NEW YORK, January 28, 2011: 'Taxi Yoga,' declares the flier. 'No more Road Rage. Become a Road Sage!' The flier is one of more than 3,000 that Andrew Vollo had sent or handed out to promote his Taxi Yoga class. He had visited mosques, Sikh gurdwaras, Hindu temples and had been interviewed on the cable show 'India Talks.' For this has been his mission for the past seven years, to help New York City's taxi drivers manage the physical and psychic toll of their job by means of yoga.
Mr. Vollo teaches the Taxi Yoga class as an administrator at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. His students include, he said, those 'who think yoga is something like yogurt' as well as observant Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists who incorporate what they learn into their existing faith lives. The son of a welder, the veteran of years behind a taxi's wheel, Mr. Vollo embodies the spread of yoga across traditional barriers of gender and class.
Taxi Yoga fits into a contemporary and amorphous realm of mind-body harmony and meditative practice. 'If I get nine people in a class, that's fantastic. They'll learn enough exercises to loosen their back and legs. I'll tell them how to eat better, give them breathing exercises. Because if you're driving in pain, you're going to be a nasty person,' says Vollo.
[HPI note: We are not aware yet of the results of Mr. Vollo's efforts, but there might be something here. Indian drivers glide unfazed through perils beyond a New Yorker's wildest imagination. For a humorous (and superbly written) piece on the traffic in India, see the HPI article below, from the May 1996 edition of Hinduism Today.]