Featured Teacher of the Month: Nischala

FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH

Linda Nischala Martinez

Interview by Sara McElwain

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Linda Nischala Martinez is IYI certified in Level I, Gentle, and Therapeutic Yoga, and has taken Yoga of the Heart® — Cardiac and Cancer Training, taught by Nischala Joy Devi. As a psychotherapist certified in Somatic Experiencing, Linda enjoys participating in the journey of healing through mind, body, and spiritual approaches. She has a private practice in the Village.

What is your definition of Yoga? This question is vast! I experience Yoga as love, the return to wholeness (per Donna Farhi), and, as Nischala Joy Devi says, “the uniting of consciousness with the heart.”

What do you love about Yoga? In 1992 I first climbed the steps to IYI, attending asana classes and Scripture Study with Swamis Ramananda and Baktananda, who both became mentors guiding me patiently through my life and my mother’s illness and death. I went from my family’s secular atheism to opening up slowly to my knowing of True Self. It was difficult then and sometimes still is to enjoy the inner freedom that Yoga offers. Today I can honor the circle of birth, life, and death as the great mystery with less fear and more awe. I am grateful to all the teachers at Integral Yoga and Insight Meditation who have inspired me.

Why do you teach Yoga? It is a joy to share a love of how the body moves through all its magnificent architecture with breath to create balance and stillness. As a teenager my daughter used to say to me, “Mom, please take more Yoga classes; you are much calmer.”

It is also a joy to offer compassionate, safe, nonjudgmental space for students to explore their own practice with greater awareness. Learning to relax into the effort is important in our culture. I bring this to my private practice as a psychotherapist, integrating somatic experiencing and therapeutic Yoga. The profession was and is transforming. Integrating Yoga into my professional practice has helped me shed old, limiting structures and labels that separated me from myself as well as from those I serve.

After 9/11, I dragged myself to Yogaville in 2002 for a Level I split TT with Satya Greenstone. I learned how much trauma I was holding in my body as I began to immerse myself in TT. That kind of healing is what I hope to bring to my students.

What are the particular areas of Yoga you are teaching in now or in which you have created your own, special offerings? What attracted you to those areas? I was drawn to Gentle Yoga, then to Yoga of the Heart — Cardiac and Cancer Training, Yoga Nidra, and Therapeutic Yoga. I also have been inspired by Qigong. I have been fortunate to teach gentle classes for more than ten years. Students courageously bring their conditions and fears to IYI, seeking a path to relieving suffering. It is rewarding to guide a student through identification with a condition or a pain. By releasing constriction and fear, they recognize that they are greater than their condition. As teachers we receive the gift of our students’ leaving class with a smile and a glow.

What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher, and what do you hope students will get out of your coming offerings and workshops? My intention is to create a safe place for students to relax, to tune in to their inner self-love and peace, to be who and where they are in the moment, to roar like a lion and laugh like a child.

Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share with the teacher sangha? Books that replenish and inspire me are Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit A Return to Wholeness, by Donna Farhi, The Secret Power of Yoga, by Nischala Joy Devi, any book by Thich Nhat Hanh, and the teachings of Sharon Salzberg.

I love YogaToes socks.

Ongoing classes at IYI: Saturday Gentle class at 2:15 (which I’ve been blessed to alternate with Jaya and other wonderful teachers over the years)