Linda Liss: Teaching in the Yoga Zone

Linda Liss in Supported Bridge Pose, featured In Suza Francina’s Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause, reviewed in Book, Film, and Website Reviews.

Linda Liss is passionate about yoga. Why? Because she sees what it does in her life, keeping her calm and centered, bringing more self-assurance, and providing a source of energy. She is also passionate about teaching because she knows these same results are possible for others.

Linda first took yoga in the 1970s (as did I) and pretty quickly realized she wanted more; that is, she wanted to become a yoga instructor. She was 27 years old when she started her training at Kripalu, which is now located in Lenox, MA. (I went there for a couple of workshops and loved it).

Her training consisted of a series of 10 day retreats, equal to 320 hours of instruction. At least once each year she goes back to Kripalu or to another center for additional training. Log onto their website for more information:

Currently, Linda is in the process of earning her 500-hour advanced yoga certification from Kripalu. The purpose of this advanced work is to be a better teacher. At 62 years of age, she is still learning. In fact, she also attends yoga classes of other instructors where she teaches in the Philadelphia suburbs, because she knows that she can always learn more.

Here are some of the questions and answers (edited) from my face-to-face interview with Linda.

ES: How do you keep your yoga practice and teaching from becoming boring?
LL: The variety of poses is part of it. More importantly, the nature of yoga keeps you in the moment/ present time so yoga always seems new.

ES: Is there a relationship between yoga and diet?
LL: When you practice yoga, over time you become more aware of internal experiences and are less likely to overeat. Your choices change over time because some foods make you feel better than other foods and you choose the healthier ones. Yoga is a “good habit” that can replace a “bad habit.”

ES: What benefits do you see for yourself as a woman over 60 and for other women in the second half of their lives?
LL: The benefits are fabulous! One often feels healthy, limber, beautiful, and at peace. You can be in the moment of your life and not as fretful about getting older. Actually, you do not feel older.

ES: Can yoga help with menopause?
LL: Yes, because it helps to balance the emotions, the hormones, and the mental processes. Also, there are poses (asanas) to balance the endocrine system, which contain the glands that produce hormones. (Note from Ellen Sue: As most of us know, as we go through menopause, sometimes our emotions are on a roller coaster as our hormones re-balance themselves.)

ES: What words of wisdom can you give to women over 50 who have never tried yoga?
LL: Approach yoga with the knowledge that you are ok right now. There is no place to get to. This is a chance to be with yourself, your body, your breath. It is an opportunity to stretch and move your body with a sense of ease, compassion, and well being.

Linda also said that there is no best time to start yoga. Any age is a good time. While holding postures (asanas), focus on the breath or the sensations of the body. You actually “meditate in asana.” She also said that breathing is as important as moving the body because the breath helps to move energy (called prana), clear the emotions, and bring more oxygen to the body.

I love her final words: “What happens on the (yoga) mat you can take into the rest of your life. Often I see students in another ‘zone’ at the end of a yoga class.”

Final Note from Ellen Sue: Linda has been my yoga teacher for about three years now, and her classes are quite wonderful. I feel refreshed and renewed after each class. If you have not yet tried yoga or have stopped doing yoga, I urge you to take another class. See my companion piece, “I Always Come Back to Yoga” in This ‘n That.

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