I was saddened last night to learn that one of the greatest yoga teachers in the West, Maty Ezraty, died – of all places – in Tokyo, the safest mega-city in the world. How could that be? The press release from the yoga studio Yoga Tree, Tokyo (no relation to Yoga Tree SF, I don’t think) states that she died in her sleep of natural causes. At Age 55? How is that?
I took her week-long intensive “Blue Print Asanas” maybe 5 years ago and never felt the presence of an incredibly authentic passionate and inspiring teacher more. I remember how I decided back then that should there ever be an opportunity again, I’d like to sign up for her more extensive TT someday for “motto” “motto” intense hours. So cute – she’d say “motto” “motto” which is Japanese for “more” “more” when the pose is held for a loooooooong duration and we are about to falter. A demanding and rigorous teacher she was. Yet, we knew she was full of love … she was … kind.
Within her small petite frame, she packed in so much of genuine real yoga – the knowledge, the wisdom and … decades of experience. Her yoga was yoga – not a brand name. I really liked how she brought the refined Iyengar teachings into the more brute (yeah, sorry – I think it’s a self-punishing, almost masochistic kind of practice – it’s only an opinion – for each her own – many want that to feel alive that way) Jois teachings – So it’s a flow but it’s alignment based and wise use of props … there’s always the restorative (thank you !)at the end, the eye for therapeutics in-bedded in every pose because of her keen attention to body language – observations. I remember vividly how her words and teachings really got to me as she ended the workshop with a deep bow of reverence for the practice she had dedicated her life to. I recall I talked to her about her impending trip to teach in Japan (after teaching in Israel next) and how she responded she loved to visit Japan and how she loved all the great foods … I guess she had been teaching there for many years, with her former-partner Chuck Miller… another master teacher. I might have even emailed her with some recommendations for some vegetarian nourishment around Hiroo area to which she responded to with graciousness and appreciation.
She can be quite the tough teacher, but at the same time, so humble. She can be so deep and profound, yet she can also be light-hearted with twinkle in her deep soulful eyes, sharing the unexpected great sense of humor – even then, I really felt the aura of someone not quite of this world … in my Japanese blog I referred to as a natural spirit or a fairy-like ethereal creature visiting the secular world, even though her small frame glowing with well defined muscles is all about super-human physical inspirations. So I feel that she merely returned back to where she came from feeling that her mission accomplished, now contemplating how to reincarnate into another even more evolved being. Reminded of a Japanese fairy tale of a beautiful princess who returns to where she came from – the great light – the full moon. The princess has many earthly attachments so she does not want to go but … she must go. The heavenly royal family has send the emissary down to fetch her to escort her return home. For those left behind, such a loss. Because … that … ironically the most “down-to-earth”, unpretentious, luminous light … is … gone. A great loss for us earthlings; great gain for the after-life destination.
Looking for some photos from that week when when I find them, I hope to post some … she was an amazing teacher.
My mother has outlived my father for over 30 years now and she used to say self-deprecatingly when I used to worry over her declining health – Oh, don’t worry, the good and the great die young but a useless one like me will live on so I will probably live a long life, so don’t worry about me… when I shared what she said with a friend, my friend was alarmed that my mother suffers from depression … well, it’s actually very old Japanese talk – it’s just the way they talk – self-deprecating. To be self-deprecating and modest considered virtuous, a sign of good breeding, considered high class in her times. The kind of trait that would be trampled over and misunderstood as timid, depressing or lacking in confidence in the modern world. Just the other day, my mother said over the international phone call – “I’ve been feeling so SOOO bad ” she says weakly, “I thought I might as well drop dead” … she continues, “but I didn’t !” ? She’s adorable. And actually quite powerful in her will and determination she hides so well with her modest demeanor – to say that she is kept alive by the mysterious powers beyond and those supportive and kind humans around her.
So many would see Maty’s death and wonder – so guess yoga isn’t about anti-aging as it’s cracked up to be – or muse that it’s not about longevity after all? I beg to counter those doubts or say that’s the ultimate irrelevance to our yoga practice – besides, who is to say, had it not been for yoga, she may not have lived as long. Or lead a life as full. OR lead a life to transform the lives of many others through her teachings. In other words, life not measured by numbers but by its quality – was it fulfilling? (I believe current known longest living yoga teacher is Porchan Lynch unless there are others uncovered in Asia – here she is:)
Maty probably lived a life more dense, extremely rich and ultra concentrated that perhaps her 55 years lifespan equaled 100 + years of a regular human. It was intensely lived where she accomplished so much in her 20’s and 30’s. I imagine that her life was lived with full of “motto” “motto” intense moments – “motto” “motto” just like her cues. She packed life full of rich experiences in there …It’s like a dog’s life where each human year is perhaps 7 dog years; it’s like that with her. Maybe someone lives hard, wastes no time and who lives her life to the fullest everyday would take off to another world a little faster and earlier than us regular mortals who takes a bit longer, slower to learn our lessons of enlightenment. Now am I suggesting that living a life full of intense moments will accelerate your lifespan – no. (But here’s an interesting study.) She learned all the life lessons and mastered them at an accelerated rate … perhaps. Maybe being a continual high-achieving off the charts student, she had to seek out a greater teaching by leaving this world… I am saddened.
Let me go down the memory lane photos and find those capturing her teachings. I am sure she touched so so many – many the current rock star status yoga teachers – that they, having had the more extensive relationship and thus,huge memories – huge hole in their hearts – mine was that brief blip with her training, of course called the “intensive” “immersion”. That training’s powerful imprint will be somehow retained within me. Who can do that right? Just a week of learning (other than distant) and already, you feel that intense sense of a great loss rising up within. I can only imagine how it must be for those who spent many months and years under her tutelage.
In the meantime, I am remunerating on my mother’s teaching – so – if the good die young, should I be … bad? No no no. Think my mom meant the “GREAT”, the saint … die young. I am no … saint for sure, and definitely not great.
Found some from that week:
Maty was definitely very HANDS-ON !
No, that’s not me in child’s pose with block under her forehead and her arms extended.
She’s showing the subtleties of arm rotations vis a vis the shoulder girdles. The entire sessions seemed to teach about how nuanced every parts of the body are; how each part in the body matrix network is connected – and how we can refine our senses to FEEL that when we practice with intention for integration, wholeness.
Thank you, Maty.