The following interview was conduct with Eric Getz via e-mail.
Eric Getz teachers at Cambridge Viniyoga, and you can visit their website at, or e-mail at

1.) How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for 6 years. I have been studying viniyoga with Gary       Kraftsow in Maui, HI for the past 3-4 years. I'm in the middle of a 4-6 year yoga teacher/yoga therapy program.

2.) How did you get started?
I got started taking classes from Baron Baptiste when he was teaching in Philadelphia. From there I met Gary Kraftsow and began studying with him.

3.) What type of yoga do you teach?(please explain)
I teach Viniyoga (see below)

4.) What do you prefer/enjoy about this particular form of yoga?
What I like about this form of yoga is that it respects that we all are individuals. We have different bodies and different purposes in life. So instead of fitting your body into an "ideal" pose, Viniyoga (which roughly translates as "appropriate application," adapts poses to fit your body.

Viniyoga emphasizes breath and movement, adaptation of postures, and correct sequencing to create a yoga practice that is relevant to you, the individual.

5.) Do you feel anyone can enjoy and gain from yoga?
Most people in the right circumstance can enjoy and gain from yoga. But there are times (extreme poverty or illness, for example) when it is not appropriate.

6.) What has yoga done for you as a person?
Yoga has made changes for me both on the inside and on the outside, hopefully for the better.

7.) Do you feel yoga is more mental or physical?
For me, yoga is both at the same time.

8.) Do you believe it is an alternative form of healing and medicine?
Yoga can both be an alternative and complementary form of medicine/healing. Therapeutically, yoga has had tremendous results dealing with MS, diabetes, constipation, insomnia, PMS, back pain, depression, anxiety, etc.

9.) What do you think of famous people, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, getting into yoga?  Is it good for yoga or does it made it a fad?
If celebrities doing yoga brings positive attention to it then that is a good thing. I don't worry about it making yoga a "fad." Yoga has been around for thousands of years and it will continue to be here long after Gwyneth and Madonna move on to the next thing.

10.) Do you associate yoga with Hinduism?  If yes, in what ways?
No. Although yoga comes from India, it is not a religion. In fact, many sects of Hinduism have rejected yoga.

Although yoga is not a religion, it can be used to deepen one's relationship to a higher entity, whatever the individual considers that to be.

11.) Is yoga a way of life or a way to exercise and meditate?
Again, it depends on the individual. Yoga can be a way of life for those who chose to make it so. Some see yoga as just a series of asanas or exercises and for them yoga is about exercising. Others may see it as only a form of meditation and not practice the other aspects.

The following interview was conduct with Michael Reich via e-mail.

Michael Reich teachers at Beacon Light Yoga Center, and you can visit their website at or e-mail at

1.) How long have you been practicing yoga?
Just over 8 years.

2.) How did you get started?
I had been interested in Eastern thought since high school, when I heard the Eastern popularizer Alan Watts on the radio. Years later, after college, I was in a transition period, having left my first job after 3 years and a 2-year relationship, and somehow the thought came to me: "I'm going to start doing yoga." I didn't know anything about it, only that I wanted a class that was offered every day, because I thought doing it every day was the only way to get good at it. There happened to be that kind of class a few blocks away from where I lived, so I started there.

3.) What type of yoga do you teach? (Please explain)
The style I teach is called White Lotus. It is not so much a specific style as a set of principles. The originators of the style, Ganga White and Tracey Rich, studied with some of the foremost yoga teachers in India, including BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, and their approach is an eclectic blend of the focus on alignment and precision that characterizes Iyengar yoga, with the building of body heat and flowing of one posture to the next that comes from Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga yoga. So the style is usually rigorous and flowing, with emphasis on building healing heat in the body through a practice called ujjayi breath.

A typical class would begin with meditative breathing, followed by several series of sun salutations to warm up the body, then proceed to a sequence of standing postures that build strength and balance, also using gravity to increase flexibility in the legs. The standing sequence usually builds a lot of heat in the body, at which point it is ready for back bends, which are energizing and stimulating to the nervous system. To counterbalance the back bends, forward bends follow, which calm the nervous system and increase flexibility in the legs and lower back. Students flow from one pose to another through a sequence of linking poses called vinyasas, which help to keep the body balanced and the attention focused.

Finally the class may include inversions, which would be variations on a headstand, shoulder stand, or other position where the head is on the floor and the hips are above the head. To wind down further there is a pranayama practice, which helps to cleanse the inner body systems as well as further balance the nervous system by focusing on various methods of breathing. Finally there is relaxation in the "corpse pose" for 5 to 10 minutes, in which students lay on their backs and progressively relax their bodies and minds so that the practices they did in class can sink in at a deep level.

