The bizarre and complicated story of John McAfee has captured the attention of the popular media. It has all the elements of a movie: an eccentric millionaire living in exile, guns, girls, technology, murder… and yoga. The software pioneer – best known for the antivirus software, McAfee – is currently living on the lam (and blogging about it) while police search for him for question in relation to the murder of his neighbour in Belize. It’s a long story and you should really just read this Daily Beast article if you want to know more.
Anyway, the news stories repeatedly call McAfee a yoga aficionado, but provide little detail about what this means. It turns out he doesn’t just practice yoga – he’s created his own style called “observational yoga.”
He explains all in this Denver Westword interview, published in the summer of 2012:
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.
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.
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. [via Denver Westword]
Before he was running from the law, McAfee planned on franchising observational yoga. He might just have to turn to regular old do-it-yourself yoga in his underground lair or yacht or wherever it is he’s hiding. Being on the run has to be stressful! McAfee might want to try some relaxing pranayama, or at least some restorative yoga.
The rest of us, however, can just keep on practicing observational yoga the way we usually do – via YouTube. Put on your gold lamé catsuit, watch this and improve your yoga prowess: