Sweden's yoga instructor of the year, Lina Lindahl
Swedish yoga teacher Lina Lindahl was awarded Sweden’s yoga instructor of the year in 2015 and works as a full time Vinyasa Yoga teacher and Reiki Healer. She has trained internationally with some fantastic teachers, such as David Kyle, Kathryn Budig, Tiffany Cruikshank and many more. Not only does she offer classes and workshops, she also hosts some fantastic weekend retreats with training, food, overnight stays and more in various peaceful farmhouses and hotels in the stunning Swedish countryside.
“The core of Lina’s teaching style lies in connecting the body, mind and spirit. She constantly pushes her students to take what they learn about themselves on the mat, off the mat. Expect to push your edges in her classes, tap into your strength – there is no ”I cannot” there is always a maybe. Learn how to flow between postures, take flight and continuously surprise yourself to #pushyouredges.”
Please tell us about your journey to yoga.
I was doing my masters in the states, had a full-time internship and took extra credits for school, in other words I was really stressed out. I had tried some yoga before but it wasn't until my friend brought me to a vinyasa flow class that I really opened up my eyes to it. Since then there was no turning back.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to teach?
After 8 months of practicing I started my yoga teachers training and at that point I wasn't even sure I wanted to teach yoga, I mainly did it to deepen my own practice. However very quickly into the training I realized that it was something I really wanted to do.
You became ‘Yoga instructor of the year 2015’, congratulations! Can you tell us about the experience?
Thank you so much, it was such a humbling experience! Last year people got to vote for yoga instructor of the year and that was the beauty of it, it came from the students! Teaching yoga is my job and I meet so many different people each and every day, I seldom think about how it affects other people, how much it means to them. Seeing people grow, dare to push their edges and challenge themselves is the greatest gift. Getting the award was a great reminder how important it is to meet people and see them - I think we need more of that in our busy society.
You also run some yoga retreats that have received great reviews. How do they work? Where can we find your next one?
I had a couple of national retreats and the great thing about retreats is being able to work a little deeper both on the physical and mental aspects of yoga. At the retreats there's always a balance between more physical yoga, meditation and also personal enquiry and growth elements. Another important aspect is the location, I look for places that are secluded and in nature, we have many beautiful spots in the southern parts of Sweden both countryside and woods. I've also done retreats outside of the capitol city of Stockholm where almost all of the food was local, from the game to the vegetables etc.
As of now I don't have anything scheduled but it's definitely in the works for next year so stay tuned, I'm also looking into opportunities to host international retreats.
There are so many different ‘types’ of yoga out there. What do you practice and what are the big differences between them?
That is true, there's probably as many yoga styles as there's stars :) No but really there is a lot of different styles and that's why I think yoga is for everyone.
What I teach and what I'm passionate about is Vinyasa Flow, it's a more physical type of yoga where the breath leads the movement. None of my classes are the same, in other words there's no set sequence. I love to get people out of their heads and into their bodies. Yoga is all about connecting the body, mind and spirit, sometimes it's hard just to sit down and still the mind and that's why I first want people to get into their bodies.
How has yoga changed you?
When I first started yoga it was very physical and I practiced 6 times a week sometimes twice a day. Today I don't practice asana (the physical part) as much but I would say I do more yoga today than I did back then. For me yoga is a way of living, when you're true to yourself in act, thought and speech. That's what I practice today and I would say yoga changed me in ways I would never have expected and I think I'm a better person today, not just towards others but towards myself.
What are some common, incorrect assumptions about yoga?
Unfortunately I think many people still think yoga has something to do with religion and sitting still and stretching and that you have to be a certain way or have a specific lifestyle to be able to practice. Yoga is for everyone and you just need to find the right fit for you.
Do you follow a certain diet?
I'm glad you brought that up, that's one of those misconceptions about yoga that you do have to follow a certain diet. I'm all for finding what works for you. I have a body constitution that requires a lot of protein and if I don't get that I get very tired and fatigued. One thing that I don't eat or one thing that I avoid is sugar in all forms other than that I don't have a diet.
What advise do you have for people who have never tried yoga?
There's two ways to do it, today we have the opportunity to do everything online, even yoga. You could try a couple of classes online so that you feel more comfortable going into a yoga studio. I would recommend www.yogaglo.com and there you can have a free trial.
Second I would look for a yoga studio with various yoga styles/types of yoga. Let the teacher know that you're new and you'll be well taken care of.
Where can we find you when you’re not in your studio?
I love a good coffee so maybe at a local cafe or just strolling down the streets with some friends. I love traveling and food and always try to combine the two whenever I have the chance. It can't lie, I do love my apartment and I spend a lot of time there cooking for friends and family or just doing some decorating - interior design is one of my other interests!
What’s the best thing about living in Sweden?
I just came back from a trip from the United States, which I also love by the way but coming back you always realize the beauty of your own country. I think I would have to say the fresh air and how quiet it can get, on the other hand the quiet is sometimes what annoys me :)
I also like how progressive we are as a society and how open we are to all people, despite their background, beliefs or sexual orientation. Even though the world is changing and shifting right now it's my hope that we can still keep that sense of openness.
To see more of Lina and to keep an eye out for her next retreat visit her website www.linalindahlyoga.com/ or follow her on Instagram @linalindahlyoga
Images shot by Drew Xeron