How did you start your yoga journey? And what makes you stay on the path?
I think most journeys start when we allow the old ones to come to end.
I was 21 years old: I had dropped out of the fine arts department at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and soon after ended a significant four year relationship.
At the time I was also passively pursuing acting. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence religiously studying classical ballet and so performance had always been (and still is) deeply meaningful to me.
I remember an almost constant juggling of relief, hope, confusion and worry.
I wasn't sure what would come next. I wanted to continue painting and acting…I would sit in cafes and sketch and write…occasionally I would collaborate on a short film, I also had a part time job at American Apparel.
But something was missing: I started realizing that I was cyclicly avoiding myself. Looking back, I know that I was desperate to fill the void with my natural gift for characters, personas and costumes.
My mom started practicing yoga around the time I was six. Although I grew up with knowledge of the practice, I yawned through most of these yoga classes; the postures seemed crude to my ballet focused mind.
I do remember a particular yoga group in Great Neck, NY which I felt connected to. They had a tiny house across from the ballet school where I studied and after my evening ballet classes, I would cross the road and enter the candle-lit, incensed room. My mom would be in savanna on the floor and I would join, lying on my back and closing my eyes. The teacher would guide us in meditation deep into a white cave where we would float weightlessly…the sessions would end with tea and stories.
We moved from Great Neck to Manhattan when I was 15, my dance training intensified and I eventually stopped thinking about the yogis.
I’m not sure how, but years later, I found myself at Yoga to the People, a donation based studio on the Lower East Side in NY.
I was pretty much hooked from my first class, I started practicing twice a day, reading books by Paramahansa Yogananda and Iyengar and hungrily researching the web for yogic information.
The teachers, all (fascinating) women around my age, encouraged me to take part in the next teacher training. And so, I took their advice and soon was a teacher in training.
Immediately following my graduation, I began an apprenticeship with YTTP and some months after, my prayers and efforts were answered and I became a full time yoga teacher, teaching up to five classes a day. Yoga teacher training never ends…every class gave me a wealth of experience, every practice deepened my connection and I continued praying for the honor of igniting as many people as possible with a love for yoga.
I myself, have a relationship with yoga. I love it and care for it and I know that “it” cares for me and loves me back. I stay on the path because the path stays with me.
You recently moved to Israel. Where were you living before? What prompted you to move to Israel?
Although I was born in Israel and a have a natural bond to it; I’ve been living in New York City (for the most part) for the past 17 years. I’ve always loved living in the chaos of NY and found it hard to imagine myself based anywhere else. I never saw this move to Jerusalem coming…there was no single prompt…rather a series of unlikely events, all leading me here.
This June, I was leading a yoga retreat in Tuscany, after which I headed to Paris to teach a few workshops. I had been in Europe at this point for three weeks and was excited to get back home.
As I arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport, ready to board, I was told that I am simply not on the flight list and must reschedule the next flight to NY, in 28 hours.
Feeling exhausted, I rolled my suitcase away from the check in stand and stood in front of a flight board. TEL AVIV popped out of the long list of upcoming departures and I realized, in a strange, dream like calmness, that I am flying to Tel Aviv in a couple of hours.
I shared my surprise landing on Instagram of course and soon received several messages from friends in Israel wanting to meet up. One friend suggested I come to a “street meditation” late that day on a very busy street in Tel Aviv. I was curious about the concept and although tired, I showed up with a couple of friends at the meeting point and we sat for a couple of hours on the pavement in meditation with a few others who were there.
Meditating in public, on a Friday night, on a crowded street may seem paradoxical; but I felt that strange, happy calm again, and dove quite deeply into my focus despite the constant audible commentary of those passing by.
Some time had passed and I started to feel the shifts and voices of those sitting with me. I opened my eyes slowly, the street glowing and coming into focus…my body was completely numb and I seemed transfixed as my eyes locked onto his.
We got on our feet, mine were in pins and needles, and started walking down the block.
His name, he told me, was Ezra, he came to Israel some months ago for his sister’s wedding and simply hadn't left.
