An Ageless and Inspiring “Hippie Chick”
Linda-Sama Karl’s Metta Yoga methodology rests on
Buddha’s Four Foundations of Mindfulness
BY MAGAZINE EDITOR SUSAN MAIER-MOUL
Linda-Sama Karl Metta Yoga
Susan Maier-Moul Is repetition of postures a difficult class to hold? What are the special demands on the teacher – can you pass any wisdom or practical tips along?
Linda-Sama Karl Yes and no. For students who are accustomed to constant flow it IS difficult because they are so used to constant movement, it’s hard to slow down and FEEL!
I have heard the KYM style referred to as “old ladies yoga” because it moves slowly. But I like to refer to it as deceptively simple and it is VERY difficult for some people to slow down and watch the breath — because once they slow down their mind starts playing with them and they become very scattered. Constant movement is a distraction from what is in the present moment, i.e, constant thoughts on the past or the future, the ego pounding on the door.
As for advice, I think one thing I would say is that there is much value in “less is more.”
I have been to many classes where there is a lot of asana, but not a lot of depth to the class. I am still amazed by my teacher in Chicago when I go to his class and we’ll maybe do two standing poses. Afterward I will realize, hey, we barely got off the floor, but it was a really intense, deep class.
SMM Do the students get it?
LSK My private students get it because they know me and “my” style. They know I don’t suffer any whiners gladly…OK, I’m kidding about that!
But my private students actually crave the slowness and going deeper and holding the poses longer, like 6-10 breaths. The minds give out before the bodies do!
If I am teaching to new students publicly, then I work it in gradually.
For example, people are usually used to only doing side angle (utthita parsvakonasana) once on each side the moving on to the next pose. I have them come into it, then keeping the front leg bent I have them come up into warrior 2, then back down down again (hand on block or floor), then up again, like a dynamic moving extended side angle.
I have them repeat it 6-8 times slowly always telling them to PAY ATTENTION TO THE BREATH, to pay attention to how the breath affects the asana and vice versa.
Afterward people tell me how much they appreciate this “new style” of yoga, telling me things like they felt more “open” or felt as if they got “deeper” into the pose without compromising safety by doing a faster flow.
The heat of life force
New people always tell me how amazed they are about how much they sweat by virtue of going slower and “deeper” and with more concentration on the breath. After all, getting your ass kicked and sweating a lot in yoga is what it’s all about, right?
They tell me, “Wow! I did not know I could sweat so much by going slower!”
SMM Besides her transformational teaching, Shiva Rea is a much-loved star in the community because of the sheer volume of resources she shares and the work of other people she brings forward. I’m really moved by that, I honor and respect her for it.
There’s a rasa releasing practice in her Fluid Power trainings, using a sweetly peaceful Surya from Jai Uttal’s early classic “Music for Yoga” CD. It’s a perfect practice resource and people can take the experience home from the workshop.
The meditative pace of Jai’s Surya mantra blows people away when they’ve never moved slowly with the breath. The group arrives at a true pranayama in the sense that it isn’t about holding breath, it’s gradually brighter awareness of the whole breath, where it begins and where it turns in the body.
LSK Exactly! Conscious breathwork IS pranayama.
How to support students in a strong practice
SMM I’m deeply grateful for The Radiance Sutras – Lorin Roche’s translation of the Vignana Bhairava. This is another Shiva Rea share, and it’s available on Lorin’s website. The VB teaches with astonishing poetry on the breath.
I often teach a sun salutation posture clinic at Kripalu. As part of the workshop we do the postures with the breath, that is, one posture to an inhale or exhale. I teach it when I direct the Yoga and Fitness weeks at Kripalu and people who have no trouble hiking miles and miles sweat buckets getting up and down from the floor on the breath. It’s a fantastic conversion experience for people who imagine yoga is passive!
Do you find your students fatigue more with the repetitions?
LSK Only if they don’t have complete attention on the breath and initiate each movement with an inhale or exhale. Fatigue comes from holding the breath in the movements and not paying attention to it. And actually in the VK style, as I learned at KYM, between each “sequence” is a one or two minute savasana, then you move on. That way, it keeps people from getting totally wiped out and you don’t have to take a long savasana afterward. at the end of class, after pranayama, I usually go right into a 10-15 minute meditation instead of a savasana of that length (my classes are 90 min. BTW.) My private students actually prefer to sit instead of a long savasasana. My private students are the best!!
SMM Do you talk it through?
Yes, usually. Because even though my private students have been with me since Day One of my teaching (I am blessed!), their minds are still scattered so they ask me to remind them of what to do! And in public classes, I always talk them through because they are not familiar with this style.
You can find Metta Yoga, Linda’s Yoga Journey, and Linda-Sama Karl on Facebook
Linda-Sama travels widely to present and teach, and she welcomes studios and retreat centers to contact her to develop work with them. Her Metta Yoga workshops can be found on the Metta Yoga Facebook page; private lessons are available as well.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.