Meet EMILY WURGAFT!
As a runner and former rower, I’ve spent many, many years doing damage to my body. It was a vicious and cycle of training for some race or regatta, and landing myself right into physical therapy and the related anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and cortisone shots. There had to be a better way. I sought yoga out and hoped it was the better way. After two classes, four years ago, I realized that it was the better way; for balance in both senses of the word.
When people move to a new neighborhood they look for the essentials; a pharmacy maybe, a post office, what-have-you. When I moved to Cobble Hill from the West Village in February, my search was for a produce market, coffee shop and yoga studio. The search was short one all three, but clearest for a studio. After two classes at Mala, I had learned so many new ways to work with my arthritic feet and stress-ridden neck. My practice immediately opened up. And finding the community, just as I was making the move to Brooklyn, was an added treat.
What pose do you want to do all day? What pose could you never do again?
I’m not a huge fan of bow pose, as I can’t reach my feet. I could hang out in shoulder stand (supported of course) all day.
What are your biggest yoga obstacles and how do you overcome them?
Generally, my biggest yoga obstacle is in the physical practice with the myriad of issues in my feet that has weakened them, and my ankles, over the years. The only way I have found to overcome it is to just keep learning and trying new things and seeing what makes them feel better, the pose stronger and my nervous system calmer. Trial end error, I guess. Something always ends up working.
What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?
Steph talks about the fact that instructions change, both overtime and circumstantially. My practice has grown over the years and what I learned four years ago doesn’t necessarily apply now. I’m working with a different body at a different time of my life. Obviously, my triangle pose will look different.
Where is your favorite place to get a drink post-yoga?
Coffee: Café Pedlar or Maybelles
Drink :Black Mountain Wine House
If you could practice yoga anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Mt Kathadin in Maine is the northern most point of the Appalachian Trail. The tradition amongst my friends I who have climbed it is to do a headstand at the summit, where there is only an occasional eye-level cloud and other mountain peaks in the distance. Knowing what I know now, I’d like to go back and practice there.
How has practicing yoga shifted other aspects of your life?
I think the strength I have been finding in my feet, and the ability to remove my shoulders from my ears, has led to me standing up a bit straighter and in turn be open to new things as they present themselves. I was never a person who did well with change; yoga has made that easier. Practicing has also made room for important things that used to be in my life to return. Over the past year I have gotten back in my running shoes/hiking boots, started writing again, been devouring (actual) books, made a killer sweet potato spoonbread, and even got back into a scull. And all with physical and mental stability that I attribute to the practice of yoga. Soon enough there will be room in my hips to get up into a handstand.
We’re thrilled to bring you the stories of Mala yogis in their own words. Maybe you know them, maybe you’ve never seen them before, maybe they look familiar, maybe you once knew their name, but forgot. Whatever the case may be, here is the chance to learn a little more about the person practicing on the mat next to you. Click here to read about other yogis.