I totally agree. I haven’t done hot yoga, but I’ve done a lot of athletic training outdoors, and yeah, there’s something about pushing yourself. And that’s a whole nother discussion we probably can we do.

Discipline and COVID [48:43]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:48:44):
(chapter) So you said the word discipline, like I wasn’t counting, but it had to been six or seven times. And I really think that’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough. Not just in yoga, because I’m not really in yoga.

Craig (00:48:56):
But I’m wondering, two ways to, I’m like left or right, Craig, do I want to ask, where did you get the discipline from? And I also think a better question would be, if somebody out there just went, wait, what, how do they develop discipline?

Mark (00:49:19):
You can flip it to, you can give away yoga at a super cheap price, and you’re less invested than if you give yoga at a fair price, but you want to get your money’s worth. If you commit to paying a membership and you half-ass your approach, then you’re cheating yourself out of what can be yielded from the commitment. If you’re monetarily committing, especially at this time, all this uncertainty, what happened during COVID was that people took stock of routine. They would not mindlessly in routine anymore. Their wheels had fallen off. For someone like myself that has backpacked around the world and had uncertainty, which was commonplace in my lifestyle. It was not too dissimilar to backpacking around the world and not knowing what my next step was. But for others that had lived at 9:00 to 5:00 in a routine, they always get their coffee at the same time, from the same place, they always go to lunch at the same place.

Mark (00:50:27):
They always do their yoga class at the same place. And now it’s not there, there’s a realization that comes from that of why was I doing the things that I was doing? And did I really commit to the things that I was doing, and what’s valuable in my life? And everyone had to take that step back. So then they came back from COVID and now the prices have gone up. The space in the room is smaller, got down.

Craig (00:50:59):
Space gets smaller. Right?

Mark (00:50:59):
So now there’s the thought of, “Am I really going to commit to doing this? And what does it give me and why did I miss it?” So for the hot yoga people-

Craig (00:51:08):
And did I miss it? Right.

Mark (00:51:08):
… they would do the yoga [inaudible 00:51:11] and they didn’t have that condition. So as simply as that, right? So if I’m looking at it from just the hot yoga perspective of what was being in the community, what did that give me? And it gave me the sense of community. I felt connected to the individuals in the room. That’s why I embark on going to a hot studio, having those conditions, but it’s going through something with these other people [crosstalk 00:51:35].

Craig (00:51:34):
Yeah. These people understand me, yeah.

Mark (00:51:36):
And therefore, I couldn’t get that when I was at home. So now this monetary package that you’re going to commit to paying has these benefits of this feeling of unity, feeling of connection to your community but it also inspires you that I’m going to get my money’s worth out of this. So I feel like post-COVID, this is easier. If you’re going to go and do it, then do it. And then don’t expect to get nurtured and take the easy softly, softly path while you’re there. Because if you’re going to get these benefits from it, commit to doing it and try your best to do it.

Mark (00:52:11):
And therefore there’s, there’s the rub, is that, how do I entice people? I would flip it to think about why you’re even going to make the money at this time of uncertainty in order to pursue health and fitness. And then don’t dictate how it should be done to you. Allow it to be shared to you in the way that it was designed to so that you can get the most out of it. And you can actually physically and mentally change yourself for the better.

Craig (00:52:40):
I think that’s an excellent observation. I was already a pretty mindful guy about things, but even I went like, all right, I’m going to start going through. Do I need this you Netflix subscription? Do I need this? And now it’s like, does anybody remember why the supermarkets used to be open at 2:00 in the morning? There’s all these things that just don’t get done anymore, that doesn’t happen. And it’s all like, yeah, why were we? So I don’t want to say COVID was good because it clearly wasn’t good, but there are definitely positives that we can make from it, definitely lessons that we can take away from it. And maybe the people that I see who aren’t doing so well, I encounter people outdoors who see me, I’m on a hiking trail, and where I am this is not a COVID hotspot.

