Interview with Yogi Bob

Robert at Asha Yoga in Sacramento

I met Robert Hallworth in a Power Yoga class at the Capital Athletic Club in Sacramento about seven years ago. I was both impressed and intimidated by his level of practice. I was new to yoga and only took “gentle” yoga classes. After that initial exposure, I never attended that particular class again. Still, many of the students and teachers I practiced with spoke of Robert in a very respectful, almost reverent tone.

When COVID-19 hit, and my club, along with all the other gyms in Sacramento, closed, the yoga teachers who had day jobs–attorneys, teachers, and State of California employees (in Sacramento, we are legion!) may not have felt the financial hit. Still, people whose primary or sole means of income was teaching yoga, like Robert, had to become creative and turn to social media to keep the lights on. In Robert’s case: the online Yogi Bob persona was born.

When my club re-opened, the group exercise pickings were slim: the yoga classes were few, and I could only attend two that were led by Robert. While I was in the worst shape of my life, Robert was very accommodating. Mercifully, neither of his current classes are Power Vinyasa classes. However, when more people re-join the club, one of these classes could become a Power Vinyasa class. Hopefully, the club will have more classes to offer someone at my level.

In the meantime, I enjoy and learn from Robert’s practice and from his brief talks before we practice. And even if he leads the classes through many balance postures, I am doomed never to stick (thanks to being heavily medicated); I appreciate his practice. So here’s a short interview with the yogi.

BurgerScoot: I’ve always known you as Robert. How did you come up with Yogi Bob? Was it for social media?

Robert Hallworth: Yes for social media and easy to remember, but also as kind of a joke 10 years ago, of two diametrically opposite sort of personality types, one mindful, compassionate, content, low key, and the other ignorant, brash, in your face, reactionary, not cosmopolitan. In other words, a yogi redneck.

BS: When were you introduced to yoga?

RH: I was introduced to yoga at Sac City college around 1999 by Trinidad Stassi, who happens to teach Spin [cycling] at Capital Athletic Club, wonderful teacher and motivator.

BS: I know you teach some Vinyasa yoga, but do you practice any other kinds of yoga in and outside a Hatha?

RH: Well yes and as you know all physical Indian style yoga is Hatha (sun/moon) yoga, but it includes breathwork, concentration, meditation, sense withdrawal, personal and external ethics, that culminates in samadhi/ self realization. I bring all of these aspects into my classes subtly or not so subtly; but I also practice Tibetan tantric yogas and meditations, and kriyas.

BS: Do you meditate regularly? If yes, do you practice mindfulness meditation or something else like Transcendental Meditation?

RH: Yes, I meditate very regularly Shamata (tranquil abiding), mindfulness, tonglen (giving love and taking negativity), and Tibetan tantra.

BS: You teach chi Kung or Qigong and Tai chi, isn’t that correct? What are those arts? I have seen people practice Tai chi, but have never looked into it. Qigong is new to me.

RH: Yes I teach primarily Qigong which is a Chinese cultural flow modality of slow mindful/meditative movements for restoring vitality/subtle stretching. It is a very easy set of 21 movements that address all the major muscle, joint, ligament areas, as well as refining breathing and meditative awareness. On my own I’ve been practicing qigong & Tai Chi for about nine or ten years under Stan Yen, a very great practitioner-teacher here in Sacramento, who authorized me to teach his style.

BS: Do you have a guru?

RH: Well I have more than one guru (remover of ignorance) but my main or root Guru is Garchen Rinpoche and also Barbara Du Bois, both teach from the drikung kagyu Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and both live in Arizona. They both teach Mahamudra and Vajrayana which are meditative practice traditions over 1000 years old.

Robert rock climbing at Putah Creek, California.

BS: One thing you like to mention in our yoga classes is your love for rock climbing or bouldering. How did you get into that?

