The Yoga Story
With the addition of "Yoga with Jen" to the site, it seems prudent to explain how - or why - this section came to be, as it has always been part of the plan.
I was introduced to yoga in a high school gym class almost twenty years ago. It was an introduction that evolved into clumsily constructed practices in my bedroom using a DIY book, and then to the classes offered at the gym in college. In 2004 or 2005, my friend Leif, who had gone through teacher training herself, brought me to my first studio class. We set our mats up in the back and I remember her giving me prompts to deepen my practice as we went along: "try breathing like this..." or, "wrap your arms like this..."
It was during that class with Leif that I got a better sense for the connection between breath and motion, and more acquainted with the potential that existed there. And, of course, my practice continued to evolve (that's just what yoga does). Beyond the physical benefits, I noticed the practice had a profound effect on my wellbeing. I felt calmer and more attuned to myself and others - the challenges in my life seemed to become more manageable while the good in my life was magnified. It brought to light my edges - the areas where I had room to improve and grow - but it also brought forth the places where I had natural grace. Going to yoga felt like going to church, and even my husband has observed that I am a better version of myself when I stick to my practice.
Since discovering the benefits of yoga all those years ago, I've wanted to learn to teach others. Every time I saw a flier promoting a training I'd look at it longingly - it was too expensive, I didn't have enough time, maybe next year. Those were great excuses to not do it. Really, there were deeper insecurities. I held my teachers in such reverence, but was I 'yogi' enough? I didn't know Sanskrit, I am not a vegan, I can't put two legs over my shoulders and balance on my arms. Did I possess the wisdom or experience required of that sacred space at the front of a class? Not the least of my concerns was the worry over what kind of judgement would be passed by my family and friends who (I couldn't imagine) would ever see yoga teacher training as a viable vocation or productive use of time or resources.
Then came a time of great transition in my life. Doodle was spiking high fevers every 3 weeks like clockwork, taking a massive toll on my ability to feel like an active member of my team at work. I was leaving my 9-5 to pursue freelance photography and marketing, and there was that flier again... Maybe next year.
I mentioned the training in passing to Bernie as something, "I'd love to do one day," and was shocked by his response. We were losing an income, making seismic shifts in our routine and lifestyle, and still my pragmatic, practical husband said, "Why not now? It's something you've always wanted to do, it makes you happy, and you'd probably be very good at it." And that is how, on the very same day that I left the traditional workforce, I started a nine-month training with the Pranakriya Yoga: School for Healing Arts, through Yoga for Everybody in Fairfield, CT.
I used to think of all those past trainings as missed opportunities, but I am so grateful that I embarked on the training I did with Pranakriya - a school that holds the ancient practice of yoga with such dignity in a world full of commercialization and yoga trends, and trains its teachers so thoroughly and with such care.
I was expecting to learn asana and how to sequence. I was expecting to learn some things I didn't know about philosophy and anatomy, but the parts of this training that touched me most deeply are the ones I never saw coming. I never expected 16 strangers with vastly different personalities and backgrounds to come together and create a space of such trust and safety that we could (in addition to our successes) be exquisitely vulnerable, fail brilliantly, and (literally) dance with complete inhibition.
While I expected to learn more about myself as a natural byproduct of doing a lot of yoga, I never expected that learning to be so actively cultivated by my teachers, or for it to be such an integral part of the process. I never expected to find such support and encouragement after I found out I was pregnant in the second month of training. I never expected to feel like I was meant to succeed.
Most importantly, I never expected to walk out of my graduation (with a tiny Ganesh, a very special chickpea, and a 200-hour certificate in hand) feeling such deep sense of gratitude, connection, and confidence - feeling both fully prepared and fully worthy to take my spot at the front of the room, ready to teach.