If you haven’t taken GX24 instructor Daveed Adjian’s yoga class at 24 Hour Fitness, you might have met him through his music. Daveed’s fitness journey led him from his path to rock stardom in a new direction: He’s renowned as an accomplished composer whose work can be heard in many popular yoga DVDs and other fitness products.
Although Daveed has written music used by countless instructors and he has practiced yoga for decades, he says he finally started teaching yoga as an outlet for his passion to help other people find more health and more peace in their lives. “Yoga was revolutionary for me. My back pains went away, my frozen shoulder went away [and my] mobility came back; the quality of my life really went up,” Daveed says. “If I can play a part in contributing to the health of our society as a whole, I feel honored in that.”
At 12, Daveed learned guitar—and by 18, he was performing in Los Angeles rock bands as a self-described “wild-looking man” in long hair and leather. But after a few years, he began exploring flamenco guitar and composing more instrumental music. “As I released those albums that were purely instrumental healing music, people were very interested in using them for their yoga DVDs,” he says. “It just naturally happened that licensing offers started coming from companies, including The Weather Channel, which used my music for their ‘Local on the 8s’ program for about three years.” Soon, Daveed was being commissioned for fitness program-specific soundtracks.
24Life caught up with Daveed at a 24GO photo shoot and asked about his experience making small changes that had a big impact and advice for anyone else who wants to do the same.
24Life: Why did you start practicing yoga?
David: I was never unhealthy, but in my late 20s, some things were just not working—my body was not functioning that good anymore, my mental state was not as clear. I never really bought the story that just because you age, you automatically atrophy and have a miserable life. It never made sense to me. So I was open to anything that would give me power over my own machine. If you treat your body as a vehicle and you know what to do with it, the body has a manual with certain kinds of eating habits, certain movement patterns. If it’s maintained well, it can serve you for a long, long time.
24Life: That’s quite a change from rock ‘n’ roll. Was it hard to do something so different?
DA: It took a lot of courage to go against the grain because society automatically just expects you to follow certain rules and patterns. But you have to listen to your own intuition. Because at the end of the day, I found out [that] if I’m not happy with what I’m doing [or] how I’m living, what’s the point of driving this amazingly expensive car [if] I’m depressed inside [of it]?
That’s why, from a very young age, I followed the path of music. Everyone was saying, “You have to be a lawyer, you have to be a doctor, or you’re not a human being, you do not belong.”
Even if I was making $5 [playing music] at clubs, it felt good. And eventually, income started being generated. The same goes for yoga. I was teaching community classes for free for three years. But I was walking away with the gift of seeing all these people’s eyes shine and receiving emails [saying], “My back pain went away” or “First time I can digest my food.” The gift that I was receiving was much more than a paycheck. Paychecks are important: We must function. But that was not my main driving factor of getting into teaching.
24Life: You—and your students—have found benefits from yoga. But it’s easy to give up or never even start on fitness goals. Any advice?
DA: Fitness, health, nutrition, they’re all connected. You begin with baby steps, maybe eight minutes a day, 10 minutes of Forward Bend, maybe do a little bit of fasting in the morning. Some people get discouraged because they’ve never been in a yoga class. They do a 90-minute hot yoga class and an ambulance takes them home. They say, “Yoga is not for me.”
But if you make small changes, little by little by little, the human body is miraculous; it will adapt and change. I’ve never been a believer of change through pushing hard and willpower. That will backfire. But as you make baby steps—a little less sugar, a little more breathing, a little bit more meditation, maybe 12 minutes of yoga—within three to four months, there will be a change from the inside.
People give up on it because they think they’re gonna struggle forever. It’s not true. The addictions go away, the sugary drinks don’t taste good anymore. The change comes from within, which gives you the power so you feel powerful wherever you go.
24Life: What’s your secret to creativity? Do you ever get stuck, and how do you get past that?
DA: Musically, things have come naturally to me, but there’s many times when I’ve felt stuck. I’ve found that taking a walk or doing a few breathing techniques helps. When I’m in the recording studio writing a soundtrack, sometimes I have to finish a lot of soundtracks within an eight-hour period, so I must follow the composition creation process, but nothing is coming. I’ll take 20 or 30 minutes, go to the park or some quiet location, and do 15 to 20 minutes of body movements and nostril breathing techniques.
Creativity’s the same way in anything. In business, study after study shows that stockbrokers who worked 30 minutes less during their prime time of selling and [instead] did a little massage or yoga came back—even though they lost 30 minutes of their highest selling time—with a higher decision process. They made more money, again and again. It’s about giving yourself the chance to find a higher way of a creative solution. And it always exists.
24Life: How do you start a great day?
DA: The morning is dedicated to me. I have to charge my own battery. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but some fresh air is always involved. It may be a walk around the block … but only me. No phone calls, no texting. I’m up at 5 a.m. every day because it’s good to rise up with the sun. When I rise up with the sun, I feel synchronized with the movements, the circadian rhythms of nature. Once the tone of the day is set, then everything seems to flow much smoother—my teaching, my recording, it’s just smoother.
24Life: If you could tell everyone in the world one thing, what would that be?
DA: Don’t give up on the process of health and fitness. It gets easier, day by day. But you have to come from a place of being kind with yourself. Don’t listen to other people. Do not compare with other people. Only honor where you are at this point in your life, not where you’re gonna be 10 years from now or what you were 10 years ago. Trust me—from personal experience. The journey never stops. We go up and up and it gets better and better.
And after all, it’s not really how long you live, but what is the quality of your day, what is the quality of your moment-to-moment living. It’s not how many years in your life, it’s how much life in your years that really matters.
Photo credit: georgerudy, Adobe Stock; Daveed Adjian; Tom Casey, box24studio.com