I began yoga when I was 19 years old. At the time I was a spoiled boy who enjoyed hanging out with friends and engaging in mindless activities. My first class I remember as being one of the most profound experiences I ever had. I felt muscles in my body that I never knew existed. Although it was a difficult and painful experiences, I knew it was something I had to take on.
I didn’t know at the time that yoga would change my life forever. I made it a point to practice daily and sometimes twice. My body started changing dramatically as I saw a life in me that was beyond the ordinary. My senses were awakened and eventually I started to achieve the positions with more ease as my body became supple and relaxed. I started reading more books on spirituality and how yogis could achieve a state of awareness unlike anything I thought possible. This encouraged me to persist on the path with great enthusiasm and joy.
After two years of the yoga practice I was doing, it began to feel repetitive, so I decided to try a different technique. My girlfriend at the time told me about a power yoga class in Santa Monica that attracted a lot of students. I went and enjoyed the classes but still felt as if something more meaningful was missing. That led me to the practice of Ashtanga yoga with a Maty Ezraty in Brentwood. During that period I studied with many teachers and I still feel grateful for all they had offered to my practice. The more I practiced the better I felt and the more determined I was to do the best I could. Through the guidance of Maty, I started to become more in tune with the poses and how they should be performed. Knowing yoga was something I wanted to make a career from, I decided to do the Yoga Works teacher training. When I told my parents of my plans they were fully supportive but I could hear the tremors in the back of their head saying “Oy, what has my child gotten himself into.” Yes, it seemed a bit eccentric that a Jewish boy from Los Angeles would aspire to teach yoga, and make any sort of living out of it, but I had an angle; I decided I would go to set myself up for a degree in Kinesiology and teach yoga to youngsters.
Everything was working out as planned until the inconceivable happened; my eldest brother was murdered. It tore my family apart. Even in that time of tragedy I knew that I had to be strong and continue with my studies, which I whole-heartedly did and eventually finished college. The following year the unthinkable happened again; my second eldest brother was diagnosed with cancer. This led me to move in with him in West L.A., ten blocks from the Iyengar Institute of Los Angeles. Though I had not been fond of Iyengar Yoga at the time, I decided to take up practice with Karin O’ Bannin. I grew very fond of Karin and Iyengar Yoga. I felt as if I had finally found a real teacher who could guide through the most difficult time of my life. My body grew even more supple and my back felt wonderful in the morning.
I started teaching Iyengar yoga and did many restoratives with my brother, which he enjoyed. That year was very painful, but ironically led me to want to continue teaching Iyenagar Yoga. I became more involved with the community and discovered the beauty and precision of Iyengar Yoga through the teachings of Karin, Manouso Manos, and many others who all shared a depth of yoga that I didn’t find in other teachers. I was humbled and forever changed.
My brother eventually passed on and I found myself in a deep well of pain and grief. I eventually got certified to teach Iyengar yoga but ultimately I decided to work with my father to be closer to the family. Throughout this time I knew in my heart of hearts that I would rather be teaching yoga. I still maintained a steady practice but my enthusiasm had dwindled immensely. Karin had taken off to India and I was lost not knowing what direction to head in. I finally decided that I would leave my fathers work and rekindle the spirit that I had lost.
I decided to move to San Francisco so I could study with Manouso Manos full-time, and try my luck in a new city. Not knowing what to expect things worked out wonderfully. I got jobs teaching at studios, and got to study with my favorite teacher. Now I am happy. I teach 8 classes a week, have a private clientele doing yoga and Muscle Activation Techniques. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Iyengar Yoga but I do know that the pain and turmoil we all go through in life can be lessened and even healed through constant practice. I am forever grateful to be a part of such a great community and to be surrounded by such amazing teachers.