Interview with Doug Robson
Doug was raised in Botswana and now he’s laid his roots in London. Doug is a successful stunt performer and his work has featured in such films as Kingsman – The Golden Circle stunt doubling for Channing Tatum and Alice in Wonderland doubling Sacha baron Cohen and many others.
Another one of Doug’s passions is Yoga. After years of practicing Yoga Doug decided to qualify as a yoga instructor and create his own style “Martial Yoga”. This unique style combines traditional Yoga with basic martial arts strikes in a vinyasa style tempo. Let’s get down with Doug and see what he’s got to say!
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Well, I came to London around 10 years ago and worked a lot of different jobs, from primary school teaching, to being Bear Grllys family nanny to investment banking. None of those things ever grabbed me. I was always really into sports and training so being stationary never appealed to me. When a friend I met doing extra work on “Guillever’s Travels” told me about stunts I knew I wanted to do that. Two years later I finished the training and started work as a stuntman. He’s still a good friend to this day. Now I spend my time working in movies and t.v and getting this yoga style off the ground and planning my next holiday. I bloody love a holiday!
On first glance you would think that Stunts and Yoga couldn’t be further apart from each other, could you explain how the two complement each other?
I couldn’t agree more, one is a career based largely around doing things that get your heart rate jacked, lots of stimulus, adrenaline and putting your body into harms way. While the other is about slowing everything down, being calm, being gentle to yourself and restoring your body to a state of relaxation. And thats exactly why I think they are such great compliments to each other. As a stunt performer you want some degree of adrenaline to be sharp, but if you don’t control it it can hamper your performance and leave you feeling drained. Yoga and its breathing styles help me stay in control and perform with energy, but with a level of control that keeps my fellow performers and myself safe. Yoga is also a great space for you to explore your bodies movements and check in and see how you are doing physically and emotionally. In stunts you are always picking up niggles and injuries and yoga is a great way to become aware of them before it’s too late. Lastly, you end up falling or being put in some uncomfortable positions as stunt man and as I say “We need to learn to bend so we don’t break.” Yoga asanas (poses) help facilitate a safe and slow entry into extreme ranges of motions that can help us avoid injuries by making us more supple.
What other type of training are you into at the moment?
I’ve always got a lot of time for gymnastics, I just think its such a complete sport and there are so many great moves to learn. I use a lot of gymnastics conditioning in my yoga as I think its unrivalled in its results. Currently i’m obsessed with handstands. I also love HIT training, wether it’s on my own or doing a class. And whenever i’m abroad, surfing! As I said before I love a holiday!
What’s the most challenging skill you’ve had to acquire for a movie?
It sounds crazy, but the hardest skill was probably learning to stay calm. It applies to most stunts, but never as much as when you are on fire. On the most recent season of Game of Thrones there was plenty of fire thanks to that pesky Dragon. I did my first “full fire job”, which essentially means you’re completely engulfed in flame. You wear a lot of protective gear, but nothing can protect you if you decide to breathe while the you’re on fire. So you need to keep very calm and hold your breath no matter what. Its a mind game for sure. As in so many situations the mind can be the toughest battlefield.
Left: Doug – stunt doubling for Channing Tatum in the film Kingsman: Golden Circle.
Right: Doug – stunt doubling for Colin Firth in the same film.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your style of Yoga?
Well my style of yoga was born out of the sports I liked the most. As a result I wanted the empowerment of martial arts, with the strength of gymnastics conditioning and the beauty and flow of yoga. I currently have three main flows and several different levels of each. Each starts with a gentle warm up and some animal flow style moves, then building a yoga flow based on a martial arts style kata incorporating kicks, punches and blocks. We finish with gymnastics conditioning and hand balances, and some cool down. It’s fresh and unique and a great workout.
Lots of people in the industry are practicing Yoga could you tell everyone why is Yoga so good for you and why it seems to resonates so well with people?
Well people in our industry work very hard and very long. Regardless of wether you are physically needed or not, we are always on call, ready to go and working to a deadline. This leads to quite a stressful environment. I think Yoga provides a haven to break form all that, disconnect from outside stimulus and just listen to yourself for a while. I would also argue that we are born to move and on movie sets we don’t move in the ways we were designed to. We do a lot of standing. Yoga provides such an array of movements, the body really gets to express itself in its fullest capacity. Lastly the breathing techniques are designed to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, helping us regain a more normal sense of calm and helps us rest.
With your busy lifestyle and the fantastic condition you keep yourself in, how do you manage your nutrition while filming and teaching Yoga? What are you eating a lot of right now and what’s your guilty pleasure?
Well, I recently changed my diet to include a lot more vegetarian dishes and cutting back on meat other than fish. It’s so mush easier now to cook healthy meal and vegetables no longer have to be bland. I cook form scratch a lot more now too, I find its a great way to know what you’re eating and stay away from preservatives and processed foods. I also try not have the naughty things I love in the house, because they will get eaten. My will power is only as long as the walk to the kitchen. If its not there I usually don’t bother to go get it. Guilty pleasure? M and S white chocolate chip cookies, absolute killers. Soooo good with tea! Also, Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt, its delicious and thats why I can never be left alone in the confectionary aisle!
Other than in the cinema where else can people get down with Doug? Do you teach regularly and if so where can people find you to learn Martial Yoga?
As is always the case with our industry, the dates of work are always changing so I tend to just do guest spots at different studios. Best thing is to follow me on instagram and see my weekly schedule. I do teach at Breathe Studios in Farnham a fair deal so thats a safe bet. Hope to see you in class soon!
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