Archive | Jessie RSS feed for this section

1000 Hours of Teaching

16 Oct

I am very excited to announce that I have officially taught 1,000 hours of yoga since graduating from my first teacher training at Om Ananda Yoga in 2010!

E-RYT200

I am feeling such deep, heartfelt gratitude toward each and every one of you that I have had the privilege of sharing yoga with, for truly being my teachers as I learned how to guide you through your practice, developing a relationship with your bodies, your breath and (my hope) your True Self.  I have grown so much from the opportunity to observe, connect, give and receive on this journey.  Thank you!

I often joke that I teach because I’m selfish: I feel that I gain so much more than my students do from the practice of teaching yoga.  It doesn’t matter what my mental state is walking into a class, teaching demands a presence of mind that immediately gives me clarity—everything I thought I was so worried about falls away as I attune to my students’ breath, bodies and needs.  And as I guide students through pranayama, or a simple deep body scan, it’s like a contact high: I feel the benefits immediately, amplified from the group.  As we take care of ourselves, we in effect are taking care of the world around us, cultivating a way of being that is centered and at peace.  There is a tangible, measurable difference.  So it’s really totally selfish to teach yoga: I want a better world for me, so I help you feel better in your body!

Being a teacher is a privilege, and it is my duty to honor that opportunity by living consciously and integrating my own practice into my life so that I can best serve my community.  Teaching yoga has always been more of a way to connect with something beyond myself rather than an intellectual exercise.  For me, it’s like stepping into my truest self, getting out of the way, and letting my intuitive, inner knowing guide me.  I have searched but never have I found something that is more rewarding: teaching yoga feeds my entire life, my body, my mind, and most of all my spirit.  I am most present, most authentic and connected with my blissful Self when I am teaching.  It’s the most awesome feeling ever!

To become a good teacher, one must have great teachers.  I know I would certainly not be where I am today if it weren’t for the many incredible mentors I have been blessed with.  Even before I was official, I had tremendous encouragement and support to begin teaching yoga at The Nature Place and to friends at Sanborn.  From my very first yoga class in Chicago to the incredible experiences with my beloved teachers and friends at Om Ananda, the Chicago Ashram and Shoshoni, I am in awe of my great fortune to have a vast support network of exceptional beings who inspire and propel me.  I feel tremendous gratitude toward the spiritual master who has guided so many of the teachers I admire and has guided so very much of my own growth, Babaji Shambhavananda.  I love you all!

I know that letters and designations don’t really mean much of anything when it comes to the quality of a human being.  I have had yoga teachers in the past who never did an official yoga training but were so adept at self-study that they had far more impact than others who had been to many advanced trainings by the world’s “leading” yoga instructors, who had all the letters and numbers attached to their names but were lacking what really mattered as a teacher—heart.  My ultimate goal is simple: to be the best yoga teacher I can be, living authentically with a deep connection to my True Self.  To be the change I wish to see in the world.  To grow spiritually.

I also know that letters and numbers and designations mean something in our society, and are useful and helpful in some realms.  A worldly goal of mine is to attend an advanced yoga teacher training at Shoshoni Yoga Ashram sometime in the coming year, to grow closer to my teacher, to grow deeper in my meditation practice, and to become an RYT-500 before I begin my tenure as a physical therapy student in the fall of 2016.  These goals are very much within reach as I celebrate this milestone of 1,000 teaching hours.  Horray!

Oh, and here’s a secret.  When I first started teaching, I had no idea what I was doing, almost all of the time.  And that was okay.

Thank you all for being a part of my journey.  I am truly enriched, and I look forward to many, many more hours of practice together.

Namaste.

Yoga: The Path of Holistic Wellness

21 Jul

I am so excited to be a guest blogger for the Center for Holistic Wellness’ Practitioner BlogClick here to check out this new exciting forum for community conversation and sharing …

Below is an excerpt from my answer to the question: What is Holistic Wellness & How do we Achieve it?


 

What is Yoga?

