Love, Peace & Yoga
by Ines Hofbaur
David Sye is a rebel with a big heart. To transport his message, he conciously breaks with thousands of years of yoga tradition. Hs methods are unconventional, his slogan “Let’s do some crazy stuff!”. This includes uninhibited movements while listening to loud club music as well as a tequila shot in order to jump into a handstand more easily or a piece of chocolate while practicing to enjoy it even more.
Because of his unusual methods to impart his profound knowledge with so much humor and ease, some call David Sye a “Bad Boy” of the yoga scene. But he actually got there, where many other yoga teachers still dream of: his courses are also attended by those who might not have seen a yoga studio from inside otherwise. Yogabeats meanwhile is internationally recognised and known far beyond the borders of Davids homeland. “I just wanted to bring more freedom into yoga”, so Sye. Yogabeats doesn’t know any restrictments and offers much space for spontaneity and experimenting. He did’t want to produce more yoga soldiers, but teach his students to experience pure joy and pleasure.
“I have never met an enemy”
Part of his mission is to open yoga for those, who would’nt have any opportunity to experience the yoga way otherwise. His work with the streetgangs in Glasgows Easterhouse makes him as happy as his peace work with Palestians and Israelis. Although Sye spent so much time in war areas, he has never met an enemy. “I don’t know, what an enemy is”, he says. “They just are broken and hurt people. Like us.”
When he was invited do a yoga festival in Israel, he would only go there, when he would have the possibilty to work with Palestinians as well. Although nobody understood and supported his wish in the beginning, he insisted and really held his first yoga lesson in Palestina – for traditionally dressed women in front of a mosque in jericho. Since then, David Sye keeps travelling to Israel and the Westbank regularly. The people over there meanwhile are like a family for him and peace work fulfills him with big luck.
David Sye knows what he is talking about when it comes to peace. He went through many situations full of violence and has been in the middle of war not only once. Born as a child of Russian-Jewish immgrants, he was beaten up and disciplined in the Christian-strict boarding school in London. “I was so angry at everybody and as an answer to that I tried everything, drugs and violence.” Managing to escape from this circle of aggressions, anger and revenche was his first important step in the direction of yoga. Because one day he realized that the answer to violence must not be violence, but forgiveness. “I understood that violence would’nt bring me any further. Later, in war, I experienced the same thing. Those who were mistreated, mistreated others as well.”
“I want to be high. And everything I need for that, is inside me”
The scars life has brought to him, David Sye carries outside, apparent for everybody. Tattoos cover almost his entire body, telling the often hurtful story of his life. Like the seperation from his little daughter after his divorce in younger years or the several moments, when he cheated death. For Sye, his body ist not only his temple, decorated with wall paintings, but also his pharmacy. Supplying him with everything, he needs to be high – “natural high”, important to say, and without health damage causing side effects.
Davids personal strenght is that he likes being a rebel, never takes anythings for granted and never stops asking questions. Therefore he got important answers already at a very young age. Grown up as son of an actor he kept looking behind the scenes, and always went where he was not supposed to.
A severe illness finally brougth him to the path of yoga. As it was absolutely no option for him, do live on physically restricted after recommended life saving surgeries, he made his way with the healing methods of Tibetan Yoga which really cured him, or better helped him to cure himself. As the doctors told him at the next check up with sorrow in their faces that they could’nt find anything anymore, he friendly replied that that was obviously their problem and no longer his. That was when Sye decided that he wanted to dedicate his life to yoga and from now on give back to others what he had received.
He then went through several Yoga trainings, including Tibetan, Iyengar and Ashtanga. His most important teacher was the Hungary-born Clara Buck, whom he got to know via his father. As he tried to impress her with some very difficult asanas, the old lady ignored his efforts completely. She just asked him to take a look at her hand. “Look at this! Every cell of my hand is full of love.You have to love your body otherwise it kicks you out!”, she told him. And David Sye had found his master.
„If there is a problem, love more!“
Unlimited selflove, forgiveness and truthfulness are davids most important principles, love is his philosophy. “The most important relationship is the one to yourself”, he keeps telling his students. “If you want love, give it”! To spread his message, he loves using unconventional methods. To get in touch with the inner child and be aware of the obstructive ego is, what David is heading for, when he gets his students to go over their personal boarders and overcome their inhibitions. Enjoyment should be the central thing of every yoga practice. “There are two question, everyone should answer with Yes in the end of his life: Have I enjoyed life and did I bring joy to others?”, is Sye’s vision.
The fact that yogabeats is often accompanied with loud club music has its roots in the early 90ies, when David Sye went to Bosnia for a journalist job, running a radio station down there. When war broke out shortly after, music helped him to drown out the noise of the nearby fighting while pracitcing yoga.
In the yoga studios music supports the yoga-beatnics moving without restraints and enjoying theirselves as much as possible. Philosophy is one of the most important things in David Syes workshops, the practice part is an interesting mixture of several styles. This includes Tibetan fire-breathing as well as happily-dizzy-making sufi-dancing or a in a very special way demanding gourishankar-meditation from Osho.
Shake, give & receive
Asanas are done with so-called micro-moves, like waves through the spine in downfacing dog, loosing shoulder joints in rotary seat or moving the legs in shoulder stand. In between the whole body is shaken more or less wildly. “Grab a partner, quick, quick”, is what students hear very often, as partner exercises should not only strengthen the effectivness of the postures, but help the students paying attention to their own needs and to those of the others. Community and exchange is a must, according to David it is all about “Give and receive”.
A very personal experience during a yogabeats workshop by Ines Hofbaur
Shorty after the beginnig of the yogabeats workshop David asks us to get up and embrace person next to us. Closely and for several minutes. Nobody dares to start, some giggle, but Davids does’nt leave us any time to hesitate. It is about our ego and how strong it is while controlling our thoughts and actions, forcing us in our own reality.
I am pressing my own body to the body of a woman, a total stranger to me. Tummy to tummy, my arms wrapped around her back, my hands on her shoulders. My thoughts keep circulating like crazy. Oh my got, she is that skinny, I can feel her bones, I am slightly embarrassed, I don’t even know her. Don’t I breath too fast? Whose sweat is it, I can smell? My own? Does she realize my hand is shaking a little bit?…. I am trying hard to follow Davids instructions – love – and at some point my feelings change. I feel warm and comfortable, I start enjoying the embracement, no more borders, I let go, experience something like a feeling of security, fondness, maybe even love?
A short glance into the eyes of my “cuddling partner” goes very deeply. We both have understood.
Everything which made me feel umconfortabe during this little exercise came from myself, it was my ego which would’nt let me enjoy the situation. Reality was nothing like a warm body, an embracement, a moment of nearness. It was completely my decision to either be repulsed by it or just enjoy it.
Link to the German article of yoga.ZEIT: