Writing a testimonial to the teaching ability of a woman like Maher Benham seems somehow impossible. How does one even begin to express gratitude to one who not only brought me closer to the truth of who I am as an artist but who set me on the spiritual path of finding out who I am as a woman. I have had the honor and privilege of being a student of Ms. Benham’s in both Yoga and Modern Dance. In her classroom I learned how to walk to the edge of pain and fear and trust that in that divine space I had the ability to transform into something greater than just this girl, this body that I walk around in. I remember so many things that Maher has showed me both through her teachings and through her living example. The latter is the most profound of course. She taught me to have immense respect for the space in which Yoga is practiced or creativity is growing. Maher holds those spaces as sacred and demands that others do so as well. In her classroom I am held to a higher standard; everyone is. She has no patience it seems for ego-based fear or playing to the lowest common denominator; either within ourselves, or the classroom. It is expected that we all rise up and be our best, regardless of our circumstances or our emotions. This has taught me incredible resilience of spirit both in life and in creativity. Our practice in the classroom is “ not about us”. We are on a divine errand she says. This work is vital to our growth both as artists and members of the universal family. As a yoga teacher trained by enlightened masters, she is a veritable wellspring of spiritual wisdom and clear, cut directions. Under her guidance I push myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually out beyond the safe edges of what I know to the glorious unknown that is possibility. I have learned the importance of being a vehicle for truth from Maher; that selfishness has no place whatever on the stage or in a yoga practice. That is not something a mere teacher can accomplish. That is a shining gift bestowed by an enlightened being walking the earth; one who is on a spiritual errand driven by the vehicle of yoga and dance. I am blessed beyond what I can express to have graced Maher Benham’s classrooms and would implore anyone who has the opportunity to do the same. You will be a better you for it and ultimately so will everyone who comes in contact with you. That is her real gift, I believe.
Victoria De Paul