Contrary to what many folks believe, yoga is not about turning yourself Modified_Janu_Sirsasanainto a pretzel (although that can be fun, eventually), or sweating buckets in a 100 degree room (although some modern yoga styles do use a heated space), or only for people who are already “flexible” (although yoga will help you to–among many other things–become more flexible). In fact, limiting a definition of yoga to a mere physical exercise routine fails to recognize the deeper meanings–and benefits–of yoga. Yoga is a systematic path of holistic wellness that brings refinement to the body, mind, and the more subtle–what we call the Inner Self. In Sanskrit–the language of yoga (in class, you may hear instructors name poses like Trikonasana or Virabhadrasana)–the word Yoga means Union. Through a variety of practices, yoga empowers us to unite the body, mind, and Inner Self. Yoga is an ancient system (archaeologists date the physical origins of yoga to somewhere around 3000 BC) developed by Rishis in the Indus Valley Civilization as a way to bring about inner growth and evolution. It was understood, even 5,000 years ago, that if the body is in pain, discomfort, or even just imbalance, the mind is distracted, and a connection to the Inner Self is harder to attain (it’s challenging and sometimes impossible to sit and meditate when your back is in pain, your hip is bugging you, or you can’t sit cross-legged). The asanas–physical postures–that we associate with yoga today were originally designed to bring the body into balance in preparation for sitting in meditation for long periods of time. Today in the West, we have taken the asana practice and run with it (or should I say stretched it?), and for many people who are drawn to yoga in our culture, it all starts with the physical body. In a physical sense, yoga not only increases flexibility but it also–and equally as important–increases strength, stability, and overall balance in the physical body. You don’t have to approach asana with a wish to gain deep spiritual insights (although as you continue to practice, you may find that this inner awareness bubbles up happily on its own); you can start your practice where you’re at. Maybe you have a hope to reduce low back pain; perhaps you’d like to develop core strength; you might be looking for a low-impact, gentle form of exercise. All of these are good, and valid, and will certainly be helped by yoga.

The Path to Wholeness

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोध yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ Yoga is the stilling of the thought-waves of the mind.

~Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1:2

I’d like to share a bit about my own yoga journey and how yoga guided me on a path to wholeness. I’d tried yoga a few times growing up and never cared for the “boring stretching classes” I attended occasionally with friends. I wasn’t that flexible and didn’t really care to be. Fast forward a few years, when I found myself in college studying Writing in Chicago. I was struggling pretty badly with a newly-diagnosed Anxiety Disorder and Depression: I was being medicated and told by my doctors that I would be taking pharmaceuticals to help deal with what they called my “chemical imbalance” for the rest of my life. “It’s genetic,” they said. Meanwhile, my writing professor, Michael McColly, started our first class of the semester by asking us to push all the desks to the perimeter of the classroom. He had us gather in a circle on the carpet, on hands and knees (in our skinny jeans and Doc Marten boots!). He instructed us to breathe through some simple yoga postures. Cat/cow, thread the needle–very gentle postures–as he taught us to cultivate an inner awareness. No mats, no stretchy yoga clothes, just our bodies and our breath. After just ten minutes of inhaling and exhaling, moving my body in a mindful way, and observing my thoughts without judgement, I felt better than after I took a Xanax. It was this deeply empowering realization that my mental chatter was not me; that I could take a step back and watch my thoughts without getting caught up in them. That class with Michael was the impetus that set me on my path of yoga. I began a daily home practice and signed up at a yoga studio in my neighborhood. For me, yoga was never about the stretching or getting fit or the way my body looked. Yoga empowered me with the tools I needed to heal my heart and my mind.

Holistic Wellness

Pasture_MeditationTo me, Holistic Wellness is a multifaceted balance between body, mind, and Inner Self. And this type of wellness evolves into a joyful lifestyle. It is not an end result or destination; it is a journey, constantly evolving to help us continue to grow. The practices of yoga, including asana (postures), pranayama (mindful breathing), dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation) are all effective tools that gently and persistently guide us toward realizing our true nature–the Inner Self. Most importantly, yoga is empowering. Through the practice and teachings, we learn that we are not victims of illness, injury, or imbalance. These things show up in our lives so we can learn and grow from them, as catalysts toward living more authentically, truthfully, and honestly. I gradually got off the medications my doctors told me I’d be taking for the rest of my life because of yoga. Beyond that, though, yoga has taught me how to cultivate an attitude toward all of life that feels happy, healthy and meaningful.

When we are grounded deeply inside, we realize that we are already whole.

I feel so privileged to continue to grow as a student of yoga, and also to share these life-changing teachings with my community at the Center and beyond. I hope you’ll join me for a class sometime.

The highest potential within me honors the highest potential within you. Namaste

Postures & Pictures

12 Dec

Outwardly expressive and deeply introspective …  I’ll take both!

Photographer

People who have grown up with me know that I have a deep love of photography ~ between grade school (when I got my first camera) and high school, I filled over 40 photo albums with my snapshots; I can think of nothing more delightful than sitting to look through your family photos all day long; I could go on about this …  I also have a deep love of the aesthetics and symbolism of the human form, so yoga photography is something I am naturally obsessed with.

