IYCWM Student Spotlight: May 2021

By Published On: May 8th, 2021

I am so pleased to introduce Eli Porth,  a natural yogi. His gentle demeanor, openness and fearless spirit draws his fellow students to him. He puts everyone at ease and is a wealth of cultural knowledge. He always has a great movie, book or music to recommend. His willingness to try anything delights his teacher as well as inspires his fellow students. Enjoy learning more about this dear member of our IYCWM Community.


Tell us a little bit about yourself: My wife Ina and I have been married for 52 years. We hope and pray for many more years together. We moved from Orlando, Fl. to Hadley three years ago to be close to our two children and two grand-daughters: Stella and Amelie.They are 12 and 9 years old. I practiced ENT Surgery in  Orlando for 36 years.

Our son Gideon is the proud owner of Atlas Farm in Deerfield. He has been farming for over 20 years. I am proud to say that he was voted Farmer of the Year by the Western MA. Food Bank for donating produce to the Food Bank. He has been doing this ever since he started Atlas Farm.

Our daughter Marli is the Chief Operating Officer of Root Capital – a Socially Responsible Mutual Fund in Cambridge. It invests in Farms and small businesses in South America and Africa. I am very proud of both of our children. They believe in the concept of “Tikun Olam”- the Jewish Ideal of Healing the World. Practicing Yoga with Susan Elena has enriched my life both physically and spiritually. Hope to continue practicing together for many more years to come and am awaiting the day when we can practice together in person. Namaste, Eli
What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? I won first prize in the Poetry Reading Contest at Brady Elementary School in Detroit when I was in the 5th grade. I recited “The Song Of Hiawatha” by Longfellow by heart without any errors.
What led you to Iyengar yoga? How did you find IYCWM? Doug and Diane Gnepp referred me. They were the first friends that we met when we moved to Hadley 3 years ago.They are still one of our closest friends.
How long have you been practicing Yoga? I have been fortunate in  being able to be a student of Susan Elena for the past two and a half years. I have benefited greatly from these practices. It has helped my chronic low back and neck issues significantly. Also the setting of the class, combining mindfulness practices, relaxation techniques, and the wonderful poetry readings and Iyengar philosophy readings set a wonderful environment in which to practice Yoga.
What keeps me on the mat? I feel better after Yoga and sleep much better.
What keeps you off the mat? If we are out of town or rarely if we have a Music program on Zoom.
What poses do you love? Downward Facing Dog.
What poses do you find challenging? They are all challenging in a good way.
What do you like to do when you are not doing Yoga?I love to read, listen to classical music and opera, swim and ride my bike. I love volunteering at Cooley-Dickinson Hospital in the ER as a lay volunteer. Most of all I love spending time with my wife, Son, Daughter, and two Grand-daughters.
I love good movies.
How has practicing yoga impacted your life? It has helped the Arthritic Pain in my Neck and Lower back tremendously. Also, through Susan Elena, my wife and I were introduced to Mariah Freemole – our Mindfulness instructor. Our twice weekly sessions with Mariah has helped our emotional well-being.
How does Yoga show up in your everyday life? It provides tranquility and an appreciation of what your body and mind can still accomplish.
How has the pandemic changed your daily life? How are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis? Does your yoga practice help you in any way? I miss seeing and interacting with people- I miss hugs, handshakes, and talking to people face to face. I feel much better about the future after Covid now that Biden and his team are in office. In our Yoga class, I feel good interacting with people that are also seeking peace and harmony.
What has it been like to become part of a virtual yoga community where you do not know some of the other students? I would rather be in a live class. But for now we have to be cautious and do the best we can with our virtual Yoga classes.
How does this Yoga community contribute to your practice? It stimulates me to do my best and I learn from our fellow students by watching them do the asanas.
How has the switch to online classes during the pandemic affected your sense of community? How does it help you stay connected? How does it fall short? It has kept the practice and spirit of Yoga with me. However, I can’t wait to have live classes.
Any advice for those seeking to connect to a virtual yoga community? Get started with virtual classes and then transition to live classes. Take advantage of the opportunity to start yoga classes now with the most qualified Yoga Instructor in Western Mass.-Susan Elena Esquivel.

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