David Life is a co-founder (with Sharon Gannon) of the Jivamukti School of Yoga and co-director of the Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York. Born in a small town in Michigan, Life – who worked for many years as an artist; moved to New York with his then-wife Kathy in 1980. The couple quickly launched Life Cafe in Manhattan's East Village, which became one of the epicenters of the East Village's thriving artistic scene (the cafe was later immortalized in Jonathan Larson's play "Rent"). Life left his partnership in the cafe in 1984 to establish the Jivamukti School with Gannon. He has since taught yoga to celebrities such as Sting, Madonna, Russell Simmons, Christy Turlington, and Donna Karan. Life is a longstanding member of PETA; along with Gannon, he set up a 76-acre wildlife forest sanctuary in upstate New York.
David Life: My motivation is not selfish, and so sustaining it is not difficult. My principal motivation in life is to make the world a better place for everyone that’s here. And that’s a daily, difficult practice to do. It might just be giving a nut to a squirrel or feeding the birds, and that can bring a lot of joy to me because I feel I have done something that’s helpful. I agree that there probably are a lot of Da Vincis walking around here, but they’re probably regarded as madmen and women. And so I think that the great thinkers – what allowed them to think outside the box was that they were a bit mad. They weren’t so threatened to step into a realm of . . . a realm that hadn’t been experienced before. And even to . . . to take others . . . to take other people into that realm and then bring them back safely. They’re kind of astronauts of a sort. And not everyone is able to do that. Not everyone should do that, because if we had a world filled with madmen, maybe we wouldn’t actually get the actual work . . . the garden wouldn’t get planted. We’d be out, like, climbing trees and jumping in the pond. So we do need stability too, but we need to perhaps treasure more the people that we find in our community and in our culture that are willing to step outside of it, and to listen to them more; to not see them as troublemakers, and anarchists, and crazy, but to listen carefully to what they’re saying; and be willing to take a trip with them into a realm that we haven’t experienced before. Recorded on: 10/31/07