Living the Moment
David Romanelli isn’t a typical yoga teacher. He’s stocky, hates sitting still, and sets his yoga classes to soundtracks that range from Sublime to Frank Sinatra. He also just wrote a book called Yeah Dave’s Guide to Livin’ the Moment: Getting to Ecstasy Through Wine, Chocolate, and Your iPod Playlist (Broadway Books, 2009). See, he thinks “yoga” should fit into real life, and doing it should help you better enjoy simple pleasures—including booze and food. That’s why we tapped him to write a flexibility plan flexible enough to fit into a real guy’s life. He delivered a guide that requires just 2 to 10 minutes a day for 30 days—and offers a few pearls of wisdom along the way.
How did you get into yoga?
I took my first yoga class in 1996 in L.A. I got my butt kicked. I had never sweated so much. At the end of class it looked like a battle scene—everyone in the room was down on the floor in different positions, quivering.
So why did you keep doing it?
In the end you feel so comfortable in body and relaxed in mind, I didn’t know it was possible. A couple friends and I realized, "There are so many people in the country who don’t do this and this yoga thing is going to explode." So we moved to Phoenix where we opened a chain of studios called At One Yoga. We were determined to bust through the stereotypes and make yoga more accessible to people.
Can you describe your approach to yoga?
The kind of yoga I teach is not pure yoga, but what I’m trying to do is open it up to people and make it more accessible. For most people, being on a yoga mat for 90 minutes in silence is not going to happen. It’s too scary, too intense; stuff’s going to come up. So I meet these people in the middle by playing music and introducing fun anecdotes. So you still get that quiet in your mind at the end of class, but I’m going to meet you halfway. If someone doesn’t like a traditional yoga class, that shouldn’t mean they’ll never do yoga their whole life.
How does music help?
It gives yoga entertainment value. It makes it a little more fun, especially for people who don’t have a quieter place in the mind. It’s more relatable, something to connect with. Sometimes people get lost in the song, and purist yogis would say that’s a bad thing, but that’s better than someone leaving a class because they can’t deal with it.
So what’s on your playlist right now?
I saw a Dead show the other night, so I’m back into them right now. I also like Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, Old Crowe Medicine Show, Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, My Morning Jacket, M.Org.
How will the book help make yoga accessible?
It takes my yoga philosophy off the mat and explains it to people through things like humor and laughter, so you can still have a moment of relaxation, and enjoy and break the tension in life. It’s based around the idea that every day in life should have a beautiful moment, a funny moment, and a delicious moment. Here’s how you can create some substance amidst the madness in life.