Photo by DJ Pierce
An extraordinary and vibrant force in the yoga community unexpectedly left this world on July 9, 2019. Maty Ezraty had just completed teaching an intensive in Tokyo when she passed away, for no apparent cause. She was 55 years young.
Maty, along with her partner Chuck Miller, founded YogaWorks in 1987. From its inception, Maty included Iyengar yoga classes in the studio’s schedule. Currently, many of our certified teachers support a thriving community of Iyengar yoga students at YogaWorks locations in the Los Angeles area, and throughout the country.
Many of us fondly remember Maty’s intense and sincere studentship when she was introduced to Iyengar Yoga in the late 1980s. At YogaWorks, she often hosted workshops by Dona Holleman, Gabriella Giubilaro, Elise Miller, Patricia Walden, John Schumacher and many other prominent Iyengar teachers. She cooked for them, and then bombarded them with questions. What should I do with my bow legs? How should I teach the alignment of the elbows? Her curiosity was joyous and infectious.
Maty was also a long time student of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga as taught by KP Jois. As her experience with sequencing a yoga practice grew, she began to explore variations to Ashtanga’s traditional set pattern of asanas. She insisted on refining alignment or changing the asanas to best support each individual student.
Her admiration for Sri B.K.S. Iyengar’s work led her to visit Pune several times, where she often studied with Geetaji. Maty’s website prominently states: “The Iyengar system is a rock in her practice and teaching.”
Maty and Lisa Walford often practiced together and, through our mutual admiration and friendship, created the YogaWorks teacher training program, along with Maty’s partner Chuck. They taught this together from 1995 through 2003, when they sold YogaWorks. Several teachers here at the Institute enhanced their studies taking this program.
In her daily classes, Maty was as tough as a Zen master, and yet tender and encouraging when she saw true studentship. In a 2015 Yoga Journal interview, Maty said “Our practice should cultivate inquiry, sensitivity and kindness to ourselves.”
In another interview, she said “You have to get into people’s intelligence. Sometimes they see, sometimes they hear, sometimes, you have to figure it out. That’s the excitement of yoga! How to make that student that comes to class that never listens to me–How do I turn this person on? And like that’s like your juice. That’s the Funville of Yoga Teaching!” YogaUonline
Our extended yoga community has lost a precious jewel this month. We send heartfelt prayers to all who currently grieve her loss, and we honor her yoga spirit through our practice on and off the mat.
“We all have a spark inside of us that Maty made shine a little brighter. Share it with each other. Fan that flame gently until it reaches all beings everywhere.” – Chuck Miller, July 12, 2019