At the same time, I recognize that photography can only scratch the surface of bringing to light the full experience of yoga.  Most often, yoga photography focuses on the more dramatic, physical aspects of yoga ~ the aspects of yoga that we can see, hence can be expressed well through the visual art of photography.  These physical postures are obviously photogenetic and impressive, but can be misleading.  Why do people think “Oh, I’m not flexible/thin/healthy/calm/(fill in the blank) enough to do yoga” ? … perhaps because culturally, we are inundated by photos of slender, extremely flexible, athletic, photoshopped women doing advanced yoga postures and we think that’s what yoga is about.

It’s not.

I find it exciting to know about organizations, blogs and articles that try to debunk these wrong perceptions of yoga and body image, such as this Fat Yoga studio and this one and body positive yoga and sweet posts like “I like my body because it’s magic” and MsFit Magazine and The Body Positive and BeYOUtiful People and this one is for the fellas and this youtube video and this post by a Cowgirl Yogini and so many more (if you know of more, by all means, post them below as a comment and I will add them to the list!).

Yoga is so much deeper than what any photo, or even the most eloquent words, can convey, and that is what makes it so powerful and life-transforming.  Thankfully!

And yet I still love to play with yoga photos and photography, and I still try to convey the beauty and power of yoga with words, (and have recently explored doing this with video, too).  In full knowledge that I will never succeed at doing so, that the quest to express the wholeness of yoga is an eternal, lifetimes-long practice.  Just like yoga itself.

So in the spirit of love for bodies art, and yoga, I hope you enjoy some photographs of yoga asanas, below (mostly taken by Nathan, of me).  I would love to add to this collection, so please share yours with me, too (you can e-mail them to me ore share them with me on Facebook, and I’ll post them in the future)!

Vrksasana-1~

Utthita_Sukhasana~Eka_Pada_Kapotasana~

Natarajasana~

Vrksasana_tree~

Om shanti shanti shanti.

~

Shoshoni Mountain Ashram

10 Sep

Temple-Rainbow-2I don’t expect to ever fully articulate the experience of my Level II and Level III Yoga Teacher Trainings at Shoshoni Mountain Ashram in Rollinsville, CO.   Living for two weeks at a place where all moments of the day are devoted to the practice of yoga was deeply transformative for me, and I grew so much in those weeks.

The energy of this place blew me away!  I was operating on less sleep and less food than I normally do–waking up at 4:30 to shower and meditate, and often not going to bed until 10 or later (I couldn’t put down Seat by the Fire by Sri Shambhavananda)–yet I felt fully energized and awake throughout the days of training.  The trainings were extensive and well-organized, structured in a balanced way so that we had time to rest and absorb between Anatomy, Asana, Philosophy, Pranayama, Meditation, Chanting, and Practice Teaching.

My Level II training covered the shoulder girdle & upper extremities, focusing on more advanced yoga postures such as arm balances.  Level III covered the hips and lower extremities, covering deep hip opening, strengthening and stabilizing.  Both trainings offered new meditation and pranayama teachings, which I found to be profoundly deep and I am so excited to share with my yoga community.

DSC_0162Shoshoni is exceptional because these ancient teachings are made accessible by and connected to a living guru and lineage teachers whose practices go back many, many generations.  I feel so deeply fortunate to have been able to make a connection with the Shambhava lineage during my stay.

I grew in ways I can’t articulate.  I have emerged with a deeper, more committed practice, which will enhance my teaching of yoga in many ways.  I am so excited to be practicing meditation daily, and feel balanced and rooted from this new practice.  We did a lot of kirtan & chanting throughout the trainings, and I have found these practices to be very effective in eliminating negativity and balancing me on all levels.  I encourage everyone to explore this practice!  If you are interested, Deva Premal & Mitten are offering a free 21-day Mantra Meditation, and you can sign up for a daily mantra recording right to your e-mail inbox (starts today, but you can join in any time).

The dedicated staff were friendly and warmly welcoming.  Being surrounded by people whose lives are dedicated to spiritual practice was so inspiring!  They were so willing to answer questions as they arose for me and I enjoyed sharing my experience with them.  I am already looking forward to my next training at Shoshoni!  I also made some beautiful yoga-teacher friendships in my trainings and there is even discussion of collaborating on offering a Yoga Retreat in the future.  I’ll keep you posted!

