We are so stoked to be collaborating with Daniel Rāma on our new Vilva Leaf inspired Men's Performance Shorts!
A harrowing foot injury opened Daniel’s eyes to a new life of wisdom, guidance and serving others. Daniel tells us about his journey from pain to peace, and offers thoughts on how the design and functionality of his WERKSHOP shorts fits into his lifestyle.
Learn more about Rāma in this Q&A:
You say on your website that your yoga journey started after suffering a life-changing injury. Can you tell us more about what happened? And what motivated you to prove the doctors wrong?
That injury was a major turning point in my personal evolution. Many have heard basic details, but not many know the full story. It is true that this injury was the result of a powerlifting session gone wrong - but what I tend to omit is the fact that I was heavily intoxicated at the time.
A group of us were drinking at a friend’s house, and I decided (in typical male fashion) to impress a girl by lifting a 250-lb. barbell over my head. At the time, I was studying to become a personal trainer, and this particular lift was something I could perform with relative ease. However, with the alcohol in my system, I lost control at the top of the lift, sending all that steel crashing down on my left foot.
I shattered every metatarsal, and a few other bones comprising a portion of the ankle joint. To make matters worse, I downplayed the injury, slipped on a tight fitting shoe, and went out dancing with my friends. In the morning, I woke up to a disgustingly swollen left foot. It was the most physical pain I care to remember. I immediately went to the emergency room for x-rays, and that’s when I was given the unfortunate news: doctors told me that I would never be able to run again, and that my mobility would be severely impacted for life.
For the next few months, I was in a state of serious depression. But after some time, I decided that I would find a way to heal my broken body.
At this point in my life, my parents had just gone through a divorce, and I wasn’t on speaking terms with my father. However, once I made that decision to seek some sort of improvement, my father bridged the gap and introduced me to basic asana, visualization and meditation. My main practice consisted of picturing myself simply walking down the street. How it would look, how it would feel. With eyes closed, I learned to paint such a vivid picture that it eventually became my reality. Within 12 months, I was able to complete a 5km run, and began to reintroduce myself to advanced functional movement patterns.
Looking back, my motivation began with complete and utter suffering. Present day, my motivation is the pursuit of perfection. Whether or not such an end will be achieved, I cannot say, but it’s that target I will continually work towards.
How long have you been traveling/teaching workshops internationally? We’re always living vicariously through the incredible photos you post on Instagram. Where is your absolute favorite place in the world to teach/practice?
Soon after my recovery, I began sharing pieces of my personal practice online, and studio owners began reaching out to me with requests to share my knowledge with their communities. For the past seven years, I have been traveling all around the globe, sharing techniques for personal improvement at every stop.
I never travel for pleasure, at least not in the typical sense. My greatest pleasure is found in empowering others, and therefore my favorite places on this planet have to do with the receptivity of those who come to listen.
If I am being completely honest, I’m not interested in “the world’s most magical destinations.” When I traveled to the Sacred Valley, I traded a Machu Picchu visit for a few extra moments with friends and students. I am not interested in exploration of the external sort. What matters to me is finding ways to effectively serve others.
Tell us about some highlight moments in your journey so far.
Any graduate of our Becoming Balance Yoga Teacher Training will tell you that the most “human” aspect of my life comes in the form of a beautiful young woman with hair of ever-changing color. My partner (known to some as Sarah and others as Shakti) brings a necessary balance into the equation of my life. Without her, I would likely remove myself from society and indulge in a life of tapas in some mountain cave. However, I won’t deny doing some amazing things in my time: I’ve chanted the Sound of Creation while sitting with my partner inside the main chamber of the Great Pyramid of Giza. I almost died while solo exploring Himalayan mountains north of Uttarkashi. Things like that.
Describe your health and wellness philosophy in three words.
Seek constant improvement.
Many folks just starting their fitness journey would benefit from your experience and wisdom. Any advice?
First, define your goals. Without a target to aim for, you might as well be spitting into the wind. Once you know where you want to go, don’t try to get there alone. If I look closely at my own evolution, it is clear to say how tremendously I have benefited from the guidance of experienced teachers, and the support of like-minded community members. When I say community, many will think about their physical surroundings. Yet I’ve found that the digital world can also serve as community.
Tell us your thoughts on the WERKSHOP collab shorts. Is there anything special about the shorts and design that you can share?
Almost every aspect of my life has been designed around smart simplicity. For the past seven years, I have lived out of two carry-on sized bags - one of which is completely filled with camera and computer equipment. Being a traveling yoga teacher, I have a need for high-quality performance apparel that doesn’t take up too much space. I think WERKSHOP has managed to find the perfect balance between durability, support and minimalism.
The design for this new collaborative pair of WERKSHOP shorts pulls inspiration from a sacred Indian plant, known as the vilva leaf (bilva in some cultures). This plant has special qualities that allow it to act as a sort of “battery,” or container, for energy. If you were to visit one of our world’s high-vibrational destinations like Mount Sinai, or the Dhyana Linga in South India, and place this vilva leaf on the altar, it would absorb and hold, for some time, the energy of that location.
In so many ways, the practice of yoga asana revolves around the accumulation of energy or prana. If you’ve ever experienced a really good yoga class, you will be familiar with the sense of revitalization post-practice. Through the visual representation of this sacred plant, practitioners will find an additional assist in the energetic pursuit of personal progress. With these shorts, it is my intention to not only contain the moving parts of your body, but also hold in place the positive energy of your practice!
What's next in Rāma’s busy career?
I know where I want to go, but exactly how I get there is a mystery unfolding one step at a time!
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