Craig (00:53:29):
It’s rural, semi-rural. And at 50 yards, they dashed into the woods to get away from me. And my brain goes, “Yeah, but you went downwind. If you’re really afraid of me you should have went upwind.” Some people, I think it’s been too much and the whole thing has been too overwhelming. So yes, certain people can use this as an opportunity to assess, to be mindful to make commitments. But I just wish that we didn’t have to have COVID because it’s too much for a lot of people. They’re just too busy scrambling and trying to keep their head above water. I’m up pushing back against what you said. I’m just like, yeah. How can we get people to do this? In 2023, when it’s on the other side of our sunset, on the other side of the horizon, if people can somehow remember that mindfulness and then at their own choice bring it to like, “Okay, I’m going to commit to this.” Maybe people have learned, I don’t know. I’m rambling. I do that.

Mark (00:54:22):
A situation where we’re forced to analyze what’s important in our life, but the downside is that we can be fearful now of our connections again. That this connection to the community it’s so important for us humans, that are not isolated away and scared, like to communicate to people, there’s going to be some of these knock on effects. So it stands to reason that things that bring people together but also get you in touch with yourself have become super important. But for me, the landscape of teaching, we’ve just gone into Las Vegas of teaching and taking with your mask on. Up until this point post-COVID we were allowed back in the room and we were teaching without the mask on. And so, there’s been a spike in Las Vegas, so we’re just grateful to be open.

Mark (00:55:13):
But the people that are coming that have been maintaining their practice are really a lot more grounded than some of the people that I bump into in town that haven’t gone back to the studio out of fear. And I’ve been bumping into certain characters, and that those people that were willing to do it with their mask on and come back are just seemingly in a better place than some of the people that are fearfully, not hiding away, but just approaching this post-COVID in a slightly different way of retreat from people. There’s certain people that are putting themselves out there.

Mark (00:55:48):
And there’s certain people that are retreating in the example that you gave. And it’s quite a difference between those group of people, that the people retreating feeling more and more disconnected from society as a whole, and that the others are still feeling like they’re just making the most of this situation and it’s temporary and it’s going to pass. And the mindset of them is slightly different, not necessarily positive, negative, but just-

Craig (00:56:14):
There’s a difference.

Mark (00:56:16):
… there is a clear, clear difference.

Craig (00:56:19):
I was just thinking about, what’s that Chinese proverb, if things are going badly, relax, it’ll pass. And if things are going well, relax, it’ll pass. There’s like a mindset that I think paid off well within COVID where it’s like, all right, I don’t have any idea what’s going on right now. So I got a lot of food now, so I’m going to just stay inside for a week. In the very, very early days, I’m just going to stay inside for a week and see what’s going on. And just feeling like you could, I don’t need things.

Craig (00:56:49):
If you’re the kind of person, I don’t need things, I got lots of books, I’m fine in the house. I got lots of canned food. But that requires a certain mental flexibility that, like for me that was easy. And I’m guessing for you that would be easy if, as long as you’re okay with the kids. So, yeah. I don’t want to say good things about COVID because there’s nothing really good about COVID, but I really think it’s going to be a turning point. I’m hoping for Western culture, especially for America where people realize that I had an awful lot of stuff that I was clinging to like physical stuff, mental stuff.

Craig (00:57:20):
And I really miss visiting my aunt or my nana or whatever, and they’re gonna hopefully appreciate when they’re able to, really socialize again. I was going to dive in before and say, I really, if I had a time machine, I want to go back and fix social distancing. We need physical distancing, social. We need less, we need decreased distance in terms of social. And we need increased distance in terms of physical, people going around saying we need more social distance. I’m like, “No, no, no. We need to get closer together socially, further apart physically and with masks, but socially we need to be closer with.” That’s just me picking on grandma.

Mark (00:58:00):
Yeah. I suppose though that I should mention like, it’s a really difficult time and what then should maybe we give as advice for people that can’t afford to do a yoga membership and can’t afford to get out there or in a state whereby they’re not able to. [crosstalk 00:58:21] They’re super restricted. So I feel it’s an important time if you are stuck in a region where you’re stuck at home, there’s a lot of online things that are happening. And for me, I lost my salary position during COVID because my studio is desperately trying to survive in their own way. And so, be that as it may, that’s just the way it is. And so, I started Irie Agency, which is my logo here and that was to provide podcasts off classes. Because the Zoom classes a great when you need a visual and there’s like an abundance of online classes and platforms and doing things for people at this time. I always also felt that podcasts were useful, especially in our style of yoga because with headphones on or just it playing, you just get to listen like you’re getting directed in a class.

