Meet Jessie, one of our teachers at Yoga District. Learn about her experiences with yoga and why she is so passionate about teaching.
Check out Jessie’s schedule below and sign up here.
- Monday 5:30 PM, All Levels Flow w/ Breath Work @ 14th Street
- Wednesday 6:35 PM, Flow Yoga 1-1.5 @ Dupont
- Thursday 5:30 PM, Powerful Yoga 1.5-3 @ Dupont
Read on and stop by one of her classes to get to know her better.
How did you get interested in yoga?
My introduction to yoga is likely similar to that of so many students practicing in DC and elsewhere.
I grew up in a small town in rural Connecticut. There were just one or two yoga studios that I’d driven past regularly and never researched thoroughly. hen I got to college, the world of yoga opened up . I had a good friend who would invite me to practice in the garden, my peers took yoga classes for a fitness credit, and I learned about yoga as a tool for connection in some of my environmental classes. By my junior year, I was dying to try asana for the physical benefits, so a friend and I grabbed the introductory pass for a studio a couple of miles away. The first class was a challenge but by the end of the second class, I was hooked.
Breathwork and mental clarity continually drew me back to the practice. I’d recently lost a parent, was striving for straight As to keep my financial aid package, and found it difficult to relate to peers after returning from abroad. Suddenly, for 75 minutes a day, I could let go and focus on inhaling, exhaling, placing my left foot forward, or reaching my right hand to the sky. It was a welcome break that created space and helped me to be less reactive to the stimuli around me. I started interning at the studio, attending workshops on yogic philosophy, and exploring other branches of the practice.
If you had to describe your life in the form of a yoga pose, which pose would it be?
Flamingo pose is one of my favorites. I love flamingos and what they represent. They’re lanky, pink birds that prance around on stilts, but their looks are deceiving. They’re rather smart, calculated, and strong. Flamingos move in flocks but have strong individual personalities. I see flamingos as embodying the idiom, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” While in the asana, students stand on one leg. To hold the posture, however, hands must be firmly bound, the core must be engaged, and the chest must remain broad for deep breathing. It’s a one-legged asana where, if I can get into it, I feel so stable!
What can students expect to experience in one of your yoga classes?
To laugh! I like to keep my classes lighthearted. I say at the start of each class that the room is a safe space to listen to your body. I hope students will play with new asanas and push themselves to new edges, but only if that’s what is right for them that day. All are welcome! Resting as needed is encouraged and spending the entire class in savasana is perfectly fine
I use essential oils, I love music, and my classes are all multi-level & beginner friendly. Thus, I cue (and giggle at my own jokes) more often than some other instructors. I start each class with some form of breathwork to get us calibrated onto our mats. Students can expect to stretch and strengthen all parts of their bodies, but I cater each class to requests and students’ energy levels. I also limit repetition from week to week.
What can students do to stay motivated in their practice?
Try different teachers! I love my students, but I trust they will learn more if they work with multiple practitioners. It’s how I keep my practice fresh and learn new postures or transitions to bring to my classes.
By trying new teachers, you’ll hear different cues. Some will resonate more strongly than others, but I believe this is where important learning moments come from. I see the value in attending the same class weekly.It’s an excellent way to track your progress. However, I recommend asking your favorite instructors who else you should practice with. Even if you don’t adopt a new class, a fresh perspective once in a while can go a long way. I set the intention to take something new away from each class that I try.
What was your most inspiring yoga moment?
In the summer of 2017, my graduate school advisor invited me to teach yoga classes for a Contemplative Environmental Practice retreat at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico. Lama embodies all eight limbs of yoga and is a powerful and moving place. I was able to teach beginner-level classes with a focus on feeling connected to the breathtaking, living Earth around us. Teaching the classes was a small portion of my time at Lama. I awoke each morning in silence, broke the silence with meditation, and performed every aspect of my day as part of a community. The ability to press pause, reconnect, and contemplate, all while facilitating a physical asana practice, reinvigorated my teaching.
What is your favorite thing about the DC yoga community?
Washington, D.C. is a driven and ambitious city, and I admire that. Through yoga, I have met advocates, lawmakers, journalists, and a whole range of people who throw themselves with passion into just about everything they do. This shows through my students’ yoga practices. Whether it’s someone’s first down dog or their 300th time trying to stick scorpion pose, their determination always shows.
While this collective appetite for accomplishment makes DC an inspiring place, I often feel as though the city could benefit from a collective cleansing breath. D.C. yoga studios provide a space for that community exhalation. I truly believe the ability to distance oneself from the day’s to-do lists for just an hour or so is such a critical part of avoiding burnout. The city’s yoga community understands this need very well.