Nike Trainer Branden Collinsworth on the Benefits of Yoga

“I never in a million years thought I would be into yoga,” Branden Collinsworth, Nike master trainer, 200HR RYT, told POPSUGAR. He described himself as “that swole dude” who was into bench press and running fast 40-yard sprints. But in 2014, at the peak of his performance career, he realized he was miserable. “I was so unhappy. I was depressed,” he said. This shocked him because “coming from the streets of Vegas, coming from being homeless, coming from growing up in housing projects, I thought once I got to that level of success, I’d be happy.”

He knew he needed to do something to “change things up,” explaining that something told him to travel, so he went on a solo trip to Bali. He began to practice yoga and noticed a shift in his mindset, gratitude, and levels of happiness, fulfillment, connection, awareness, and presence. In 2015, Collinsworth began to study yoga and fusing it with sports performance, creating the Primal Flow, which is available on the Nike Training app.

His flows explore playing with movement, and allows people to break out of the linear expression of yoga and move in three dimensions, with movements like hops, crawls, and spiraling squats, Collinsworth said. “My inspiration from it was to get people to step outside of the box, move, and explore aspects of their body that they may have not touched before.” It’s challenging, but it’s an accessible flow for all levels.

One of Collinsworth’s yoga goals is for people to “step into spaces that we may have not stepped into before,” especially during the coronavirus pandemic. No matter your level, he emphasized that “it’s about doing the best you can with where you’re at and finding that edge.” And once you’ve found your edge, breathing into it and expanding it every time you return to the mat.

He also wants people to think about inner intimacy as it pertains to their practice and existence. “When we start to align our inner world, the outer world becomes amplified,” he said. “Yoga is an opportunity to get to know yourself and tune into the most valuable tool, which is breath,” he continued. Focusing on your breath can help you relax, destress, feel more grounded, and be more present.

To help you start feeling the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of yoga, Collinsworth recommends focusing on standing and balancing poses to feel more grounded; backbends to open your heart and help you feel joyful; twists and heavy breathing, like Pranayama, to restore your body; and passive positions, like Savasana, “to drop us into deeper states of relaxation.” If you’re in need of pose inspiration, ahead you’ll find poses you can begin implementing into your daily routine to feel more open, grounded, and relaxed.

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