Twelve years ago, I started practicing yoga. One of my first teachers happened to be David Romanelli, one of the co-founders of AtOneYoga in Phoenix. I didn’t seek him out as a guru; he just appeared in my life because I had a bad back and yoga was recommended as an alternative to surgery (by everyone but the surgeon, who is still waiting for me).
Now you have to understand that David was about 25 at the time, and I was 55. I was accomplished materially, but I was miserable physically and emotionally. I has just been widowed. I thought my life was over.
David, on the other hand, was just starting out. He was a fugitive from an aborted Hollywood acting career, and he and his college classmate, a fugitive from an equally unsuitable legal career, had decided to open this business in Phoenix. They were on a road trip to maturity through entrepreneurship. I thought I could help them run their business, but it turned out they helped me more.
David had a great collection of music. I went to his 6:00 flow classes a couple of times a week just to hear Simon and Garfunkel, Willie Nelson, and the other funky stuff he played in class, which seemed retro to him,but familiar to me. I was on a road trip back to my youth.
David was also brutally honest. In class, he spoke about his sports addiction, his love of big boobs, his dissatisfaction with his own body, and his propensity to fall out of the yoga lifestyle into decadence. He also told me not to struggle to wrap my arms through my legs and around my back in humble warrior, since my arms weren’t long enough. And never would be.
Years passed, and David decided to leave Arizona and go back to L.A. where he could take his forays into decadence to new heights, developing yoga workshops on the relationship between yoga and chocolate, and yoga and wine. These have been fantastically successful; yoga,wine, and chocolate are not as immiscible as you’d think. David gives each student one piece of really good chocolate at the beginning of the class, and teaches the class to savor the taste, smell the chocolate, feel it on the tongue, and use all the senses to be in the moment with the chocolate.
For someone who eats bars of chocolate at a time, this was a wakeup call. And David does the same with the wine at the end of class. And the music during class, which now comes on an iPod.
He has learned, and has helped teach me, how to live in the moment and savor it. And now he has written a book called Yeah Dave’s Guide to Livin’ the Moment. You should read it. Dave has a lot to teach you. The book is a series of small vignettes and anecdotes that illustrate the difference between living in the moment and not.
One of the chapters I liked best was about his attempt to do a silent (Vipassana) meditation workshop that lasted eight days. David’s very peripatetic, and he knew he couldn’t do it unassisted, so he took a bunch of muscle relaxants with him. The guru found them, and kicked David out. He learned something about himself; that not everyone can handle Vipassana, and that you can meditate driving around your neighborhood listening to music on your car radio if that’s your thing.
I loved this book.David shows, through accepting himself and publicly admitting his sins and faults (he has man-boobs), how everyone ought to be on a path to self-acceptance. He’s genuine, he’s authentic, and if he doesn’t remind you of a yogi from India, well…he shouldn’t. He’s from Los Angeles:-)