Modern American Yoga (TM)

IMG_0334I no longer write as prolifically as I once did.  I started this blog in 2005 and the Yoga Blogosphere as changed tremendously in 10 years.  Modern Yoga Bloggers have forgotten whom their elders are.

What some bloggers write about now I wrote about 3, 5, even 7 years ago: ageism, diversity, “slow yoga.”  “Slow Yoga” is a thing now (Google it) and I’ve been teaching slow since 2005 when I first came back from the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in India.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

But sometimes things scream to be called out and discussed.

A long time, old school yoga teacher told me that where she’s from a yoga studio requires newbie teachers to “brand” themselves before finishing a one month yoga teacher training, i.e., make a website, a Facebook page, social media presence, etc., etc. etc.

Do the math.  If a large city has 1000+ YTTs, old school teachers like her and I are doomed.

BRANDING before teaching.

BRANDING before experiencing.

BRANDING before Living Your Yoga.

When I did my first website it took me 6 months to write my yoga bio.  Even after I studied in India the first time I thought that if I wrote too much about myself it would look like I was bragging.

Some people say that social media is the new normal. But I believe in what Buckminster Fuller said:

“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.”

Believe me, I try. But I’m tired.  Damn tired.  I believe in old school yoga teacher training, mentoring.  But my mentoring page is the loneliest page on my website.  I am not concerned with offering a standard 200 or 300 hour training because I believe in quality, not quantity.  Unfortunately, that’s not good for business because people chase the piece of paper that proclaims them a certified yoga teacher.  I can easily put together a 200 or 300 hour training based on 10 years of notes from the Mandiram alone.  But frankly, no one is interested.  Here.  I believe it takes 10 years of yoga teaching to learn how to teach besides having a dedicated personal yoga and meditation practice.  No one wants to hear that.

Like in real estate, it’s about location, location, location.  All I know is that in my area yoga teachers are a dime a dozen.  With yoga studios cranking out new teachers every week, there is no place for Yoga Elders.  I’m not whining, I’m just being realistic.

So I’m leaving.  Done, baby.  I’m going somewhere where what I teach is valued and appreciated.  One of my students gave me a testimonial:

 “Linda is Yoga. Living, breathing, in every aspect. Caring, supportive, knowledgeable, fun-loving, she walks the talk.”

That’s why I’m leaving.  Because I have too much passion for what I do if that makes any sense.

Goddess willing, I’ll live in Kerala, India by the end of next year and into 2017.  I’ve already started to look at houses to rent with space to teach.  I’ve been asked to do teacher trainings in India.  When I’m in India and I am asked what I do and I say “I’m a yoga teacher” people actually have respect for that.  They ask me who my guru is instead of telling me, “I do Pilates.”  No one asks  me what style of yoga do I teach.  I’m asked not to leave, to stay and teach, to help people.  No one pillories me for using the phrase “real yoga.”

Yeah, I said it.  REAL YOGA.  I’ve always said the real yoga kicks in during a health crisis or dealing with your own mortality. My yoga sadhana helped me through an ovarian cancer scare years ago.  It made me realize that “I am not this body” and it brought me peace.  When my time comes I’ll be chanting and doing pranayama, Goddess willing.  Thanks to my friend Cora Wen for making this beautiful video.

But what Cora talks about in her video, you can’t brand it.  You can’t Instagram it,  You can’t trademark it.

You can only live it.  Because Yoga is Life.

Who are YOU?

original upload by Life Essentials Institute
original upload by Life Essentials Institute

“When we cling to an identity, we create rigidity within ourselves that limits our ability to engage spontaneously with the world. We become bonded to images of ourselves that have grown out of this rigidity, and anything that threatens these images has the potential to collapse our sense of self. We fear a loss of face, a loss of self, a loss of identity. Clinging to a set identity keeps us trapped in old patterns and causes needless pain and suffering.”  (Life Essentials Institute)

I’ve been dealing with a shit load of pain and suffering since June 1.

