Jill’s Yoga Journey, Part 1:
The number one thing I hear when I invite friends to join me for a yoga class is, I can't do yoga; I am not flexible, I can’t even touch my toes!”
Yogi(ni)s, I can relate! Before I started my yoga journey 6 years ago, (December 14th, 2015 to be exact) I could never touch my toes, let alone hold a high lunge. All that changed after meeting @courtney_deri - LIFE CHANGER, yoga mentor, trainer and friend.
How it all began…
My first real attempt at yoga happened on a typical NYC weekend… A morning workout plan with fellow @uwbadger @joeylael followed by brunch @rosemarysnyc. Joey, who is always in tune with up and coming spots in the city, invited me to the new kid @y7studio on the fitness block, founded by @sarah_ayako, another @uwmadison graduate! Never really having done yoga before, I was sold on the idea of a great workout, in a hot candlelit studio (no mirrors and dark enough room to not be seen) with hip hop music (praying for @Justintimberlake tunes to be played) I walked out of class, dripping in sweat (remember the room is 95 degrees) and thought, that was cool, didn't think twice about the experience and skipped off to brunch…
I decided to go back and take another class… on my own. This is the moment that Courtney Deri changed my life. As I flowed through class, it wasn’t so much the poses that resonated with me, but rather, the overall experience and feeling of connection that continuously brings me back to my mat. Thanks to Courtney’s class, I left the studio feeling empowered to commit to something for myself. In other words, Courtney sparked the flame within me that I didn’t even know existed.
As someone who is prone to injuries - one of them being a broken hip at the early age of 18 (we will dive deeper into that and stress fractures for another post) - I was hesitant to begin this journey. The first email I sent to Courtney about setting up a private session, was solely to make sure my alignments were correct: to get a deeper understanding of the postures and their benefits, and, to make sure I was transitioning through my practice in a safe way that was catered to the structure of my
body. After many private sessions with Courtney and continuous hours of yoga training, I can now say with confidence, that not only can I touch my toes, but I can hold a high lunge, as well as multiple inversions, headstand being one of my favorites! (Thanks, Courtney!)
My biggest piece of advice for new students is to listen to your body, meet yourself where you’re at, and remember to breathe (easier said than done). As a beginner, I, too, was surprised to learn that breathing plays such a major role not just in yoga, but in life, too. I was shocked at how the unconscious act of breathing could be so simple, yet complex at the same time.
Courtney once told me: “Your breath is your best friend, it’s always there to calm your nerves and the best part about it is that it’s a tool that you can keep coming back to. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, simply taking 5 really big breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth does wonders.” (Now you know where “you are five breaths away from calm” originates from!)
In honor of Courtney, I now teach my students in a similar way to how I was taught: Proper alignment, listening to your body (that means using modifications when needed without judgement), and finally, being vulnerable by trusting your practice. This is what I love about yoga: it’s an ongoing journey that constantly reminds me to trust myself and others. Yoga encourages me to practice leaving judgement behind and to constantly meet myself in the present moment with kindness.
So, my question for you is, are YOU ready to begin your journey on the mat with jackandjillyoga? We’re here to support you and guide you every step of the way to reach your desired destination, wherever that may be.
"So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” ~ Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)