I first met Lynn Maloney at Kirtan at the original alleyCat studio years ago. Lynn Maloney has been part of alleyCat since the early days, having known Ken and Kathleen as residents of the Kripalu Center. Having been the beneficiary of both her acupuncture practice and her yoga classes, I can attest to her vast knowledge of presence, awareness and sacred practices.  Read on to learn more about what inspired Lynn to become a yoga teacher and ultimately an Acupuncturist. Lynn Maloney teaches monthly Meditative Yoga classes at alleyCat on from 2-4p the 3rd Saturday of the month.

aCY:  What drew you to the practice of yoga?

Lynn: In my late twenties, I moved to New York City, fresh out of graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I had completed a masters degree in the history of science and a certificate in archival administration. I worked in mid-town Manhattan and flew across the country frequently for my job. It was during this time that I discovered the Kripalu Yoga Center, just two hours north of New York. The peace and aliveness that I felt after my first weekend trip to Kripalu started me on the exploration of  yoga. Guidance to focus on my breath, pay attention to my food at meal time, and enjoy walking on the beautiful grounds, all while free of the stimulus of TV and cars was actually exciting.  I would return to my life in the city with fresher eyes, more attentive to my surroundings, and longing for more of what I had learned at Kripalu.

aCY: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher and what has influenced your style of teaching?

Lynn: My style of teaching has been influenced by the emphasis taught at Kripalu, practicing full awareness on the experience of being on the mat as practice for being fully present to life off the mat.  The knowledge that choosing to shift my focus to my present, embodied experience can change my mental, emotional and physical tension inspired me to share the practices of yoga. The effect of my first yoga classes at Kripalu was a feeling of being centered, relaxed and joyful. Learning that joy was accessible with a simple shift of focus on a few practices of breath, movement, and intention inspired me to learn more. I eventually moved into the Kripalu Yoga Center and stayed for three years, completing my yoga teacher training while I was a resident.

aCY: Who are your most inspirational teachers and practices?

The teachers who inspired me the most at Kripalu were Stephen Cope (who still used his Sanskrit name at that time, Kaviraj) and Michael Carroll (Yoganand). Kaviraj started his classes with an invocation that we would repeat after him, affirming that we were not our bodies, but that our bodies were divine temples of the spirit within. This intention to experience the body and its sensations as sacred created an intensity and stillness in the room full of students that I remember today as a palpable, embodied experience of focus and aliveness. Yoganand’s classes were also full of guidance that brought us back to the intention to be wide awake to the experience of each moment on our mat, as he would remind us that of all the atoms in the galaxy, none were occurring anywhere exactly as they were on our mat at that moment – and that if we did not notice what was happening on our right at that moment, the moment would pass unnoticed by anyone at all! He made us feel it was up to each of us to attend to the uniqueness of what was happening on our mat and nothing else!

During my years at Kripalu, chanting was my favorite practice. Several of us would chant together between breakfast and the start of work day. During call and response chanting for the hundreds of guests who came to Kripalu each week, I would often lead the guests in responding after the leader guided the sanskits chants. I would also spend my free time listening to sanskrit chants as I walked around the grounds of the Center.

aCY: If you could distill your experience and learning down to a few core things, what would you share with your students?

Yoga has taught me that relaxation is a discipline that I must choose again, and again, and again. Dropping into the breath, becoming aware of the sensation in the muscles, shifting focus from the past and the future and into the present, offers freedom from  distresses that can either be released or better addressed from a mind and body that are at ease. Practicing the truth of Patanjali’s declaration in his first sutra, “Yoga is now!” is a lesson that I will practice for a lifetime.  

aCY:  How do you spend your time off the mat?

After I left the Kripalu Center, I attended acupuncture school for three years in the Washington, D.C. area at the Traditional Acupuncture Institute, now the Maryland University of Integrated Health. After completing my masters’ degree in acupuncture, I began my acupuncture practice just outside of D.C. for several years before moving to Columbia in 2003. Recently I have been called at a deep level of my awareness to focus on racial justice.  I became a founding member of Race Matters Friends in 2014. You can find me at most city council meetings, engaged in discussion about racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This practice brings me right into the present in many intense and joyful and challenging interactions – keeping me on the edge of my seat.