I have a mid-shaft spiral fracture of the 5th metatarsal of my left foot.  I broke my foot dancing, barefoot, something that I love more than Yoga.  For two weeks I was in a cast and was told to absolutely not put any weight on my foot and therefore was given crutches.  Practicing trying to go up and down the bottom step of a staircase, the tip of my crutch stayed in one place and I kept going.  Putting my hand out to save my foot I broke my left radius two weeks after breaking my foot.  After x rays I was told if you’re going to break a wrist, mine was the “perfect fracture” to have — nothing displaced, my metacarpals still sitting perfectly atop my radius and ulna at 12 degrees.

A few days after the wrist I received a second opinion from an orthopedic surgeon on my foot.  The second opinion was on foot surgery that supposedly was the “only thing” that would fix my broken bone according to the first doctor, a podiatrist.  Take it from me, NEVER go to a podiatrist for anything other than cutting your toenails and even then I would think about it.  At the time I had no other choice but to go to this foot doctor.

After laughing at my cast the ortho surgeon told me he NEVER casts or does surgery on a break like mine.  He told his assistant to remove my cast.  Like yesterday.  I now wear an air boot and can walk, besides having the brace on my wrist.

The thing is, had I not had the cast I would not have had the crutches and therefore would not have fallen off my step and broke my wrist.  Unfortunately, according to an attorney, my broken wrist is not large enough money- and aggravation-wise to warrant a lawsuit against the podiatrist for professional negligence.

Life changes in a second.

I have no income this summer because I can not teach.  But I have lots of time to think and what I began thinking about — after the first 10 days of anxiety attacks which I never experienced before in my life coupled with deep depression — was identity.

So much came up during the first two weeks of basically being bed ridden with a cast because I was warned off walking (although I used a knee walker to get around): teaching yoga, cancelling my classes for the summer, having to cancel a weekend teacher training I was going to give, possibly cancelling my trip to India at the end of August (which is more than a personal trip, it is a tour I am being paid to do), how my body has changed, how soon can I get back to MY NORMAL LIFE.

Of course I know that a broken foot and wrist are nothing in the grand scheme of things because I…

did not lose a limb
did not suffer traumatic brain injury
did not become paralyzed
was not diagnosed with cancer or another catastrophic disease
am not going blind
and no one died.

But it still changed my life.

For moi, a very active woman of a certain age, to come to such a screeching halt, is a mind-fuck.

I thought:

It dawned on me:
I am not a yoga teacher, it is only what I do.

Even with all my training in India, the thousands of hours I’ve put in, If I stopped completely, never taught again, how important is all that, really?  As Grace Slick used to sing, it doesn’t mean shit to a tree.  Life goes on and people move on.

No standing asana but sitting and supine and lots of pranayama and meditation.  And that got me thinking as it did here 7 years ago:

If you are in your 40s or 50s or 60s, why are you still doing a yoga practice as if you were in your 20s? get real. be authentic.

“I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.”

I thought about all the yoga selfies out there — handstands, sick arm balances, crazy back bends, acro yoga, poses on top of a cliff during a sunrise or sunset, always looking for the newest Yoga Thing.

I don’t give a rat’s ass if I ever do another headstand or chatarunga again.  

Yeah, I said that.

How does modern American yoga become someone’s identity?

Because one day you won’t be able to accomplish a handstand, an arm balance, a pretzel back bend, or maybe might not be able to walk outside to pose on a clifftop.  You might not be able to even see a sunset or sunrise.  Old eyes get glaucoma.

Writer and long time yoga teacher Charlotte Bell commented on this blog’s Facebook page: “Yoga was never intended to keep you from aging, getting sick or injured, or dying. Aging is not a mistake. It is written into our DNA. Anyone who thinks yoga will keep them from aging is in for a big disappointment. What yoga can do is to help us navigate reality with love and grace.”

