The video above is 02:19 long. Use your time wisely ;)
Duncan Peak is founder of Power Living Australia Yoga (P.L.A.Y). He’s also a very cool guy & we chat to him about his life as a former army officer, nearly dying, and becoming one of Australia’s most authoritative figures in yoga.
Full Interview with Duncan Peak: Power Living to the Modern Yoga
In this episode we talk about:-
- A individuals journey that takes an unexpected twist that we all benefit from
- A dramatic change in life path that’s lead to building a legacy (his franchise) that we all benefit from as a result
- There are a lot of assumptions about yoga. Is yoga what you think it is?
- Why yoga & Crossfit are a great fit & strong men struggle with downward dog
- Why yoga suits the modern man/women & the unsuspecting masculine guy
- Yoga…much more than a physical journey and a place to find women in figure hugging attire
- CLICK HERE for all Episodes of 180TV
Power Living Australia Yoga (P.L.A.Y)
- Learn about P.L.A.Y Here
- Follow P.L.A.Y On Facebook Here
Interview with Duncan Peak Transcript
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition, and welcome to podcast episode number 21. Today our special guest is Mr. Duncan Peak. Now, if you’ve never heard of him, he’s the founder of the amazingly successful Power Living Australia Yoga, also known as PLAY, and he touches the lives of over 6,000 people each week. He’s one of the most well-respected yoga teachers here in Australia and teaches workshops, teacher-trainings, retreats, pretty much all over the world and so it’s a privilege to have him here today.
So, today, he’s actually sharing with us a story of how an army officer, which is what he was, he also had a near-death experience, ends up doing yoga and becomes very authoritative in it, as well. So, we’re very excited to have him on.
If you are listening to this on iTunes, really appreciate the review. The reviews help us get our rankings up, which then, in turn, help us get this message out there to other people, and then go on and, obviously, inspire other people, and then, yeah, so, if you just sit back and enjoy the show, and let’s go over to Duncan.
Awesome. All right. Let’s get into it. Hi, I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Mr. Stuart Cook, as always, and our very special guest today, Mr. Duncan Peak. Duncan, thanks for joining us, mate. Really appreciate it.
Duncan Peak: Thanks for having me.
Guy Lawrence: Look, it’s awesome, mate. There’s a couple of reasons that, A, was really excited to get your story out to the show, to the show, to our listeners, and B, hopefully, that story will convince theory in doing a bit more yoga, as well, a little while. But, I’m sure you get asked this question a lot, mate, but, you know, an army officer, a first-grade Rugby Union player, to now, you know, becoming a very authoritative figure in the yoga world. How the hell did that happen?
Duncan Peak: Yeah, I suppose it seems really contradictory to why, but I think the same discipline really drives the practice. I think; yoga has an aspect to it we call Tapas that’s a fierce sort of flame and drive within you. It’s a yearning towards to an enlightened state or to have a practice that’s going to achieve, you know, that development of your character. I think, just, the army was a life situation where I chose to go there when I was a young kid and sorted my life out and gave me the direction, and it was a lot of fun, to be honest, and then, yeah, just events happened that moved me into the yoga world.
I’ve been doing yoga most of my life or meditation, most of my life, and so I, yeah, I just sort of fell into the yoga world, and it was more a XXaudio glitchXX 0:02:45 than a quest to become an authority in the yoga world.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It’s just sort of just like we spoke just before the recording, just sort of following your passion, and it’s evolved into that. When you say you started yoga at a young age, what age would that have been at?
Duncan Peak: Well, I did my first, sort of, meditation slash yoga class when I was about 15. I was with the family I was living with who were just taking care of me and their father had lived in India for about 11 years, and he just taught us what’s called raja yoga.
It’s a very traditional style of yoga. It’s mainly focusing on your mind and trying to meditate or concentrate your mind, and so that’s when I first started, and then I just used meditation to deal with all the stress and some grief that I was going through at a young age. I’d lost some people really close to me and, yeah, just kept doing it throughout my life, and when I was about 25 I eventually got into the physical style of yogaÉmaybe a little bit younger than that, and started to do what you see now, today’s style of living.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Wow. Yeah, you know, because when I watched you speak XXthrough Eloise the other weekXX 0:03:46 you mentioned, as well, an incident in the jungle. It really touched me, as well, I thought that was incredible, and would you mind sharing that bit of a story with us, as well?
