Photo of Maty Ezraty by James Wvinner
I’ve been feeling quiet and introspective in the wake of the untimely and shocking death of Maty Ezraty. I’m still very much in the throes of processing this loss. As if grief wasn’t complicated enough, I never had a personal relationship with Maty. In fact, I only had the honor of practicing with her once. But my sadness feels deep, and it makes me wonder how it’s possible to feel so much for someone I didn’t know.
The truth is, as the founder of YogaWorks and the co-creator of the YogaWorks teacher training, Maty’s impact on my life was profound. Simply put: I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. Her influence—passed on to me through the brilliant teachers she inspired and imbued in the methodology I’ve taught for fifteen years—has shaped my understanding of yoga and my values as a teacher.
While I’m still struggling to find the *right* words, I’ve found comfort in the words of others. There have been so many beautiful tributes written by those who loved her and were loved by her. One such tribute by Sarah Ezrin for LA Yoga captures some of what I want to say.
I worked harder in that room than I had in my entire life. Not because she pushed me into the deepest expression of poses, but rather because she pulled me way back and asked me to find the work in the preparation. […] she taught me the hard work in simply showing up with all of my heart.
For Maty, it was never about the postures. It was about the practice. More importantly, it was about how the practice connects us to ourselves. “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.” This is what yoga means to me.
As I contemplate how I might carry Maty’s light in me, I feel called to reconnect with my purpose. Maty’s teaching remains my gold standard—to share yoga with integrity, humility, passion, and an unwavering belief in my students’ potential. She raised the bar for us as practitioners and teachers, and in doing so revealed the joy and freedom in simplicity, discipline, and hard work.
I will strive to celebrate her spirit in how I show up for my students and their practice; in how I show up for myself and my practice; in honoring my teachers and the wisdom of their experience; in keeping it simple (thank you Jenny Aurthur for instilling this in me); and in practicing for the joy of practicing.
Thank you, dear Maty, for sharing yourself and your passion for yoga. It—you—changed my life. I’m forever grateful.