Meet Master Teacher Barbara Verrochi

Barbara Verrochi

Devoted student Melanie Parker said, “When I am in Barbara's presence, I see what it means

to translate yoga theory into the fabric of the everyday. She is devoted to practice in all its forms, and this comes through in her teaching, her chanting, her ongoing study of sacred texts, and her demeanor. The depth of her integrity is rare—no rigidity, no frills, no bells or whistles, no spiritual bypassing or spiritual materialism. She guides and supports her students with great skill and care, and is steadfast in her commitment to sharing yoga as she has learned it from her teachers. Barbara embodies the concept of bringing practice into all aspects of lived experience.”

Barbara Verrochi co-owns The Shala in Manhattan and Brooklyn with Kristin Leigh. Verrochi taught art in New York City public schools from 1986 to 2000, which informs her current work as a curriculum writer and training supervisor for health and wellness programs across the country. In 1990, she started studying Iyengar Yoga, and from 1997 to 2009 she was a student of the late Ashtanga Yoga master, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

Kathleen Kraft: What does your practice look like every day?

Barbara Verrochi: My practice and teaching have always been in close dialogue with one another, and they have both softened with age! I initiated most of my daily practices between 1990 and 1994: Mysore Ashtanga (asana), pranayama, Buddhist meditation, textual study, chanting, and anatomy. Mysore Ashtanga is the foundation that brings greater depth and focus to my other disciplines. The basic principles are: systematic linking of breath and movement, the anchoring of the gaze to one place in each pose, and repetition of a set sequence of postures. When done consistently, the practice has a very integrating effect on the mind and body. I often arrive on my mat distracted or confused, but I always leave with an energized and focused mind.

Another characteristic of Ashtanga that I find increasingly interesting as I age is the room for modification of the postures within the prescribed sequence. I can still do a relatively rigorous practice while modifying as needed, and I can keep my body open, strong, and flexible, which is hard as you get older (things tend to tighten up faster!). Pranayama, meditation, and chanting (singing and harmonium) have become more essential with age. I now feel naturally drawn toward quieter, seated sadhana.