Duncan Peak: Yeah. For sure. So, I went to the military. I was an officer in the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and then I became a paratrooper for three years and then worked at the Special Forces training center for three years as a captain. And during that time I did lots of exercises and in one of the exercises I was asked to, well, it’s part of training and selection for things to do seven days without food and walk about, I don’t know, 250 kilometers in that week and get about two hours’ sleep a night, if that, and you get a tiny bit of food, but it’s like a mouthful of food on the third day, and, yeah, they challenge you with a lot of raw, sort of, disgusting foods, to see if you’ll eat it.
But it’s to test your levels of leadership and high-levels of stress. And, anyway, I did the course, and I finished the course, and, on the last day, I handed him my radio and all my flares and things like that, because you’re alone a lot of the time on the course, and then they said, “You know, beeline that way to the clearing, and that’s where you’ll get picked up,” and so I did, and I took my bearing and went there, and on the way walking there after I finished the course I felt this pain in my stomach, and, of course, I’d had pains in my stomach all week, and every time I’d spoken to anyone about it, they’d say, “Well, of course, you have pains in your stomach. You haven’t eaten for seven days.”
So I just, sort of, pushed myself, you know, beyond my limits and went, “Suck it up, you know. Stop being a girl,” and pushed myself. Anyway, I was walking and there was, like, real pain in my stomach, and I got down on one knee and just pulled my water bottle out and was there drinking my water bottle and, as I did, it felt like boiling water was just rushing my stomach. Something felt like it tore in there, and I was completely incapacitated.
I couldn’t move, and I hit the ground, and I was, sort of, in the middle of the jungle, nowhere, and very rare that somebody was going to find me, and I was there for about three hours, I think it was, beforeÉwhich was a whole process I went through of dealing with the pain, because it was excruciating. It was the most amount of pain I’d ever felt, and then I’m dealing with the fact that no matter how tough or physical or, you know, focused I was, it wasn’t going to help me. I couldn’t move and getting at peace with that and, you know, things like accepting my father and accepting the way I was and my mother and just the whole upbringing and losing, really, people close to me very young in my life, all that, sort of, came up, and it was a wonderful spiritual experience in the end. And then, towards the end of that three hours, just luckily, another guy was walking a very similar path that I was and found me, and he carried me to a road and eventually got me help. I was pretty much unconscious by this time and just completely out of it from the pain.
And it took about eight hours before they got me to an operating table, and they diagnosed me with a ruptured appendix and then cut me open and went in to have a look at my appendix and realized it wasn’t my appendix. My appendix was fine, but they took that out anyways.
Stuart Cooke: Oh!
Guy Lawrence: How do you do?
Duncan Peak: Just to get that scar there and, you know, it never happened that you had a ruptured appendix. People wouldn’t diagnose you, so they’d harvest your organ.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow!
Duncan Peak: And then, anyway, they cut me from basically top of my chest down to my belly button and just searched around until they found I had a ruptured duodenal ulcer. So my duodenum, the second part of your, the part after your stomach, and it had perforated and was leaking out and, you know, an injury like that, it could kill you in a matter of hours, and, you know, I was lucky enough to survive for however long it was, eight hours, before they got to me.
And then I woke up the next day and, yeah, my beautiful mother was there holding my hand when I woke up, and I had tubes coming out of me, and I had, you know, five-inch incisions down here and another six- or seven-inch incision up here, and I’d gone from being like a super soldier, you know, I was fit and healthy and as strong as you can be to pretty ripped apart, and I sort of knew then that would lead to my discharge from the army and, eventually, problems that happened from that, rebuilding my core and things like that, and another injury I had through football, they discharged me from the army, and that’s when I left at about 25 years of age.
Through the process of rebuilding my core was how I got into the physical style of yoga, and that was sort of like a blessing in disguise, you know? It was what started Power Living in one way, but it ended a career that I was really enjoying in another way.
Guy Lawrence: Wow, I mean, if that had not happened, do you think your life would look very different today?
Duncan Peak: You know I often wonder about that. One of my best friends is the commanding officer of the SAS at the moment, and he was, you know, right alongside us doing all the stuff we were doing, and, you know, I wonder if I would have followed that path. I’m not sure. I don’t know if my heart and my moralistic fiber was in doing that completely. I think it was more of a life decision that changed me to do that.
