John McAfee: Anti-virus king turned relational yoga inventor talks latest endeavor (or prank?)
John McAfee became famous -- and wealthy -- after inventing his namesake anti-virus software, but his greatest invention might be his own story. After making his fortune, he bought an expansive estate in Woodland Park, where he held intensive retreats in relational yoga, his own creation. That's where, in 2000, he met Greg Gumucio, who had been promoting Bikram -- but now decided to teach multiple forms of yoga.
"He taught me many things," Gumucio says of McAfee. "Really, he is a genius and brilliant."
Today, Gumucio is embroiled in a legal battle with Bikram Choudhury, his onetime mentor. As for McAfee? He no longer lives in the country, but still makes the news with his brilliant mind and daredevil spirit. Last week we caught up with him in San Pedro, 25 miles off the mainland of Belize, where he now lives. He spoke about his relationship with the law, with yoga, and his latest endeavor (or is it a prank?): observational yoga.
Westword: How did you get involved with yoga?
John McAfee: On my first trip to India in my early twenties, I traveled to Delhi and other places on the Ganges. I was one of the first people to learn transcendental meditation with Maharichi, the founder of the transcendental meditation movement. The first course was in Calcutta, and then he moved to the States and I sort followed him around for a while -- to Rochester, New York, then St. Louis and Los Angeles. At that time yoga was a large part of the movement, and so I have just been involved forever.
WW: What was it like to follow Maharichi?
Source: Facebook John McAfee on a boat in this photo from a Facebook fan page about him.
JM: They were very hectic [days]. The man was a bundle of energy, getting up at 5 a.m. and doing yoga, breath-work, meditation. It was non-stop work, seven days a week.
WW: Is it still part of your life?
JM: Well, I am still sort of doing it, but Maharichi died, I think three years ago.
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.
Anything that you do consistently is integrated into anything else that you do. If you are a long-distance runner, you probably don't have a desk job because it doesn't fit your body style. [In the same way], everything that I do is integrated into everything that I've learned.
WW: When did you begin writing?
JM: As a teenager, I guess, with diaries. I sort of have written non-stop [since then]. Every day I write something, so I guess forty years ago.
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.
WW: Is this your primary occupation right now?
JM: In Belize this is a minor hobby more than anything else, but it is quite popular. I am planning to franchise it.
Continue to read more of our Q&A with John McAfee.