Aug '08 Authorized Interview

David Robson

by Michael Peter Carter

MPC: David, take us to the beginning--the early days!

DR: I was born near Toronto, Canada. My parents ran a group home for boys when I was growing up. Having seven older brothers with behavioural issues trained me in the ninja skills I employ everyday on the yoga mat.

MPC: And now?

DR: I live with my wife and daughter in Toronto. We traveled to India together last winter. My family is really big in my life. My wife and I are ethical vegans and we are into animal advocacy work. This means we are very annoying to have over for dinner. We donate 10% of our profits from our Mysore program to Farm Sanctuary, which educates people about the evils of factory farming.

MPC: That’s really great! Factory farming IS evil! How did you come across the practice of Yoga?

DR: The first yoga class I took was Sivananda Yoga. I think I went because they offered food after the class. I ended up going back twice the next week and then everyday after that.

MPC: Were there any other styles you explored before Ashtanga?

DR: While I was practicing Sivananda, my wife decided she wanted to do yoga, and began practicing at a Bikram studio. She went there so that I wouldn't bother her during class. But I followed her to class anyway, and I liked the intensity and heat of Bikram. I taught at that studio for a while before finding Ashtanga.

Like many people, my first teacher was David Swenson's Practice Manual. My friend and I would use the book to teach each other the Primary Series in the mornings before the Bikram classes started. This year, everything came full circle when I had the opportunity to meet and practice with David Swenson and his wife Shelley in Goa. David is an incredibly sweet, genuine person and he and his wife can pull together a wicked synchronized swimming routine.

MPC: Any other teachers that have been influential in your practice?

DR: Sharath has had the biggest impact on me as a student. His breadth of knowledge is incredible, and he always seems to know what I need to work on. Sharath adjusts like no one else in the world - he can get people into poses with the lightest touch, it is amazing.

MPC: What was it like to meet Guruji?

DR: I first met Guruji in Montreal at Darby's studio. He is so bright and intense, I felt really awed to study with him. I was watching Darby with Guruji, and I was interested in their relationship. I remember seeing Darby take off Guruji's shoes when Guruji came to visit the studio. I was really interested in a tradition that inspired this kind of devotion and humility. Guruji's the O.G.

MPC: Tell us about the first time you travelled to Mysore:

DR: I first traveled to Mysore in 2002. I was studying with Sharath in his living room after he had finished teaching at the shala. I love Mysore.

MPC: Did things change for you after being Authorized?

DR: So many things happened to me after I was Authorized. When I came home from India, the studio I co-owned became really polarized about whether to teach Ashtanga with a more traditional approach or to teach a vinyasa/advanced restorative hybrid. It really allowed me to figure out why I was practicing, and what I could offer my students.

I knew I wanted to follow in the tradition, as respectfully and as honestly as I could. I ended up starting my own mysore program, and I rented a small space to teach out of. My business partners told me that no one would show up and that the tradition was pointless and uninformed, but within a month, I couldn't fit anymore people in the room.

There is such a hunger here to learn about this living, vibrant practice. It motivated me to start an Ashtanga studio, Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto. The studio will be offering a full schedule of classes in Ashtanga as it is taught at AYRI. I am opening in September 2008. It has really been an incredible journey, and I am very blessed to have wonderful students and be part of a great community.

MPC: What do you see in the crystal ball for the year 2020?

DR: Walking a lot, as there won't be any gas. Maybe taking a boat to India? That would be fun! Definitely practicing and teaching Ashtanga.

MPC: Anything else you want to say?

DR: I would like to honour and thank my teachers: Saraswati and Sharath for patiently and kindly teaching me and my family, and Guruji for generously giving us this beautiful practice. I am truly indebted to all three of them.

Catch more of David at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to express my gratitude to David, a wonderful, giving teacher for sharing his insight and knowledge with the yoga community. I feel that his authentic and traditional approach to Ashtanga Yoga is exactly what people have been looking for. I am truly excited about what is happening in the fall. Thank you for sharing this with us in this blog.