Love and Grace.  I learned long ago that I can only get that from me not from any outside source.  So why am I freaking out about my so-called NORMAL LIFE being ripped away from me?  That’s why the words in the first quote hit me in the gut (to paraphrase):

became bonded to the image of myself as a dancer/yoga teacher/yoga student.  My broken bones threatened those images and collapsed my sense of self.  I feared a loss of face, a loss of self, a loss of identity. Clinging to a set identity kept me trapped in an old pattern and caused needless pain and suffering.


not a yogi

Whether you are a teacher, massage therapist, healer, paralegal, lawyer, business owner, whatever it is that you DO…

if you could not do THAT anymore, WHO ARE YOU, REALLY?  You can always change that identity of what you do like you can change one blanket for another.  But when you are laid bare, WHO ARE YOU?

The best thing I can do for myself right now is to take care of ME.  To NOT worry about my classes or about whether my students will return after such a long hiatus or about teaching ever again.  All that is not worth it because I AM WORTH SO MUCH MORE THAN ANY OF THAT.  

Earlier this year a wise woman told me that 2015 will be the YEAR OF ME, that my word for 2015 is DONE, that I have put myself out there for so long for other people via learning and teaching, that now it’s my turn.  I finally get it.

And whatever you do, PLEASE don’t tell me ALL THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON, that I broke my bones because it’s a “training.”  Bullshit.  

Because sometimes shit just happens.

Yoga as Commodity

om visa

Much has been written in this blog and others about the material things of Yoga. Look over the last 10 years of Yoga Journal (or any other recent yoga magazine) to see how many ads there are to get yoga dudettes and dudes (although mostly the dudettes) to buy/consume things that we are supposed to let go of.  That is, all the accoutrements of yoga such as $100 pants, detox and cleansing rituals, $200 malas to help you get deeper into meditation (as if the Rs 50 ones I get in India don’t work), and Swarovski crystal chakra necklaces to help you balance your chakras.

Since I’ve been writing this blog for the last 10 years, it amuses me to no end on how the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Same yoga shit, different day.  I wrote on the commercialization of yoga a good 7 years ago at least.

So when a new reader who has recently discovered this blog wrote me, I had to smile.  YES!  This old blog is still appreciated and that does this Krazy Old Yogini’s heart good.  The new reader nailed it: YOGA AS COMMODITY.  I remember the words of a long ago student who believed that the way yoga is taught in the West serves to reinforce negative patterns (of speed, busy-ness, mindLESSness) instead of creating new ones (slowing down, stillness, mindFULLness.)  The addictions are fed, not lessened.

“It’s funny because I came to the practice in order to alleviate hardcore issues with insomnia which I eventually learned was hardcore anxiety. Then, like so many, I became obsessed with the superficial and physical aspects of yoga and thought the mental part was only meditation.  

In the US it seems we define yoga as just the physical practice and how it can be “used” (weight loss, “enlightenment”, calming, better sex.)  Sigh. I wanted to be a yoga expert and I read all of the literature and bought all of the clothes and took all the types of classes and it wasn’t until a life event smacked me right in the face that I realized – all I need to do is practice. And through practice I have shed so much that was so unnecessary, both material things and ideas or feelings that I was attached to.  

There are many vessels through which people learn this lesson but for me it was Ashtanga that taught me. The heavy emphasis on practice made me show up consistently and didn’t let me analyze the practice.  In practice nothing matters but whether or not you showed up and did what you can do. Through that I feel the real journey has begun for me and things are starting to unravel both beautifully and painfully at times (emotionally, not physically.)

I devoured the Babarazzi’s blog because it was another smack in the face that made me realize – why do I buy Lululemon, why do I want to do cool backbends, why is my subscription to Yoga Journal so important to me? Because it’s been shoved in my face and I have been told that it’s necessary.  I’ve since realized that these things actually have nothing to do with yoga.  It’s very refreshing.

I’m sad to hear that you do not continue to create new posts, but I have subscribed anyway. I appreciate your honest take on the subject and wish there were bloggers doing what you’re doing.  There’s so much Yoga Journal and elephant journal and we don’t even realize how toxic they are!”

I stated writing this blog BYS — Before Yoga Selfies. Now there are yoga dudettes almost killing themselves on electrified rail tracks for likes on Facebook and retweets on Twitter.

