I lived in NYC for six glorious years. It was a pivotal point of discovery and change. (READ late work hours coupled with boozy binges with friends, while simultaneously discovering meditation and ayurvedic cuisine.) It was during this time that that I dove deep into yoga. The caliber of the instructors there, and the posh yet inviting studios felt like home to me. I even deepened my practice during a 200 hr yoga certificate program in Upstate NY.
It is safe to say that yoga became a important part of my life, and a big catalyst for my career change from a web designer to an esthetician.
When I moved back to Ann Arbor I hopped around to a few studios before discovering Catherine of Catherine Matuza Yoga. During my very first class with her, I immediately felt like I had found my yoga home again. Her classes reflect the woman herself: intelligent and fun, well rounded and inspirational. In order to get to know her style and backround more, I asked her a few questions. Next week I’ll ask Catherine more about her meditation practice.
How did you get your start as a Yoga Instructor?
CM: After years of being a dancer and performer, I was looking for a career change. I had been practicing yoga and Pilates in New York City to take care of my own body and mind already. I was passionate about the anatomy of the human body, and so it was a fairly easy transition to get certified to teach. I primarily taught Pilates at first, along with many other fitness based classes. My first yoga training was 16 years ago. I yearned to truly study yoga as a whole, not just asana, so, gradually, I let go of teaching everything else and only pursued teaching and studying yoga. I obtained my 200 hour Teacher Training with BambooMoves and later completed my 500 hour training through Urban Zen Integrative Therapy.
Who was your best teacher and can you share with us a kernel of wisdom from them?
CM: Ahhh!!!! It would be impossible to name one of the many teachers I have studied with as “the best”, but a few specific things and people come to mind. Stephanie Miller-Kopyar from BambooMoves taught me to truly live my practice. She taught me to lead by example, and that sometimes silence in class is just as powerful as any words. Rodney Yee taught me SO many things, but the most important kernel of wisdom from him was, as a teacher, you need to do the work. You can’t teach what you haven’t practiced MANY times. Finally, my true teacher is my son. He is 7 years old, and teaches me everyday, in many ways, that the practice of yoga is NOT just moving through asana in a beautiful yoga studio. Yoga is a journey of connection to others and ourselves.
What imbalances in your body did you find once you got deeper into your practice?
CM: It would take a whole book to talk about all the imbalances that I have found over time. It’s a never ending puzzle…you address something, and then something else pops up. We are constantly changing and evolving, and that’s why practicing yoga NEVER get’s boring. There is always something more to discover about yourself. One of my more broad imbalances that I deal with is flexibility vs. stability. As a dancer, I have always been a very flexible person. So many people are striving to bring more flexibility into their bodies, but for me, I needed a practice that focused more on strength and stability to bring me more balance and less pain.
CM: When you opened these imbalances (or balanced the chakras, etc.) what did you notice shifting in your personal life? When I started to work more on physical strength and stability, I had a greater awareness of where I needed more strength in my everyday life and relationships. By exercising only the “flexible” part of myself, I found that I wasn’t always standing strong in my truth. Roshi Joan Halifax illustrates this idea best with one of her core messages “strong back, soft front”. ‘Strong back’ is my capacity to stand strong and uphold myself. ‘Soft front’ represents my capacity to stay open to things as they come. These lessons have bettered my relationships with my family, friends, clients and most importantly with myself.
More with Catherine on the subject of Meditation in my next blog post.