So, I’m not sure whether I would’ve on my own natural causes got out. I think I would’ve stayed in the army a little bit longer and done a few more things and achieved things in there that I wanted to do, but I think eventually I would’ve got out, but I’m not sure if yoga would’ve ever evolved the way it did. It was never a vision for me to be a yoga teacher or to create the business that we’ve got.
Guy Lawrence: That’s insane, because they often say, you know, adversity is almost like the universe giving you a little nudge into your path that you should be doing, you know?
Stuart Cooke: That’s pretty deep, Guy. Just saying.
Guy Lawrence: I believe it.
Stuart Cooke: So, Duncan, if, for all of our listeners out there that aren’t or haven’t fully connected with yoga, could you explain the benefits? Because, you know, Guy’s certainly a big advocate for yoga. I’m just kind of exploring it. So, from an outsider’s perspective, you know, is it a little bit more than dudes in tight fishing pants performing a few strange poses?
Duncan Peak: It’s mostly girls, not so much dudes. They’re getting a lot more into it now, but look at yoga, if we think of the word yoga, that’s as broad a term as fitness, and I think that’s what a lot of people misunderstand straight away is that within yoga there are so many ways we can practice it, have beliefs around it, so that’s one big thing to consider is that in the style that we’ve done, it’s called hatha vinyasa yoga, it’s the main style. We call it Power Yoga. It’s just a marketing name, basically, even though it is a very powerful style of yoga. They’re not really traditional style of names that have come from ages.
Most of the yoga that we practice these days is only about a hundred years old, but the philosophy that goes with it dates back, you know, eons. So, there’s really a few aspects of it. There’s your physical flexibility and agility and range of motion that is very popular. Stretching. Vinyasa practice. Out of that, the yogis believe we unlock energetic pathways, very similar to Chinese medicine philosophy of meridian channels. We call them Nadi channels. So, we unlock energy movement and flow within the body.
And then there’s the third aspect to it, which is training your mind, and this is the aspect where I’m so passionate about is understanding deep belief systems that you have, that you’re unconscious of, but they control your behavioral patterns, and the yogis call these vasanas, and it’s what makes up a character.
If you can consider, character’s very hard to change. Like, you can go and put on a new pair of tights or wear different clothes or listen to additional music or drive a new car, move to a new town, take up new sports, and you’ve got a different personality, but you put that same person under stress and they’re going to react in the same way, because their character is still the same.
And, so, yoga doesn’t look to change your personality. There’s no ideal spiritual personality. People get lost in trying to change their personalities, but it’s nothing to do with your personality. You actually want to transcend the personality, and we’re trying to change our character, and we’re trying to change our character into being, embodying the virtues of, like, compassion, you know, kindness, love, courage, all those sorts of, you know, things we talk about that have high moralistic fiber.
And so through the practice of yoga, whether it’s a physical practice and being mindful about the reactions you have, or whether it’s sitting in meditation and observing what the patterns of your mind are and how hard it is to really focus your mind, we’re trying to change the same thing in that we’re trying to evolve our character to be less reactive, what we call equanimous, so that we have a more peaceful life, and then, if we can do that, so they say, and I don’t know this from experience, but we can have an enlightened mind, which is a mind that is always like that, and that’s what yoga aims to do in all of its facets. And then anything within that that you’re doing toward that stilling your mind could be considered a practice of yoga.
Stuart Cooke: I’m sold! I’m just going to sign up for a course now. Where did it originate from? Where’s it come from?
Duncan Peak: It’s from India originally in the oldest books of time, called the vedas, and originally it was really only passed down. They believe it came, and, again, this is a bigger concept and they believe it came from the Rishis which passed it, which it means “great seers” which interpreted it from their experiences in meditation from a more of a collective consciousness, and, again, that’s up to everybody to decide whether they believe that sort of stuff, but they believe it came from that level of higher knowledge and then disseminated through great teachers and then slowly through, it was then transcribed into books in the really early, you know, 400 B.C., things like that, and then eventually, you know, you see it evolve into the modern yoga, sort of, evolution that we have happening today.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, because yoga’s definitely growing in popularity. There’s no doubt about that. It’s unbelievable. Like, I remember growing up in Wales. It was all rugby, union, and beer, basically, and how much you could bench press. I don’t think even yoga was on my radar when I was in my teens and early 20s and, but even I went back to Wales recently and saw that, you know, yoga’s popping up everywhere there, and it was changing there, too.
So, why do you think it’s growing? Do you think there’s a need for it, you know, because people are so stressed out?