Mark (00:59:16):
And so, as long as there’s a flipping in the way that the podcast is presented and that you’re trying to be super meticulous and really clear about each movement from just a listening perspective, knowing that there’s no visual to be able to provide people if they’re a bit confused, I felt like the podcast class was more useful than trying to do a pause and quickly look at the screen and try to follow along on the screen. Even though that’s the more common place online program right now. But I urge people that there’s a lot of good stuff happening online that are a lot more accessible. So you get a podcast class for a couple of dollars and to pursue that avenue at this time if you all stuck in a region or going up the wall, just like flicking through Netflix and drinking too much wine or.

Craig (01:00:06):
Yeah. There’s a lot to be said for, what is that, learned helplessness if you’re physically stuck because of restrictions, then that helplessness can set in. A feeling a helplessness can set in, and hunting through Netflix does not cure the problem. But if you decide, you know what, I’ve always wanted to try yoga and then did that class one time when I was in college when I was dating the… But now you’re like, I’m going to give it a try. Take the time today or tomorrow to sit down and actually look for the material, to pick something and then to try it, even if you don’t stick with yoga, you’ve taken an action, a self-directed choice and a self-directed step.

Craig (01:00:46):
Even if the yoga and the class isn’t something that you stick with, that act of choosing an acting that’s good for you in and of itself. So I think that’s a good point about, especially now 9, 10 months into the real COVID chaos. Now we really have all the technology, too. So there really isn’t that big of a hurdle. I think in person is still going to always be better, but.

Mark (01:01:07):
Well, number one excuses is you don’t have to time to do meditation. You don’t have the time to do a yoga practice. So the flip on that is, now what’s your excuse?

Craig (01:01:17):
Stuck at home, right? Yeah. Five hours. Yeah.

Mark (01:01:21):
If you don’t embark on it then you never really wanted to. So if you’re going up the wall and you’ve never been able to commit to meditation, and there’s a whole bunch of online platforms that even if it’s just a meditation, that’s the starting place, that commitment. So you have 15, 20 minutes a day to be able do that.

Craig (01:01:40):
Me time.

Mark (01:01:40):
And then just a comparison, even if it’s like, you know what, I’m going to do this for a week. And if I don’t feel better than, I’m going to go onto the next thing, I’m just going to go back to reading, well, then do it for a week. But then actually consider, has it helped you? So I think it’s an opportunity for some people stuck in those regions that maybe are surviving just on benefits or in that scenario right now and they don’t have a lot of alternatives.

Mark (01:02:09):
Now’s the perfect time to see if it can give you some solace to see if it can help in any way. And you might tap into some of the reasons why other people have been enticing you to do it. I got dragged along to my first class. I didn’t have the motivation until that. And so, sometimes we need a little bit of a kick in order to embark on these things. It’s certainly got a kick now?

Craig (01:02:32):

Mark's personal practices [1:02:34]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (01:02:34):
(chapter, highlight) I was just thinking, I’m interested in, but I’m not digging for personal info, but what is your morning look like? DO you have things that you go to each morning or tea of choice? And not so much because like I want to pry in your personal life, but because we’ve been talking about ways that people can learn, the word has escaped me, ways that they can learn how to commit and have discipline. Discipline is what I’m looking for. We’ve been talking about ways that people can develop discipline, how they can make choices. And I’m just wondering, what are some things that you kind of consider bedrock maybe in your morning or if you’re an evening guy? That you go to regularly that pay off for you.

Mark (01:03:14):
Committing to being out in touch with nature is a big one for me. Just going on walks, getting out into the forest, with my boys I like to go camping. But in a routine of getting up in the morning, I’m lucky I’ve got a walk beside me that’s around a golf course. So there’s plenty of opportunity with my boys. I’ve been running with my boys. I’ve been going out on a walk there. So just that to get in touch that like cliche feeling of grounding, it just feels better when you get your prescription of nature. And I feel like people are locking themselves in a lot more than normal. They haven’t got the escape from the house in the way that they do normally.