“The stream of wishy washy spirituality and body-insane yoga culture streams into my world every single day. I catch myself, sometimes, and wonder how with a shred of honesty I can associate myself with this stuff; how do I teach when most teaching is such a sham? How do I ask people to connect with their own flesh when ‘flesh’ is a loaded word? I pause, often, when I’m writing and when I’m standing in front of a class; the words I most want to say are so bloody, so honest, so scary I’m not sure I should.”

Yeah, it really IS that simple that it comes down to a bare soul and a sharp truth.

I’m tired of the noise and it’s why I’m moving to a place, outside the West, where what I teach is valued.

Anicca: Help the Fire Victims of Varkala

Life can change in seconds and everything you built can go up in flames in less than 30 minutes.  Fire is a hell of a lesson in aniccathe Buddhist concept of impermanence.  We control nothing.

It is rare that I ask people to donate money to any cause but I and a friend in Varkala, India want to raise $100,000 to help the victims of a massive fire.  Varkala is where I held my first yoga retreat in India, 2013 and where I plan to hold another one next year.  My friend is a guesthouse owner in Varkala and she will be the one to distribute the money equally among the victims.

As many readers know, India is my second home and Varkala, a small coastal town in Kerala, and its people have a very special place in my heart. It is where I will most likely conduct yoga teacher trainings in the future.  I hope to live there part-time.

On Friday morning, April 17th, a massive fire happened in Varkala in the area called Tibetan Market. Almost 15 shops were gutted, three restaurants destroyed, and other buildings were damaged. According to local newspapers the fire started due to sparks from overhead electric lines near the area.  The sparks fell on a roof made from combustible material and combined with exploding propane gas canisters in restaurants, the fire spread rapidly.  People barely escaped with their lives.  The Tibetan families are left with nothing – no shops, no money, and no homes.  They are living in a temporary housing with food being donated to them.  The youngest homeless child is barely 2 weeks old.

varkala fire 4
Photo credit Time Out Varkala

Unlike in the West the victims do not have insurance and do not have any support except from private initiatives.  India does not have public service relief agencies as the West does.

The only consolation is that no lives were lost and it happened after tourist season, however, the victims absolutely need to start rebuilding homes, shops, and restaurants now before tourists start arriving later this year.

The official estimated loss is Rs.30 Lakhs — that is about US$50,000 or 45000 EUR, but that is only a very preliminary estimate, twice that amount is needed to rebuild.  To that end, I created a crowdfunding page on GoFundMe.  In the sidebar it says that this blog has over 800 followers.  If everyone donated a mere $25, that would raise about $20,000.  That is over a million rupees which is a huge amount of money in India and many could rebuild.  The gofundme page has already raised $1,000, however there are administrative fees that are deducted from that amount.

I hope Linda’s Yoga Journey readers can find it in their hearts and souls to donate something, even if it’s $10!  You can donate very easily on this link:

Know anyone with deep pockets?  Maybe some of you know know a person who can donate hundreds or even thousands of dollars so please share!

In metta, thank you!

Yoga for Emotional Balance — Chicago Training, May 1-3, 2015

survivor“Trauma sensitive” or “trauma informed” Yoga is the new buzzword in Yoga training.

Whether for domestic violence survivors, sexual assault survivors, or military vets with PTSD, Yoga for trauma survivors seems to be all over the place and that’s a good thing.

If you’re in the Chicago area you can take my training at Ganesha Yoga and Adventures in Fitness at 3113 North Lincon Avenue.  I originally planned to offer this training in my shala in the far western suburbs but received no interest whatsoever and frankly, that astounds me.  I am grateful to the studio owner in Chicago for hosting me and I am excited to teach in Chicago again!  You can read some of my blog posts on trauma sensitive Yoga here. 

Here are the details:


This ground-breaking weekend training utilizes Trauma Sensitive Yoga and Yin Yoga therapeutics.  Each day includes lecture and discussion and body awareness practice via Yoga and guided meditations.

