At Manduka, we were founded on the simple concept of creating a foundation to support those (teachers, studios, community guides) who Inspire the Practice. The yoga teachers and studios inspire more they will ever know. They become people and places of familiarity, comfort, community, and joy. They help create strength in the chaos. They push us when needed and grant space when it's best. They facilitate our own 'moments' on and off the mat.
Quite simply, they are our inspiration.
With that, we 've launched an “Inspire the Practice” campaign. We are celebrating teachers and studios from New York City, to Santa Barbara, CA, to Reno, NV by telling their stories. As they have gotten to know us, we now ask about them. Who are they? Why are they doing this work? What is their mission? What makes them laugh? What music do they like? What do they like to do when they are not leading our communities? What inspires THEM?
Manduka is grateful for the thousands of teachers and studios who make it part of their life 's work to create a sanctuary for us to move our bodies, free our minds, and find peace. Even if for a moment, we honor you and say thank YOU for Inspiring the Practice
Inspiration is what unites us all to make ourselves and this world a better place.
Let 's take off on this journey together to celebrate those that #InspirethePractice.
Why We 're Inspired
Linda Baffa (E-RYT) is a mama of two humans, a yoga + meditation guide, a retreat expert, an astrologist, and an enthusiastic life-lover. She currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA where she works with private clients and teaches public offerings at both Yoga Soup and CSD studio in Carpinteria. Her sharing stems from over 20 years of embodying a variety of yoga and meditation styles, and her classes are known to feel empowering, soulful, spacious and full of breath. She is known for nurturing her students with accessible options and a "come as you are" approach, and her thoughtful, inspiring playlists will get you out of your head and into your heart. Linda is also the co-founder of The Inspired Being, an online wellness platform that seeks to dive deeper with individuals through immersive one-on-one mentoring, soulful workshops, and destination retreats. Enjoy a reflection from her, below.
Name: Linda Baffa (@lindabaffa)
Residence: Santa Barbara, California
Occupation: Yoga & Meditation Guide
Cause: Wilderness Youth Project
WORDS FROM Linda
In this fast paced modern world, it is hard to feel like we have time and space to truly connect. Then, Covid came around, slapped us all across the face, and forced us to figure it out. Confined to our homes, we had to pick a few close contacts to be our quarantine buddies. Some of them were out of necessity, like kids and family, while others were a few chosen friends. Crowds, communities, and gatherings were abruptly stripped away, and we had to face who we were without our habitual, in-person, social connections. Life without our coveted cliques and communities was messy, awkward, and for some of us, very foreign or extremely lonely. We HAD to be with ourselves, we HAD to stay at home, we HAD to buddy up with a selected few, and we HAD to let go of the life we knew.
I remember a quote from my friend and colleague, Eddie Elner, who owns the yoga studio I teach at, Yoga Soup in Santa Barbara. He began hosting dharma discussions online in the deep, depressing midst of lock down, and I found myself watching ferociously, starved for meaning and inspiration at this time. I 'll never forget one of the gems of wisdom that came from his mouth. He said, “Maybe what we are losing is what we never needed to begin with, and maybe what we are gaining is what we never knew we had.” Um. Yup. This was it. This was what I needed to hear during lockdown and what became a deep theme for me. It resonated so deeply in my soul, and, as I sat with it, immersed in self-inquiry, I questioned “What am I gaining that I never knew I had???” There were many answers, but the most potent and profound one was my connection to my young children.
You see, I really never craved being a Mother, like some do. And, I was aware that once I had kids, that a big part of my mothering journey was to not show up for my kids all the time. I remember consciously choosing to continue to work over being a stay-at-home mom (even though I was basically breaking even to hire a sitter or put them in daycare). I also valued and coveted my alone time and self-care. However, when Covid lock down hit, guess what? I didn 't get “the choice” to work, and I was forced to spend time with my kids ALL THE TIME. At first, I wanted to tear my hair out. I wanted it to all be over… FAST. I cried a lot, and I mourned for the life I had known. I needed them to be in school!!! I needed SPACE!!
After about a month of painful resistance, I slowly and finally surrendered. (One of the great themes I will learn and re-learn again and again is: What we resists persists… Insert big sigh and big lesson.) When I finally let go, what happened was profound, and it was the opposite of how I knew myself to be. I started looking at ALL THE TIME we had together as the most wonderful gift. It began to feel like a life gave us this beautiful opportunity to pause, to step back, to shift from and release the need to keep myself separate, my never ending to-do list, my attachments to work and everything I thought I knew. And, honestly, I felt free. I felt more connected than any yoga class, teaching engagement or retreat experience could ever give me. And, with others continuing to suffer physically and mentally at this time, I actually began to feel like I won the Covid lottery!
My kids and I… we simply played - together! We had dance parties! We did yoga! We created fabulous works of art and lots of forts! We watched TONS of movies. We went to the beach almost every day and explored all the hikes in our area. We played a gazillion games of UNO, heads up, and charades. We laughed, we cuddled, and we connected. This list goes on… Instead of being a teacher for a community of yogis, I became their teacher, and they became mine. We learned, together, and it became the best months with them that I had ever had.
I realized that while I love guiding, teaching, and supporting others for my work, I also love doing that for my little humans. I realized that being there for them was the greatest job opportunity I had ever been given. I found that I didn 't need to guide a full classroom of dedicated yoga practitioners, nor did I need to lead a sold-out retreat, nor did I need my own personal life training or meditation immersion in order to feel conscious connection. I realized the most important connecting I could ever feel was right in front of me, at my home, with my children, in the present moment.
Today, now, the world feels like it 's back to how it was before Covid, and I 'm blending the two. I still love sharing with the world, and I 'm passionate about my work, but it is not because I want to escape my current circumstances. I 've realized that if I can lean into what is right in front of me, if I can mirror valuable connection with my children, if we can learn life 's lessons together, if I can develop a sense of trust with them, if I can simply be there, listen, be present and offer my attention, well then… I 've had a beautiful successful day being a teacher of yoga. So, “What did I gain that I didn 't know I had?” I gained the conscious connection I had always craved from teaching others with those right in front of me-my children.