As humans, we have an innate desire to connect with other humans. And yet, it seems that personal interaction is on the decline in our society. Though social media and texting have the benefits of connecting us to people far away, our personal interactions with each other are dwindling. So naturally, we look for opportunities to come face to face with other people. Yoga provides a space and a practice and a conversation topic within which we can connect.
In the west, the practice has been passed down to us through 3 main lineages - Iyengar, Ashtanga and Vinyasa - that were born of the Krishnamacharya lineage. Over time, people like Maty Ezraty, founder of YogaWorks, whom we lost recently, combined the best of multiple lineages to create a practice that would benefit the average American. Maty created this accessible practice and also an accessible studio - allowing people to drop into whichever classes worked for their schedule, rather than making them sign up for a class on the same day and time each week. Her influence on the yoga world reaches far and wide - in the way yoga is taught and also in the way studios run.
If you practice at Yoga Culture, you are affected by Maty Ezraty. Maty taught Natasha Rizopoulis, who became a large part of the teacher training program at YogaWorks. Years after Maty had sold her studio and Natasha had moved to Boston, I took my 300-hour advanced training with Natasha. The style of yoga we teach at Yoga Culture is highly influenced by my training. And of course, our studio is accessible with classes scheduled throughout the week; and you can pop in anytime to meet friends and join in the practice.
Iyengar said that he often practiced alone and hence was quite lonely in his yoga. He wanted to make his yoga a practice to connect people. I think each teacher who passed yoga from one generation to the next has enjoyed the connections they’ve made with their teachers, students and friends. Having a space where we can come together to chat, practice and share our love for yoga allows us to create these connections.
Connection can be difficult at times. Some of us are shy. Some of us are hesitant about sharing ourselves with others. But yoga is a great ice breaker. No doubt you can find camaraderie in your attempts at Chaturanga. Friends with tight hips or neck tension come together in semi-privates. Once in awhile we get together and try advanced poses in workshops, routing each other on and laughing when we don’t quite get it. Yoga connects mind, body and spirit within you, but it also connects you to your fellow yogis.
No matter how big or small a part of your life yoga becomes, it’s simply a fun, challenging and relaxing practice where you can watch the intermingling of mind, body and spirit. But the added charm comes from the connections we get to have with each other. We can thank the teachers of our past and present, and today especially Maty Ezraty, for making this practice accessible and available to us, and for providing the spaces where we could find connection with our fellow human beings.