Breaking news: incredibly wealthy antivirus software magnate and budding “observational” yogapreneur, John McAfee, wanted for his possible connection to the murder of his neighbor may have been captured by Belize police whom he thinks will kill him, CNN reports. Yep, it’s kind of a crazy story.
McAfee whose name is synonymous with virus swashbuckling (or more likely nightmares of trying to remove the ironically plague-like program) and recently for headlines like Girls, guns and yoga: John McAfee’s odd life in “pirate haven” has set up residence on a tropical island in Belize, a place still known for, yes, pirates and its “party, party, work, party” atmosphere, according to a local waitress. In short, his neighbor was murdered and he is wanted for questioning but is afraid the cops have it out for him.
Amid all the wackadoo antics (note: see above photo and his blog) it turns out the 67-year-old party hearty smartie was primed to officially launch his own yoga style before the Belize police were on his tail for all this murder stuff. It’s called “observational yoga” and it could’ve been the next big thing. Don’t believe us? The plot thickens: McAfee is pals with Greg Gumucio, of the highly successful Yoga to the People chain. The same Greg Gumucio of the latest Bikram lawsuit battle fame.
The Daily Beast quoted McAfee as saying:
“He taught me many things,” Gumucio says of McAfee. “Really, he is a genius and brilliant.”
So what is McAfee’s new yoga idea? As a follower of transcendental meditation leader Maharishi back in the day, JM is certainly transcending something. He’s authored titles on a method called “relational yoga” which has evolved into observational yoga, which sounds suspiciously close to Italian Yoga meets couch potato asana meets creepy borderline voyeurism. In a nutshell, you pay $200 a month to sit in lounge chairs and watch people do yoga on stage. The average practitioner swings by around 5:30, likely with flip flops on (and a margarita in hand) to kick back and watch some yoga in order to receive the practice via osmosis. Really, that’s it. He just wants you to get out of the house, people.
The Denver Westword blog got the fascinating scoop back in July, earlier this year. You have to read this:
WW: You have taught, and written several books about, a self-coined form of yoga called “relational yoga.” How did you devise relational yoga?
JM: I think all of life is a relationship. It’s how we relate to life, to people, and to ideas and to who we are. No human exists in isolation. So when yoga is viewed in relationship to the entire world, it makes perfect sense.
WW: What makes relational yoga different from other forms of yoga?
JM: I think what’s important is not the type of yoga; it’s leaving the home and going out and doing something.
That’s how I came up with observational yoga. It sounds like a ridiculous concept, but it gets you out of the house; it is simply doing something with your life rather than sitting around watching television.
WW: What is observational yoga?
JM: You can pay $200 a month to sit in an easy chair and watch people do yoga up on a stage. There is a scientific basis for this, that through osmosis, as you watch others be active, the observation of something impacts yourself. If you watch someone move in a certain way, you start to mimic that later in the day. A good example is if you watch a scary movie, you become scared. You are not being attacked, but somehow you feel the fear. It’s very popular [in Belize].
It would be very difficult to sell this concept in America. I would be shut down on all the claims that it improved health by the government. But here I can make any kind of outrageous claim that I choose and the government can see fit to say that it is okay.
In all sincerity, would you rather go out and see the work or do the work? Watching work is a very popular concept. Have you ever been in a city and there is construction going on? They used to put round holes in the walls that divide the construction from the street, because people used to like to walk by and watch people working. It was a popular pastime.
Thank you. That is exactly why people look at construction workers. But, come on, you can go to Bikram asana championships for free! Another reason why it probably won’t fly in America. Outrageous.
WW: What do the actual yoga practitioners do?
JM: It’s mostly hatha yoga in static poses — like Iyengar yoga. People find it more interesting to watch. We are trying to do the same thing with weight training, where you sit in an easy chair, they serve coffee or juice, and you watch people lift weights. There is a scientific basis that it will affect your actions throughout the day — that you may lift a chair later rather than just scooting it across the floor — and there will be an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in body fat.
We have discovered that activities with large-scale movements (involving the whole body, for example) lend themselves more readily to observational techniques. Small-scale movements, such as typing, provide limited results. This is why we had no success in teaching people to play the piano by having them watch concert pianists at work.
Whoa. Now, if only that were possible, we’d be lindy hop world champions by now. You think your friends are lame for watching football all day? Ha, joke’s on you when they become Super Bowl MVPs. Seriously though, we love Iyengar, but from the spectacle perspective he maybe should have looked into this Acro Yoga thing.
WW: Who do you picture as your target audience?
JM: Anyone who would like to watch yoga to improve flexibility, increase muscle mass and decrease fat. Actually, it’s the younger people who take it; the older people tend to think it’s hogwash. About 80 percent of our clients are between 18 and 25.
WW: How many clients do you have?
JM: Eight hundred as of last week. We are opening studios across the mainland as we speak.
WW: What does an observational yoga studio look like?
JM: The largest is a converted warehouse where we have an elevated stage, soft lighting and easy chairs so you can lay back and put your feet up, and we have four servers who serve juice, water and coffee. No food — although we are thinking of adding food.
Sounds completely legit and not like the set of an amateur horror film at all.
Mr. McAfee shared more about his connection with Greg Gumucio who was actually a student of his at one time, because he’s a yoga teacher.
WW: You knew Greg Gumucio when you were living in Colorado. What was your relationship like?
JM: Greg was one of my students when I began the relational yoga studio yoga in Woodland Park, and I believe he was also a student of Bikram at that time. He was a good student, I remember. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly close relationship. He came up to the lodge quite often; he came to the breath-work classes and the hatha yoga, but I had a lot of students at the time and I wasn’t close with any of them.
WW: What do you think about the controversy between Bikram and Greg Gumucio?
JM: I think the problem with modern society is that we are glued to the television set. We are glued to the easy chair at home, and we are stuck in the habitual lifestyle — commuting to and from work each day and then watching TV when we get home, and then we have two days off on the weekend and don’t know what to do, so we watch TV again. Anything that gets people out of the house, in which the idea of something new is available, is a good thing.
I think Bikram is a good thing because it expands the yoga base rather than taking away from other forms of yoga. If it gets people out of the house, it’s a good thing.
[But] Bikram has no chance of prevailing [in the lawsuit]. Every one of his yoga poses were taken directly from Iyengar’s hatha yoga books — written well over fifty years ago.
And McAfee should know, he’s incurred over 200 lawsuits since his antivirus outbreak. The whole on the lam from the law aspect is bizarre enough, and we hope it all gets sorted soon. Should we be on the lookout for his answer to the next virtual epidemic: saving us from TV watching with yoga watching? Murder suspect aside, you better Belize it. (read: shhh…we’re watching cats meditate…on YouTube.)
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