The world is made up of infinite shades of grey, and there are as many variations of beauty as there are things in the world.
Erica Mather has a mission… Her aim is to make a difference in the world and in the lives of others. A lifelong teacher in a broad stroke of subjects, in recent years Ms. Mather has been fulfilling this tall order by sharing her love of yoga. In 2009, Ana Forrest invited Erica to become one of The Guardians – an elite circle of senior teachers entrusted with passing along the Forrest legacy. In addition to holding this distinction, Erica leads teacher training programs, specialty classes, and workshops around the globe which focus on Yoga Sequencing, Assists, Managing and Healing Injury, Life Planning, Body Image Positivity, and of course her beloved Forrest Yoga. In 2014, Erica launched her online program, Adore Your Body, a Signature System designed to help overcome body image challenges.
Based in New York City, Erica is no stranger to New England. She is a regular presenter at Kripalu, and she has a special message for yoga instructors… “Yoga retreats are essential to your health and development. Here’s why: You need to receive yoga medicine. I’ll say it again. You. NEED. To Receive. Yoga. Medicine. Remember those days when you just went to class, and didn’t know anything about the hustle and bustle of teaching? Blissful, bygone memories, I’m sure. One way to get that back is to take yourself on a retreat. There’s no purposeful learning… no certificate to receive… no new skill to wow people with once you get back. Just… hit the reset button. Be a student. Be a beginner. Be a person immersing themselves in the joy of just experiencing. I suggest going to a yoga friend’s retreat, or a senior teacher you enjoy. It can be nice if you find a retreat just for teachers, but even as I’m writing that I’m thinking nah… it’s important to be with the rest of the WHOLE tribe, in grace. As teachers, part of our uplevel is to be a real human, in real situations, and have our teaching prowess integrate everywhere. Just hanging out with someone else’s students can help you practice that skill.”
This August 24th- 27th Erica will return to Lenox for Yoga and Body Confidence with Michael Hayes and Adelia Collins, featuring a keynote presentation by Matthew Sanford. A perfect opportunity to receive yoga! What a treat to catch up with Erica and learn more about her life backstage…
What does the first hour of your day look like?
It depends what day it is! Some days I’m up and out the door within 45 minutes to see clients. Those mornings are action-packed: shower, eat, GO! Other days, I do yoga first thing in the morning, and meditate. Others, I lounge in bed, and read a good book. Inspirational nonfiction is a great way to start the day!
What three things are you never without?
1. My breath
2. The consequences of my actions
3. My well-wishes for the world and all the beings in it
How do you currently exhale or unplug?
The best unplug I know is sleep. It allows for rest and regeneration, and also dream time where the spirit can roam. When I’m awake, the decision is truly a moment-to-moment one: where am I? How much time to I have? What part of me needs to unplug? Brain? Body? Spirit? Heart? Usually, I’m on constant exhale, so what I really need is an opportunity to INHALE. Modern people are gogogo, which is an exhale…so we really need that time and space to breath in. Or–we’re often not actually even breathing, and are in a state of constant breath-holding. This is really detrimental to our health! Sometimes, even releasing the holding pattern, and beginning to breathe can be the thing that allows the nervous system to relax, and reset.
Favorite high-powered snack?
I try not to snack. Over many years of managing an eating disorder, snacking became a way to never actually EAT. I deluded myself into thinking that I was “eating healthy” by riding through the day on green juice and chocolate, never actually experiencing my food or feeling my body’s reaction to it. It’s important to sit down, chew, taste your food, and be with yourself while you eat. For me, snacking was a way to disconnect and numb out. But if forced to choose, I would say a hard-boiled egg is my first choice.
OMG–where is there NOT beauty? As I’ve progressed in my yoga practice, things have become less black and white. The world is made up of infinite shades of grey, and there are as many variations of beauty as there are things in the world. That said, things that really touch my heart these days are birds. I’m getting to know more about them, and will probably volunteer at a wildlife rehab here in NYC. Just this spring I’ve already rescued two baby birds from certain death on the sidewalks. Just finding out that there is a bird rehabilitation center on the Upper West Side was one of the most astonishing “beauty” events of my recent history.
If you’d like to read what I mean when I refer to “beauty”, check out www.stuffilearnedatyoga.com.
Go with the flow – which really is a few things: patience, compassion, kindness, understanding, flexibility, and forgiveness.
A quote that keeps reappearing for you in your life?
“No mud; no lotus.”
Finish the following sentence: I’d really like to teach the world to…
By “the world” I assume you mean “people”! “The world” has nothing to learn from me; and I, everything to learn from she!!!
That being said, I wish I could teach people to take care of the world better. Simple things like, if everyone picked up ONE piece of trash a day, the world would be so much cleaner, and we all would feel the effect of that. To pick up trash is to take pride in our surroundings, and to consider them collectively ours to steward. Not “this is mine, that is yours…” And, at the end of the day, make no mistake–the planet does not belong to us. We belong to her. When it’s all said and done, to her we will return. Love your mother. Love your self.