We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Totaro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, how do you think about risk?
In general, I’m pretty averse to risk. I wear my seatbelt, I don’t invest in stocks, I always leave the house with plenty of extra time. But at the same time, I’m not afraid to go out on a limb if I’m confident that I have what it takes to make it happen. When I left behind three hundred massage clients in New York City in exchange for a better life in Austin, it was only after four years of research, evaluation, and design. The transition was not easy. It did — and continues to — require a lot of work. But I’m not afraid of hard work. Uncertainty frightens me but having a reasonable degree of assurance and tenacity can go a long way.
What should our readers know about your business?
The story of Deep Root Massage is a story of exploration. Just as each session with a massage client is an exploration of what the physical body is presenting in that particular moment, how I found myself in this position was neither linear nor preordained. My understanding of and appreciation for the human body is a convergence of multiple deep passions of which I became aware not all at once, but incrementally along my journey. A boyfriend accompanied me to my very first yoga class in Boston back in 2003. I had no way of anticipating it but that first class unearthed in me a penchant for yoga that was buried deep beneath my surface. I was oblivious to it but apparently, the boyfriend had seen all along. Halfway through that very first class, I told myself that I would one day teach this yoga. I have a vivid recollection of that epiphany-moment. It wasn’t until two and a half years later that I was able to get myself to Los Angeles and complete my Yoga Teacher Training, but that fist yoga class was the start of some big changes in my life.
Only one year into my yoga-teaching career, it because clear to me that there was an underlying yearning for a deeper comprehension of the human body and how it operates. So in an effort to become a more skilled and compassionate yoga instructor, I enrolled in massage school. It was at the Swedish Institute in New York City when I started to develop a new way to see the human body on a much deeper plane than what’s apparent from the outside, a new way to work with the tissue to elicit change, and a new vocabulary for communicating with others about their own bodies.
After three years of massage school, I launched Deep Root Massage and started to help people — through both touch and education — to begin to truly understand their bodies. Once again, I found myself wanting more — in this case, wanting more than what can be discerned from the artist’s illustration on the page of the anatomy text or the plastic model. Three years later was the start of my relationship with some of the most prominent teachers of anatomy through human cadaver dissection. Working in the lab for four years generated an all-new understanding and respect for the human form and all of its various layers.
In 2016, I was convinced — once again by a good friend — that it was time to start teaching anatomy myself. So I used the eleven years of experience on my own anatomy journey to compile information in order to develop my own anatomy course. In my course, I attempt to foster in others, that same passion and drive to learn that I had discovered in myself.
Each session begins with a review of the client chart and an evaluation of the current state of conditions. I consider many factors to create an individualized treatment plan consistent with each client’s long-term goals. Following each Deep Root Massage session, notes are added to the comprehensive client chart to ensure consistency and continuity from session to session. As I say: “It’s the Deep Root Difference.”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is an easy one because Austin is the coolest city around so I’m often placed in the role of tour guide because friends come from out of town all the time! The highest priority is tacos. “The answer is always tacos.” In my first twelve months living here, I ate 166 tacos at fifty-seven different locations. Three years later, my list is up to 118 locations, all ranked in order of preference. There’s a very specific protocol for ranking each location. The #1 taco spot in Austin is Veracruz All Natural. No visitor will head back to the airport without first experiencing their Migas Poblanos on a flour tortilla with extra roasted jalapeño salsa. Next on the agenda is cocktails. Austin has a great underground craft cocktail scene: Small Victory, Here Nor There, Tiki Tatsu-Ya, Half Step, Roosevelt Room, Whisler’s, Garage, Drink.Well, Midnight Cowboy, Firehouse Lounge. So many cocktail reservations and so little time. Hiking, swimming, fancy dinners, theater, sunset rides by the water on the moped, and of course … yoga. Each visitor experiences their own personally-curated itinerary. They know when they visit me, that they’re in good hands.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Self-realization is an ongoing project. My friends are often able to pick up on imbalances in my life before they became abundantly clear to me. So I must give credit to the friends with whom I surround myself. It was friends who — in 2005 — pointed out to me that my day job was killing my soul. And since then, my life has never been the same. Sometimes one loses sight of the obvious when they’re immersed in the task at hand. As I consider myself to be improving with my own self-awareness over time, I will continue to depend on the insight and reflection of the loving people around me.