Duncan Peak: You know, people believe people go to yoga to stretch. That’s sort of a common belief out there. They might turn up for those reasons, but they stay because of the mental health benefits. It’s that there’s something that occurs for them in the asana practice or whatever style of yoga that they’re doing that they don’t get out of normal exercise or other activities, and it’s just a clarity of your mind. It’s self-awareness. You’re getting to know yourself better.
I just think with the mounting stress that we have and the generation of, “Just suck it up and deal with it,” is sort of slowly passing, and our generation who are having children are a bit more open to spiritual ways and alternative ways of thinking. I think that’s just, sort of, you know, started to create a newer generation who’ve grown up with yoga being accepted. The middle generation, like us, who are like, “Okay, well, it is acceptable,” rather than not off the radar, and then our parents who, you know, not so many of them even had opportunities to understand what it’s all about. So, I think it’s just the education within the world, and then the quality of what it is compared to anything else out there. It’s just, it’s common sense, so people they need to do it if they want to be happy and peaceful in this world.
Guy Lawrence: I have to say, as well, like, I, my girlfriend drug me on a yoga retreat in Thailand not too long ago, and, you know, it was the first time I ever did yoga six days straight, and it was two-and-a-half hours in the morning, I think. It was a half-hour meditation and then a two-hour practice, and I felt something shift by the end of the six days, and it was hard to explain. I was trying to explain it to Stewie, and, yeah, it was amazing. Unless you actually put yourself through that experience, it’s hard to actually get that across, as well. You know?
Duncan Peak: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I say that about yoga experiences is that words will never do it justice, you know. Words always imply a limited perspective on the experiences that you can have, and that’s really what yoga, you know, it’s hard to describe yoga, the experience of yoga, but once you experience it, it’s just obvious. It’s like, “Wow, that’s a state that we should be in at times.” A state of consciousness that we should experience.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Hey, I’m just checking. Stewie, you there? Hang on.
Duncan Peak: We lost him?
Guy Lawrence: We lost him. I’ll bring him backÉbecause I went toÉHe’s back.
Stuart Cooke: I’m back, mate. I’ve signed up. I’m good to go.
Duncan Peak: Yeah, I thought you’d rushed down to the studio then. Or freaked you out. One of the two.
Stuart Cooke: I was interested, thinking about the things that you’d said, where would somebody like me start? With, obviously, the different types of yoga that you’ve got, with meditation, and all the movements, where would I start?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, good question.
Duncan Peak: It’s hard to answer that question. It depends on you as a person. To really know that, yeah, I’d have to know you really well, but I think for, just generally, people should just rock down to their local yoga studios, maybe try three or four out, and if they feel, when they walk in the doors of a yoga studio, that they feel like they belong there, that it’s a place where they’re comfortable, and they enjoy the teachings that are there and the process that they go through, then just stick with that one and start to learn from them and, you know, over time, you’ll meet the people that are meant to teach you, soÉ
There’s that way. There’s a lot of online yoga, where you can watch it, but I think, for me, and our business, especially Power Living, it’s the community aspect of the experience is so important, and to have, you know, likeminded people and that positive energyÉWe always call our studios the House of Positivity, you know? Because you walk in there, and it is, it’s just constant positive energy, and you go there, and that’s just good to have that top you up every day.
So, I just think people should try and find places like that, and they exist. Yeah. And then just wherever they’re comfortable. It’s not that important what style you’re doing, in the initial stages. You can refine that, once you start to understand yoga a little more, and what you think benefits you. That was what the original process of a guru was, was to tell you what style of yoga would best suit you to deal with the character that you have. These days it’s not so much like that, but you can have people help you out with what you should be doing.
Stuart Cooke: Okay.
Guy Lawrence: Do you think yoga is for everyone, Duncan?
Duncan Peak: I think there’s a style of yoga for everybody, but I don’t think that there’s one style that fits everyone. I think everyone is going to benefit from being mindful, you know? Anyone whoÉour human condition is self-reflective consciousness, and there’s issues that come with being able to think about what you’re thinking about.
You know, if you think about, we ‘ve constantly got a conversation going on in our head, and there’s no one there, so it’s sort of insane, you know? And we’ve got to learn to understand that and quiet that and be able to just experience the world without having to interpret it and always have a conversation about it. So I think anyone who does that is going to build more self-awareness and that’s going to be beneficial. So, yeah, I think it is for everybody. But I’m not a preacher that says, “You have to do this. You have to do that.” It’s up to them on their own what they do.
