Are you still out there,
c.1956 - c.1996
acitivist and an inspirational figure.
image from the Nathaniel's east village Yoga group T-shirt. The original figure image of Nathaniel practicing the Scorpion
Pose was taken by Robert Mapplethorpe. That's what Nathaniel told us. But where is the original image? I have no clue. (- art.Kowner)
Nathaniel Yogi Berry
By Ram Aruveni
If there is one thing you can’t forget it's your first teacher.
That is what Nathaniel is for me, and even much more than that.
I dived into Yoga because of him. He offered free classes and that’s what drew me into Yoga practice in the first place.
But his personality is what kept me coming back again and again.
His introduction to yoga is what kept me practice till this day.
I came in stiff and he taught me how to release.
He taught how to practice the right way on full moon, and how to be silent on those days.
And how to talk about new moves in hard poses. He was genuine to himself and to his teachings.
He pushed to the limits but with a smile and gentleness. I walked with him on the AIDS parade in 1995.
I saw him getting sick.
And then he disappeared...
I still have his shirt. I can’t throw it.
As i can’t throw the things he taught me.
From the outside to the inside.
Nathaniel touched my heart and I honor him for that.
The Inevitable Happened
By Dietmar Friton
I was in New York for the first time in the late 80s and for the last time in the early 90s. During my first visit I met Nathaniel in the "Boy Bar". There was a huge spark between us right away. The inevitable happened. We met and fell in love.
He thought I still seemed so innocent and unspoiled in my late 20s, which attracted him mightily. On my next visit, I stayed with him in his condo in Cooper Square. Out back there was a terrace with countless plants and a Buddha in front of which he liked to meditate.
He visited me in Berlin in the early 90's and was reminded of N.Y. in Kreuzberg. I admired him for how professional and disciplined he was in taking his clients to their homes for yoga, relaxation exercises, usually by bike.
On my second visit, I found that Nathaniel was showing other sides of himself that I had not known before and that led to the breakup of our relationship. He called me again in Berlin. Unfortunately, it was only much later that I learned of his death - several years later through the memorial page. This upset me very much.
When I knew him, he seemed healthy and fit to me. I would have liked to have seen him again later. He was very intense and attractive, relatively fair-skinned man with a soft fragile voice. Once I was allowed to attend his free yoga class (held once a week) - because of the good weather in Long Island. Especially the participating women really adored him. Also unforgettable was my birthday in May, when he invited me to a classy restaurant in New York that spun around its own axis.
When I once gave him a slap on the butt while going out on the street, he found it scandalous and forbade himself any further attempt. After my first visit we had to move into a shabby apartment of a friend, because the relatives announced themselves and were partly accommodated in his apartment, it made me very unhappy that he could not stand by himself and me and concealed his homosexuality.
The attached photo, which I secretly took with an analog compact camera, comes from this accommodation. He had forbidden me - photographer and lover - to photograph him without payment. At home hung the photo that Robert Mapplethorpe took of him, and which he supported at the end with relaxation and breathing exercises. I loved Nathaniel very much!
My first class ever!
By Mia Goldstein
16 years back, I was living in NYC, happily studying
art and Photography at the School of Visual Arts.
My Israeli friend Zemach tried to convince me to join
this very special
yoga class, that was taught for free. Being the Israeli
that I was, I thought to try it out - what's to lose?
It's for free.
Surprisingly enough, or not surprisingly, most of
the students sitting on mats at the small cozy east
village space were Israeli's. All I could remember
from my first Yoga experience was a well built, soft
skinned beautiful man, with a gentle appearance and
even gentler voice, explaining the benefits of the
"breath of fire".
The exercises and postures made no sense to me back
then, but Nathaniel's loving presence and kindness
was enough to keep me coming back weekly, until I
had the courage to jump into the "scary"
claws of the intensive yoga of the Jivamukti Yoga
Center everyone moved on to.
I have been practicing Yoga since then, and have been
teaching for 12 years Vijnana Yoga.
I am not sure I would have entered my Yogic life without
the loving, encompassing grace and care of this wonderful
man names Nathaniel Berry.
The Gift of
By Zohar Zemach Wilson
In 1993 I was working in an advertising
agency in New York City. A demanding job in a stressful
city. A friend told me that I should try yoga. I asked
my friend "What is yoga?" She smiled and
replied, "There's a guy who teaches a free yoga
class once a week in the East Village. Check it out
and you'll find what it is."
So I went. Took me time to understand what's the relationship
between sitting in the dark while making a strange
omming sound and some unfamiliar body postures. But
I kept coming and started to like it.
the mysterious teacher who wouldn't
charge his students was a very handsome and fit man.
He had a deep voice, yet would also be very playful
with his voice, connected also to his feminine side.
I began feeling more relaxed, less stressed. I started
relating to my body in a way I never experienced before.
I wanted more from this yoga thing; once a week wasn't
enough anymore. So in addition to Nathaniel's weekly
class, I started taking yoga classes in other yoga
studios that I found.
It's been over ten years since
Nathaniel left his body. I still practice yoga, just
like many others who were introduced to yoga by Nathaniel
and who continue living yoga as well as teaching yoga
Personally for me it didn't stop there. The world
of physical yoga invited me into a deeper exploration
of body, mind, and spirit. As my diet has changed,
so did my thoughts and perspectives. This led into
a big shift that ended (or began) with my decision
to leave my advertising career and go back to school
to become a holistic health counselor.
Thank you Nathaniel for the gift of sharing your love
to yoga with me and others. The inspiration you gave
us will never cease to create waves.
Zohar Zemach Wilson is the founder
Nathaniel by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1988
By Jenny Seymore Montgomery
Nathaniel was a beautiful and athletic
Yogi who always seemed to have a delightful secret
in his heart. He arrived at class carrying his
bicycle, buoyant, relaxed, joking with his students.
His humor often touched on the absurdities of our
crazy lives in NY - the rushing, straining, surviving.
Nathaniel's inner strength and goodness just shone
out from him. He gave so generously of his time
and energy in his yoga classes, which were always
unpredictable, challenging, and filled with a warm
community spirit. The class was his karma yoga,
his community action, and he inspired others to ask,
"What can I give, right here and right now?" Asanas, pranayama, chanting, and meditation were practiced
to the accompaniment of powerful music, anything from
Indian ragas to disco!
It was a difficult time
in my life, and a tough time downtown generally, especially
for those OF OUR FRIENDS fighting HIV and AIDS.
Nathaniel's classes were a clean, bright oasis for
me and many others. Once he had us over
at his beautiful home and we sat on the terrace in
the sun while he served us healthy snacks. I
saw his picture in a book of photographs by Robert
Mapplethorpe there. Nathaniel seemed to have
found immense peace in his life when I knew him. The example of his giving spirit was rare and inspiring. He seemed to be fully in tune with his purpose.
Nathaniel never promoted a particular school of yoga,
he simply taught and practiced "yoga" -
union with the divine - in a playful, loving, and
rather miraculous way. His talks about yoga
and life helped us face fears and discover new realms
of balance, strength, and movement, not only in our
I recall the artist Luca Pizzorno
balanced for a glorious moment in Scorpion pose, and
then collapsing with joyful breathless laughter as
we applauded his courage and beauty. Both Luca
and Nathaniel have passed on now.
for sharing yourself so generously!
outward of your loving teachings continues...
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