FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Anitra (Amrita) Frazier
Interview by Sarah McElwain
Anitra (Amrita) Frazier, B.S., RYT-500, was a Broadway performer when she took her first Yoga class. She graduated from Teacher Training in 1974 and later studied in India. She has taught all levels. Her classes are lighthearted; she likes to encourage students to use Yoga as a set of tools to enhance daily living. Her book The Natural Cat is in its fourth edition. She works as a consultant on feline behavior and holistic health.
What was your first experience of IYI?
At first I resisted Yoga. My friends kept urging me to go IYI when it was at 500 West End Avenue. I’d walk past the tasteful brass plaque every day, but I wouldn’t go in. I was depressed, smoking marijuana, unsatisfied with my Broadway successes, but I kept saying no. I thought it would cost too much, I’d have to sign up for a series, and it would already have started. Finally, at a low moment, spiraling into gloom, I thought, Well, if I go, then at least no one can say I didn’t try.
I took the elevator up to the fifth floor. You entered through the kitchen, and there was a young woman in white with an orange scarf at the desk. “Om shanti,” she greeted me. “How may I serve you?”
I didn’t expect this. Interesting, I thought, but still I resisted. “How much is it?” “Oh, we just had to raise our price to $1.25.” That was no longer an excuse. “How many classes do I have to sign up for?” “You can come whenever you want to.” I was trapped. I would actually have to take the class.
I walked into a room with a thick carpet and people lined up, lying on towels with their eyes closed. It was so quiet! There was incense and pictures on the walls of Indian gods; one was blue, another like an elephant. This was even more interesting. I lay down, and a small man dressed in white sat down and began chanting, “Om Namah Shivaya.”
After the class was over, it was too soon to know whether it had been helpful, but I experienced contentment and joy. Everything seemed very clear but detached, similar to the way I felt when smoking marijuana. Then I realized I was high as a kite. I became suspicious. Something else was going on that they weren’t telling us. They were piping something into the room, like a gas, something from India that made you high. It had to be illegal. I’m coming back tomorrow, I decided. I wanted more of this before they got busted.