Practicing With the Master

I had the extreme pleasure and honor of practicing with the great Maty Ezraty this weekend, co-founder of the world renowned YogaWorks school of yoga. I did my teacher training with YogaWorks. YogaWorks is the fountain of knowledge from which awe-inspiring teachers such as Annie Carpenter, Kathryn Budig, Jesse Schein, Shiva Rea and Seane Corn, to name just a few, sprung. YogaWorks was founded in 1987 by Maty Ezraty, Chuck Miller and Alan Finger. The method, to give you a brief synopsis, is a blend of Ashtanga (a vigorous “flow” practice), Iyengar (highly alignment based) and the yoga teachings of Desikachar. What that lovely cocktail provides is a safe, accessible, effective and satisfying method of yoga practice.

Now, that being said, I’ve long awaited my introduction to Maty. This weekend she visited our neighborhood studio (the flippant nature with which I say that is totally facetious – there’s really only a handful of YogaWorks studios in the US, twenty-seven if I’m not mistaken) and I didn’t miss the opportunity to study under her wisdom.

The workshop I took was on…drumroll, please!…backbends and inversions! Yahoo! These two postures are two of my favorites, and yet two that I feel I could use many a workshop on to fully understand. But, alas, such is the nature of practice…no matter how many times one comes to the mat, or how many workshops one takes, there is always, always, always room for growth. The possibilities are endless.

Now, after two sessions with Maty, I will be perfectly honest. I’m sore in places I didn’t even know existed. I’m shampooing my hair going, hmm that aches, that’s sore, yep that definitely got worked…jeez what even is that muscle!? Truly. Sore in places I didn’t even know had muscles. But I digress…

Maty’s teaching was nothing short of exquisite and she’s also flipping adorable. I feel a little silly referring to a master teacher and spiritual being as “adorable,” but hey, she is. She’s hilarious, effective, commanding and probably doesn’t even weigh 100lbs soaking wet. I felt like the jolly green giant standing beside her!

That’s all beside the point, though. I could go on and on about this weekend, I could go on and on about the YogaWorks method and I could go on and on about the brilliant teachings I’ve experienced. What I really want to emphasize is something Maty said during savasana. My beautiful friend and fellow yogini was sitting outside the practice room after workshop in a daze of enlightenment much like I felt, stimulated by these same words I’m about to share with you, so I know it wasn’t just me. There was magic in this line. It held space in the room of beating hearts, heated bodies and knowledge soaked minds.

…the alignment serves as a tool to focus the mind…

The asana functions as a mechanism for going deep inside, really centering in on a posture and sitting in it, staying in it, being still within it. It is there that the alignment serves as a tool to focus the mind. That’s what the asana is about. It’s not about how one can contort one’s body or how “good” one can become at a pose. It’s about the mind space. True yoga is not about the asana, which all YogaWorks teachers learn in training, but the simple and gentle way Maty put it today really managed to slip into my mind in a way where I could grasp and understand it in a new light. The asana, however challenging or simple it may appear, is a container for the practice. It’s a space to move into, a physical expression of focus. One cannot really practice asana without total dedication, stillness and presence; three qualities sincerely lacking for the average person in this modern society. So, where does one go to cultivate these qualities? These traits that will infuse one’s quality of life exponentially, in all arenas? The mat, of course.

…the alignment serves as a tool to focus the mind…

That’s essentially what Maty said. I wish I could go back and record her exact statement. Yet, at the same time, I am glad I can’t. The fog through which I distinctly remember her words, richly sedated by savasana, is perfect. It’s all just perfect. And I am grateful.

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For anyone interested in a YogaWorks teacher training, it comes HIGHLY recommended by yours truly!

Image of Chuck and Maty found here.

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One thought on “Practicing With the Master

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Yoga Home Practice DVDs | Body Karma

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