When I checked the program for this year’s edition of the Barcelona Yoga Conference, I was thrilled to find David Lurey on the program again. And not just with several sessions during the Main Conference, but a whole day of Bhakti Vinyasa at the Preconference!
For those of us who view ourselves as ‘indie yogis’ (no attachment to the label, of course) and have chosen to follow our yogic path outside the structure of a well-defined school of yoga, David Lurey, musician, teacher and ‘beach addict’ is a welcome breath of fresh air.
I first met him in 2009 as he came to do a Kirtan at the yoga studio where I used to practice in Barcelona. It took me around three seconds to warm to his voice and music, and on the grounds of that and little else, I signed up for his Vinyasa Teacher Training in Brazil less than a year later. A leap of faith across the Ocean, one that me landed in just the right place to fire up my desire to learn and teach yoga – and I’m looking forward to rekindling it this July during the BYC.
Radiating enthusiasm and love, David teaches Mindful Spirited Vinyasa for a connection to the self; Acroyoga for connecting to other humans; Green Yoga as a way to connect more deeply with the planet and cosmos and Bhakti Yoga for divine connections. It is his passion to create intelligent and inspiring yoga classes and workshops, which touch body, mind and spirit at every chance.
Below is an excerpt from an interview with him originally done for the publication Yogagenda, where he is a regular contributor. In the interview, he muses on yoga as an art and science, his inner work as a teacher, and what his personal practice looks like after 20 years, including a video sequence to bring juiciness to your joints in the morning. David also shares what teaching is teaching him, and describes three important qualities he believes teacher training students need to work on to become a good teacher: “clear communication, humility and compassion”.
Alternatively, and better still!, attend one of his sessions at the Barcelona Yoga Conference 2017. Dates and times at the end of this post.
….. INTERVIEW …..
Q: Is Yoga a Religion?
A: No. It is an art and a science… when we look closely, the philosophy of yoga does not tell us what to do and what not to do. Instead, it teaches us that we are in an experiment of cause and effect. There are clear pathways to liberation in body, mind and spirit. They are not easy, but they are laid out for us. With time, dedication and discipline, we are able to taste some of the sweetness of freedom. Then it disappears again… and we steady the path. Knowing yourself is knowing God, so in certain senses it could be religious, but overall it is an art and a science to know Who We Are… Why We Are Here… and Where We Are Going.
Q: What has teaching taught you?
A: Simplicity & Clarity. To explain the intention, alignment and action of asana to people with different learning methods, it has to be simple and clear. There are various ways to express that, through vocabulary, demonstrations, intonations and direct contact, and each student deserves the attention and time to learn in the way that’s best for them without judgment. In understanding that visual, audible, tactile or direct learning methods require different teaching skills, I have learned to speak slowly and clearly and make sure students stay engaged and interested so they can learn and grow.
Q: What qualities do you think it takes to become a good teacher?
A: Hehehe… this is a question on our “Teacher Training Knowledge Review” (like the exam with a less scary name!). Although there are too many to list on one page, I have these three to offer:
Clear communication – In order for students to learn, they must understand what you are talking about. This includes choice of vocabulary, volume, intonation and use of clear directions. The student can then follow without having to overthink or analyze, which leads to a more ‘feeling’ experience of the practice.
Humility – I wish I could say more on this one… but I’m constantly working on it. I’m an Aquarius know-it-all J… but in all sincerity, this quality establishes a deep level of trust in the student/teacher relationship. We are all humans. I have studied with great master teachers who are full of knowledge and wisdom and yet still have the ability to laugh at themselves, to admit their faults, to recognize when they do not know something, and especially to not constantly want or need all the attention on themselves.
Compassion – Everyone comes to the mat with their own stories. Often, as teachers, we do not know the history or depth of what people are dealing with. To adopt an attitude of ‘the students are doing the best they can with what they have available’ is extremely important in giving others the freedom to grow at their own speed and to honor where the student is on their path. As the teacher, we need time and experience to use compassion wisely, as it can easily become an excuse to not push your students in the right way. The compassionate approach is to see the other for who they really are and support them in making their own evolutionary steps with appropriate teachings.
Q: Where do you live and why?
A: I live in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. I came here in 2007 while living life on the road teaching yoga and singing. I was a guest teacher for a month at a studio in town. The following year, I came back and met Mirjam Wagner, who is now my beloved wife, co-teacher, partner, teacher and more! In fact, I guess she is the main reason I live here! However, over time the island has captured my heart in many ways. We live close to the sea and I am a ‘beach addict.’ I have also found several great networks of international people doing amazing things here; yoga, music, ‘consciousness exploration’, a men’s circle and even a few ‘just social’ friends J Also, the airport is wonderfully connected to virtually every city in Europe where I teach, and students can come to visit us here with ease as well. We feel connected even though we’re on an island.
Q: How has your yoga practice changed you / is changing you?
A: As much as I thought yoga would relax me and make things easier… in many ways, it has made life more of an effort! I am extremely fond of the quote: “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” So, my perfectionist tendencies and high standard of efficiency and action play out in my life as a Yogi on the mat and while teaching. I pay attention to (almost) every word I use in teaching and life. I hold myself to a high level of ‘professionalism’ in communications with students, studios and conferences. I use ‘the Golden Rule’ as much as possible in my teaching (do unto others…). And if/when these things do not appear in the teachings or lives of others, I am easily triggered and sadly quick to judge. This is my current inner work… to find freedom by giving others the freedom to have their own experiences. That being said, I still organize the money in my wallet in denominational order facing the same direction… freak out if there are too many teacups around the house… and must stop and breathe deeply whenever I see people not living to their highest potential.
Q: What does your personal practice look like?
A: Over the years, it has changed a lot… it has softened in intensity but deepened in energetic effect. I have practiced asana for 20 years now and my poses are more easily satisfied on the physical level to ease tension and feel open. I also go slower and build awareness in new layers that seem to run through my muscles and joints. I prefer to practice active asana in the morning. I always ‘roll my joints’ (click to watch the video) and then a few sun salutations from various traditions. Then my practice becomes a ‘feeling flow’ and I listen to my body’s wishes. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but it is important on so many levels. Lately, I’ve also been spending some time with active ‘Heartful Meditation’ from Savitri, the wife of my teacher, Aadil Palkhivala. I center my mind and surround myself in a ‘cocoon’ of light that leaves me feeling protected and light throughout the day.
In addition to the dates and times below, you may be able to enjoy his live music during one of his life partner Mirjam Wagner‘s magical Yin yoga sessions.