RH: I came to rock climbing at the same time as yoga bout 1999, as a departure from some older habits to definitely healthier and smarter habits primarily and they have helped guide me along with Buddhism since then.

BS: Do you use the same mental disciplines you have developed from yoga and meditation when climbing a rock?

RH: Yes there is such a crossover in all three disciplines as they all require mindfulness focus, strength, flexibility, and the ability to relax under duress.

BS: You combine yoga, meditation, and rock climbing on special retreats. Is this done independently or through a company?

RH: I do these retreats independently through my creation of Sadhanadventures as a way to combine these disciplines I love to share and teach on weekend camping trip excursions to special places.

BS: Thanks for doing this interview, Robert.

Robert leading a group in yoga at McKinley Park in Sacramento.

Yogi Bob, can be found on his YouTube channel and his Patreon page. And as mentioned above, he also leads groups in yoga, meditation, and rock climbing retreats

Zen and the Mud Puddle

I took my dog, Vivian, out for her morning walk yesterday. Halfway through, she lunged towards another canine across the street. I lost my balance and stepped into a deep mud puddle.

I got angry at Vivian, but it’s on me; I trained her poorly. As the walk continued, I was reminded of what a yoga teacher said at the end of each practice: “May you live like the lotus, at home in the muddy water.”

I often wish I could be like that lotus. But it’s a process, and sometimes a muddy shoe prevents you from achieving Zen.

Until my next post: Here’s a dream interlude

That’s not me. I wear a C-PAP.

I haven’t posted anything recently, so in the spirit of just posting a writing exercise, here’s a dream I had recently. Dreams for me are special because I have or remember so very few of them. (I have/recall maybe one dream every 100 nights.)

I thought when I finally broke down and agreed to wear a C-PAP every evening a few years back, I thought I would start remembering dreams because I would have more R.E.M. sleep. I started getting much better sleep, but I still didn’t remember any dreams, for the most part.

There’s no point to this dream, so don’t try to interpret it unless you’re into that kind of shit. If you like tinkering with dream interpretation and read this, let me know what you think it means.

In a dream, I read that a political position was open from a local publication. I’m guessing it was in an “Inside” publication, if not that, PennySaver, but it was a dream, so that it could have been a fabrication of my mind. Nevertheless, it was a community post of some kind. I recall thinking about how I should put my money where my mouth is. I want to change the world. So why don’t I take my first baby step and run for this post? But I shuttered at the thought and turned the page.

As so many dreams are, time slipped or skipped or whatever, and I was sitting on the hood of a car (I would never do that) or riding a bike (more like it), and Robyn from work was approaching me on the sidewalk (or I was riding towards her). Robyn is a beautiful woman who many a man where I work have desired. There has also been some dirty gossip about the woman: making out with married men and men dating other women. In one case, as the dirt went, she caused the divorce of a happily married man, but I didn’t buy the “homewrecker” story. (Strange and unfortunate how only the woman can be a “homewrecker.”) All of this has made her, in my eyes at least, more sexual, if not more attractive.

After we greeted one another in the dream, Robyn congratulated me for landing the new post! I laugh and tell her I didn’t register for the position or even considered registering for the post. But, she said to me that I got it regardless of my objection and showed me a paper pointing to the announcement. In my nervousness of having the beautiful Robyn inform me of this as well as being utterly flabbergasted over this revelation, I went into self-deprecating humor.

Robyn was laughing hard, and that made me aroused, and my arousal compelled me to dish out more self-deprecating humor, which made her laugh even more. I didn’t think this was going to go anywhere. It’s not like Robyn started removing articles of clothing. Nor did I notice my wife walking up to us, smiling.

I don’t believe my wife’s presence ruined the moment–I didn’t think my humor was a form of foreplay. I don’t think my humor has ever been an aphrodisiac in dreams or in wakey time. I attempted to introduce the love of my life to one of the women of my dreams, but I got my wife’s name wrong.

What does that mean? Anyway, it woke me up stressed out. Did I feel guilty?