I have so much gratitude for all of you who made this possible for me!  It was absolutely not feasible for me to take this trip without the support of my community–your attendance at my yoga classes helped pay my way, and the generous, heartfelt donations gifted to me from many were a tremendous gift.  I am so deeply grateful to each of you, and I am so excited to share these new teachings with you (classes in the Hayloft start again September 17th)!

Oh, and here’s the official certification!  I’m now a 320-Level Yoga Alliance Certified Intermediate Yoga Instructor!  Horray!  Only 180 training hours left until I am certified at the highest level through Yoga Alliance.  Not that anybody’s counting!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In deep gratitude.  Namaste.

~*~

RETREAT!

I also wanted to offer a word on retreating.  Unplugging and staying in a beautiful mountain setting is far more than restorative.  Dedicating a segment of time toward your growth as a yogi is deeply gratifying, and Shoshoni is an incredible place to do it.  One amazing aspect of Shoshoni is that these teachings are connected to a living guru, Sri Shambhavananda.  The chance to connect with Babaji and the lineage teachers is a great privilege!  Shoshoni offers many amenities, and the foundation of yoga offerings throughout the day (from Ayurvedic food, to meditation and pranayama, to chanting and Kirtan, to multiple yoga classes daily, to spa treatments, sauna, hot tub, kayaking and hikes) is one of the most precious gifts you can give to yourself!  If you’re looking to retreat (or even just catch one yoga class), this is the place to go!

ATTEND A SHAMBHAVA-TRAINED YOGA INSTRUCTOR’S CLASS!

I met some fantastic yoginis during my training, and I want to share them with you!

Dolma

Dolma

My dear friend and fellow yoga instructor, Dolma (Judy), lives and teaches multiple levels of yoga in Astoria, Oregon.  If you are ever in the neighborhood, be sure to drop into her beautiful studio, Lotus Yoga, for a class!  She and I have been discussing the possibility of offering a retreat sometime in 2014.  Stay tuned!

If you find yourself in the midwest … in Marquette, Michigan to be exact, be sure to look up Liz Dirkse, a very sweet yoga instructor who teaches at a number of studios there (Marquette Yoga Center, Revive, and at Northern Michigan University.

Whole Yoga in Denver, CO is where you can find Alison Theriot, another of my sweet yoga instructor colleagues, along with other Shoshoni-trained instructors.  I’ve never been there myself, but I have heard all good things!  One of the owners is a Physical Therapist … inspiration for my dream!

Check out Jaclyn’s Gentle Yoga classes at Pranava Yoga in Colorado Springs.

And as soon as she lands, I’ll let you know where our sweet Jen is teaching.

~*~

Yoga Anywhere!

13 Jun

Please enjoy some photos of Jessie and friends practicing Yoga asana in some of the most beautiful places in the world!

Nataraj_Sun

~

Hidden-Lookout-Bujangasana

~

Crescent Lunge Mt. Baker

~

Upward

~

Yoga Play

~

Warrior_Friends

~

tulip-yoga-3

~

31211_626349683537_48600710_35262345_2654663_n

~

Crampon-Yoga

~

Shuksan_Yoga

~

Hanging Yogs in Washington

~

~

Horseback Yoga

Click here for more Horseback and Hayloft Yoga photos!

Hayloft Yoga

~

Partner-Tree

~

AerialYoga-Scott

~

Hanging-Yoga-Sycamore

 ~

Yoga_R

Horseback-Natarajasana

~

Hammock-Aerial-Yoga

more

~

to

~

Come

~

Pre-PT School: Here I Come!

15 Apr

Jessie-AcceptedIt’s official!

I am officially accepted to Western Washington University’s Pre-Medical Professional Postbaccalauriate Degree Program.  In Bellingham starting this September, I will take my needed prerequisites to apply for PT school.

It is my intention to go to PT school and integrate physical therapy with yoga and hippotherapy (horseback therapies) in an outdoor setting.

This is my first step in making my dreams come true!

How exciting!

Stay tuned to my posts tagged Physical Therapy for updates on this journey.

Jessie’s Yoga Journey

12 Apr

In September of 2006, I was diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  My doctor informed me, as he handed me a script for my prescription medications, that I would be on anxiety and depression meds for the rest of my life.