Mark (01:04:02):
And I feel like I would urge people that, taking the step out to embark on a walk around a park or going on a hike is fundamental at this time. Because for me, taking a walk in nature is very much just like your walking meditation is. Your thoughts tend to settle. You’re just focusing on one step in front of the other and the trees and noticing birds and things of that nature. And truly everybody could commit to that at this time, being able to get out and about whether it be on a bicycle or by walking. And that to me is one of my parenting secrets that has to happen in order to maintain sanity. I’ve always tried to get my boys out and about, and the tendency to be absorbed into a screen has exponentially increased because schooling being [crosstalk 01:05:08].

Craig (01:05:08):
Green time is mandatory now, right?

Mark (01:05:10):
Yeah. We had an option for a hybrid system where they go in for some of the time, I was pushing for that wall. That was a possibility in our state, just from the socializing aspect as a child, they need other kids to play with. They need to be able to feel that. I feel awful for any child that is a single child. That’s stuck at home just with a couple of adults and being thrown in front of a screen to stop the parents from going up the wall a little bit.

Mark (01:05:37):
I’m lucky in the fair sense that I have two, so they can play together a lot more. So I can get them off screens a little bit, but it would be outside of being able to do a little bit of a practice of fitness or yoga at home and doing something along the meditation lines would be just prioritizing and making it not even an option to be able to get out and about. Nature would be fundamental to any tip that I have for anyone at this point.

Craig (01:06:07):
I would agree. I’m trying to get outside every day. But I live in an open neighborhood as well, so it’s super easy for me. But even if you’re in New York City, which is pretty much a hotspot and there’s a lot going on and you live on the 13th floor, you still gotta find ways to get outside. Humans were not made to be in boxes so, cool. (/highlight)

Human connection [1:06:29]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (01:06:28):
(chapter) Anything else spring to mind before I turn right or some other random direction?

Mark (01:06:41):
Teacher trainings and workshops and online programs are plentiful and I’m just wrapping up a yoga teacher training right now, that our mutual friend John is involved in. It’s weekend eight was just completed this last weekend. We’re taking a break for this Thanksgiving. And then we wrapped that up in a couple of weeks time. And it’s been really cool to have 15 individuals going through a teacher training at this time in this transitional period. And when we talked about commitment before, having these individuals doing this at this time, the biggest share that I can have for everyone is not the learning of the routine. It was the individuals realizing that what they needed more than anything else at this time was to connect and have a platform to interact with the other individuals that were on this.

Mark (01:07:43):
So the 15 of them I’ve done several yoga trainings and they always range in the 15 to 25 range because that’s our system in Las Vegas. A couple of times a year we churn out trainings for the styles that we’ve taught, but this one was really noticeable in that the focus of this training was really their interaction with one another. And that human connection has been super, super valuable at this time for all of them. And they’ve really bonded into being a really tight knit group. And it really highlighted to me in comparison that need for human connection that’s so deep within all of us. So that’s my takeaway right at this time.

Craig (01:08:29):
That’s a great takeaway.

Starting places for Yoga [1:08:28]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (01:08:31):
(chapter) As much as I ever hate to wrap things up, I’ve also learned not to push. Sometimes there’s just really good material, and I know sometimes I have like, I really just want to talk to someone more and I should press stop and keep talking or like, is there more than I need to ask, Mark? I think I’m just going to say that was really great. I think we got a chance to talk about a lot of different wide ranging topics. And I said this before we were recording, but everything winds up in the show notes. So if anybody’s like, wait, what was the thing?

Craig (01:09:01):
Everything that we mentioned, it’ll all be in the show notes for people to look up. Maybe before we finish up, are there any, if I’m listening to this and I’m like, I’ve kind of done some yoga but I really feel like I should take this further. They should go look up your agency. And I’m also wondering are there other like, if you asked me if you want to learn to rock climb, I can go, read this book, go look at this video. I know the gateway drugs for the things that I’m into, and I’m wondering what you might say are the gateway drugs to getting into yoga.

