Hello! And thank you for visiting the EVYS Blog. If you're here, you likely fall into one of two categories: you know and love us or you're trying to figure out who we are and what is it we do. In this blog series, we hope to continue to inspire that love or answer the questions you have!
We all have different strengths and understand our world in different ways. For me, understanding the context of how I got to this moment is key to understanding what tomorrow brings. As such, when I learned about the Esther Vexler Yoga School, my first question was who was Esther? You can find the answer to that question on our About EVYS page and a post about Esther will close this series.
My next questions were: Who founded EVYS? Who are the humans that devote their time to ensuring that quality yoga education is at the heart of not just EVYS but our yoga community at large? The questions for which you are searching for answers might sound more like: What is my path? How do I deepen practice, or perhaps, how do I even begin? I think the experiences and wisdom in the interview below may guide you to your strength to find those answers within yourself.
We are delighted to highlight Emilie Rogers. Co-founder of Esther Vexler Yoga School and a yogi powerhouse in her own right.
First, tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What is your background? Tell us about your family and all that fun stuff!
I am a long time Texan, born in Germany! After World War II my father was stationed in Regensburg. I was born in the American hospital on Dec. 13, 1950. Our family lived all over the world, which gave me a unique world perspective and a love of travel and an appreciation of many cultures. My parents were both born in Texas and our large extended family has lived here since the 1850’s, so we came to San Antonio and Kerrville every summer we could. I graduated from Ft. Sam Houston’s Cole H.S. (1968) and the University of Texas in Austin (1972) and began my teaching career in San Antonio teaching at-risk high school students.
I met my husband, Jim, at a workshop he was leading for the teaching staff. We married in 1978. We have 2 daughters, Aimee and Celeste. Aimee is married to John Gorostiza, and they have a son, Charlie who is my constant joy.
Tell us about your yoga journey – when did you first find yoga? When did you first start teaching? Was their one particular moment when you knew that yoga would always be part of your life or did that happen over time? When did you first meet Esther?
I attended my first yoga classes with Esther Vexler when I was pregnant with my daughter, Aimee, in 1980. I was smitten! Esther encouraged me to go to the San Francisco Iyengar Yoga Institute for my first workshop in 1988. I took classes from teachers I now know are internationally recognized, and knew it was the path for me. At that time I was teaching small groups in community settings. My Texas teachers are Peggy Kelley and Devon Dederich from Austin. They invited me to be in the first class of the Austin Yoga Institute (the first yoga teacher training school in Texas) in the mid-nineties. I took the certification exam and became a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher in 1999. I have taught yoga classes at San Antonio Yoga (the first yoga studio in SA), Synergy Studio, St. Phillips College, 5 Points Local, and am currently teaching at Two Hearts.
What is the greatest memory, idiom or teaching that you have from Esther?
Esther’s life was one of service to the San Antonio community. She and her family have volunteered in, and helped to create lasting S.A. institutions, such as the Clarity Child Guidance Center and the Vexler Theater. She told me that every day when she awoke, she made a promise to herself to learn something new. She was a poet, author of the book, Missing You, and one of the first yoga teachers in South Texas. When she started teaching, she could not call what she taught “yoga” because it was so foreign to many in the city; so she called her classes “stretching for health”. Because she was so respected in the city, she helped to bring yoga into the mainstream. She and Harold were married almost 75 years. My husband Jim and I have always said, “We want to be like Harold and Esther when we grow up!” They gave us all the model of how to live in a long, loving, loyal and happy marriage.
What gave you the idea to found a YTT?
Before 2007, everyone wanting yoga teacher training went to Austin. I looked around and asked myself who is going to start a yoga school here? The answer was, if not me…who? So I began the work of creating a non-profit school and registering us with the federal government and Yoga Alliance. It was quite an undertaking, but I had the help of 3 of Esther’s students, who formed the first Board, and Sreedhara Akkihebbalu, who helped me create the curriculum. Currently we are in the thirteenth class. Stephanie Carter became the Executive Director for the 2016 class, and Anne McCarthy took the leadership role for the class of 2019.
What is your most memorable moment of EVYS over the years?
So many! I am very proud of the fact that the EVYS hosted so many very influential teachers for workshops and classes. To name a few: Judith Lasater (San Francisco), George Purvis (Dallas), Charles MacIlherney, Peggy Kelley and Devon Dederich (Austin), Mary Obendorfer and Eddie Marks (Hawaii), Krishamacharya’s sister (Karnataka, India), Sri Arun (Bangalore, India), and Richard Miller (Marin County, CA). The integrity of the teaching, both the guest teachers and our faculty at the EVYS is the thing that I am most proud of. And of course, the wonderful visits that Esther made to our classes to encourage all of us on the path of yoga! One highlight was the EVYS tour of India that Sreedhara and I arranged for our Alumni in 2012. We attended Sri Arun’s annual intensive outside of Bangalore and toured the State of Karnataka in South India. We were honored to be invited to meet Mr. Iyengar who came to Karnataka to visit Arun and receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Karnataka.
You are obviously a paragon of yoga in San Antonio yourself! If you can pick just one, what’s one bit of wisdom or advice you have for our yogis-in-training?
Please remember that you will always be a student. Find your teacher, take classes regularly, honor your legacy and teach with integrity and joy.