Someone I considered a yoga mentor (mostly from afar), a profound inspiration, and a teacher of my closest teachers, passed away suddenly this week. Maty Ezraty was a dedicated, interdisciplinary yogi, capable of embodying extraordinary asana, but known universally – first and foremost – for her kindness and compassion.
“Keep in mind that, when you practice yoga, you’re not practicing to improve yourself. You are perfect. The practice is there to help you know that.” –Maty Ezraty
She was tiny but fierce. This amazing woman, Maty Ezraty, was one of the most grounded, kind, visionary and generous leaders in the yoga world of the last 4 decades.
Maty and her students have had an immeasurable impact on my life and teaching (and nearly everything we think of as yoga in the US), even though many in my generation and younger don’t know her name. I’m beyond sad and shocked to learn of her sudden passing. We’ve lost a light too soon.
I had the great privilege of studying with Maty through a Hanuman Festival Immersion a few years ago, and in every single Wanderlust class at Snowshoe the following year. I completed my 300 hour yoga teacher training with one of Maty’s long time students (student of 20 years) who couldn’t pass an hour without invoking Maty’s name. (I’m not kidding).
When he taught, it felt like she was in the room.
Maty co-founded YogaWorks 30 years ago with an intention to hold space for high quality yoga instruction (and remains a place where I feel comfortable teaching slowly and methodically, in a city where students seem to seek out increasingly faster practices).
The YogaWorks teacher training that Maty started remains the gold standard for asana based yoga teacher trainings.
“Practicing yoga is a privilege and with this privilege comes a duty to be kind, to share a smile, and to offer the yoga from the mat into the rest of your life.” –Maty Ezraty
a sense of her importance in yoga-land
Andrea Ferretti writes: “I could sense her deep discernment. I was nervous to talk to her and say the wrong thing. But she put me at ease so quickly because she was at ease with herself. What left such a lasting impression on me from that meeting was her humor and her willingness to connect. She was such a special person — a force, really.”
David Kim writes: “Losing a legend…Maty was a sharp-eyed incisive teacher who cut through the faux-spirituality that too often afflicts what is a profound practice of seeing clearly at every level….She had the vision and dedication to build a yoga school that made yoga accessible to so many people, taking it from hippie fringe into mainstream America. She had an incredible eye for talent and nurtured so many of our generation’s brightest lights. Her legacy indelibly shaped the evolution of yoga, always reminding us that yoga is a way of living with eyes wide open.”
Maty recently — at age 55 — graced the cover of Yoga Journal for the first time. “Maty, one of the most important figures in Western yoga, worked with Yoga Journal many many times over her decades-long career, and had never been on the cover. She told me [the current brand director] that she wasn’t pretty enough.”
When I read that, my jaw dropped.
Michelle Marchildon writes: “Maty Ezraty was a teacher of teachers and not just a founder of Yogaworks, but a founder of the western practice. She never left yoga, but in many ways, the yoga world left her. When I saw her on the cover of Yoga Journal I thought her time had come.”
Read more about her thoughts on the state of modern yoga today. We will miss her greatly.