I spent more and more time in Israel with Ezra; now we are living in Jerusalem together.
What do you love about your neighborhood in Israel?
I live in Nachlaot, a neighborhood in the center of Israel’s capital- Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the city central to so many of the stories and prayers and songs which I grew up with.
Or in my case, grew against with, because for as long as I can remember, I wanted to build a strong tolerance to my nature.
I guess in my search, I find myself ironically back in Israel, in Nachlaot, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Jerusalem…
It might be obvious, but I feel at awe at being here…less obviously, I have never felt more safe.
What do I love…?
I love the narrow cobble stone streets and alleyways that make you stop and smell the flowers. I love the stacked, side by side homes, white sheets drying in the sun, and the street lights in the rain. I love Friday morning havoc (the preparation for Shabbat) and Friday evening peace (as it arrives).
I love writing in the tiny cafe next door…taking the laundry to the laundromat and trying on old hats at the vintage shop while I wait.
I bought an old-fashioned market bag and I love filling it with avocados and clementines at the Machanei Yehuda market.
I love singing those old songs with Ezra as we walk through the streets…
You got into yoga and meditation at age 6. Can you talk a little bit about your first memories of yoga and how it helped your mother?
When I was young, my mother had lymphoma. Yoga had come into her life at this very hectic time and helped her remain herself while facing cancer.
She practiced hatha yoga postures… I remember the down dogs, shoulder stands and alternate nostril breathing we would practice together. Beyond the postures, I learned, through her example, of joy and perseverance. She published weekly stories in the local newspaper, visited the sick and set up an organization to help others battling cancer. She inspired and lifted others and continues to do so to this day.
How do you describe your yoga practice? Between physical and spiritual, which one weighs more in your practice?
I’ve been in a relationship with my yoga practice. Like any relationship, it has its ups and downs but I believe that when I keep my practice, it too, keeps me.
Throughout the years, I (and therefore my yoga) have matured and transformed and continue to do so daily.
The first five years of my yoga practice were highly physically demanding. I taught a minimum of three classes a day seven days a week and used any free time I had for my own practice and self education.
In the past couple of years, I have shifted into a much lighter teaching schedule (about five classes a week) as well as a lighter home-based asana practice.
I do not see the physical as being separated from the “spiritual”. My asana practice is a form of prayer, always was and God-willing, always will be.
How did you manage to stay in a yogic lifestyle while living in a busy city like New York?
I never had to manage…My practice was cultivated and thrived in the madness of NYC! I absolutely love New York because it is has a piece of every corner of the world inside it- it is very rich in its diversity, challenges and offerings. Clearly, I don’t think yogic lifestyles are limited to sandy beaches or peaceful country sides as I now live in Jerusalem- another one of a kind city.
You started the popular hashtag "Love and All is Coming..." What does this mean?
To me, Love and All is Coming has meant different things at different times and yet it continues to ring with a deeper resonance: Love is the desire to connect.
Having true desire to connect ourselves with Ourselves, with another or with the divine sets us on a trying, confusing and transformative path on which many things are revealed as they come to us, or perhaps as we come to them.
Love and all is Coming can be understood intuitively by the heart.
Still, the word love has so many meanings and forms and can easily be confused as the goal. I see it as more of a process.
In the process of love, I am silent enough to listen to a subtle sound or to witness the ordinary as the magical. It’s also scary at times, like an endless dive…In this process, I see that the external self (ego), like the external world (reality), is continuously built and rebuilt with our will.
There are times when it is hard to find the process of love in these consuming external realties because they become static when comfortable and love requires growth! Growth leads to transformation, transformation then insists on continuous renewal.
When we cultivate a desire to connect we must then renew it every single day.
In other words, Love is a daily practice.
What's the most difficult part of teaching yoga?
Maybe defining myself as a yoga teacher would be difficult.
Did you ever think that it would become your career and how did it change your life?
I had many different thoughts…during my TT, I experienced thoughts of both doubt and hope about yoga. In my heart, I wanted nothing more than to devote myself to yoga, but of course, there were times when my mind would respond to difficulties with nagging thoughts and scenarios of failure.
