Yoga Poser

Yogi Erdem Gulova on how ‘Friends’ reruns can loosen you up

 

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A post shared by Erdem Gülova (@erdemgulova)

This post is part of a series of Queerty conversations with models, trainers, dancers, and, well, people who inspire us to stay in shape–or just sit on the couch ogling them instead.

Name: Erdem Gülova, 34 

City: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Occupation: Assessment Administrator

Favorite Gym: At the moment, I am not going to a GYM due to COVID, but I used to go to YMCA – Robert Lee in downtown Vancouver and it was my favorite.

Favorite Work Out Song: This is very interesting because when I am at the GYM or home, I prefer watching Friends than listening to music. But if I have to choose one, I will definitely choose Rihanna – ‘Pon de Replay (Hey Mr. DJ)’

Recommended Work-Out Foods: A banana before the workout and a protein shake after.

Best Workout Outfit: I love my Lululemon shorts. For the top, any t-shirt will do even topless better.

How do you balance staying in shape and having fun? I do weight lifting, yoga and pilates. When I am doing my weight lifting, I try to keep it under 30 mins and catch an episode of Friends. While I am doing yoga, I keep changing the flow so it is always something new to discover. And pilates, I will be honest, is no fun while you are doing it, but when you finish it, that feeling is priceless.

When did you discover the power of yoga? I discovered yoga in 2015. I was doing Zumba in my Gym and I saw people doing yoga next door. (Yes next to that loud music). One day I decided to skip Zumba and join yoga, and that lesson changed my life. The next day I was so sore and I realized that I have so many muscles that I do not even know that exist at all. One thing led to another, I joined a more serious yoga studio and got my YTT in a year.

How does doing yoga prepare you psychologically and emotionally? Yoga is more than just asanas and cool poses. It a whole lifestyle. When you start doing yoga, you start changing your life and your way of thinking. You slowly make yourself vulnerable, you start breaking the walls you’ve built so far. But in the end, the acceptance comes, and you stop the pretense. You become the ‘real’ you and you embrace this. You don’t just become strong physically but also psychologically and emotionally.

Related: International dance star Dosu on the power of breakin’, and heading to the Olympics

What’s the difference between yoga and pilates? Is one better than the other?

So many people think that yoga and pilates are the same things but they are not. Yoga is like an iceberg, it is a lot more than just poses and flow. It has a philosophy behind it and it is ancient! Pilates is from the 20th century. I always find yoga more static compared to pilates. I still remember my pilates instructor yelling at me not to close my eyes while doing pilates. I cannot say one is better than the other. Both have better sides but I feel like they complete each other.

How often should we practice?

Rest days are important. I do not believe working out seven days a week is a good idea. Personally, I do weightlifting four days a week it is really important to give yourself a buffer time for a missing day and also let the muscles rest. You can do yoga every day but I love taking Sundays off–sometimes even the whole weekend. Like I always say, sometimes doing nothing is also yoga. I will say the same thing for pilates. You can do every day but believe me if you take a real pilates class, you will be sore the next day and want to take it easy!

So many of us—particularly gay men—feel a lot of pressure to maintain a certain gym build, or to avoid carrying extra weight. Can yoga be a substitute for the gym?

Yes and no. There are so many types of yoga, first of all, you have to find the one that resonates with you. Some people love power yoga and believe me if you are doing that, you won’t need to go to a gym. Some yoga flows are slower and it will only help you to correct your posture and gain flexibility.

I can say that yoga will not give you a buffed up body, but you will have leaner muscles which I find healthier (and more attractive). It will also help you lose weight by not just doing the flows but also make you realize that your body is your temple and you want to keep that temple clean. Apart from that yoga is a very healthy way to lose weight considering the low impact on the joints.

What about pilates?

When you start doing pilates, you will stop going to the gym. It actually has everything you need but I am not talking about only mat classes but the reformer, cadillac and chair. Pilates will make you stronger while losing weight. Again, if you are after a buffed up body, this won’t work.

We hear a lot about the benefit of yoga when it comes to aging. What specific benefits does it offer?

This is one of the reasons I am doing yoga. We will all age, this is inevitable but with yoga, you can age beautifully and slower than others. When you do yoga, you eliminate the strongest agents of aging, stress. Also, you will keep your flexibility and less likely to get sick. As they say, you are as young as your spine.

We also hear about how yoga can increase “flow” of energy. Exactly what’s the theory behind that?

It is totally true. Yoga is flowing with the breath. The breath is life energy. When you do yoga, you learn how to control that ‘flow’ of energy and also guide it. Have you ever brought your awareness to your breath? When you try it, you will understand what I mean. Just for 5 minutes, do nothing and bring your attention to your breathing. Focus on the rising and falling sensation in your body. Try to slow it down, enjoy it. That‘s what yoga focuses on, it is not just rushing from one pose to another but flowing with the breath.

And you can take this knowledge and apply anything in your life. Being present, enjoying, not rushing… just flowing.

What do you keep on your nightstand?

I have my bedside lamp, my water bottle, ‘Sleep Well’ roll on from Saje (one of the best combinations of essential oils that helps you to sleep better) and my current book.

Bonus Pics: