You Call Yourself a Yoga Teacher?

A few years ago I was at one of my husband’s poetry events at a cafe, the event was pretty crowded and since I was sitting by myself I offered the empty chair next to me to a man I saw standing nearby. We struck up a conversation. Have you been here before? Are you a poet too? What do you do? I told him I was a yoga instructor and he mentioned that he had taken a few classes years ago. All was well until the waitress brought the tiramisu I ordered before he sat down.

” I don’t think yoga instructors are supposed to eat that.”Tiramisu-1

This was not the first or last time someone would tell me I was un-yogic. Other instances include:

  • Asking to be paid for the classes I teach
  • Drinking wine
  • Playing hip-hop in class
  • Playing music period in class
  • Not being vegan

Bonus: I curse too. Never been called out on it by the yoga police (yet) but just figured I’d share!

I can keep going but I’m sure you get my point. Almost all of these offending behaviors were pointed out by perfect strangers (well except for the getting paid one but that is another story). This also happens in the virtual world where people are even more bold! Just recently I had the pleasure of interacting with a charming young woman on Facebook – let’s call her Ruby. Continue reading

Freedom in Vulnerability

As some of you may already know, The Magazine of Yoga is no longer publishing new stories. In the four months I spent as part of the team of contributors I learned so much from the editor (Susan Maier-Moul).

After what seemed to be a random email inviting me to write for her magazine I remember feeling terrified by the offer.

“What do I have to say and why would anyone take the time to read it?” – This was seriously my first thought.

In many ways the writing process mirrored my yoga practice. Showing up to my first class with uncertainty of what to expect, finding ways to modify the practice to work with my unique body. My articles were no different – with every submission I sent in there was a fear lurking in the back of my mind that my words would not resonate with anyone.

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The Yogi vs. CrossFit (part II)

Myths about CrossFit and women:

I have to get in better shape before I go!

I don’t want to get bulky/ look less feminine

It’s too hard!

Those are just a few that I have heard since my first Yogi vs CrossFit post. The truth is these things crossed my mind before I went to my first class too. I was teaching at a yoga studio that was conveniently located just a few doors down from CrossFit City of Angels, this meant I had to walk past the gym everyday to get to my studio. What I saw each time I walked by surprised me, there were men and women, and they were smiling! Huh?

CrossFit City of Angels team having some fun before flipping tires!

Finally I decided to just pop in one day and speak with the owner (Pete) and find out what CrossFit was all about. Right away I felt at ease. As a self-proclaimed “anatomy geek” I was pleasantly surprised to hear Pete and the other coaches pay so much attention to proper form and alignment. There was no pressure to just lift the heaviest weight you could pick up. From the very first class I was advised to never compromise my form just to use more weight. I cannot stress this enough ladies – you are not forced to lift heavy weights (early on I started with just a bar bell no weights)!

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“Even if you stumble, you’re still moving forward.”

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra

Some big changes to my schedule! After a rough year of driving from the valley to west LA, I finally surrendered and let all of my Santa Monica, Culver City, and Marina del Rey classes go. Well, actually they let ME go (be sure to check out my next post on The Magazine of Yoga for the details). I spent the last year trying to fill my schedule with classes and now I feel as though I am starting all over again. 

So often we hold onto things that do not serve us. Eventually the universe will pull you away for your own good. It is our responsibility to find the lesson in the loss. As crazy as it sounds, 2011 taught me to appreciate, even celebrate loss. It really all comes down to perspective, have we lost something when people, jobs, or material items are no longer a part of our lives? Or, have we gained clarity by stripping away some of life’s distractions? When people are no longer in our lives due to conflict, distance, or death this is also an opportunity for growth and clarity, but only if we see it as such. Starting over again with finding new places to teach is much easier due to the lessons I learned the first time around.

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The Magazine Of Yoga: Confidence, Empathy, Patience

The  realities of teaching to who shows up and honoring them in their current state…

I am under 30, have never been injured and naturally very thin – I don’t think these facts make me a better yogi (or a better person).

