Q+A: Tara Glazier of Abhaya Yoga
After discovering the transformative power of yoga, Tara Glazier decided to dedicate her life to helping others through yoga. Through her DUMBO-based studio Abhaya Yoga, and her nonprofit, the Abhaya Foundation, she brings her unique spiritual and physical practice to diverse communities across New York City. We sat down with Tara to learn more.
How did you get into yoga?
I was a dancer my whole life, but I became very serious about yoga when I moved to New York to become a professional dancer. I wanted to do something that was for me, individually, that didn’t have to do with performing. What I really responded to when I came to New York was the connection between physical and spiritual. I understand things through my body, so yoga was a way to connect those two things together.
What inspired you to make the leap from practicing yoga to starting your own studio?
I started teaching about five years after I started doing yoga. I realized that what was important for me was to have an anchor studio, to have a home where I could do teacher training, and to create a community, and to build a base. I wasn't really interested in traveling all over the world; I really wanted to hone in. I noticed I teach best when I develop a relationship with students over a period of time, and I wanted to develop relationships with teachers over time as well. It was basically a deep, compelling desire to want to do something committed and secure and grounded.
What makes Abhaya unique?
I created the Abhaya method and what makes it unique is that it integrates very physical practices and more subtle practices. Any class, any level, is able to have a physical, anatomical, dynamic experience as well a something more subtle, more refined, even heartfelt. The way that classes run are multifaceted. It’s not just one thing - not just vinyasa, or just breathing - it’s a very integrated way, a very calculated way, that we bring the physical body and the subtle body together.
Tell us a little bit about the Abhaya Foundation.
One of the things I’ve noticed in the yoga world is there tends to be a lack of diversity, not only in the students but also the teachers. So what I wanted to do with my own school was to create a program that would encourage diversity within both the student body and the teachers. Not just literal diversity, but also diversity in the way that we teach, and diversity in the way that we learn. You can’t teach the same way to an elder that you would to a healthy, 20-year old dancer. I was interested in working with special groups and disadvantaged groups.
There are various challenges in working with these groups. For example, getting involved with the school system is challenging. We’re about to start a program with the public schools, the kids are going to come here, but there’s a lot of bureaucracy. We’re also about to start working with VillageCare, they work with people with HIV, people who are terminally ill, elders. They have a lot of tests - literal medical tests - that teachers will have to do. But in terms of the value and the satisfaction that we find and that the teachers find, it’s really amazing because even the simplest yoga class can be so empowering for all of these people. We take for granted how capable and able we are, so it’s really amazing to see the results.
I love being by the water. I love the sky. Even though you’re in the city, I feel like it’s imperative that people who are doing yoga and meditation have a sense of sky, water and elements.
Do you have a favorite spot in DUMBO?