Remembering Maty Ezraty

Hey, fellow teachers — especially those of you who teach yoga history: pay attention right now. Yoga history’s being rewritten, in really essential ways. 

The yoga world has been in collective mourning for beloved senior Ashtanga teacher Maty Ezraty, whose unexpected death two days ago knocked us all off our feet. The grief-rocked social media posts from veteran teachers and newbies alike remembering Maty, thanking her, celebrating her life’s work: they are unfurling a powerful populist yoga history of sorts. FB and Insta memories from Maty’s longtime students and colleagues like Bryan Kest, Seane Corn, Kathryn Budig, and my good friend Britta Bushnell — they are all postmodern yoga texts, rewriting yogic history, line by line, in a long-overdue embodied, fierce, authentic way.

So if you’re still teaching Western yoga history by lionizing Iyengar, Desikachar, and Pattabhi Jois, well, it’s past time to shake things up. Step into 2019, slide the disgraced patriarchal gurus (several of whom have famously fallen to physical and sexual abuse scandals) to the margins and move teachers like Maty to the center. 

Just read Bryan Kest’s brief remembrance of her to get a sense of how truly impactful her work has been, and how central this tiny force of nature was to the development of American vinyasa as we know it today.

I never got to study with Maty in person, but was fortunate to meet her at Wanderlust Festival in Lake Tahoe in 2011. In interviews, I always appreciated her wisdom, her authenticity, and her clear-sightedness. And am so grateful for the teachers and colleagues she guided, who in turn became my own. I would not be doing the work I am today without her laying the groundwork.

Maty, thank you for living your dharma. I wish you so much peace. Teachers, update your slide decks and throw out your old Jois-heavy curriculum. Follow folks like Colin Hall and Shut Up and Yoga, who are actively questioning many of our long-held assumptions about yoga. 

The history of contemporary American vinyasa is unfolding right here. Pay attention.


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