Guy Lawrence: Everyone has to discover it for themselves, right?
Duncan Peak: Yeah, I really believe in that, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: It’s funny that you mention that, because that was going to be my next question, was because the health and fitness industry focus a lot on nutrition. They focus on, you know, physical appearance and the physical strength of it, right? For which, and sometimes, it seems to be all physical aspect, but how much do you think mindset and, you know, our daily thoughts actually affect our health?
Duncan Peak: Well, I think it is your health. I mean, I go and do demonstrations at health and fitness expos and things like that, and get up there in my tights and tie myself into a pretzel and do all fancy handstands and, you know, all the bodybuilders walk past and are like, “Wow! Look at that! He’s flexible and he’s strong.” And it’s a nice way to be able to connect with those guys.
But I see I lot of that world, the fitness industry, and they look amazing, but they’re not healthy. They have so much attachment to their body and their ego, and that’s how they judge their sense of self-worth. There’s people who aren’t like that. Who are very balanced, and they’re awesome, and they’re in that world, and they’re great examples, but the industry as a whole is so much about what people think about you, and that’s something we need to get away from, is what people think about us and develop what we believe about ourselves and develop that self-love. So I think that mindset is, that’s how I would judge well-being.
And then with the nutrition you put into your body, it’s obviously going to have a huge impact on what your thoughts are and what your character is, so, yeah, for me it is how I judge well-being as opposed to how much do I think it has an impact on well-being, I think it is what well-being is, is the way you think, or the way you’re attached to your thoughts.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely. And then you can see why yoga is actually then helping so many people, you know, that do it.
Duncan Peak: Yeah. Having said that with yoga, to be really raw and honest, I used to have a saying when I started the business, was “Market to the ego, and teach to the heart.” You know, there was a reason why we’re successful, it’s because we recognize that people do want to lose weight. They want to look good. They want to be flexible. They want to do the fancy poses.
And for some people, that’s what they want, and so we’re like, “Okay. Let’s tell them that’s going to happen. Let’s bring them into the classes and while they’re in there, we’ll just mention a few of these philosophical points.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Just whispering, right?
Duncan Peak: Yeah, exactly. You know, rather than preaching it, because it turns people off. And so, let’s do what the world needs, or not needs but people really want, this desire, and then let’s teach them about what desire really is and the suffering that can come from, you know, so desirous. We have this other saying, “A constant search for pleasure is the root cause of your suffering.” That’s like one-on-one yoga. The constant search for pleasure is the root cause of our suffering.
And, so, yeah, we probably get them in through pleasure, but then we teach them about what that doesÉ
Stuart Cooke: What it really means.
Duncan Peak: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve noticed that you’ve released a new book, as well, Duncan. Would that be a great place for someone like me to start? Or is it a little bit more advanced?
Duncan Peak: No, I mean it’s written for a first-timer who’ll pick up the book, and it’s got a little bit of my story in there, and it has just so much about the mental side of it and understanding the character and that aspect. Everything that we’ve just discussed, and then it goes right into the physical practice, and how to align your body and how to keep it very safe, and it gives two different styles, a dynamic style of yoga and then more the yin, sort of, gentler, not gentler, but just slower, holding poses for long periods and working on different connective tissue within the body. Working on fascia as supposed to muscle and tendon. So it goes into a lot of that, but it’s not too technical that it’ll turn people off. We made it so it’s a coffee table book, as well, so it’s nice to be able to look at and just visually be able to learn from it, as well as get in there and study, if you’d like to. So, it’s called Modern Yoga. It’s available on my website. You know, it’s something that’s taken me three or four years to write. That really is what Power Living is. You know, we use it for our teacher trainings as our manual because it’s really what we’re trying to get out there.
Guy Lawrence: I was going to say, you must be a busy boy.
Duncan Peak: Well, it’s started to slow up for now, since that’s been done, and it has been ten years this year. Yeah, I’ve given everything I’ve got for ten years.
Guy Lawrence: You hold retreats, as well, right? Are they retreats just for yoga teacher training, or are they for peopleÉ
Duncan Peak: No, anyone.
Guy Lawrence: They can just come on and do it?
Duncan Peak: We have, a lot of our retreats we have are teacher training and the retreat running at the same time. We just separate groups and do things together. Because there’s so much community focus that it doesn’t matter who you are, teachers training or just a student, we can join and do a lot of the community activities together, and then we can do more technical stuff for the teacher trainers.