At about the same time, I was introduced to yoga in an unlikely place—my Freelance Applications course, in Columbia College’s Fiction Writing Department, taught by author Michael McColly.  He opened each class with a breathing exercise and a few simple postures we’d do beside our desks in jeans and shoes.  The shift that occurred in our group of busy-minded writing students after just ten minutes of breath and movement was palpable in the room, and we were able to forget the dramas of the day and focus more clearly in the moment.  On days Michael might skip yoga, we would demand: “Just ten minutes, Michael, please!”  I found myself lingering after class to talk with him about this yoga.  He told me that yoga was how he helped cope with being HIV+.

Later, in July 2007, to celebrate Michael’s 50th birthday, we co-organized an event called Prostrations for Peace

I was shocked—Michael was the most fit, healthy-looking forty-nine year old man I knew.  He was an inspiring teacher, intensely dedicated to the craft of writing and to his students.  I figured if yoga helped him, it could help me.  I found a studio near my apartment, The Temple of Kriya Yoga, and for $10 a practice, I attended as much yoga as I could afford—usually two classes per week.

The effect yoga had on my anxiety-ridden mind was more immediate, lasting, and more invigorating than the drugs.  I tried the Xanax my doctor prescribed “as needed” one particularly anxious evening, and felt like I’d been mowed over by a bulldozer: I couldn’t see straight, I felt dizzy, my limbs were weighted to the floor.  It scared me.  I took the bus home and dumped the pills into the toilet.  I followed a vegan diet at the time, and from a health perspective, I didn’t like being on medication.  I just didn’t know that there were alternatives.

I tried talking to my psychiatrist about other options, and he seemed annoyed.  He kept reiterating that I needed these drugs.  I didn’t like that answer.  I switched doctors, and my new one said he couldn’t help me if I wasn’t willing to take my medication.

Meanwhile, I got more deeply involved in yoga.  Michael expressed that he wanted to teach a course combining writing with yoga.  I got to work, petitioning students and developing a proposal for the chair of the Fiction Department.  The class, The Writing Body, was offered the following semester.  I enrolled in The Writing Body in addition to a yoga course taught by Shaker Cohlmia in the Dance Department at my school.  I was ready to take the plunge.

A Writing Body field trip to the Indiana Dunes. That’s me leading a sequence in front of Lake Michigan.

After being on medication for over a year and experiencing little improvement in my symptoms, my doctor said we should up my dosage–again.  Something about that felt very wrong.  I saw myself into the future: continuing to increase my dosage in a repeating cycle until I was so drugged I didn’t know who I was anymore.  I wanted to break the cycle before it started.

I researched herbal remedies for anxiety and depression.  I found out about St. John’s Wort, GABA and 5-HTP.  I stopped seeing my doctor and gradually weaned myself off my meds.  Yoga became a daily practice for me, sometimes twice a day.  If I didn’t practice, I knew I would be in for a possible panic attack or a debilitating bout of depression.  But I was empowered: I could control these mood disorders as long as I dedicated time to my practice.  The Temple of Kriya became my sanctuary.  I never socialized when I was there; my emotions were too high for me to even form sentences at times.  But after practice, I felt lighter, clearer, motivated to go home and get my writing homework done, excited to wake up the next morning, light a candle, and practice along to a yoga DVD I bought at Barnes & Noble.

Time flew by and I began to feel an increase in drive and motivation again.  Michael’s Writing Body class taught me to listen to my body not only for the breath, but for stories, for voices, for inspiration. “We are recording our own physical history,” Michael said, “Your body is a wise old grandma.”  There was so much to learn!  I began to listen.  I learned that my anxiety was not some genetic disposition, but a result of me being out of touch with my deepest, most Authentic Self, of denying and ignoring my body.  Yoga set me on the journey to find that Self again.

The following semester, a new yoga friend and I founded a club called Creative Body, introducing different forms of bodywork to students through free workshops.  We held meditation, Reiki, dance therapy, yoga, and trance dance workshops, to name a few.  I enrolled in a Yoga II course with Katrina Ryan, who introduced me to the deeper meditative aspects of yoga and the power of intention and affirmation.  I medicated myself using my herbal supplements and a daily yoga practice.  I still suffered from anxiety and depression, but less frequently, and had new tools for riding the waves coupled with a newfound hope for the future.

Katrina Ryan deepened my practice through her Yoga II course at Columbia and through her loving support as a friend

I signed up for the Teacher Training program at the Temple of Kriya Yoga and looked to the future with more excitement and expectation than I could remember.  I saw my emerging life as a yogi; I became attached to the idea of becoming a certified teacher.

