Esther Myers, in Memoriam

“There are values implicit in any style you are teaching. ‘No pain, no gain’ is one extreme. ‘If it hurts, don’t do it’ is another extreme. ‘Stay on the edge and still keep a steady breath’ would be another value. Can you make those values conscious, and in doing so be clear about what they are? Then they are yours, and people who share them will be drawn to you.” – Esther Myers

Esther Myers was one of Canada’s most experience and respected yoga teachers. Reid Robins, a close friend, described her life as one of continuous exploration. “Esther was utterly relentless in her search for authenticity. She had the courage to question her own assumptions and was prepared to sacrifice her own “rightness” to accommodate a larger truth. Esther practised her yoga in the deepest recesses of her own heart, lived her life with dignity and consistency, and continued to transform her heart until her final breath.”

Inspired by her teacher Vanda Scaravelli, Esther developed an organic approach to Hatha Yoga that emphasizes breath, agility in the spine, and gravity as a positive force that grounds the body. She wrote a detailed book on the method, Yoga & You (Shambhala 1997), and produced two videos, Vanda Scaravelli on Yoga and Gentle Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors.

Esther lived with cancer for nearly a decade. She said that illness was a “driving motivation” on her spiritual path. During the last months of her life she continued to offer classes at her studio in Toronto, which she founded in 1979, and to improve the teacher training program. A colleague said she went about this work “not with a sense of urgency or avoidance of rest, but with a passionate and sustained interest in yoga and how it can be taught clearly, compassionately and thoughtfully.”

She passed away during a full moon on January 6, 2004.

Here at ascent, we considered Esther a part of our community. Over the years she contributed feedback, ideas and articles. (“Vanda”, ascent 17, spring 2003, and “ New Mythologies,” ascent 19, fall 2003). We express our condolences to her family and friends, and say thank you to Esther for her keen mind and her dedication to discovering the essence of yoga. – JG

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