We have, I don’t know, we’re up to about six or seven retreats a year, and we do about eight or nine 200-hour teacher trainings around Australia and New Zealand. It’s pretty busy, but it’s not just me anymore. There’s, I don’t know, maybe 80 people employed in the company. We’re nearly up to our eighth studio now.
It’s kind of crazy. One of the things about our business is that there are six owners in the business. Not just myself. That’s been one of our successes is using our senior people that come up through the business and then allowing them to open a studio with us, and they love it, and they’re there, and yes.
So, we do retreats for everybody and teacher trainings, as well. I think within the industry, we’re known a lot for our education, so our teacher trainings are very popular, because we’re probably one of the first to do contemporary styles of yoga. We certainly do the retreats. I like them the most. They’re the fun ones.
Guy Lawrence: That could be a good place to start for someone, as well then, if they wannaÉ
Duncan Peak: Yeah. For sure.
Stuart Cooke: You’re thinking me, Guy, aren’t you?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Duncan Peak: XXWe want to run one in Bali for an excuse. It’s a good place to come hang out.XX [0:26:07]
Guy Lawrence: We’ve got the foam boards, as well, Stewie, you know.
Stuart Cooke: I’m good for boarding.XX [0:26:10] Absolutely. I’ll book the tickets, Guy. I’m just thinking, Duncan, with all that you’ve got going on, surely you’d then be using your yoga and meditation to quiet your mind in order to actually get some sleep, right? Cause you’re a busy boy.
Duncan Peak: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’ve got a very agitated mind, you know, I think one of the reasons I’m so into yoga and meditation is because I’ve needed it, you know, since I’ve been a young boy. I don’t ever profess to be this really calm and peaceful person. I’m not like that. I’m a pretty big personality and I need to center myself or I sort of lose myself, you know?
So, yeah, it’s a daily practice, you know? Like this morning, I woke up. The first thing I do is an hour of yin practice up here in my lounge room. Sit for 20 minutes or a half an hour and meditate and then go and have a surf. That’s pretty much how every day starts for me, you know? I’m pretty lucky in that way. Yeah, I sort of need it, you know? I need it. Especially beingÉone of the hardest things is being a CEO, you know, and having so many people work for you and doing all that side of it, and then you’re in a meeting that’s like intense and there’s millions of dollars being discussed and then you have to leave that meeting and then walk into the yoga room and start to teach people, you know?
Stuart Cooke: That’s right, yeah. There’s that switch.
Duncan Peak. It’s a funny skill, you know? Not everyone that works for us has that skill. They belong on the facilitations side or the business side. That’s probably one of my biggest challenges and meditation is the only way that I’ve been able to achieve, be able to do that.
Stuart Cooke: I think I would benefit from that. Just thinking about all the things we have going on in our business, as well, and a busy family, busy business. Definitely, you’ll be doing a bit moreÉ
Guy Lawrence: Definitely. We’re fortunate to do what we do. We have, you know, we get to do some cool stuff and we did some DNA testing, and what gene was it? You had a COMT gene, was it?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I had a COMT gene and just some, which affected my cortisol levels. So, you know, I’m very busy, and I’ve got lots going on, but my cortisol levels don’t clear. So, like clearance pathways were blocked with this particular gene, so just about ways to lower cortisol and, of course, thinking about meditation and considering yoga, as well, as a told for that.
Duncan Peak: Cortisol is one of the biggest neurochemicals of the moment that’s causing us to not be in health because at night time the body’s got to clear that, rather than focus on rejuvenating the tissue.
You know, one thing you bring up, Stu, is meditation is sometimes is very hard for people just to sit and go, “All right. I’m going to mediate.” People aren’t ready for it, and so getting into just mindful movement, whether it’s yoga, tai chi, chi gong, it can engage people so that they’re able to at least do something and enjoy that before they’re actually, “Well, okay, now I’ll start meditating.”
I do encourage a lot of beginners to get into the asana practice, you know, however they want to do it, dynamic or gentle, or a tai chi, or a chi gong, and then allow that to bring you into a more still mind. Sitting becomes just a natural evolution.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right, that makes a lot of sense, because from a, you know, meditation perspective, it almost seems impossible to sit there and just zone out when you’ve got this chatter, constant chatter, left and right. It’s definitely a skill, or it’s a muscle, I guess, that needs to be built.