But Life had something else in store for me.  In October of 2008, I experienced some major financial setbacks and not only did I have to humbly ask for my Teacher Training deposit back, but I had to move out of my apartment in Chicago, back in with my parents.  It was embarrassing and disappointing, and broke apart my identity with becoming a teacher.  How could this be?  I could barely believe that I’d graduated with honors from an upstanding art school and I couldn’t figure out how to make a living.

I fell again into a depression, and had to confront some deep questions of self: Why am I here?  What do I want to do with my life?  I resonated with the adage: “Now that you can do anything, what will you do?”  This was almost as debilitating as my initial anxiety diagnosis.  My yoga practice was sometimes the only reason I got out of bed in a day.  Through a lot of talk therapy, unconditional support form my parents, and deep self-study, I came to the answer soon enough.

Eventually, realizing that I needed to let go of my attachments to my life in Chicago and follow my deeply repressed dream of living in the West, I found myself in the mountains of Colorado, with its abundance of sunshine and space for an expanding soul.  I was surrounded by positive people, spent most of my days outdoors and most of the hours of my days on horseback, and I discovered that I no longer needed even my herbal supplements.  I was, finally, drug-free.

One of my coworkers in the Outdoor Education program was yoga teacher certified—a title, at the time, that I envied and admired.  We woke up at 5:30 each morning to practice together before our busy day of leading hikes and teaching kids about nature.  She encouraged me to lead our practices—preferred it, even, which was a huge confidence boost to non-certified me—and it was there, guiding Sam and I through practices in a small cabin in the woods, that I found my teaching voice.

Using yogic techniques to teach campers how to connect with their horses

More and more of my Ourdoor Ed peers wanted me to teach them yoga, and I eagerly dedicated time to this cause, refining my vocabulary, giving in to the flow of practice, and building my confidence as a teacher.  As a wrangler over the summer of 2009, I began to use yogic metaphors to teach children how to connect more deeply with their horses.  It was a natural fit, horse and rider benefited mutually, and it affirmed that yoga is definitely something to be taken “off the mat.”

When a friend on the ranch asked if I would be interested in teaching yoga classes in an official setting, I could barely believe it.  My belief that I needed to be certified to teach yoga was proven wrong.  This was my dream come true.

Being a yoga teacher is educating me in more ways than I imagined.  Watching my students unfold as I offer them the gifts that yoga has bestowed upon me is the most rewarding, meaningful experience I could ask for.

As I taught and lived in Colorado, the journey continued.  I moved to Fort Collins and found Om Ananda Yoga.  The teacher training was utterly transformational.  The group of yoginis I met and the deep connection to spirit I gained permeated every facet of life.  I began teaching free classes in Fort Collins the moment I became certified, and haven’t looked back!

Living the Dream!

Teachers who have had a profound impact on my journey are first and foremost Michael McColly: he introduced to me the transformative healing potential of yoga, and he taught me how to listen to and interpret the language of the body.  Michael continues to inspire me today.  Agnieszka Miskiewicz at The Temple of Kriya Yoga taught me how to truly slow down and helped me to refine the art of alignment-based movement through yoga.  Shaker Cohlmia’s voice is still in my head when I teach; he helped build my foundation of the physical practice of the asanas.  Katrina Ryan revealed to me the power of intention and empowered me to manifest my dreams.  Kim Wilcox reinforced my love for a slow, deliberate practice and provided a yogic respite on weekends I spent working in Chicago (crashing on a friend’s couch) after I’d moved home.  Kari Cotton saved me in the months I lived in my parent’s home during the transition period between Chicago and Colorado: she introduced me to my “inner teacher” and proved to me that yoga at a suburban gym can be as authentic and powerful as yoga in a prestigious Chicago studio.  Sam Allen gave me the courage to find my own teaching voice and is probably why I am teaching yoga today.  Sarada and Shivaji Erickson of Om Ananda Yoga empowered me with knowledge and by sharing their deep connection to spirit through friendship and an incredible Yoga Teacher Training.  Mimi Houston paired with me to teach Yoga For Nerds and I learned patience, flow, and to lighten up! from that partnership experience.  I am grateful each of you for your incredible impact on my yoga and my life.  You are why I am here today.

Namaste.

And the story continues … please visit my blog to read the latest chapter in Jessie’s Yoga Journey!  Thank you!

. . .

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne, Ph. D. was also a helpful tool for me in overcoming anxiety.

Click here to download a pdf of Michael McColly’s article The Body as Poet: Using Yoga to teach Creative Writing

This is a video created by Columbia College Chicago film student Lexi Tierney (my youngest sister) about the experience of living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Jessie is currently enrolled in the Shambhava School of Yoga.