Spotlight on an ISHTA Senior Teacher: Cindy Moss Terracina
Where did you grow up? I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. I lived there until I was 7 and then we moved into Manhattan. I spent the rest of my early childhood, teenage years, as well as my, early adult years on Manhattan’s east side. In my late 30’s I moved to Rome, Italy where my husband is from. I moved back to N.Y. shortly before 9/11 with my family. I continue to go back and forth and consider Rome and NYC my two homes.
When did you take your first yoga class? What was your introduction to Yoga? I actually, started my practice of Yoga in Rome, Italy with an expat in 1998 when I became pregnant with, my now, 20-year old daughter. I had been a runner, no marathons, but a steady runner starting in my mid 20’s when I was employed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was very convenient to run at the reservoir on my breaks and after work. When I became pregnant at 39, I was told that I should stop running as that was an age considered to be high risk. Naturally, I was not happy and very concerned about how I would stay in shape. I had many friends that were practicing Yoga in the 90’s, but I had never thought of myself as one to follow a yoga practice. For me it was about burning calories and staying in shape with a strong cardio practice while and balancing maintaining my mental health with Freud (western therapy)!
How would you describe your class? I think the best way for me to describe my class is how a student once described it and was right on “SNEAKY HARD”! Others have said “OLD SCHOOL HARD!” Focusing on form and strength via the BREATH. I try to offer students options. I ask them to be open-minded. We all get set in our patterns, not only off the mat, but ON the mat as well. This practice is about breaking patterns. I challenge students to reevaluate assumptions about postures, by bringing more attention to the breath which in turn will lead to viewing and finding the shape of the posture with more ease as well as beginning the process of self acceptance. My hope is that one will get excited about their practice in a new and refreshing way. I am VERY detailed oriented and offer very explicit cues based on my own practice. I consider myself to be sharing my practice and NOT teaching. We all experience and learn differently. It is equally important to acknowledge recognizing a cue, as it is not. I begin every class with a reminder of the three main ingredients required to call a practice YOGA: TAPAS SVADYAYA ISVARA-PRANIDHANA. I define an advance practice as ultimately finding stillness in a simple seat. And how hard is that for most of us to do!! As a teacher of mine once said “we put ourselves into stressful postures to deal with the stresses in life”. Ultimately, as per the Sutras, we must find STHIRA and SUKHA in every pose. Focus, steadiness and ease. Ease WITHOUT dullness. And the last and most important ingredient added in my class is HUMOR! A must! By the way, you can sweat a lot in a “sneaky hard” class ;)!
What drew you to take the ISHTA training, and what about the ISHTA teachings inspires you now? When I returned from Rome I was lucky to find Alan and the many wonderful teachers at Be Yoga on the back of my building where I had been living at the time in midtown. I had stayed there for about a year after he left to open ISHTA mainly for convenience while at the same time developing a relationship with my teacher and ISHTA Senior teacher Kara Sekuler. She encouraged me to visit ISHTA – and it’s all history from there. About a year later I decided to enter the Teacher Training program with NO intentions of ever of teaching. I wanted to understand better how the yoga practice was helping me during a time that was very challenging. I had and still have my many years of psychoanalysis and all its tools which I am VERY thankful for, but I was very intrigued how the yoga practice was adding a layer to my moving through a period in life where many times I could have opted for out. While I could go on, I think I will save it for my future book ☺! Isn’t everyone writing a book?! I am thankful for the teachings and the possibility to be sharing those teachings now for the past 10 years with all the amazing students that I have met who are willing to hear what I have to say.
What’s your favorite pose? I think I could better answer this question if it was “what is your least favorite pose”. I, actually, do not have a favorite pose! Since I am the perfect description of a Pitta student I continue to choose poses that I would prefer NOT to do. At the age of 60 I still move towards the challenges life has to offer. Turning 60 was one of them ☺!! After all, once again, quoting a teacher “if it does not challenge you it does not change you”! I can truly say that all my major growth came from tackling, some of what I consider to be, the most miserable postures! I have learned and continue to learn to change what I can and surrender to that which I cannot! On and off the mat! TAPAS SVADYAYA ISVARA-PRANIDHANA.
What do you enjoy doing off the mat in your free time? Hmmmmm, strangely, I find this to be a complicated question. As I tend towards being a bit sarcastic I can’t answer this with the cliché of expected, typical responses. While I have many interests: drawing, shopping, decorating, travelling, eating out, catching up with those that are dear to me, sharing my yoga practice, dining at home with friends with a good bowl of pasta, drinking wine, spending time in Rome and Israel (another home away from home) I have come to except that one of the things that gives me most pleasure is giving to and helping others! I still find it difficult to do all the above before I know that my daughter, my husband, my elderly mother, and my dog are all taken care of! Needless to say all takes a lot of time and effort. So, for right now, as long as I have solved some of the above with all the challenges that accompany – I am thrilled and appreciative to have my wine on my terrace here in mid-town Manhattan at the end of the day!!
Can you describe your daily Sadhana? My daily Sadhana does comprise of an asana practice that includes flowing with the breath and holding postures. As one that lives with PTSD from both very early childhood trauma as well as life long adult psychological abuse I have come to understand that a meditation practice comes in various forms. I continue to explore and work with the challenges of the traditional meditation practices as we know them while using my asana practice and holding the postures to find YOGA as we know it to be “in the now”. For me, the continued challenge of engaging and understanding the practices described as the Yamas and Niyamas throughout each living day on this planet, through the study of SVADYAYA, is beyond rewarding!