Not everyone who practises yoga would have heard of Maty Ezraty but for sure we all owe a debt of gratitude to this legendary teacher and yoga centre pioneer who has died way too soon.
In the 1990s, before I had any idea of opening triyoga, my friend Lee Kramer introduced me to an amazing yoga centre in LA called YogaWorks, which had been set up by a couple called Chuck and Maty. The centre felt like how you think a yoga centre should feel (it’s hard to put this into words – it felt and smelt (nicely) of yoga) as did the class schedule and the other materials they had for workshops and courses. In London at that time there was The Iyengar Institute, and the Sivananda Yoga Centre and that was about it. YogaWorks in L.A. was another world with a broad range of styles of yoga and the highest calibre teachers – so many of our guest teachers over the years at triyoga come from and were nurtured from that original ‘spring’. I had the sense that Maty was the driving force behind the quality of teaching.
A few years later around 1998, I went back to LA and Bridget Woods Kramer, who was teaching at YogaWorks, introduced me to Chuck and Maty. I had this idea that they would licence to us the right to use the name YogaWorks in London as I wasn’t sure that triyoga was a good name. Over dinner we agreed this in principle but the next day they changed their minds as they weren’t sure they could trust me as I was a lawyer (and who could blame them).
I looked at YogaWorks then as the benchmark for the quality of yoga teaching at a yoga studio. Numerous stories floated around about how Maty could be a bit strict with the teachers; I think a better word is clear. YogaWorks was then, in my opinion the best yoga studio in the world.
Chuck and Maty sold YogaWorks and then travelled around the world. I invited them to come and teach some workshops at triyoga, and I cannot describe well enough the feeling when they said yes. It felt like a stamp of approval. We had entertaining lunches at Lemonia in Primrose Hill and in other eateries over the years talking amongst other things ethics, quality, authenticity and about the fun of running yoga studios. To me, their ethos was the core of YogaWorks. These were two teachers who were practitioners (and students) and whom stood for something very important – authenticity and quality.
Maty was always one of the first teachers we invited back time and again – she was a true teacher’s teacher and we wanted to make sure our teachers and students learned from her.
And it was fun arranging our schedule around hers, especially when a particular ballet company was in London so she could see them while she was here.
We will all miss her teaching and her depth and breadth of knowledge. I will miss her honesty and her humour. And I have a request – wherever you next practise, chances are the studio was influenced in some way by this tiny giant. Take a moment to offer a prayer of gratitude to Maty Ezraty.