So often I hear that “yoga is for every body” and I even toss this phrase around myself; proudly explaining to anyone who is curious about starting a yoga practice that they will feel welcome and be accommodated in class. Honestly it’s something I never gave much thought to – just sounds good to say that yoga is all inclusive.

The reality is I had not personally experienced creating a safe space that was indeed for every body. I was incredibly naïve when it came to what kind of bodies would be in front of me as a teacher. Click here for full article

Jess

 

The Yogi vs. CrossFit

Lets go ahead and state the obvious – I LOVE YOGA!

With this love of the practice also comes a responsibility to keep my body safe. Something I often mention in classes (when we veer off from traditional flow to do some corrective exercise) is “I want us all to be able to practice yoga when we are 90 years old”! Since deciding to make my career all about yoga this is very important to me. In addition to using Yoga Tune Up® I have been looking for ways to keep from over-stretching with all of the yoga I do. Finally I had an epiphany…well actually I read an article about over-stretching  by Jill Miller, Creator of Yoga Tune Up®  YTU Takes You From Floppy To Fit

“Tissues are living; they can change and heal if given the right stimulation, a disciplined approach and the correct exercises to balance them. For some this could mean more stretching; for others it might mean more strengthening, but always a combination of the two.” -  Jill Miller

So many of us have come to accept that aches and pains and lack of mobility with aging as normal. Which brings another Jill Miller quote to mind – “we have to find a new normal”. Finding a new normal for me means how do I stay healthy enough to practice and teach yoga 10, 20, 30 years from now?

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Class Consciousness

“Look at what goes into a pose and honestly assess whether or not your body is ready to go there. Now apply that to your life – POW!”

Head on over to The Magazine of Yoga and check out my most recent post discussing how training with Jill Miller has changed the way I practice and teach.

Teaching my first yoga class was an out of body experience.

For sixty minutes I observed myself using phrases I had never uttered before, in an intonation having NO resemblance to my natural speaking voice. It was only about ten minutes into this process that I realized I was mimicking a yoga teacher, not teaching yoga. You see, I felt that I had to teach a certain way in order to call myself a teacher, that every class has to start with OM and you have to tell your students to shine their heart forward.

Read the full article here.

 

 

Finding my truth on and off the mat

Jess

How I Became A Yoga Teacher

How I Became A Yoga Teacher

 

 

 

My journey from Corporate America to Yogini was filled with more than a few mishaps, misfortunes and good old misunderstandings. Let me share a cautionary tale.

When The Magazine of Yoga sent me an invitation to share my story – I was both honored and terrified! See, I love yoga and more importantly I love teaching yoga, so naturally a part of me jumped at being a part of such an amazing magazine. The terror came in the form of self doubt – an old friend of mine that loves to drop by at the most inopportune times. As a teacher I constantly remind students to “relax, its just yoga” or how we have to learn how to tune out those negative voices in our head. Well, it was time to take my own advice.

Thank you to the team at The Magazine of Yoga for the invite (and helping me push past the self doubt).

For the full article, click here

Jess

The Power of Intention

I came across the Tumblr account of one of my favorite spoken word artist Thea Monyee and saw this beautiful post on setting an intention. In many yoga classes we are asked to set an intention for our practice, Leila Easa (contributor for Yoga Journal Newsletter) gives an eloquent explanation of why we do this:

Approaching our practice with thoughtful intention is one way to receive the benefits of yoga that go beyond the physical. I’ve often heard intention identified as part of what separates yoga from pure exercise. It’s also a way to practice being more conscious and aware of our actions—a lesson we can take beyond the mat.

Set An Intention…

This morning,

Before you begin to run down your mental list of things to do today,

mostly comprised of things to do for others,

Before you fix your mouth in complaint or ain’ts,

Before you regret decisions you have yet to make,

Take a moment to set an intention for your day.

Recognize the sensation of life that runs from your eyelashes to your baby toe.

Own your course and set sail in the direction of your choosing.

Start your day with the things you love about yourself, not the things you want to change about yourself.

What is your bottom line today?

My bottom line is that I am good at loving. My intention is to praise myself for the good I do.

- Thea Monyee