Duncan Peak: Yeah. Definitely.
Guy Lawrence: I find that while we’re in the surfs, though, as well, that helps keep in the moment, you know? I’m constantly just there, and you know, that’s my excuse. I’m going out to be present.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. So just think a little bit about exercise and nutrition as well now. Do you do anything else outside of yoga, exercise-wise?
Duncan Peak: I surf every day. Sometimes two or three times a day, and so that’s pretty physical in itself. I probably go to the gym once a week, I suppose, but when I train there, I train very much, not so much CrossFit, but more in that world where it’s power-to-weight ratio, body work, lot of Swiss ball work, and a lot of core stability work with cables, rather than lifting heavy weights. I really don’t do that anymore. I did years ago and my rugby-like days, but I don’t really do that sort of stuff. Yeah, it’s just because I enjoy it. I would, yeah, I think it’s, yeah, I’m just a man who enjoys that stuff.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly. You mentioned CrossFit, and we got quite heavily into CrossFit last season, last year, and found that a lot of the CrossFit athletes and participants were really connected to yoga for flexibility and mobility. Do you get a lot of CrossFitters coming your way?
Duncan Peak: Yeah. We’ve got a really good relationship with their communities, and a lot of our teachers teach at the local CrossFit gyms, just to make it easier for them, because, you know, people only got a small amount of time a day to exercise. Yeah, CrossFit, I think, is an amazing evolution. I think it’s a very sensible way to train the body, but there’s also, there’s risk involved in training the way they do. It’s pretty heavy and it’s hard on your joints, and if you’re not somebody who’s grown up athletically, it can be a little bit dangerous.
I think yoga will just help bring people into a postural development that’s going to allow them to get better alignment in their lifting capacities within CrossFit, and also allow them to have recovery a lot quicker, so they’re not turning up to do their next session so sore with fascial adhesions and knotted up muscles. There’s more of that fluidity in the body. So yeah, I think they’re great, you know, great complement to each other and, yeah, it’s cool to see it allÉ
Guy Lawrence: I guess any sport, really, wouldn’t it? Yoga complements, I imagine.
Duncan Peak: We trained the Waratahs and the Sea Eagles for many years, you know, big rugby teams over here. The guys, as much as they hate it, because they’re doing something they’re working against so much muscular resistance. They, every single one of them, yeah, are an advocate for it and straight after the game, like Monday morning, or a yoga session on Tuesday, it restores them to be able to go out there and train as hard as they would, like as if they were to start a new season, so the rejuvenating aspects of doing it are phenomenal.
Guy Lawrence: I go a question that just popped in, as well. When I go to a yoga class, it’s normally just me and a couple of other guys and just full of females. And after doingÉ
Stuart Cooke: Poor you, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Yes, it’s pretty tough for me, and after doing CrossFit, throwing weights around, you know, thrust those shoulder presses, God knows what, like I get into a downward dog, and I’m the first one to drop to the floor. You know? And normally the other guys, as well. Why is that?
Duncan Peak: Well, you’re working against muscular resistance, so you’ve got a range, you know, if you go to here and depending on how tight, you know, a lot of the muscles under here, your subscaps and your lats and things like that, is, like, people who’ve got range or who don’t have the muscle bulk, who just naturally have that range can just do these really easilyÉ
For people who are tight, through a pec or minor lats, etc., to go from here they’ve got to engage a lot of their muscles on the back of their shoulders that help extend the shoulder joint, or flex the shoulder joint to be able to work. So, they’re working muscular very hard just to hold their arm at that place, because of the tightness that’s being built in the tension in the muscles to get the power that you’re looking for.
Your biggest strength becomes your biggest weakness. You’re working against your own muscle tightness, and not everyone has that muscle tightness. It’s like me. I’m pretty flexible. I can hold downward dog forever, but I’ve got the muscle bulk but there would have been a time where I, where it was very difficult to hold downward dog, because of the tightness. Yes. It’s interesting like that sometimes. You’re biggest strength is your biggest weakness.
Guy Lawrence: I’m really glad to hear that, because I’ve now got an excuse, because my tightness is terrible.