Many people experience a traumatic event and develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The number of diagnosed military PTSD cases has jumped 50% and many go unreported.  According to the American Medical Association sexual violence is the most under-reported crime.  People have been in car accidents, have witnessed violence in abusive households, or have lost a loved one and experience traumatic grief.  Yoga combined with talk therapy can be doubly effective in lessening traumatic responses.

THESE ARE OUR STUDENTS.  Because trauma is held in the body I believe every Yoga teacher should be informed about trauma phenomena — odds are that there is a trauma survivor in class.  This training is designed for Yoga teachers, Yoga teacher trainees, and clinicians who work with trauma survivors.  Required reading is Linda’s article “Compassionate Presence: Teaching Trauma Sensitive Yoga” in Yoga Therapy Today:

Some of the topics included in this weekend training are:

  • What is PTSD?
  • Yoga as therapy for PTSD
  • How to teach yoga to trauma survivors using asana, pranayama, and mantra
  • Trauma triggers, using props, inclusive language, adjustments
  • Taking Mindfulness to the mat
  • Liver (anger) and Kidney (fear) Meridian theory in Yin Yoga practice
  • Metta (loving-kindness) meditation practice

MAY 1-3, 2015
Friday night, 6-9 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 10-1 pm and 3-6 pm
Early bird pricing $395.00 before April 1, 2015, $450 after April 1, 2015

$150 deposit holds your space and is refundable until April 15, 2015 minus $75 cancellation fee
No refunds after April 15, 2015 




“Linda has been called a maverick, an innovator, and a facilitator of deep healing.  Seeking a paradigm shift in the local Yoga scene, she takes students beyond asana into the deeper dimensions of traditional Yoga.  Linda trained for 9 years in the Krishnamacharya Yoga tradition in Vinyasa Krama and Yoga Therapy both here and in India.  She has taught in Africa and India, was one of the first Yin Yoga teachers in the Chicago area, and is certified by The Trauma Center in Massachusetts in Trauma Sensitive Yoga.  She is humbled and honored to be featured in the 2014 book “Conversations with Modern Yogis.””

Temple Tour of South India/Tamil Nadu Yatra — it’s a GO!

cropped-india-om1.jpg  Details are finalized, the hotel rooms are booked for 20 travelers and this trip —

SEPTEMBER 8-22, 2015

is a go even if there is only one person who wants to travel with a seasoned Indiaphile such as myself….(and one person has already signed up!)….

“Forget the travel section of The New York Times, Lonely Planet and all those travel sites written by twenty-somethings. If you want to experience the REAL India, check out Linda’s blog. I first “met” Linda through her blog several years ago and was struck by her humor, honesty and down to earth attitude about everything Yoga. When I found out she was a fellow India lover I reached out to her for advice about where to study, where to stay, and where to shop. She knows her stuff. And she will lead you to places that you will not find on a travel website or a map. I don’t know what I would do without her.”
Alyssa T., NewYork

I hear many yoga teachers say “if only I could go to India….”  Well, here’s your chance because I am offering a 5% discount off the $2695 tour price to studio owners and teachers who bring two or more of their students with them.   That is enough to pay for your travel insurance and to buy lots of gorgeous Indian textiles.  A percentage of what you pay will be donated to The Banyan women’s shelter in Chennai, India so by attending this trip you are engaging in COMPASSION IN ACTION AND SEVA.

The ancient texts of India contain the stories of the making of the Universe as well as tales of the many gods and goddesses. Many places mentioned in these texts are fully alive today and are important places of yatra (pilgrimage) where vast temple complexes arose. Within these temples daily worship is performed to the resident gods and goddesses in a tradition that is thousands of years old. To those who believe, the Divine is more easily intuited, recognized, or experienced in these temples.

North India sees more tourists than the South but having traveled to India 8 times since 2005 I believe South India, and Tamil Nadu especially, to be a very special place. For me, it is very different from North India. India can be intense but I find Tamil Nadu to be “softer” and it can be an easier landing than North India for first time India visitors. But whether North or South, India is my heart’s home.