My desire for yoga was insatiable though: I think when we love anything very deeply, it fills us with faith which transcends the rational. In other words, I had faith that I would succeed but I had no clue how.
Yoga changed my life and continues to change it in many ways. If I had to get to the bottom line, I would say, it gave me what I wanted more than anything: purpose and meaning.
What's the difference between being a student and a teacher in your personal experience? Do you think your practice has evolved over the years?
Teaching and Learning go hand in hand. It is impossible to do one without the other. An excellent teacher is simply an excellent student.
In order to teach, I must be genuinely inspired and able to renew my connection and relationship with yoga. Of course my practice has evolved, it is very much alive and changes day to day.
Have you ever encountered any challenge in your practice and teaching?
In my experience, challenge is always present as the counterpart force or even the “parent” of our greatest gifts and talents.
To give a superficial example: I look younger than I am, especially in person and my asanas differ than the norm in their depth- therefore others’ perceptions of me have sometimes been a challenge. People who have never met me, spoken to me or taken my class have formed opinions based on my physicality alone. But this of course is to be expected considering the nature of my work and visibility.
Challenge is good as long as we take its cues with a few pinches of salt. It definitely has strengthened my character and resolve.
What poses would you suggest to someone looking to start a yoga practice?
Sit down and cross your ankles on the floor, focusing on your breath and watching your thoughts. If that’s too comfortable, try it on your head.
Where are your favorite places to practice yoga? What do you love about them?
In the summer, I like to hold postures outside, in parks, by trees. I love the feeling of aheadstand on dewy grass.
I generally prefer to be alone for a full practice. My ideal setting for a practice is a bigempty, warm room with hardwood floors and a mirrored wall. Like an empty ballet studio from my childhood, with tall ceilings and large windows.
Do you have classes online?
Yes, you can find my online series, Love & All is Coming, open to all levels on CodyApp!
You travel around to conduct workshops and trainings, do you find any difference in yoga practice in various countries?
I’m very grateful for the ability to travel and experience the beautiful diversity of the world. There is a sort of outer layer of sameness- yoga studios and yoga students look pretty similar worldwide: they wear the same brands and listen to similar music and sip on tea and coconut water. Of course, when I look past the superficial, my feeling is that each country, each people have their own unique spirit and I hope that this diversity continues to thrive despite this age of globalization and instant information…Sometimes I think we confuse the concept of Oneness with sameness. Oneness gains meaning and purpose only through the acknowledgment in both mind and heart that we are in fact different- and for good reason! Each nation serves a unique purpose and no two souls are alike, but we all, in our own ways, serve a single inconceivable whole .
“Yoga Selfie” (posting yoga photos and videos on social media) has become a trend, as one of the most popular InstaYogis, how do you see it?
All yoga is good yoga. Yoga selfies are a fun way to stay motivated and connected with other yogis. Also, they may (and do!) eventually trigger a deeper connection to the practice and its community.
What are the messages you would like to send out in your photos on social media?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words…Before the evolution to written words, people communicated their ideas through drawings and symbols. I think visual communication is extremely powerful in the way it breaks through the language barrier.
As an artist, I appreciate the process of creating a beautifully lit , well composed photo and I really enjoy selecting and curating my feed. Besides the visuals, I also communicate my daily thoughts and meditations through my written captions. Together the image and caption send a message which hopefully provokes the mind and heart to awaken and serve with joy.
What was the hardest pose for you to master?
I’ve mastered nothing so it hasn't been hard so far.
Have you always been flexible?
I have always practiced my flexibility.
Can I improve my flexibility at any age?
Yes, with practice you can improve the flexibility and mobility of your joints. The key is to create a sustainable, lifelong practice in which you compare yourself to no one but yourself.
Who takes your photos?
Recent photos are taken by Ezra. He is an indescribably gifted and caring artist. Others are taken by wonderful and talented friends and/or professionals who are always credited in the posts.
How tall are you?