Ruth Kazdan is a 74 year old musician and psychotherapist. She taught piano for 40 years and was a Senior Examiner at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She continues to perform and has an active psychotherapy practice. Ruth began yoga in 1991 and joined Esther Myers Yoga Studio sessions in 1996. Originally, she started at the Studio because it is in her neighbourhood, but didn’t know anything about the yoga taught here. She claims she just got lucky and has integrated yoga into her life ever since. Presently she attends two asana (yoga posture) classes and one breathing meditation class weekly.
Ruth started at EMYS shortly after beginning her psychotherapy training. She was experiencing a lot of inner change and the yoga supported her, allowing her to integrate personal and professional growth. Ruth has continued all these years because the yoga “sustains her and offers a sense of steadiness”. She finds attending classes at the Studio contributes to her mental calmness, increases her physical flexibility and stamina, and has opened up a wonderful community of people. From a physical point of view, yoga keeps her healthy and limber, improves her energy and feels like a necessity because her work has her sitting for much of the day. Ruth also attends Nia sessions for the aerobic benefits.
The breathing practice at the Studio improves her concentration when with clients and offers stress relief because it focuses her in the present moment. She highlights the Breathing Meditations class with Monica Voss as particularly helpful in this regard.
Ruth describes the approach to yoga taught at the Studio as “from the inside out”, organic, encouraging body awareness, and non-competitive. She finds her fellow students to be inspiring, enthusiastic and welcoming and delights in seeing what others can do and hearing their insights. Students move along at their own pace: there are no commands, only suggestions, and one thing leads to another. It’s fun and restorative and as soon as she walks into the Studio and lies down, she lets go of everything. Ruth felt a great accomplishment when after years of slow, steady practice she was able to do Wheel Pose and enjoys being in Headstand because it “feels good physically to be all stretched out and have nothing to do but breathe while seeing from a different point of view.”
Ruth expresses how the exploratory, unregimented nature of the classes fits in beautifully with her vocation as a psychotherapist. There is always a sense of curiosity, of being encouraged to try something and see what happens. After all these years of involvement she continues to discover new things while in class.
Ruth shared that once, when sitting and breathing at home, her cat came and sat beside her. The cat was fully present and did not need anything. Ruth feels this is the essence of yoga and remarks that everyone would benefit from a practice that stimulates self-awareness, enjoyment and relaxation.