August 11, 2013

The One Minute Hug: An Interview with Yeah Dave Romanelli.

“Touch is essential to life. Babies need touch to survive. Adults need touch to thrive. In our hyper efficient world is one minute too long to hug?”

~ Yeah Dave Romanelli

This is the all important question posed by life enthusiast yoga teacher Dave Romanelli. As a hug ambassador and cuddle queen, I was tickled with this video he created called The One Minute Hug.

Dave takes it to the streets, video camera recording equipment at the ready as he offers to do this 60 second experiment to determine people’s take on the power of healthy, consensual touch. The responses are as varied as the people themselves. Of course I jumped on board to offer a hugging homily.

One of my favorite ways to embrace is what I call an “Om Hug.” Stand or lie heart to heart with someone. Take a deep breath together and let out a long o0o0o0o0o0o00ommmmm on the exhale. Feel the vibration between your bodies as you surrender every bit of air and sound before taking another inhalation.

Some things I notice when I engage in it is that I can exhale and tone longer when in contact with another person and that I carry a sense of energy and vibrance long after the experience, as if I had shared molecules with them.

My first encounter with Dave (not sure if I hugged him back then, but when I see him again, I will be sure to do so) was at a yoga class he offered a few years ago; I wrote about the experience in a chapter from The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming The Ordinary Into The Extraordinary called A Relationship With Chocolate.

“There’s nothing like a good friend. Except a good friend with chocolate.”~ Linda Grayson

Chocolate is my ‘drug of choice’—it always has been and likely always will be. Eaten in moderation, it is said to lower blood pressure, increase serotonin levels, and stimulate endorphins. Theobromine contributes to mood elevation, and phenylethylamine is said to bring on the same feelings we have when in love.

Any book written by a woman on the subject of bliss would be incomplete, in my estimation, without covering chocolate (or perhaps being covered in chocolate—the woman, not the book). My friend Peter told me that most women he knows have a relationship with chocolate so strong that when they talk about it, it makes him blush.

A few years ago, I attended a yoga class taught by a delightful imp of a teacher from California named “Yeah Dave” Romanelli. The email announcing the class beckoned me with fingers curling seductively in
my direction:

“Join us for this creative and unique workshop taught by David ‘Yeah Dave’ Romanelli as he fuses the 5,000 year old practice of yoga with great modern music ranging from Frank Sinatra to Puff Daddy and everything in between to create Yeah Dave Yoga. The practice will be accented by tastings of chocolatier Katrina Markoff ’s Vosges Chocolate line to enjoy the sense of taste with a totally present state of mind. The ultimate sensory experience!”

The combination of chocolate, yoga and music were irresistible. If the fourth element of sex had been offered, I imagined a packed house. I signed up immediately!

Yogaphoria, a delicious studio in New Hope, PA, was the site for a trip into heaven for this choco-holic/yoga-holic. I was intrigued by Dave’s approach to the ancient art, bringing it from the esoteric to the contemporary. His youthful appearance and effervescent teaching style had this group of 20–to 50–somethings (mostly women—it’s the chocolate connection) enjoying sweating to the various musical stylings that ran the gamut between Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Jerry Garcia, Peggy Lee and India.Arie.

Before the class,we were given a truffle that combined chocolate and chilies, followed by one that combined chocolate with curry and coconut. Dave’s take is that chocolate—fully experienced—brings us to this moment. That is where the pleasure lives. And pleasure’s address is the one I want to occupy as well.

During the class, Dave shared a quote by the author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma: “Life is a series of moments. You miss the moments, you miss your life.” This is as easily applicable to eating chocolate as it is to anything else in life.

Living in bliss is about savoring, relishing, and indulging in this moment as if it is the only one you will ever have. Given that knowledge, how would you choose to live it?

Biting into the first piece, I felt a burst of fire. Chili is not among my favorite taste sensations, but fused with the chocolate, it was mellowed enough to cause an ahhh to course through me. It was a perfect intro to the yoga practice, in which breathing is key.

Anticipating the after practice treat (I know, anticipation pulled me out of the moment), I could feel my body stretching toward the morsel that was inches away. We were asked not to take the second piece until after completing the asanas. I allowed myself to gaze at it adoringly, still appreciating the piece I had enjoyed earlier. Maybe that is an element to a bliss-filled life as well…enjoying and appreciating what we are given in the moment and looking toward the other goodies that await.

One of the goodies that awaited all these years later was this interview with Dave that urges nurturing.

1. Were you raised in a cuddly/touch positive family? 

My dad is Italian so affection was always a big thing.

2. How did the idea for The One Minute Hug come to you? 

I could swear someone told me it was the idea of a self-help guru. But when I googled this self-help guru, I could find nothing connecting him to the one minute hug. Someone came up with the idea (please come forward!)

3. Were there any thoughts that said “Are you crazy? What will people think?”

Definitely. We live in a very touch sensitive culture. People will go days weeks months without loving touch. So I felt it was an important social experiment to do the 1 Minute Hug on the streets of New York City.

4. New York is not considered a bastion of cuddly folks, so I would guess that it could fly there, it could work nearly anywhere.

Yes. New Yorkers have a tough shell, a hard exterior, but once you bust through that, I found people to be really great huggers, especially the dudes!

5. What was the response? Did you notice men or women more comfortable? How about people from various cultures? (When I did a free hug experience in Philly, I noticed that African American, Latino and Caucasian folks were more at ease and those from Asian and Indian cultures less so).

I would definitely say “touch” and “affection” vary greatly based on one’s ethnicity and upbringing. But at the end of the day, everyone needs a hug and that’s the bottom line!

6. What’s your take on the need for positive touch in the world?

As I said in the one minute hug video, there are 1,440 minutes in a day. Do you take even just one minute to dedicate to positive touch and love? And if not, could there be a quicker way to heal your soul?

7. Does being a yoga teacher make it easier to do this experiment, since touch is part of the practice in order to adjust students’ postures?

Yogis are definitely on the touchy-feely side and tend to do lots of hugging.

8. What would you like to come out of this experience?

To take more time for love. There’s a saying, “How you spend your days is how you spend your life.” And if entire days are going by without any love, well, then, go hug someone right now!

9. Do you see it exploding world wide?

Yes it already happened in a soccer game…not sure if it was from my video but as they say, “Love is Telepathic”

When was the last time that you embraced life fully by enfolding the people you encounter each day?

As Dave reminds us “Life is short. Show up fully.”


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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