What Motivates World-Famous Yogi David Williams

A world-famous yogi, David Williams tells Fit to Inspire what inspires him, how he stays active outside of yoga, and what his idea of a perfectly fit day looks like!

Yogi David Williams

All photos David Williams personal collection


An American living in Maui, yogi David Williams has been practicing yoga daily since 1971.  He was one of the first non-Indians to be certified to teach the Ashtanga Yoga asanas, which he learned from Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India.  David has taught Ashtanga yoga to numerous teachers and practitioners including David Swenson, Doug Swenson, Danny Paradise and Cliff Barber.  He once toured with Luciano Pavarotti, teaching yoga to him and one of his musicians while on tour.

I met David at Yoga Rocks in Triopetra, Crete, a place where he teaches every summer. ‘Yoga is what happens between the thoughts,’ he said.  “And it’s meant to make you feel wonderful!’

What kind of fitness/exercise do you do now regularly?

I enjoy daily Ashtanga Yoga asanas and pranayama, and also swimming with a mask and snorkel in the ocean or a pool.

What new sport/exercise would you like to do in this lifetime?

Levitate . . . or if not that, win the main event of the World Series of Poker.

What is your idea of a perfectly ‘fit and healthy’ day?

When one is able to wake up where one wants to be and do what one wants to do all day long.

What is your biggest fitness and well-being obstacle ever?

My vision has declined for the last 21 years, since the age of 45. Now I have to wear glasses.

What is your greatest motivation to get out the door and moving?

I am motivated to get out the door, because I do not have an indoor swimming pool. If I had an indoor Olympic swimming pool, I might never leave home.

What is your all-time greatest fitness-related achievement?

In 1973, I began learning the Ashtanga Yoga asanas and pranayama from Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India.  In 1977, I became the first non-Indian to have learned the complete practice from him.

What would you say to people who have not yet discovered the mental and physical benefits of a regular fitness regime? 


What is the best fitness / well-being advice you’ve ever received?

It’s not happening to you; it’s happening for you.

Who has inspired fitness in you?

Diana Sargent, Booty Cranford, David Herndon, David Carmos, Clifford Sweatte, David Swenson, Paul Dunaway, John Gilbert, Dory Abi-Najm.

Yogi David WilliamsDavid Williams

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