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Alan Finger

Alan Finger is a yoga legend, who’s on his second honorary title. First Yogiraj (meaning “master”) and now, about 50 years into teaching, he’s acquired another that comes with passing on teachings to a new group of yogic masters: Kavi Yogiraj.

The Early Years

Finger’s father, Mani Finger, found yoga after hearing Yogananda speak on a trip to LA in 1951. When his father returned home to South Africa, he transformed their home into an ashram, where as a child, Finger lived among traveling swamis. (B.K.S. Iyengar was just one of the esteemed visitors.)

In the late ’60s, Finger and his father developed ISHTA, which stands for Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda. “The word ISHTA means ‘that which resonates with your spirit,’ and I like that because it’s the yoga that resonates with an individual—because we’re all different, our bodies, our energies, our minds,” he said, when we caught up with him last week.

In 1975, politics in the country compelled him to pack up his mat and head to the U.S. His first studio was in Maryland, outside of DC, but he moved to LA after just nine months. “It started snowing, so I packed up, locked the door, and moved to California!” he says. There, Finger became a yogi to the stars, teaching James Taylor, Barbra Streisand, and Joni Mitchell, and on the sets of shows like Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy.

But Finger got tired of catering to celebs and in 1987 founded YogaWorks with Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller. In the early ’90s, he decided to move to New York, and after selling his stake in YogaWorks, he founded Yoga Zone, which he ran while filming a TV show of the same name. The show aired in 64 million homes in the U.S., increasing Finger’s fame. “Wherever we go today, people still say ‘Oh my god! I started yoga with you in my living room!’” Finger says.

The Ishta Era

After such a long and winding path, in May of 2008, Finger opened ISHTA in Union Square with partners Julie and Bruce Wilcox, and Sarah Platt (now Platt-Finger), whom he married five months later. In many ways, his bond with Platt-Finger has allowed him to create the first real headquarters for what he’s always wanted ISHTA to be.

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Quotes

  1. “A guru is needed not to worship, but to direct you.”
  2. “If you don't have the background awareness of oneness, duality becomes real.”
  3. “Practicing yoga is like tuning up your car: it allows the bode to function in accordance with what it was designed to do.”
  4. “When consciousness has no thoughts in it, one can experience spirit and live in harmony with the universal forces.”
  5. “Love is the language of the soul when it is not colored by emotion, ego, or attachment.”
  6. “Range is of the ego, form is of the soul.”
  7. “Yoga adds years to your life and life to your years.”
  8. “Whatever fells your mind is what you are. So, feel loving and peaceful 9. for no reason at all.”
  9. “Yoga is when you feel pure consciousness and spirit.”
  10. “When you know who you truly are, you can live more freely and in tune with your karma.”
  11. “You are not your thoughts, and you are not the product of your thoughts.”
  12. “Who you truly are is a place of no particular thing, but all things at once.”
  13. “When our consciousness is quiet, the waves of thought cease and we see clearly enough to relate back to our spirit. we connect with who we really are.”

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