The first moment I walked into the original Yoga Works in Santa Monica I was a little surprised and a lot amused. At that time Gainesville only had a single studio, Silver Lotus. To get to class you had to be fit enough to survive an especially long creaky stairwell, brave enough to risk sketchy parking, and crazy enough to pack yourself in to a smaller than expected room mat to mat with falling neighbors and flinging sweat. My mother came to my class once and refused to ever come back. The original Yoga Works wasn't so different, and in the comparative glitz of southern California, it felt incredibly sincere. It felt like home.
I had found out about her through other Astanga teachers and practitioners. She was an amazing practitioner, and trail blazer. She was my first example to learn everything, incorporate everything good and sensical instead of submitting to stylistic dogma - much less subculture dogma. I did not meet her or get to take a class with her until years later when I had already started a Yoga Works Training, and was helping to represent Yoga Works at a Yoga Journal conference. Despite years of admiration and anticipation, Maty far exceeded my expectations.
With out any exaggeration, this incredible woman has been my professional North Star for almost 20 years. My gratitude for her pioneering spirit, her blunt honesty, her grace, and even her willingness to admit mistakes guides me through my teaching practice.
If you have ever heard me mumble in the middle of class, "Well, I could have said that better," it is because of Maty.
If I have ever asked you to, "hold the block," blame Maty.
If I have told you that being soft is OK, thank Maty.
If you learned to stop "tucking" your "tailbone" and leave your pelvis alone from me, send love from your pelvis to Maty.
If I have ever said "hollow your armpits," or "reach up through your shoulders," or knew where you were holding tension by observing the topography of your skin, it is because of Maty.
If I have taught you a foundational sequencing method, then made you practice it over and over again until you could construct a damn good and safe class even when you barely have time to prep, that is because of Maty.
Part of me, a big part, wants to go on and on with this because I could, but the other part knows that she preferred things to be sensible and clear. So, here is the bottom line:
Much like Krishnamacharya, there is a very high probability that you can trace through your teachers back to Maty. That is how far reaching her work resonates through the yoga community in the United States and even abroad. She is not as famous, and definitely not as glamorous as many of her students, but she is their teacher, and she did an amazing job showing us how to be true to this practice and relentless in our explorations.
I love you. I honor you. I am grateful for you.