The gurus and founders of the Jivamukti Yoga method are Sharon Gannon and David Life. They met in 1983 in New York City and in 1984 created Jivamukti Yoga.
In 1986 they traveled to India and met their first guru, Swami Nirmalananda. On subsequent trips, they met their guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and later in upstate New York, they met their guru Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. Each of their gurus guided them further on their individual spiritual paths, and the teachings of their gurus helped shape the development of Jivamukti Yoga. Sharon and David studied with their gurus for many years and received their blessings to incorporate their teachings into the Jivamukti Yoga method. They have also studied with many other prominent yoga teachers.
The role of the guru is to expose the seeker’s misperceptions and guide the seeker toward self-knowledge. Resting on this tradition but operating on a world stage, Sharon and David have illuminated the deeper, esoteric truths of yoga, linked them to present-day culture and lifestyle, and encouraged practitioners to let go of what they think they know and embrace the path to liberation in this lifetime. Through the innovations of Jivamukti Yoga, Sharon and David have brought the ancient teachings alive, going to the root of their wisdom and making it relevant to the contemporary world. They are pioneers in teaching yoga as spiritual activism/activation, demonstrating that yoga is a living tradition, a complete system for accessing the lasting happiness that is available to all beings. They incorporate their profound talents and experiences as artists, performers and musicians into their teaching styles, making their teachings compelling, exciting and empowering.
Sharon and David have been featured on the Today Show and PBS in the United States, as well as in numerous in-person and print interviews and articles around the world. They have been recognized as “innovators in yoga” by Yoga Journal, and Vanity Fair credits Sharon and David as “making yoga cool and hip.” Time magazine named Jivamukti Yoga one of the important forms of hatha yoga taught in the world today. They have traveled extensively, teaching and presenting at American, European, Canadian, Asian, and South and Central American conferences.
In 1999, Sharon and David (together with Janet Rienstra of META Records) established the Animal Mukti Free Spay & Neuter Clinic of the Humane Society of New York City, which was the first free spay and neuter clinic in the city. The clinic continues to operate on monetary donations raised primarily by yearly fundraisers by Jivamukti Yoga teachers. The clinic has reduced the number of pets who would normally be euthanized in the New York City area by 37%, as well as inspired other organizations to offer free and/or low-cost spay and neuter programs. Sharon and David have been proud Vanguard members of PETA pretty much since its inception. In 2004, they were recognized as “Friends of Ferals” by the Humane Society of New York and Neighborhood Cats, and in 2008, Farm Sanctuary awarded Sharon and David their Compassionate Living Award. In 2003, Sharon and David established the Wild Woodstock Jivamukti Forest Sanctuary, a 125-acre wildlife refuge in upstate New York to provide protection for many diverse species of animals and plants who reside in the northeast region of the United States, which include white tail deer, black bear, turkeys, foxes, raccoons, as well as a large variety of birds, snakes and other reptiles, and amphibians.
Sharon and David have co-authored three books on yoga: Jivamukti Yoga, Practices for Liberating Body & Soul (2002), which includes a foreword by Sting and has been translated into Italian, German and Russian languages, and The Art of Yoga (2002), which includes a foreword by Ravi and Anoushka Shankar. Their newest collaboration, Yoga Assists, is available in both ebook and print editions.