Body in Action, Mind at Rest
“Tradition is like a beautiful statue, which over the years, gradually returns to just a raw lump of stone. It is our duty to chisel away at it and recarve the beauty of the original form within” BKS Light on Life p, 241
Yoga has healed me, transformed me and helped me become who I am today. After losses, illnesses, my children leaving home and a terrible accident that almost killed me, I needed to refocus. It was my steady 20 years of yoga practice that brought me back to my center, and helped overcome a sense of helplessness. Yoga was there for me when my needs seemed unmanageable. It nursed me back to life and provided a sense of humble mastery. I know from experience that a life with a steady practice is a richer and fuller life. A life without problems is not a human life; a life with yoga is a life with an internal compass to help navigate skillfully our humanity. I started teaching yoga to transmit the beauty and the power of a practice that enables personal growth. A steady Iyengar practice of my body in action created the environment to quiet my mind. I aim in my teaching to let my students experience this powerful quieting of their mind as they move in space.
Teaching is coaching each student to find their compass as they practice the eight limbs of yoga. I admire and I am humbled by the Iyengar method. It provides me with systematic yogic tools to teach from my center. It is from this place that I can become a skillful teacher, one who navigates general knowledge and applies it to help a particular student grow. As a teacher, I am thrilled and humbled by the task of channeling this mysterious alchemy of integration. As my own teacher Peentz Dubble says, “we teachers are but a conduit”.
I became a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher(CIYT) because I fell in love with the method. I became a better person as I learned to work with a precise, systematic and inspiring body of knowledge. I love the mix of movement with a focus on the working of the mind. I love dancing andI care for the freedom of expression that comes within the Iyengar structure of teaching. When I inhabit these postures, at times, I feel a deep quieting of my mind and from that place everything seems possible.
I love the method that helps create intelligent sequencing, precise alignment and joyful being. I use props and principle of teaching that help each individual student find her/his own alignment and experience integration of being. In my classes I notice each student and allow each of them to develop, strength, stamina, and an ability to be in the moment.
Rahel Wasserfall has had a long career as an anthropologist.
I was born in Paris, France and I became an anthropologist in Jerusalem (with a PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem). I lived and worked on three different continents. I am published widely in the area of gender and the editor of Women and Water: Menstruation in Jewish Life and Law (UPNE, 1999). With my move to Boston and my growing family, I shifted my interest to Jewish education and Evaluation Studies. I was the Special Coordinator at JCDS (Boston Jewish Community Day School) in which capacity I directed the AISNE accreditation process. I also co-authored a study on Jewish pluralism in a local Day School. For ten years I have worked in evaluation of educational programs in complex multilingual and cross-cultural settings. Some of my assignments included: Director of Evaluation at The Center for the Advancement of Hebrew Teaching and Learning Inc (HATC); Senior Research Associate with Education Matters, Inc and the Mandel Center for Jewish Education at Brandeis.
My focus in the world of evaluation was on qualitative and developmental evaluation. I am the yearly evaluator and the Director of Evaluation and Reflective Practice at Communities Engaging Difference and Religion (http://www.cedarnetwork.org).
As a Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University (WSRC), I completed a number of projects including a book (with Seligman and Montgomery) Living with Difference: How to Build Communities in a Divided World (2016 University of California Press). This book describes the story and the methodology behind our yearly programs. Learning how to live with what is different, we need to see clearly, observe and not react but act skillfully. These qualities of the mind are explored as well through my yoga study and teaching. I am currently on leave from Brandeis, to explore in depth my commitment to studying, teaching and growing this path.
My work in the world of evaluation focuses always on a pragmatic approach to knowledge that continually queries: “knowledge for whom and for which purposes”. And it is this aspect of my qualitative work that is reflected in my yoga teaching. The Iyengar method helps the practionner, slowly and with precision, to enter the space of the body and like an anthropologist, study all aspects of that embodiment. Like in anthropological work, the Iyengar method cares about the particular. We are trained to see, observe and teach to the needs of individual students with care and precision.