Yoga Teacher Spreads Enlightenment


yogaYoga is a mental and spiritual exercise form with ties to ancient India that emphasizes physical wellbeing, as well as the reduction of tension and the enhancement of relaxation and inward peace — something that a lot of people living in today’s stressful and fast-paced world could certainly appreciate.

Sharon Starr teaches yoga classes at both the Jericho and Syosset public libraries. She has been practicing yoga for more than 45 years, and teaching it for 35.

She first discovered the art while living in California many years ago.

“Everyone there was raving about how wonderful yoga is for your body and your mind,” she said. “I went to my first yoga class in California back in the late ’60s, and my body immediately said ‘I’m home.’ That’s how I knew that I would never, ever leave it. It was right for me.”

And, for gym rats who might scoff at the idea of adding it to their repertoire, Starr, a regular at step classes and the weight rack herself, invites them to give yoga a try; she often encounters people who have done so and were surprised by the sheer effectiveness of it.

“Yoga is a little different, because not only are you finding muscles you didn’t know existed, you’re finding out about your body and its limitations,” she said. “It’s different because it’s body, it’s breath, it’s thinking…it’s not about where you are, it’s about how you got here.”

When she eventually returned to New York from California, Starr sought out yoga studios to continue to practice her new passion, but at the time, unlike today, they were few and far between, she said.

“I was fortunate enough to find some wonderful, wonderful instructors, and they encouraged me to take some master classes and to become a yoga instructor myself,” she said. “When one of my instructors retired, she basically said I was ready and handed her classes over to me, and I found that teaching came very naturally to me, because I had such a love for it.”

Starr practices a style of yoga known as Iyengar; it is a very adaptive form of the art, which takes into consideration the limits of the practitioner, allowing them to work around them and still get the full benefit of the exercise.

“We use props…blocks, straps, blankets, walls, chairs…anything you can think of so that the person doing the pose is able to do it in some form, suitable for their body,” she said. “It doesn’t limit someone who has an injury in a specific area from making the shape of the pose.”

“Iyengar is a style that is concerned with the alignment in the poses…it really helps to prevent injury,” Starr added. “Anyone who is beginning a yoga practice would serve themselves well by taking some Iyengar-style classes first, and then go into other forms.”

Woodbury resident Ester Greenberg has been attending Starr’s Yoga classes for more than 15 years.

“Yoga to me is not exercise…it’s a way of life that has changed me in an incredible way,” she said. “I breathe differently, I walk differently, I behave and think differently…it’s a remarkable program, and Sharon is an incredible teacher…there is nobody like her.”

If you’re interested in attending one of Sharon Starr’s Iyengar Yoga classes, please contact the Jericho Public Library at 516-935-6790 or; and the Syosset Public Library at 516-921-7161 or to inquire about her schedule.

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Chris Boyle is a reporter with Anton Media Group.

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