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Learning from a Guru

October 8 2014

Yoga teacher training is something I had wanted to do for a few years now, as I had been practicing yoga since the age of 16 and my brother owns a yoga studio, as well as other yoga businesses.  It just made sense.  Additionally, I was at a point in my practice where I needed a more focused and centralized teaching to strengthen my own skills.  When I found out Maty Ezraty would be teaching her first teacher training in over 10 years in New York City, I couldn’t put it off any longer.  I finally had the right excuse to quit my day job at an accounting firm in San Diego, a career that never really suited me, and begin my yoga journey.  So there I found myself in NYC after a bout of traveling in Europe, in my new “nine to five” gig.  Except, instead of sitting at a desk, crunching numbers and researching tax code all day, I was practicing yoga for six hours straight with one of the most experienced and knowledgeable teachers of our time, Maty Ezraty.  Really, the breakdown was three hours of practice followed by three hours learning proper hands-on adjustments or studying mediation or yoga philosophy.  All in all, I knew that I was finally on the right path.

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During my three-hour practices with Maty, I instantaneously fell in love with the teaching style of this tiny-framed Israeli guruji.  She was firm, yet gentle and loving all at the same time.  She couldn’t emphasize the importance of correct alignment enough, which I highly respect and will now carry on into the classes I teach.  She made us laugh daily with her “Matyisms” as we called them; the phrases that she would say on the regular to lighten up our practice and put smiles on our faces.  “Mazel Tov!” “Molto, molto!” “My God, what have you done to yourself?!”  “These come in threes!” “Any amount, lengthen” …among so many others.  I already miss her voice and the 44 other students that accompanied me along this remarkable journey, and hope to learn more from her again someday.

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One of the more crucial concepts that I learned from Maty and that will stick with me throughout my life, is the amount of respect that the practice of yoga demands.  It was enlightening and incredibly humbling to learn that yoga is not about “me.”  It is not “my” class that I will instruct; they are not “my” students that I will teach.  Yoga, in itself, is the teacher.  When a student praises you for a “good class” or a “healed” body, we must remind ourselves that it was not us who made the class good or bad, or that healed someone from pain; it was yoga.  I’m sure plenty of people have a hard time swallowing this notion, just as I did upon first hearing Maty explain it; especially as there are so many “yoga celebrities” today who are endlessly praised for doing cool asanas in trendy yoga gear and teaching well-rounded classes with fun music.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for colorful leggings and a life-changing savasana song, but we must never forget what is truly responsible for bettering our lives, along with countless others.  It is the practice, in itself.  We, yoga instructors, are merely guiding our students through it.


Another concept Maty would frequently remind us of at the end of our practices is to never forget how fortunate we are to have yoga in our lives.  There are so many people who have never been given the chance to discover yoga, or who do not have the means or know-how to practice on a daily basis.  Those of us who have it in our lives should understand that we are the lucky ones, who can use yoga as a means of maintaining and restoring our health and happiness.  Now, as a teacher, I will not only be able to maintain my own health and happiness, but I will be able to assist others in finding theirs through practice.  Yoga is such a gift in my life and I am grateful to now have the ability to share this gift with so many other beautiful souls.  As much as I can, I will incorporate the lessons I’ve learned form this wonderful training into the classes I teach, with a humbled and grateful heart.  Thank you, thank you, thank you – Namaste!

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