The YOGIC DIPLOMAT
BY ELLEN GILLETTE
Port St. Lucie resident Larry Allman has lived a life of both intensity and calm, from being a Los Angeles attorney to the solitude of swimming laps to train for competition, with world travel and yoga woven throughout.
How did a boy from Delaware end up in California, then Switzerland, then Port St. Lucie?
A published author, Allman understands the value of description.
"I was born on a cold, dark Nov. 7 night in Delaware," he says with a grin.
"At 16, I left home to live with my grandparents. My grandfather was Russian, my grandmother was Romanian, welcoming and supportive. Old World values. It was one of the best things I ever did."
Allman attended East Carolina University on a partial swimming scholarship, graduating with a political science degree. His grandparents encouraged him to follow a beloved uncle to Los Angeles and start law school.
"I was an average student [before] but things clicked."
Working during the day, taking night classes, Allman graduated in five years.
Applying his swimming discipline to his studies, Allman passed the bar on his first try. He clerked two years in an entertainment attorney's office, then opened his own office.
One of his favorite clients was Little Richard, who "channeled incredible energy. It was an honor to represent him."
Small law offices handle everything. "Your specialty is whatever comes through the door," Allman says. "Law is all about fighting - between lawyers, between clients, in the courtroom, to get paid."
Although it was unsatisfying work at some levels, he says it was also a great experience which made him a better person … until the stress got to him.
Allman had dabbled in yoga in the '70s but in the '80s, he returned to it for stress relief. He attended Ashram Sivananda in the Bahamas, studying with Swami Vishnudevananda, the head of Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre - credited with making yoga accessible and popular in the western world.
"You can take a 500-hour online class to become a certified yoga instructor and never encounter what yoga is about," Allman says. "Comprehensive, immersive training at an ashram is far more beneficial. Yoga is about control, starting with the breath but affecting every aspect of life."
During advanced yoga training at Sivananda's Canadian headquarters in 1986, Allman met a Swiss teacher named Marie-Laurence and her husband. When their paths crossed again four years later, she was a widow.
"We only chatted for 10 minutes but a voice inside my head said 'this is special.' "
Two years later, Allman spent Christmas at the Bahamas ashram. Marie-Laurence was there.
"We hung out, liked each other, decided that the relationship was worth pursuing. It was meant to be."
Los Angeles, however, was not. After the couple married, they experienced the "weirdest two years in LA history. Floods, fires, a huge earthquake. An airplane crashed in the street, neighbors were assassinated."
Reaching their limits, the Allmans moved to Geneva, Switzerland.
"The culture is amazing, organized. It's the cleanest country in the world."
Marie-Laurence taught German and French literature and within six months, Allman landed "the world's greatest job."
Geneva is Europe's international capital. Many United Nations agencies are based there, including the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Allman's background as a copyright and contract lawyer opened the door to becoming a senior counselor in WIPO's international treaties section at a time when the world was focused on adopting new protections.
"I was at the right place at the right time."
Holding a diplomatic passport, Allman was sent to 44 countries to teach the copyright system to developing countries, working to protect everything from patents and trademarks to indigenous and traditional material.
After six years, Allman switched to developing books. One of them, Teaching of Intellectual Property: Principles and Methods, is still in use. During this period, Allman also returned to swimming. Competing in the Olympic pool in Munich, he placed ninth in the world for his age bracket in the 50-meter breaststroke.
When Allman's father moved to Fort Pierce, Allman purchased a home in the same development - the logical place to eventually retire in 2009. Allman served as president of the homeowners association for six years before the couple moved to PGA Village, Verano.
"We love it here," Allman says. "And when we wanted to sell our other home, I added a verbal rider to the listing agreement - that we interview for the broker. We got licensed and now work for Branca Realty. Team Allman.
"We work when we have work," Allman says. "We go to every showing personally.
Generally, our sellers have gone from house to hospital or into assisted living.
We've cleaned out houses, packed up. It's fun and we're helping people."
Although the Allmans no longer teach, yoga is still central to their lives.
"The postures are the gateway," Allman says, "but yoga is a multilevel way of life. Breath, diet, meditation, ultimately the unification of body, mind and spirit. We use it every day."
Allman even wrote a book about it. Yogic Wisdom explores the teachings of the original yoga masters. And combining his backgrounds in yoga and international law with a love of writing and adventure, he has begun an action series with Downward Dog in Miami. Allman, a frequent contributor to St. Lucie Voice, is also available for speaking engagements.
LARRY DAVID ALLMAN
Lives in: PGA Village, Verano, Port St. Lucie
Occupation: Writer and real estate agent with Branca Realty
Family: Wife, Marie-Laurence
Education: Mount Pleasant High School in Delaware; East Carolina University; Glendale University College of Law in California; yoga training with Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
Hobbies: Health, travel, reading
Who inspires me: "Great writers. Strong father figures. Swami Vishnu, who trained me as a yoga master. He was so focused and his energy was so strong, powerful and clean, that when he walked into a room, every eyeball was on him. He taught us how to live."
Something most people don't know about me: "During the Watergate hearings I was working at the slot machines at a casino in Lake Tahoe. Every break I had, I'd rush to the lounge to see what was going on."