Mark (01:09:32):
And so The Irie Agency, irie is a word that’s not familiar with everyone. And it means to be completely content with your current state of being. And I thought that was apt when I created that during this time. It’s a Jamaican slang term, but to feel irie and to be irie is just to accept the state that you’re in at this present moment and look for the sunny side of things. So the premise of it was to be able to provide some podcasts and some online classes and those things. So that’s a service that’s out there to be able to help some folks who want to start with some yoga and some meditation at this time, you’ve got Yoga International is a great medium in order to be able to get superstar yogis that can teach you superstar classes.

Mark (01:10:33):
Also, YogaGlo is another good one. There’s also a Moxie platform where students that are familiar with certain teachers, they provide like a Zoom but it’s a platform to be able to deliver classes. So I would look up Moxie, I would look up YogGlo and Yoga International if you’re going for the more celebrity yoga style cost. But for those people that are at home, if there was a yoga style that I would suggest that is really good to do at home, that doesn’t need conditions and is not for someone who has had a regular practice before it, would be a good starting place, then I would definitely explore Yin yoga. Because as you mentioned prior, you’ve got some experience within yoga and the great thing about yin yoga is it kind of balances the meditation piece with the yoga action piece.

Mark (01:11:33):
It’s the long holds. It can be done against a wall. It can be done simply using a cushion or a pillow as a prop. And it’s about being able to give in, you can play your own music as you do these long holds. So it’s something quite agreeable that anybody can do at home. So I would look for yinyoga.com as a nice resource to be able to… Bernie Clark is really awesome, he’s organized. And it’s very clear the website on how to do a lot of the shapes, so that before you were to listen to maybe a podcast or a class that would be delivered online, you can gain some understanding of what you should do in some of the shapes. And so, I would look up yinyoga.com, have a little look at things that you can do, and then search out yin classes online as a really good starting place for most people. And of course, I’ll provide some, too

Craig (01:12:36):

3 words [1:12:37]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (01:12:38):
(chapter) All right, Mark. I’ll just say, and of course the final question, three words to describe your practice.

Mark (01:12:44):
Humble, because I think there’s a lot of type A people out there that try to not listen to their body and push, and try to do things that they’re just not ready for. So I learned quite early on that humble approach to practice is key. You are at where you’re at and I’m listening to your body, ties in with that contemporary, ooh, don’t try too hard because it hurts this, it hurts that. But having a mindset of I’ll do everything I can to my limit, is the humble way to approach it. It doesn’t matter what bendy yoga person is doing it. There’s always a way to modify. There’s always a way that you can attain a shape and not to concern yourself with where it goes. But to have an idea of where a shape goes is a really nice way to approach a practice.

Mark (01:13:43):
So humble, discipline. You can’t get that unless you approach things in that you are willing to push yourself to do things that are hard and it’s not not listening to your body. Whenever you have a sharp pain, you should back away from a sharp pain because it’s always going to be detrimental, but when it’s an ache and it’s uncomfortable, it’s part of what yoga is going to do in order to open up your body. So having the discipline to be able to go through that is a necessary facet for your practice. And then commitment, committing to doing it. You don’t get anywhere unless you’re going to actually fully give it your attention. And so, if you’re going to embark on this, you can’t just expect to do it once a week and have the benefits that other people get from doing this thing called yoga. You gotta be able to be able to commit to doing it a little bit more.

Mark (01:14:46):
I’ll give you a quick example of that. When I was in Korea, I wanted to dabble with their martial arts. And I said, you know, “I can go a couple of times a week.” And they were absolutely dumbfounded and shocked that like I would even consider taking on their martial art and only consider doing it two times a week. It was like the grossest insult to these Korean showing me their hate on gumbo. And it was like, we do it every day and sometimes twice a day. And how could you even think that you could learn it by doing it a couple of times a week? And yoga is quite similar. It’s not that you have to become, give yourself a two-hour practice to do this, our strongest style, every morning six days a week. And then take one day off. It’s not necessarily wrapped in that package, but you have to be able to do it consistently in order to be able to gain any benefit from doing it. And that goes for the meditation, too. So commitment, discipline and being humble I would say my three words.

Craig (01:15:48):
Terrific Mark. It was a distinct pleasure to get a chance to talk to you. Like I said before, thanks for getting up a little bit early and good luck in all of your future endeavors. Thanks.

Mark (01:15:57):
`Thank you.