I just updated my bio. All these years I’ve been teaching yoga without mentioning the man who introduced me to the Ashtanga Vinyasa practice, opened the door, guided me onto the path, and lit the fire in me to transform back into myself. He’s the reason I sought out my first traditional Ashtanga teacher, the reason I went to Mysore to meet Guruji, and the reason I practice and teach yoga today. He was Larry Schultz, founder, director and teacher of It’s Yoga, and he passed away February 27, 2011.
I’ll never forget the first class I took with Larry. His studio was one room upstairs on Folsom. The stairway opened directly into the practice room, and Katie Cariffe and Catherine Davis greeted me with a welcoming, friendly smile, a tone of sincerity set by Larry and one that would always be present at his studio. A curtain hung around the desk/office area and there was a tiny bathroom in the corner. The space was straight forward, unassuming, and unpretentious, just like Larry. It was packed with an incredibly diverse group of people chatting and laughing and a buzz with energy. Larry emerged from behind the curtain with a charismatic air and slowly began making his way to the front of the class greeting people with a hug or a hand shake and a pat on the back. When he reached the front of the room, with a calm cool smile he placed his hands at his heart and chanted OM.
He maintained that smile the entire time he confidently yet lightheartedly led the class through the Rocket II, gliding effortlessly through sweaty bodies and giving light adjustments. “It’s just yoga,” he’d say, encouraging us to have fun and find joy in the movement while reminding people not to take themselves too seriously, all beautiful parallels for life. Larry caught a lot of flack from traditionalists who said you can’t mess with the sequence, but he taught that ultimately yoga isn’t about form, it’s about freedom, non-form and connecting to the underlying energy that connects us all. It’s about finding the pure joy that goes beyond the physical or external circumstances when you finally let go of some idea you think you should be and BE who you truly are. He encouraged us to look within, trust and let go and in doing so set so many along the path of self discovery and growth. He lived his life to the fullest and didn’t apologize for who he was, he didn’t need to… because he embodied pure love.
As I type these words I’m overcome with a wash of emotion for so many reasons. When the Universe guided me into my first class at It’s Yoga my life was a mess. I lacked direction, self respect, and self control. Larry changed that in a glance. He was like a mirror. I looked at him and saw myself smiling back in all my perfectly imperfect glory.
Larry Schultz, I wish I could give you one more hug. Thank you for being such a positive force in my life. I promise to keep the fire burning.