Teacher Interview: Linda Baffa

After giving birth to a beautiful Aloha boy this past March, Linda is BACK!  Linda recently took some time away from her little boy to answer my questions and explain the truth in her philosophy of YogaNani, the name of her website, “a journey of truth, a journey of beauty, and a journey of growth.”  If you haven’t yet enjoyed the serenity and peace delivered through Linda’s yoga flow, skip your next Happy Hour and get yourself to her 6pm Tuesday and Thursday classes at The Green Yogi.  You will enjoy complete bliss emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  A much better reward than half price libations and apps!  Read on and Be Inspired~ Kelly

 Why and when did you start practicing yoga?

I started practicing yoga my freshman year of college as part of the physical movement portion of acting training.  I honestly felt like I had found home from the very first class.  I forget the teachers name now, but she was a wide-eyed, brightly lit angel who made yoga feel effortless and empowering at the same time.  Since then, I have always been lured to that balance that only yoga has brought me… Again and again and again! 

Who is your favorite yoga teacher?  

Oh man, that is a tough one!  I’ll just say this: I think it is important to have a “favorite” yoga teacher… someone you connect with and can latch on to and call “guru”… (perhaps you have a few even).  I strongly believe this is important especially for beginners because the student/teacher relationship helps build a safe and solid foundation through expert guidance.  However, for me personally, after many years of developing and understanding my yoga practice, I find that it is not about the teacher now, it’s about the yoga.  And if I ever go to a class where I find that I am not enjoying the teacher or what the teacher is teaching or how they are teaching it, I know there is something to learn about myself in that moment.  I have found that I really just love and need yoga… It doesn’t matter who is teaching it.

Why did you want to start teaching yoga? 

Teaching yoga is something I sort of fell into as a natural progression from simply loving it so much!  My first teacher training actually happened for me very spur of the moment… I was pursuing music at the time, had a breakdown because I wasn’t passionate about it anymore (I like to say music and I had a “break up”), I went to yoga, saw a flyer for Julie Rader’s intensive teacher training in Hawaii which was scheduled to start two weeks from that day, and every morsel of my being vibrated “YES”.  Then, the stars magically aligned to allow me to go.  I am so grateful because I can’t imagine deepening my understanding of yoga with anyone but Julie in any other place but Hawaii.  It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life!

At The Green Yogi our motto is Be Inspired, what inspires you in your daily life and to teach yoga?

My beautiful, kind, genuine, centered, creative, and talented husband… He is a natural “Yogi!!!”   When teaching, it is the community.  Everyone that comes to yoga inspires me to teach.  For me, it is about connecting to people, the individual and group energy and lifting the vibration!  Nothing is more inspiring than knowing that you are helping to guide people into a beautiful place emotionally and physically.

Has yoga helped you to overcome anything in your own life?

It has helped me overcome EVERYTHING!!!  However, the most evident thing it has helped me overcome was the recent premature birth of my son.  It was, by far, the most challenging, stressful and emotionally draining time in my entire life.  He was born 8 weeks premature during our vacation in Hawaii, so we were stuck there for 5 weeks while he was treated at the hospital in the NICU.  Fortunately, I had yoga and meditation to keep me positive and grounded through it all… When moments were really hard, I would deepen my breath, soften the tension, and surrender.  That is all you can do when times get tough.  One of my favorite quotes (by Eckhart Tolle) is “Remove, Change, or Accept… All else is madness”.  When you can’t change or remove yourself from a situation, you must accept it fully and breathe through it.  This is yoga.  This is meditation.  Challenging situations are all about acceptance and we practice this in yoga.  When we are on our yoga mats, confronted with challenges in our minds and bodies, we practice facing those challenges head on and we learn to find space and breathe through them, so that we can then, in turn, breathe through all the challenges in our lives.

 In your opinion, what are the greatest health benefits of practicing yoga?

To me, the greatest health benefits are peace of mind, the ability to listen to one’s inner guide while recognizing one’s truth, and a strong connection to a like-minded positive community.  When you find a constant flow of joy and peace in your life, there is nothing healthier!

What is one piece of advice you would give to your students?

Honor your body.  The beautiful thing about yoga is that it is a very individual practice.  It’s all about YOU!  There really is no competition…  It’s not about the person next to you…  It’s not about advanced poses.  Sure, they are fun to attempt and gratifying to conquer, but it’s about your unique, personal journey to get there.  We all have different limitations.  The yogi that is connected to their breath, understands their limitations and stays in child’s pose because he or she may be drained and tired is far more in tune with themselves than the person incorrectly flailing to do handstand and potentially hurting themselves.

When you’re not teaching or practicing yoga, how do you spend your free time?

Well, currently it’s all about my beautiful son, and I spend most of my time being a mommy- the most wonderful, challenging, and gratifying job in the world!  But I also love to cook, spend time with family and friends, wine and dine, and have picnics and dinner parties… For me, it’s pretty much about good food, good friends and enjoying life!

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