I have always been attracted to yoga and the wonderful stories about the yogis. When I was in fourth grade and we were learning about India, I taught myself to stand on my head with my legs crossed in the lotus position. During my (compulsory) military service I came across the book Yoga and Health by Yesudian and Elisabeth Haich – one of the first books on yoga to be translated into Hebrew. I started practicing according to the pictures in the book. Later, in 1978, while I was a student in Jerusalem, I started to formally study yoga. At the same time, I developed an academic career, completed a degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in Computer Science, and worked as a software engineer at Intel. However, my great love was and remains to be – yoga, and this love made me deviate from the otherwise ‘normal’ course of my life and devote more and more time and energy to my path in yoga: to practice, study, and teaching yoga. About 15 years back, I decided to quit completely from computer science, and since then I am a full-time yogi – I never regretted this decision.
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I was exposed to yoga in the Shivananda method. I will never forget the first class I took – I felt something I knew would change my life. I simply knew, without any doubt or hesitation, that this is what I want to do in life. This was toward the end of the first year of my university studies, and during the summer vacation, I worked away from Jerusalem. But it was clear to me that when I return to Jerusalem, I would return to my yoga Sadhana, with great devotion and enthusiasm. I was lucky to come upon teachers that conveyed the spirit of yoga in their personality and teaching. I felt that practicing yoga was like remembering something I knew and forgot. The poses were not really new to me (although I did not really know them) – I just had to re-remember them… At first, it was my own practice that was most important to me, but later I realized that without sharing this gift with others, my path in yoga would not be complete, so I turned to teach as well.
In 1982 I participated in a month-long Shivananda teachers training. In this course, I first heard the name ‘Iyengar’ and someone mentioned that there is a teacher of that method in Jerusalem. As soon as I started to study the Iyengar method, I realized its great benefits. In 1988 I first traveled to the Iyengar Institute (RIMYI), in Pune, India, to learn the method directly from B. K. S. Iyengar, who became my Guru. Since then, I have traveled many times to Pune, to study with Iyengar, his son Prashant and his daughter, Geeta.
Incidentally, I visited Pune in 2014 when Iyengar passed away and was able to pay my respects and deep gratitude to my Guruji. The cremation ceremony was very touching. Following his departure, the Iyengar method continues to live and develop under the guidance of his son and his granddaughter – Abhijata.
My practice has not changed much over the years. I enjoy practicing outdoors, in nature, especially on the beach, which is close to my home. As I get older these days, I tend to do less dynamic practice, and I like to stay in asanas for a longer time. The inversed asanas (Sirsasana, Sarvangasana, etc) are very important for me, and I spend longer time daily in these asanas. I also devote more time to the practice of Pranayama and meditation.
I have been teaching the Iyengar method for over 30 years and trained new generations of yoga teachers in this unique method. I regularly conduct yoga workshops in Israel and around the world. I write articles and books about yoga. For many years I was active in the Iyengar Yoga Association of Israel and took part in the teacher certification process. I continue to study yoga every day, and write articles on yoga. I wrote 6 books about the practice of yoga and the 7th (Yoga in Nature) is to be published soon. I have also translated the books: The Tree of Yoga and Light on Pranayama of B.K.S. Iyengar into Hebrew.
I love practicing yoga and have been doing it for over forty years. Every morning around 6 am, I start my daily yoga practice; When I have time, I may continue to practice until 9 or more. These are the most precious hours for me. At the end of the practice, regardless of the mental state in which I have started it, I always feel peace and harmony. In my heart, I express my deep gratitude to this ancient tradition and thank the yoga teachers from whom I learned this art which brought so much light to my life.
I believe that yoga practice and teaching should be done out of love for the subject. Every practice or class is an opportunity to learn and create something new. The quality of the class depends upon the quality of the encounter between the teacher and the students. When there is a real connection there is yoga (the word “yoga” means to unite or to connect), and then the class becomes a deep and enriching experience for both the students and the teacher. I feel that the practice of yoga is special, when it is done with awareness, mindfulness, and investigation, it always takes one to the depth of one’s mind and heart. It allows us to welcome the inevitable changes of life, and to meet the vicissitudes of life with greater balance and equanimity. I have experienced over the years a very positive change, improved wellbeing, stable health, more intellectual clarity and emotional stability, and above all, more joy, peace, and love.
But who was your teacher?
I know some people had as their teacher the very same Iyengar, but most of us had a western teacher, who inspired us and, besides, manage to go regularly to India.
Eyal Shifroni says
My first teacher was Dina Boger; this was in 1982, but when I left Jerusalem, I didn’t have a teacher I could go to regularly.
But I kept going to Pune every other year, and I learned from many teachers that came to Israel to give workshops and also traveled to get more teaching, abroad.
What an inspiring story Eyal! I have got your books and gifted some to my fellow Iyengar yogis and recently attended your zoom class. Would love to keep up my practice with as much dedication and passion as you – thanks for sharing your journey and practice!
Eyal Shifroni says