Yawp, y’all! I’m Rob, the Yoga Barbarian
a.k.a. The Swami Salami
When I was in my teens I was in a car accident (cue violins). Nothing too serious, but from then on I had major neck pain. For years I was lost about what to do. One year when I was on a beach in Thailand, a dude that I was playing beach volleyball with said, “Wanna learn some yoga?” I tried it. My neck pain wasn’t cured miraculously, but I knew instantly that yoga could lead me to recovery.
Five years later I found myself in India for two years searching for a teacher to learn from. But I wasn’t searching for enlightenment. I was and am a little dubious of all the “chakra” and “good energy” talk that surrounds a lot of the yoga world. I’m more of a scientific minded person. What I wanted was a yoga instructor to show me how to become stronger because my freakin shoulder hurt, not some self-important guru looking for followers to feed his ego.
I wanted a teacher who didn’t touch me (no, this is not 50 Shades of a Hindi), one who made me do it myself. (I cringe watching some teachers push and lean on students. Injury, anyone?) Then I found someone; Archarya Venkatesh, who said to me after a year and a half, “Now you have to go off on your own. You have to learn by yourself.”
YOU are your greatest teacher. But you do need a qualified instructor first to guide you in the right direction. And that right direction involves using your whole body to achieve an equal balance of strength, mobility and flexibility without injuring yourself. But keep drinking beer and doing what you’re doing. I’m not asking you to give up anything.
Oh, why “Yoga Barbarians”? Well, I could feed you some bullshit about barbarians being a metaphor for difference and style myself as a “yoga outsider,” but, in truth, I just like barbarians. And Walt Whitman.