Yoga Teacher from Hell

My wife just sent me this. Very funny. I hope Robert, my yoga teacher, and the subject of my upcoming post doesn’t take this the wrong way!

Delaney Rowe(@delaneysayshello) has created a short video on TikTok with music Yoga Music. May or may not have taken a yoga class this morning #foryou #yoga #comedy #namaste
— Read on www.tiktok.com/@delaneysayshello/video/7008315626259221765

The “Coal Stop” California Burger

Nope, it is an oasis around a virtual desert of sorts. The name of the resort comes from a famous cattle ranch nearby know by locals for the foul smells of cattle excrement and the even worse smells coming from the slaughterhouse, but lucky for us, the resort is far enough away we can’t smell that stuff.

I have heard that Santa Nella is “The Oasis of I-5,” but not too far away from Stockton, it isn’t much of an “Oasis.” After Santa Nella’s Pea Soup Andersen Restaurant and Ramada Inn, there is nothing until you hit Coalinga (meaning Coal Stop or Coal Station), and Coalinga wouldn’t be anything to visit if it weren’t for the massive Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant.

Steaks, steaks, and brisket, and more steaks!

Harris Ranch is a cattle ranch, so there is plenty of beef. Something I try to avoid except for the occasional hamburger. Considering the heat in this land plagued by fires, droughts, and man-made climate change, you have to be prepared to buy steaks way out here unless you come with your own icebox. (And you thought I was for once not going to get serious for once!) For someone who rarely eats steaks, they sure look good!

They also have a bakery, and the stuff looks good, but we were waiting to be seated for lunch, so we passed on sampling something.

These caps looked like they might have been worn by the ranch softball team for a game or two, then returned to the shelf.

“Red, white & Moo” Cute.

The steaks and the baked goods are inside a gift shop that offers self-promotional merch, gift baskets, some including bottles of their own IPA (yep, that’s right, they brew their beer!), greeting cards, and knick-knacks. All that scream, “That’s right, I stopped in the middle of nowhere. and bought this shit!”

The California Burger comes with fries or a ramekin of beans. As you can see, the beans are not very thick. It tasted fine, but I should have tried the fries.

Now for the mini-burger review you have been waiting for: I ordered the California Burger. I am sorry to report it wouldn’t win any prizes for uniqueness. It’s about a quarter-pound of good, if not remarkable beef (I had mine prepared medium-well as I always do when asked). It also has Jack cheese, two slices of crispy bacon, and fresh guacamole—which is the only “California” element of the burger. It also sports raw red onions, iceberg lettuce (I told you it isn’t fancy), tomatoes, and dill pickle slices. The bun is as pedestrian as the rest of the burger, but it held up during the whole time I was biting and masticating the thing, which is more than I can say for a lot of burgers I have had that I end up having to eat with a knife and fork because the bun dissolved under the juices and fumbling around. The only truly distinctive element is the tasty Harris Ranch’s Special Dressing: a basil vinaigrette dressing containing oregano, red onions, parsley, and Harris Ranch olive oil. A nice touch.

I would give the burger good if not excellent marks. I would be pissed if I came all the way out here to rate this burger. Still, the burger gets a passing grade as a rest stop lunch/dinner item. If I were into red meat, I would be intrigued by some of the menu’s steak items, including Whiskey Smoked Salt & Brown Sugar Rubbed Ribeye, Horseradish-Crusted Prime New York Steak! (the exclamation point is mine), and a steak sandwich with my name on it–literally: Jack’s Favorite Steak Sandwich. But, like I have said on this blog in the last few years, I’m cutting way back on red meat so I’ll have to relegate those items to my drooling dreams. Also, I just started a new diet. Ha! We’ll see how long that lasts!

