David Rhein tells us about his experience in the Nepali earthquakes and how his path to become a yogi and healer is leading him to an unexpected destination: UCLA Business School.
We’re so relieved that you made it back from the earthquakes in Nepal unscathed. Tell us why you were in the Himalayas and what happened!
I was in the Nepali Himalayas to experience the energy of the place as part of my travels around Asia to study yoga and the healing arts. I had just set out to trek the Annapurna Circuit when the earthquake hit. It felt like surfing—the earth picked up and really moved. I knew this was a significant event, but thought it must’ve been a relatively small earthquake because nobody nearby was injured and no buildings collapsed. Ten minutes later my driver said ‘Ok, we go.’ I sent a quick email to my parents to let them know I was okay, but it didn’t get to them until two weeks later.
When we arrived that evening, someone with a radio in the village was spreading the word that Katmandu had been devastated and Everest Base Camp destroyed! I knew my parents must be super scared, but it wasn’t until the following evening that I met an Israeli girl with a working phone. Let’s just say my family was relieved to hear from me.
You are currently a yoga teacher and bodyworker, though just a few years ago you were working as a financial analyst for Target. What made you want to switch careers?
The first year at Target I felt really isolated. I mostly just wrote code in a cubicle. When I started to practice yoga and meditate everyday, my life got dramatically better without making any other changes. I realized I could improve my experience from the inside out, meaning I could change myself instead of changing the things that were beyond my control. I asked my boss to take walking meetings around the lake outside our building. He was really supportive; he even let me lead daily meditations in the conference room. I thought, ‘Hey, this could help anyone who was feeling unsatisfied with their daily life.’
How did you become interested in teaching yoga and bodywork?
One day, I wandered into a yoga class at Lifetime Fitness in Uptown and loved it so much that I started to go every morning. Shortly after, a teacher no-showed and I lucked into a free massage, the effect of which was truly mind-blowing. Encouraged by one of my yoga teachers, I signed up for the Yoga Teacher Training a few months later, and soon after that began to study Thai Yoga Bodywork. Since then, I’ve travelled to India, Thailand and Nepal to study with masters in the field. It’s been an amazing journey and one that started with just walking in the door of my local gym.
Your next step is going to UCLA to get your MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Are you heading back into the corporate world?
My goal now is to infuse my study of Eastern mindfulness practices into the Western corporate environment to help people lead happier, healthier and more connected lives both at work and at home. So I’m not switching careers but combining both experiences to come full circle and help others on their path to wellness.
How has Judaism guided your journey to become a yogi and healer?
Judaism established my core moral compass. The whole concept of improving the world—tzedakah, tikkun olam, helping people in need—really resonates with me. And when I meet other Jewish people I feel an immediate connection. I love to go to Jewish events and talk with people there. I’ve served as a committee chair on the board of NextGen and I love going to young-adult Shabbat dinners. It’s a great social environment. Plus, I’m following in the ancient tradition of Jews practicing yoga. Several of my most influential yoga teachers are also Jewish!
Why are you folkin’ awesome?
I love my job. I feel super lucky to get paid to do something that inspires and energizes me. And I’m excited for what’s to come when I merge my Eastern experiences and Western background into one.
Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!