Bellarmine News

Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Mata, M.A. ’15

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sarahmata“The graduate program allowed me to dive deeper into Yoga study, uncovering new questions and areas of exploration about a practice and tradition I felt I knew well. It was within this new terrain of inquiry and vulnerability that I grew.”

Sarah Mata, M.A. ’15, began teaching Yoga in Los Angeles in 1985. A devoted student of luminaries including; T.K.V. Desikachar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Srivatsa Ramaswami, Gary Kraftsow, Richard Freeman, Tim Miller, Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty, she became a member of the inaugural class in Yoga Studies at LMU in 2013. She completed her M.A. in Yoga Studies in 2015.

Sarah now leads undergraduate Yoga courses at Loyola Marymount University, assists within the LMU Extension Vinyasa Krama Teacher Training, teaches at Esalen and is the founder of Canyon Yoga and Cedar Street Yoga where she offers customized, private classes.

Q: You were already an active Yoga teacher before pursuing your MA in Yoga Studies.  Why did you choose to pursue graduate study in this field?

A: I had been teaching professionally since 1985. But I saw that what can be realized through teaching and practice is a bit different than what can be realized through study. I wanted to devote myself to academic work with stimulating peers in a vibrant community. Dr. Chapple and the professors in the program really inspired the yoga of study! Too many people understand yoga as only a physical exercise. I believe it is the responsibility of teachers to lead the way with their own dedication to diving deeper into yoga, not remaining on the surface of understanding.

Q: You assist Ramaswami with the Vinyasa Krama Teacher Training at LMU, which is one of the possible pre-requisites for the program. You also currently teach undergraduates at LMU. How did studying within the MA further these ways of sharing yoga?

A: LMU has a unique way of connecting people because there is real appreciation of the intellectual heritage of yoga. A series of connections led me to teaching undergraduates. And Ramaswami has been very empowering – he is a truly generous teacher who is motivated by the purest devotion to his teacher, Krishnamacharya. At the same time he is an impressive intellectual. Between Ramaswami and Dr. Chapple I have realized that doing yoga studies properly takes a lifetime.

My dedication to my own studies at LMU stabilized me in my teaching. I had to enrich my own knowledge before sharing with others.

Q: What have you found to be unique about LMU’s Master of Arts in Yoga Studies?

A: The program offers an incredible support to anyone interested in bringing the sensibilities of yoga into the modern world. For me the program gave me a sense of strength by virtue of connecting with like-minded others who do not feel content with yoga landing in the fitness box. Yoga taught through LMU offers real stimulation for lived peace.