An update from an old post about my weight, diet, and yoga practice

On March 19, 2017, I posted a 192-word blurb about the struggle I was going through at the time: laziness and overeating vs. practicing yoga and eating healthier. Unfortunately, I gave the post the uninspiring title “Battle Royale.” Also, I was unaware that the title is from a book that bares little resemblance to my personal struggle. Still, just as I was too lazy to develop a better title, I was too numb to apply myself to a healthier lifestyle. So here’s the original post with an update below. It’s not pretty, dear readers. 

I’ve been practicing yoga for more than three years. It started as an Rx by a physical therapist back in 2013, who said there’s no cure for my degenerative disk disease. But practicing yoga would keep me off ibuprofen and the occasional opioid when my back pain pops up from now until the final solution to the problem—death. She was right–barring the stiffness from binge-watching streaming TV shows on a lumpy couch, I’m pretty much always limber thanks to four hours of yoga a week.

Still, I grapple with my health: my laziness and gluttony versus my life on the mat and occasionally stringing together a few days of successfully dieting. It is a mortal struggle. Since I spend more hours doing the two things that are killing me than those that benefit me, it is a losing war—all of this on the battlefield of Time–the ultimate killer.

It’s all about what element will conquer my body on a given day. This day, Sunday, May 19, 2017, goes to the Axis of Evil: an hour of TV, way too much ice cream late in the evening, and just the plain fact that I have much fewer days on this planet than the days behind me. Tomorrow is another fight.

Update August 2021: I’d love to report that things have improved over the last four and a half years, but that would be a lie. Thanks to the pandemic and my laziness, I now only practice yoga two hours a week. And because I no longer commute to work five days a week, fifty-five miles of bicycling has been cut down to less than twenty miles of walking. Finally, I’m stiffer and fatter than I have ever been.

My practice has been brutal. First, being out of shape has made my practice difficult. Also, my two yoga teachers: Heather on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Brenda on Wednesdays with an on-again, off-again Sunday practice lead by a revolving door of teachers, is now down to one teacher on Mondays and Thursdays. Of course, I have no excuse not practicing alone using YouTube, but it is extremely tough getting motivated—I need somewhere to be at a specific time on a particular day.

If I were a true yogi, I would consider myself lucky that my Tuesdays and Thursdays yoga teacher is Robert Hallworth—considered by many yoga teachers to be one of the best in the Sacramento area. I can tell that he is special, even if he wants the class to do too many balance postures. Unfortunately, thanks to a seizure disorder suppressed by narcotics in combination with a lazy eye, I cannot perform Eagle Pose, Warrior 3, Mountain Pose, any pose where the practitioner is supposed to balance on one foot. I get so frustrated when we go through a series of these postures that I cannot do that I often wish there was an adjacent juice bar I could belly up to, sit down, have a Mean Green, and yell to Robert, “It’s okay, I’ll catch up with you when both feet are back on the hard maple!”

But, of course, I’m a baby.

Ironically, I just started the book Anodea Judith’s Chakra Yoga. I recently finished her excellent book on the Chakra System Wheels of Life and wanted to check out a yoga routine that directly addressed the Chakra System. How I plan on sticking to a home routine lead by a book when I have never been able to stick with routines on YouTube or DVDs by Seane Corn or Rodney Yee will be a steep hill to climb.

Perhaps I will re-post this piece in late 2024/early 2025 with another update. Maybe that update will be optimistic, sunny. I can only hope the man doing the typing will be eating better, working out more, and not complaining about the yoga teacher leading the classes he should be so grateful to attend.

Perhaps I should take advice from this disturbingly sexy Buddha with big ears.

Namaste.

Right on Sister–ur Mother!

Yes, you should absolutely call your mom today. But you should also know that Mother’s Day isn’t just a holiday for greeting card and chocolate companies to make a buck, but of radical antiwar and feminist organizers.   Women Strike for Peace activists at a Censure Nixon rally in Washington, DC, on January 18, 1972. (Dorothy…

I’m a bit of a grump when it comes to what I call the “fake holidays”–the ones created, for the most part, by greetings card companies to sell sentimentality and paper goods. I felt rather stupid when I found out there are some actual events behind Mother’s Day. Here is a piece by one of my favorite magazines about the day’s history.

