Thursday, December 15, 2011

Teacher of the Month: Linda Winnick

Linda Winnick has had a very blessed, busy decade. She has been teaching yoga constantly over the past ten years. She is apprentice to Glenn Black, a multiple studio owner, a Teacher Training Director, has a Master of Arts in Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga Philosophy, and has developed her own style called Shakti Yoga… and that’s just to name a few of her accomplishments.

Linda is also directing the next 200 hour Teacher Training course here at New York Yoga! If you are interested in becoming a teacher you can not go wrong in the loving hands of such an experienced yogi. She will help your practice grow, encourage your creativity, and shape you to be the yoga teacher you are meant to be. Linda’s teachings are based on her commitment to the discipline of yoga, with a focus on form, alignment, philosophy, and the cultivation of Shakti (Inner Power).

Linda, when did you first discover yoga?
Besides satisfying my bizarre interest at a young age by reading books at the library about yoga and martial arts when I was in elementary school, I was introduced to Sivananda at FIT. We did it in the gym with dimmed lights in a circle on gym mats. I remember visiting the ashram center in NYC and knew one day I would be ‘one of them’. I just had to burn off some necessary karma. I became a more dedicated student after I studied Oyama Karate with the founder of that school. I needed to learn respect and how to bow first. Then I dove into Jivamukti when it was on Second Avenue.  That was when Sharon and David would teach morning classes almost every day! I was in love with the philosophy, the smells of incense, the colors and images of the deities. I probably had no clue about doing asana properly. It was all about this mystical experience.

How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching since 2000. I graduated from Sivananda as all the teachers I respected had this as one of their first certifications. I had just completed my Master of Arts in Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga Philosophy and I gave myself the gift of going to an ashram for a month. I had a three-year-old son, so being on the ashram and its rigid schedule was refreshing in comparison to the incredible responsibilities of mothering a young child and completing a 225-page Master’s thesis. I began teaching in a hospital where I was doing my research on using ayurveda and yoga to treat addiction. The patients of the detox/rehab at the hospital were my first yoga students/victims. I taught them on gym mats in their dining hall in scrubs (very much like the Sivananda deal I was used to!).  I can say I have had an amazing teaching streak ever since it took off.  I would teach 25 classes a week and privates between classes for 8 years.  In my first year of teaching I got offered a faculty position at the Omega Institute, which I still enjoy. They have offered a variety of my workshops for 10 years in Rhinebeck. I taught for them in Costa Rica for four years as well. 

Most of my experience has come from the thousands of hours of teaching (over 10k at this point). I have had a lot of students who have give me the opportunity to really understand asana and the body.  I don’t have a large collection of certificates, but I have been studying with Glenn Black who has such a unique approach to yoga that it has morphed away from what we commonly know as “yoga asana.” I really like the pioneers who were brave enough to believe in what they see and not have blinders on because tradition dictates consistency and conformity to the tradition (aka dogma). I am very Aquarian in my inability to conform to a particular style. As an Ayurvedist, I need a lot of freedom to manipulate the variables in teaching asana in order to make an effective and hopefully intelligent sequence. I am also a bit of an anatomy and physiology nerd.

I have recently been offered to take over another yoga studio in Woodstock, NY making it my fourth studio. Besides being offered the Director’s position for New York Yoga’s Spring Teacher Training, I was also asked to be the East Coast Director of an Ayurvedic Certification Program. I have been bestowed with some wonderful gifts in my decade year of teaching!

What makes your class unique?
I am really about fun and creativity. I enjoy being entertaining as well as educational. I am incredibly enthusiastic about Yoga and Ayurveda, freeing ourselves from our own and self-inflicted pain, making the philosophy and Ayurveda accessible, and self-empowerment. I try to bring this to every class because having a really good time while we get healthy will encourage and motivate us to practice. My classes are improvised. I have worked so closely with asana for so many hours that I really like creating new patterns. I also like to go beyond the “normal” asanas. This is a skill I have developed by studying with Glenn Black. He has “given” me the freedom to work like this because of the freedom he has for himself as a non-conformist yogi.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
Strangely enough, bhujangasana - Cobra. I think I have seen the most postural breakthroughs with understanding the placement of shoulders, arms and sternum for students that reduce back pain.

What is you favorite pose to practice? 
Anything that is upside down, on my hands balancing, combined with a twist!

Best advice for beginners?
Make it your business to find an experienced, loving, safe teacher who is patient and really knows how to teach you about yoga.  Stick with them once you find him/or her!

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Keep keeping it real. 

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
“Yogatude”. We try to get freed up and then we get trapped in another box.  Our egos get wrapped up in our views of false superiority by aligning to a particular way. I believe in intelligence and correctly introducing all aspects of yoga, but nobody has any ownership or a specific angle. I think the trade marking is so wild. Aparigraha in its "parigraha" form (Non Grasping in Grasping) is so ironic and so un-revolutionary. Though, I do also believe it shouldn’t be a free for all and we should respect each other’s efforts and not say we are from lineages that we truly don’t have rights to claim. I guess we need legal protection until we all become enlightened!

1 comment:

  1. What a great article! I can't wait to take a class with Linda.