This month we shine our student spotlight on Harvey Shapiro. One of IYCWM’s most dedicated and thoughtful students. It has been such a pleasure to watch Harvey’s practice grow over the years. Always up for a challenge, Harvey brings a never ending curiosity and vibrant energy to the mat. He always inspires his fellow students with his thoughtful reflections and hard work. Enjoy getting to know another one of IYCWM’s wonderful yogis.
Tell us a bit about yourself –I have been a college and university professor for 29 years. Prior to entering academia, I was a Jewish day school principal and camp director. I was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. I studied for three years at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. My wife and I have lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Marblehead (Massachusetts). We have lived in Needham, MA for the past 19 years. We have three sons – ages 32, 37, and 40.
What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? I am about to retire! For a long time, I have loved classical music. In recent months, I have begun to seriously study classical guitar.
What led you to Iyengar yoga? I began practicing Iyengar yoga in 2016, as I was seeking a yoga practice that was meditative while holding poses. I want to find a sense of calm and peace in my yoga practice.
How long have you been practicing yoga? I began studying weekly with a private teacher from India in 2015 and then began to study Iyengar yoga at Down Under Yoga in Newton.
What keeps you on the mat? A desire to be centered and focused. When I am doing yoga, I concentrate on the moment.
What keeps you off the mat? Aversion to the possibility of unwittingly injuring myself.
What poses do you love? Supta Virasana, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Salamba Sarvangasana.
What poses do you find challenging? Vrikshasana, Virabhadrasana III, and the Marichyasana series.
What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga? I love spending
time with my family – especially my grandchildren (2). I enjoy basketball, pickleball, studying classical guitar, reading and writing on philosophy and Hebrew literature. I also have enjoyed teaching very much.
How has practicing yoga impacted your life? Yoga practice has given me a sense of peace, hope, mindfulness, while also attuning me to what is possible in life.
How does yoga show up in your everyday life? When I correct my posture while walking, sitting, or standing. It has also helped me with accepting where I am various aspects of my life, and what the possibilities are at any given time.
How has the pandemic changed your daily life? Does your yoga practice help you in any way? My 4-day-a-week and monthly Saturday Vrksa series classes have been islands of hope, relative calm, and connection during the pandemic.
What has it been like to become part of a virtual yoga community where you do not know some of the other students? Though I recognize that I know little about my fellow students, on a deeper level I do feel connected to them.
How does this yoga community contribute to your practice? It gives me the incentive to practice and to be disciplined in doing so.
How has the switch to online classes during the pandemic affected your sense of community? How does it help stay connected? How does it fall short? I have very much valued the online classes in terms of learning and community. It is difficult, however, to duplicate the community atmosphere of being in the same room with other students and observing and assisting one another. I have very much missed my in-person classes.
What do you think about the future of hybrid yoga classes – some people in person some online? I think that hybrid is great as long teachers feel confident, nimble, and comfortable with the dual format.
Any advice for those seeking to connect to a virtual yoga community? Take virtual classes. During the pandemic, I have taken online classes from teachers throughout the country. In doing so, I have come to deeply appreciate the broader Iyengar community.