Mother’s Day Has Deeply Radical Roots — Jacobin

Christopher and the Ergonomic Chairs

Christopher parked his Nissan Sentra in the company’s CFO spot—walked into the empty building, and took his place at the Information Desk of the vacant building.

He checked and routed yesterday’s mail, checked and routed yesterday’s email and voicemails, and checked his email and schedule–nothing was for him.

It was March of 2020, and he was grateful that the company didn’t lay him off or request that he work from home–he had a laptop, but his cheap apartment did not have Wi-Fi; anyway, it was nice to get away from his annoying roommate who yelled why he Zoomed.

Most days, he brought a sack lunch; then, after his sandwich, he would belt out show tunes to the dozens of empty ergonomic chairs in the call center.

By March of 2021, the routine was getting old, and he craved human connection.

In May, the company was working in the building at half capacity; Christopher lost his convenient parking spot to his boss, and he had to stop singing to the ergonomic chairs; some of its occupants may not like Broadway songs.

Effervescent–Not!

Every time he spoke, a collection of bubbles would start to form in the right corner of his mouth.

It got to the point where I stopped listening to whatever he was talking about and focused on the bubbles.

He could have been talking about things we both were interested in: motorcycles, skiing, or Notre Damn football; all I was thinking about was that damn bubble machine in the corner of that kid’s mouth.

Whenever a bubble popped, a smaller one appeared deeper in the corner, only to grow and then expire, and the cycle would start over again.

I wouldn’t call this effervescent; at the time, I didn’t know of the word though I had seen what happens to a freshly opened bottle of Coke.

The right corner of Dave’s mouth was effervescent, only by the loosest and most unappealing definition, but while writing this short piece using the prompt “effervescent” that was the first and for a long while, the only thing I thought of: Dave’s bubble-making mouth and how I wanted him to cut that shit out!

Returning to the Movie Theater

Godzilla vs. Kong — ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

As everyone knows by now, movie theaters are opening up with limited seating. There are two BIG films I want to see on the big screen: Jon M. Chu‘s In the Heights, which will be released sometime this summer, and Godzilla vs. Kong, which is currently playing! I need to get off my ass and see it before it closes, and I end up watching it on my not-so-big home TV like what usually happens.

You wouldn’t know it if you tracked my movie theater attendance, but I do like the “theater experience.” I’m just lazy. I stall, and films seem to close faster than they used to. (I’m referring to decades ago when I used to work in a movie house, and checking what was playing in other theaters was a daily thing for my roommate and me.

I don’t care that much about “going to the movies” as I used to these days. Still, after a year of having no other choice but to watch films on my TV or my tablet, I’m itching for some dangerously over-buttered popcorn, a ridiculously over-priced and oversized diuretic drink, and some movable seats n front of a big screen.

This innovation in film presentation has created a new rating system: how often do I lose interest in the film and start playing with the adjustments on my comfy adjustable chair throughout the film. Naturally, this value system runs counter to the Star System—the more I fidget, the worse the movie. Godfather Part II might receive 0 Fidgets, whereas Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace would get 10 Fidgets. Bad news for Phantom Menace. Of course, the film could really stink, then it becomes interesting or unintentionally humorous. Consider Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, and many of the Toho classics, including the films including Godzilla and the other Tokyo destroyers from Monster Island–they were High Cheese at its best. I guess I’m putting too much into this Fidget rating system thing.

Until I figure out what to post next, enjoy this film review by my fellow WordPress blogger, Assholes Watching Movies by clicking on the link below the photo. You can also view the trailer below if you haven’t seen it already. I’ll leave you with my updated Siskel & Ebert’s closing line from Sneak Previews, “Save me a recliner seat that doesn’t squeak!”