Hi Linda, tell me a little about your journey from yoga practitioner, to teacher, to owner at Namaste Yoga.
My yoga practice began in my mid-forties as I sought relief from low back pain. Being physically active all my life my body was showing the wear and tear or jogging, biking, playing golf, basketball and softball competitively.
At this point numerous rounds of PT were not exactly doing the trick and I was woefully ignorant of how the body holds energy. By energy I mean not only physical manifestation from repetious patterns of movement but also mental, emotional, spiritual depletion during a transition period of my life.
I began to see more and more about the practice of yoga and was intrigued. My first class was at a small studio in Royal Oak. After the first class I walked out with my eyes open in wonder! The class challenged me in so many ways I did not expect. I walked away thinking, "Wow! What just happened?"
After practicing at Namaste for a few years I was hooked! My body got stronger, my attitude shifted as I became more of aware of everything and everyone around me. I kept thinking, how does this happen?
That is when my thirst for more led to YogaShala. Getting firmly rooted with a beginner's mind I became a yoga teacher.
In a short period time I realized this would be my path, my dharma. As a life-long spiritual seeker I was called to explore myself at a deeper level through the practice of yoga, and I wanted to share that with the world. Soon after this realization I was afforded the opportunity to become the owner of Namaste Yoga. I jumped at the chance to make Namaste my home.
You have worked as a social worker and as a women’s basketball coach. How has this background shaped you as a teacher?
Coaching is teaching with a specific focus on the activity. While specific skills and knowledge are paramount for a successful outcome (what is success anyway?), working with people focusing on a specific goal necessitates a level of knowledge & maturity about one’s self.
How we do what we do in life is more important than what we do. Teaching for me is helping someone find their innate talent, beauty, intelligence and embrace it. Yoga teachers fan the flame of aspiration to be happier, better, healthier through a balanced approach to their practice and life.
Every life experience informs us as to who we really are. Mistakes are opportunities to grow and learn about ourselves. This is what I learned as a teacher/coach for 12 years by building teams, wins/losses, near misses and the humbling experience of winning championshiops.
My social work experience was key to cultivating a compassionate heart. I felt a need to soften and be of service to others. Of course the desire to help is met with the challenge of knowing boundaries. This is when I began to understand my own energetic needs in order to be effective.
All of these experiences have been life affirming and led me to this place of wonder that I am fully engaged being exactly who I am teaching yoga.
Finding freedom from suffering (a regular practice), compassion for one’s self (still a tough one), and being the steward of Namaste Yoga are loves and challenges of my life and continue to support my practice.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
"Be yourself and do that as well as you can" ~ Loretta Makowski (mom)
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you look to for inspiration?
Currently the students are my biggest influence. What they bring to their practice informs my teaching.
I am inspired by the stories of people’s lives. We all have challenges, which become opportunities for growth. I am always amazed when people share their experiences about how yoga has been a part of healing body, mind, heart, spirit—by allowing themselves to find a deeper, more meaningful existence when they turn inside.
What are your favorite yoga books or resources?
Right now I am immersed in the The Practice of the Yoga Sutra SADHANA PADA by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD.
Panditji is the spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute, my spiritual home. Recently I attended an eight day immersion master course on the text. While there are numerous texts on this scripture, this book details the systematic practice of yoga with a focus on applying the eight limbs to everyday life.
Yoga is not as mysterious as some would make it out to be! It is actually a very accessible system that allows us to find a path of freedom from pain, suffering and, fulfillment in this life.
What do you find are yogis' biggest stumbling blocks and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?
While we are each unique, our struggles connect us as human beings. As a human race we have more that connects than divides us. Our acquired perspectives often create blinders, veils that make it difficult to see our life in a new way, a way that may lead us out of suffering toward freedom in mind and body, and living to our full potential.
In our American culture our senses are imbued with messages about physical perfection, accumulation of goods, and achievement. In the end these are external to who we really are. Yet, we have developed attachments to these impossible goals and in falling short experience frustration, anger, envy that binds us ever deeper to our longing for the unattainable. Learning to live a balanced life by embracing our innate beauty, strength and intelligence begins with self – compassion.
A regular, consistent practice of yoga goes a long way to re-connecting to who we really are. Beginning with finding a glimmer of inner peace and making a commitment to embrace this experience on a regular basis.
Learning yoga at studio ensures a level of knowledge, integrity and compassion while sharing the energy of like-minded people. This is a very powerful experience: releasing muscular tension held in the mind and body sometimes for years. Developing strength and balance in body and mind builds confidence, enhances health, and opens the heart and mind.
What do you love about teaching the Namaste Yoga Teacher Training Program?
While I am yoga teacher, I will always be a coach at heart! I see the potential in each person to live an optimal life through a deeper study of yoga. The process of transformation is amazing! It takes courage, commitment and support.
I am the steward of the energy for the group: inspiring, prodding, laughing and listening as the needs of students arise. My specific focus is bringing the overall purpose of yoga to students in their everyday life through the study of specific texts, practice, awareness exercises all emanating from the eight limbs of yoga.
The eight limbs are Yamas (disciplines concerning our dealings with society and the world), Niyamas (personal discipline), Asana (postures), Pranayama (regulated breathing techniques), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (state of mind in which the mind is one pointed/concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (state of meditation – absorption)
Students going through the program over the years have experienced a deeper connection to self and others and to this day treasure their experience. Honestly over the years we have become a family of yoga teachers!
What makes Namaste’s teacher training program different from other programs?
All RYS (registered yoga schools) have the same requirements as outlined by the Yoga Alliance.
What makes our program unique is energy of the environment, teachers’ expertise, support of the community and our focus on the development of each student’s practice working toward their individual goals.
This process is called Kriya Yoga, the combination of Tapas (commitment), Svadhyaya (self-study), and Ishvara pranidhana (trustful surrender to the process of healing and wholeness). Learning yoga in this way cultivates a foundation with depth and a deep personal connection to Self for each student.
Whether a student wants to share their practice with others is an individual choice. We provide support after the formal training program that allows students to gain more experience teaching and/or finding teaching opportunities.
There are currently hundreds of Namaste Yoga teachers across the state and the Midwest.