I met the wonderful Maty Ezraty for the first time when she visited Bodymindlife this March, and I am mad about her! Eight weeks later, I continue to uncover new layers to my learnings from the magnificent 25 hours I spent with her.
Maty had this incredible way of remaining warm and kind while holding space like the boss she is and simultaneously shaking up all that my ego knew to be true of yoga. It is safe to say that yogis of all levels got (very willingly) schooled at her trainings.
I could write a 105, but here are the top five things I learned from Maty:
1.‘Prop’ up your practice.
Despite her Ashtanga roots, the influence of her time at the Iyengar Institute in India was evident in her teachings. The idea that no two bodies are alike, and that props honour that rather than indicate weakness was a strong take-away.
We were elbows, knees and toes-deep in blankets, blocks, straps and bolsters. Everyone had to use them. Using the aid of these props, Maty moved us slowly, with much emphasis on alignment. The holds were long and intense, and working in this way was incredibly effective in imprinting her anatomical teachings into my practice.
2. Don’t beg for it!
Maty didn’t have to say anything twice to be heard. She was strict and commanded the attention and action of the entire room with her intelligent and succinct cues. Sometimes these were hilarious one-liners. “Don’t beg for the pose!” will be forever drilled into my brain.
She taught me to be kind to myself, trust the yoga krama (step-by-step progression) and to not only embrace my own practice, but stand with pride in the modified variations of poses that are yet to come.
3. The student teacher relationship.
Maty blatantly rejected the notion that practitioners within the walls of a yoga studio are clients. My understanding is that this misunderstanding results in an obstruction of the sacred journey a student walks with their teacher, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
Maty taught me that beyond the expectations that are interlaced with a client’s attitude towards a yoga teacher, exists the wonderful ability to fully receive a teacher’s offering. I experienced beautiful examples of the art of studentship watching my teachers Noelle Connolly and Simon Park interact with and help Maty during her training with absolute love and respect.
4. Dharana in the modern world.
Based on what I knew of Maty’s opinions (try looking her up) on the ways we stay connected, or food for thought – disconnected, I turned all my electronic devices off during the week of her training. It was undeniable that my significantly increasing dharana (concentration) and receptivity were direct outcomes of this simple exercise.
I’ll leave the esoteric rabbit-hole of my Maty-inspired learnings from this place of heightened consciousness a mystery for you to uncover for yourself. However, it was clear to me that Maty’s incredible presence as a teacher and human in general, has been cultivated through a deep awareness and connection with her true self. Honouring Maty, I try to practise this in my daily life, which largely involves the mindful use of my electronic devices. This is now an equally important part of my yoga practice as asana is.
5. Practise yoga with love and compassion.
There is no doubt about it: Maty is head over heels in love with all aspects of yoga, including how it relates to our lives off the mat. This love was absolutely infectious. Suddenly, my concerns about where I was along the journey to a perfect handstand (hint: lots of trembling) vanished. I cannot say I have ever felt more gratitude for the practise of yoga than I have during and following my time with her.
Maty taught me to become comfortable in my “own true beautiful nature”. I can confirm that this complete acceptance of and love for oneself is where the biggest breakthroughs happen in our lives.
Arjanna Chitranjan. Read more at www.themindfulpen.com.