Debora Cohen: Yoga Teacher, Energy Therapist, Healer, Author & Friend
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher.”—Temple Grandin
Debora Cohen, and my wife Cecile and I go way back. She was one of our first yoga teachers at Courtside Bay Club. She exemplifies all the special qualities one wants to see in a yoga teacher. She empowers her students to get the most out of their practice, she emphasizes safety, and rather than working from a script, she choreographs a sequence of poses according to the energy she feels in the room. More importantly, she maintains a positive attitude throughout the class that allows her students to have an uplifting and energetic experience.
Speaking of uplifting and energetic, I reminded Debora recently, that back in the day—and much to my surprise—I did my first deep back bend called “Wheel Pose,” in one of her Sunday morning classes. We simulated a back bend in one of the photos below, to demonstrate how Debora goes about assisting a student to safely get into the pose. As a beginner, you never start out doing an advanced back bend. It takes practice. Then one day, you suddenly find yourself in the pose saying to yourself, my God, “I can do this.” It's a very empowering experience.
Debora holds a BA honors tract in psychology, one year of masters study and three year of clinical doctoral education. She also holds many certifications in the disciplines of energy work, yoga, fitness, meditation and medical qigong to name a few. Her continuing education efforts led her to becoming a Certified Energy Health Practitioner (CEHP).
Sometime later, I had heard about a spiritual leader affectionately called Amma, or "mother.” She was best known for literally "embracing the masses," resulting in the media giving her the nickname: “The Hugging Saint of India.” By this time, she had hugged millions of people around the world, and her status as a “Spiritual Therapist,” was attracting a large audience in the US. When reporters would ask Amma how she kept up such a hectic pace, she would simply say, “I am connected to the Eternal Source, so I am not like a battery that gets used up.” Her organization raises over 20 million worldwide to fund her many charitable causes including Mother’s Kitchen, that feeds the poor and the hungry. I used to see Amma at her 164-acre campus near San Ramon, Calif., twice a year when she was on tour. I was moved when I saw spiritual leaders from every major religion standing in line to be hugged by her. After a while I felt compelled to take people I knew to see her and experience her compassionate embrace. I brought family, friends, fellow yoga students and many of my yoga teachers. Debora was one of them.
Out of all the people I invited to visit Amma, she was the most taken by her. Her experience met all the criteria of the old saying: When the student is ready, the teacher will come. In a section of new book: Kundalini, Empowering The Mind, Body, Heat and Soul: The Energy of Joyful Transformation (Balboa Press, 2017), Debora talks about how she came to meet this humble living saint many compared to Mother Teresa. Without mentioning me by name, Debora wrote in Chapter 3, “One day a student came to me and told me about a woman known as Amma that he thought I would resonate with.”
Like myself, and thousands of others from all stations in life, when Amma was in town, Debora would go see her at the San Ramon campus—which sits atop an equestrian farm. Later, she would go on to visit her ashram (teaching center) in India. In effect, Amma became her Guru (spiritual guide). This experience played a major role in her personal transformation and enhanced her abilities to: “feel or sense what was going on with my clients while I was working on them.”
Postscript: To those not exposed to yoga, the partner yoga poses as seen in these images are are rarely taught in a traditional yoga class but "are" taught at certain yoga workshops.
To learn more about Debora’s energy work, online courses, podcasts, retreats and her new book, check out her website: http://www.insightfulrelaxation.com
Note: Studio Photos taken by my beloved Cecile...