We will stay in 4 and 5 star hotels, eat vegetarian food, and travel comfortably from town to town. We will have morning yoga and meditation practice every other day. A guide will travel with us to answer questions and discuss our experiences. Arrangements can also be made with local priests for the proper performance of any rituals you may wish performed.

We will have ample time for the usual sightseeing, shopping, and exploring that travelers enjoy. The pace will be relaxed and sometimes the travel will be hours between each town – since this is India, always expect the unexpected!

Included in the Land Cost of $2695:
This trip will be 15 days with the first and last days being for arrival and departure. I want to keep your expenses reasonable but your stay very comfortable. Meals will be South Indian vegetarian which can be spicy. You receive breakfast but you must pay for lunch and dinner – eating in India is very inexpensive compared to the West. Travel will be in a comfortable bus and any entry fees (for one visit) are included.

The above price includes:
–15 night accommodations, DOUBLE OCCUPANCY ONLY. Single Supplement is $750. I will assign a roommate, however, if none is available you must pay the Single Supplement.
–Daily breakfast.
–One South Indian cooking demonstration with farewell dinner on last night in Madurai.
–All applicable tax on hotels/transportation.
–All transfers, sightseeing, excursion by Air-conditioned mini-bus or larger bus.
–English speaking guide throughout the tour.
–Adequate mineral water during the tour available in the vehicle.
–Entry fee to the monuments during sightseeing for one visit.

In 15 days we will go to:

MAHABALIPURAM — a UNESCO World Heritage site
KANCHIPURAM — famous for silks
TIRUVANNAMALI — walk around the holy mountain Arunachala and visit the Ramana Maharishi Ashram
PONDICHERRY — visit Auroville International Village
RAMESWARAM — where Hanuman lept across the ocean to Lanka to save Sita
MADURAI — visit one of the greatest temples in South India and have an evening cooking demonstration at our hotel followed by farewell dinner

“Trip of a lifetime” can be an overused cliche, but in this case you WILL have the trip of a lifetime, guaranteed.

I am very impressed with the hotel choices the tour company has made which will make for a soft landing in India for first timers.  The last time I was in some of these towns I arrived with only a backpack, having taken a bus through rural Tamil Nadu and staying in $10 or $20 a night rooms.

I have seen tours of this nature advertised for twice as much and you would get less than what I am giving you.  The price is less than what most yoga teacher trainings cost nowadays and frankly, India can teach you much more — it will take you out of your comfort zone but you need to be open to receive what Ma India will give you. My first trip to India was transformational and where I am taking you, it can be the same for you.  Read about my India adventures here.

If you want complete information give me your email address and I will email you my informational flyer.  My website designer is busy configuring my Event page on my site to take credit card payments.


Gangakodaicholapuram, 2008
Me, Gangakodaicholapuram, 2008

Spiritual Tour of South India, September 2015: Update

This 15 day tour is continually being tweaked and the details and pricing are being finalized for September 2015.  I am looking toward having this trip start the day after Labor Day, 2015, so as to give an extra travel day.  Fifteen days is two calendar weeks.  This is going to be an amazingly awesome tour of South India!


Because hotel prices are less expensive in September, the anticipated cost of this tour will be less than I originally anticipated.  Right now I am estimating the trip to be about $2,600, with a single supplement making it $600 more.  Bring your students and receive 5% discount — that can pay for your travel insurance!  You will be offering your yoga community an amazing opportunity to see the Heart of India with you AND a seasoned 8 time traveler to India.  We will practice yoga and meditation in the mornings where possible.

I shot the photo below on my first trip in 2005.  Mamallapuram is a UNESCO World Heritage site where you will explore the mythologies of India.  Mahabs (as I call it) was a thriving port about 1,400 years ago where hundreds of craftsmen worked to create some of the greatest shrines and sculptures of India.  You can visit the shops of the modern stonecutters and buy your own statue of Patanjali.

This will be a trip of a lifetime. 

Ask yourself: if not now, when?

Mahabalipuram, UNESCO World Heritage Site, 2005
Mamallapuram, UNESCO World Heritage Site, 2005