Duncan Peak: And, also, you’ve got, it’s a stability way that the muscle is working as opposed to a contraction, an eccentric, concentric movement, you’re moving more of that isometric hold, and CrossFit is more movement rather than hold, and that’s one of the things that makes the yoga asana practice, again, very well-rounded is because you’re doing contractions and, the eccentric and concentric contractions. You’re moving muscles under load both ways, but then you’re holding, and you’re stabilizing through joints and things like that, and there’s not so much of that in a lot of other, you know, gym and CrossFit and physical work, and so that’s another thing is you’re just building up the endurance to be able to hold, as opposed movement fit.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Keep at it, Guy. It’s a work in progress. I was wondering, Duncan, what your typical daily diet looks like. How do you, you know, healthy body, healthy mind kind of thing. What do you eat?
Duncan Peak: First thing is a green smoothie in the morning. I make a green smoothie, you know, with your coconut waters and your greens and get that into me pretty early in the morning. That usually lasts me up until mid-morning, and I might have some fruit and some nuts and a little bit of a snack, and then lunch, it just depends where I am and what’s going on.
I try and get a salad wherever I am, and then night time, it’s usually, you know, fish and a salad or something like that, or I have meat occasionally, as well, and have a salad with that. Try and stay away from lots of breads and a lot of those, sort of, complex carbs, but I must admit I do love them. I was a baker when I was a young kid. I love my bread, but you know, I’ve found that for my body type it’s not the exact thing I should be eating, soÉ
I must admit, I would love to be perfect in my diet, but when you’re working so much, it’s one of the first things that you let slip, so I make sure that I do my green smoothie every morning and get all my nutrients that I need for that day and then I really just focus on trying to be as healthy as I can throughout the rest of the day with what I eat.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: That sounds good. It is tricky, especially when you’re on the road. Very hard to try and keep on top of your diet.
Guy Lawrence: Big time. Big time. Mate, we always finish with a wrap-up question, and it can be non-nutrition, anything really, but what’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Duncan Peak: That’s funny. I’ve written that before. It’s pretty simple. My mom always used to say to me, I’d tell her everything that I was doing, and I was a ratbag as a kid, and the cause of so much heartache, even though we’re best friends now, you know, and always have been, but she used to say, “Duncan, I don’t care what you do, as long as you’re happy.” And she’s always been like that. Whatever I’ve chosen to do, whether it was military, whether it was yoga, whether it’s everything else that I decide to do, she’s like, “It’s up to you what you do, just as long as you’re happy and follow your heart in that way.” And I believe that’s the best bit of advice I’ve ever been given. I’ll always go back to it.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That makes perfect sense to me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, definitely, and how can we get more of Duncan Peak? So, if anyone listens to thisÉYou’ve obviously, we know you’ve got a bookÉ
Duncan Peak: Yeah, It’s called Modern Yoga which is available on the website www.powerliving.com.au. We’ve got studios in Neutral Bay, Manly, Bondi Beach, South Melbourne, Fitzroy. We’ve got two opening up in Perth, and we’ve got another one at Bondi Beach. So getting to any of them, and then there’s over 1000 teachers in Australia that I’ve trained that are out there teaching for other studios and their own sort of stuff, so, yeah, you can get along to any of them and you’re going to get a little bit of what we’re doing. I teach mostly Manly and Neutral Bay and Bondi Junction. So you just check out our schedules, or come along to the retreats. You know, I run all the retreats and all the teacher trainings, so, yeah, but everyone in our business is so well-trained, just get along to a Power Living school andÉ
Guy Lawrence: I noticed, as well, only just yesterday you had an online program, as well. Is that right?
Duncan Peak: Yeah. We have some online course, some online yoga, which is where you can just sign up and get on video, basically, our classes. People in remote areas, you can do that. We also have some stuff on TV. XX?XX [0:38:59] Yeah, there’s a lot going on in that world, so, yeah, lots of opportunities. We have the DVDs you can purchase as well, and audio CDs for meditation, all available on the website, yeah, there’s lots of aids out there to help people get involved and get into it.
Guy Lawrence: No excuses. That’s awesome, right?
Stuart Cooke: You’re pointing your finger at me, Guy, when you say that.
Guy Lawrence: You know, mate.
Stuart Cooke: Thank you very much. That is awesome. Thank you so much, Duncan.
Duncan Peak: Thanks, Stuart. Thanks, Guy. It’s been great.
Stuart Cooke: You’ll be seeing me sooner than you think.
Duncan Peak: All right, mate, well if you’re going to come along, let me know. We’ll set you up with a VIP pass and take care of you guys.
Stuart Cooke: All right, thank you, mate. That’s fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Bye, guys. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: Take care. See you, buddy.