David began practicing yoga at a very early age, in 1969 at the age of 13. His older brother Doug was his first teacher. They practiced hatha yoga from whatever books they could find.
David's introduction to Ashtanga came in 1973 when he met David Williams and Nancy Gilgoff in Encinitas, California. In 1975 David and Nancy brought K. Pattabhi Jois to the U.S. forthe first time and Swenson was fortunate enough to be there. He then initiated studies directly with the master. Swenson made his first trip to Mysore in 1977 and learned the full Ashtanga system as it was originally taught by K. Pattabhi Jois.