4.) What do you prefer/enjoy about this particular form of yoga?
In this style there is a lot of room for creative expression and originality in the choice of poses, so each class is different and usually has something new. At the same time, the basics of the practice guarantee that all of the body systems will be exercised and detoxified, no matter which White Lotus class you go to. So each teacher brings a unique angle on this style, and knowing the core practices will allow you to enjoy the variations on a theme.

There is another style of yoga I have taught in the past that I also recommend highly. It is called Bikram yoga, also known as "hot" yoga. In this style, there are 26 of the same poses that are done in each class, in a room heated to 100 degrees for maximum flexibility of muscles. This is the most therapeutic style (while at the same time being rigorous) I've encountered and I've seen it done by people in their 70's and 80's, both thin and overweight, and in one case, I've seen how it helped a stroke patient recover. Because there are no inversions or salutations in this style, there is less pressure on the joints, so this style is suitable for people who could not do White Lotus or Ashtanga yoga.

5.) Do you feel anyone can enjoy and gain from yoga?
Yes. Because a basic principle of yoga is to start with who you are, where you are, there is a yogic path for every person. Naturally different people will have different paths to yoga, but yoga has evolved with this understanding.

6.) What has yoga done for you as a person?
Yoga has made me more self-aware, both of my body and of my mind. One of the most useful benefits I've gotten is that yoga helps to slow down my consciousness so that I can notice when I am about to get out of balance - literally, such as when I am about to fall out of a pose but I can slow down and correct myself, but also mentally, such as when I find myself becoming angry or upset, and there also I can slow down and observe the process, and take steps to change it, rather than allow the reaction to overcome me.

There's also a certain type of integration I have now from my yoga practice. Whereas before I would usually think of one body part at a time, or focus on one thought at a time, I can now see my body as an integrated whole and feel all of it at once, from the skin to the internal organs to the bones. The same is true (occasionally) of my mind, where I can experience the whole storm of thoughts without being swept up in them.

Yoga also helps in relating to other people, since it promotes the idea that, underneath our bodies, before we are men or women, we are all pure consciousness, and that there is a part of each of us that is linked in a basic way with every other conscious being, and that helps to see other people as though they are all members of our own family.

7.) Do you feel yoga is more mental or physical?  Do you believe it is an alternative form of healing and medicine?
I feel that yoga is basically spiritual, which includes both the mental and the physical. I think that is why many people who do yoga for all kinds of different reasons find their version of upliftment through it.

I do think that yoga can be used as an effective healing method. Like many Eastern practices, I feel it is useful most for chronic diseases such as arthritis, low back pain, insomnia, diabetes, and other whole-body type diseases, although I feel it builds immunity in general and therefore is an excellent preventive practice.

8.) What do you think of famous people, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, getting into yoga?  Is it good for yoga or does it made it a fad?
Because famous personalities have tremendous influence on our population, I'm very glad that so many of them have endorsed yoga. Although some students might do yoga at first just because a celebrity does it, I feel that the basic nature of yoga will lead them to their own practices and realizations. Certainly some people will stop doing it when the current wave of popularity ends, but yoga is such a beneficial practice that there's no downside of having done a few classes and stopped. Considering what celebrities have endorsed in the past through their lifestyles, I consider their preoccupation with yoga a blessing!

9.) Do you associate yoga with Hinduism?  If yes, in what ways?
I consider that Hinduism is the birthplace of yoga, and yoga inherits many of its traditions from Hinduism, such as the invocation to Ganesh at the beginning of certain classes, and the recitation of "namaste" at the end. However, I think yoga is a universal practice that can be adapted to any tradition. It is a practice for all humans and as such, I think each culture can change the outer forms a little while keeping the basic principles at heart. For example, if a teacher were to replace "Namaste" with "Shalom" or other words from other languages that also refer to peace and devotion, I don't think yoga would suffer for it.

10.) Is yoga a way of life or a way to exercise and meditate?
I think yoga is a way of life. Because of our physique-focussed culture, we are using the physical practice of yoga as the front door to get to this yogic way of life - and some people will be happy to keep the yogic practice as merely physical, and will benefit from that. But ultimately I believe yoga is, from the original meaning of the word, a method that allows an individual self to achieve union with the greater self – cosmic consciousness, oneness, the absolute, or God, as it may be called, and this is a practice that informs all of a person's life.