Jessica’s teaching style has a foundation in traditional yogic philosophy mixed with an authentic flavor of modern wisdom. The blending of ancient traditions with western understandings is an interest of hers, and shines through in her classes. In class, you’ll find an emphasis on alignment, safety, and rehabilitation of the body, while holding a space for devotion and mindfulness.
1) Describe your first experience with yoga.
My first yoga experience was a prenatal yoga class. The instructor was so warm and understanding of my changing body. I felt a great relief in my body and soul after the class, restful, attentive ease. It felt like I had been to the spa, and that there was someone who knew something about how to care for myself and my growing baby.
2) How would you describe your approach to yoga?
My approach to yoga is an inclusive approach that returns over and over to the 8 Limbs of yoga. The Yamas and Niyamas ( the first two Limbs), give me guidelines for the right action in my life. Asana is an ever changing experience, and as the 3rd limb, I value movement and postures as a way to prepare my body for a seated meditation practice. A breath practice is included in every practice as the fourth limb, and is a valuable tool in my own practice to observe the quality of my nervous system in different circumstances. The other 4 limbs are represented in meditation as a means to self study. I see yoga as a continual ebb an flow, since we all move in and out of states of remembering who we are. There i no place to arrive, but infinite information about the present experience, and the beauty of consciousness experiencing itself.
3) Your classes often emphasize the importance of alignment. Can you describe your process of exploring alignment in your own practice and how that translates when teaching?
My classes offer alignment as a way to soothe the nervous system so that we can go deeper into the current experience. When my knee is placed correctly, and there is no pain from over efforting in my body, what happens in my mind? Is there an inner critic that pushes me further or a tamastic tendency that says I can’t do this? What is the relationship between this shape in my body and the conditioned patterns that often repeat in my mind? How can I rely steadily on this practice to show me conditioning, and to free energy in my body to be the most useful person I can be?
4) What lessons have you learned through your yogic journey?
I have been exploring this for 14 years and have seen my practice take many shapes and forms. The most important learning is that we are all always practicing. When my asana practice falls away, say from an injury or grief, I watch it fade with curiosity. I have learned to trust myself more deeply, following the intuitive places, the animal places, in me that just know. When the movement practice returns, I get a new relationship to my body, and feel the postures differently than before. I have learned to embrace the dynamic nature of practice, meeting the seasons of my life with a wide angle lens. Meditation has given me the perspective of expanding the container for whatever is arising in real embodied life.
5) What do you like the most about EastSide Yoga?
EastSide Yoga is a sangha of compassionate, and dedicated people. I have been offered great care and truthfulness in my relationships here. For example, I just experienced the very tragic and sad loss of my father. As it was a sudden and unexpected event for my family, I needed to take time to work with the practical concerns, as well as to grieve and heal. Steven, Elsa, and Mary gave me the time off that I needed, covered all of my classes, and helped me through a rough period. As I return to teaching, I would like to thank the community at ESY, for their loving and supportive wishes, for the space to grieve, and for the place to return to, to keep going. We all experience hardship, and no one is without trails. The grace has been shown to me I hope to extend to others, by giving space, remembering to reach out, sending love, and being a safe place to return to. Many thanks to all of the teachers, staff, and people on the path at ESY.