I don’t have some amazing ‘how I came to yoga story’! My love for yoga kind of crept up on me…
Mum had a yoga book in the 70’s/ early 80’s, and I remember being fascinated by her practicing from it, but somehow I didn’t start until my early 20’s. My sister introduced me to yoga from a cassette tape, (yes that long ago!) Yoga wasn’t mainstream back then. It was a recording of her teacher, an Iyengar and Ashtanga combination. For the first few years I was pretty much self-taught, and I’d find teachers in different ports! I travelled a lot in those days, and yoga kept me grounded, I think I might have gone crazy otherwise. Travelling through South America on my own, a very heavy yoga mat tied to my rucksack, (pre-travel mat days) I truly believe that my daily yoga practice has given me the courage to do things I would have NEVER have done without it.
I practiced consistently throughout my 20’s, it was a very physical practice, I felt great from it, and although I was interested in the more spiritual elements, many of the classes I attended seemed to focus only on the physical side. I always had the feeling of searching for something, or like something was missing, both within me, and in the way that I was living. In my teens, and early 20’s I led a very hedonistic lifestyle, experimented with drugs, looking for answers… I was unhappy beneath the surface, I felt empty and slowly yoga changed that, especially when I established a regular meditation practice. It meant I didn’t need to escape the reality of life. It showed me ways to feel stronger, more confident, and like I could be enough! I didn’t need drink or drugs to feel good, and confident anymore.
The more I did yoga, the more I realised this!
I first knew I wanted to teach when I was working on yachts. I practiced yoga daily to keep me sane and the crew often asked me to teach them, and I can remember vividly the moment I thought “this would be my dream job”. Well roll on 20 ish years, and here I am!
I’ve been teaching for over 11 years now. I originally did my 200hr with YogaCampus in London, and it was then I met my teacher YogiRaj Katrina Repka, head of ISHTA yoga in Europe, a school started by Alan Finger and his Father Mani.
I completed my 300 hr in ISHTA in 2017 and am now 500hr E-RYT
and teach on the ISHTA Teacher Trainings in London.
When I discovered ISHTA something clicked, I felt I’d found my spiritual home, and began to understand, and get a feel for what Yoga is about, on a much deeper level than just the physical practice.
ISHTA means, “that which resonates with the individual” and is also an Acronym for ‘Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra and Ayurveda’
We work with Ancient Eastern Disciplines, and a modern yoga system to bring about tools for individual transformation.
We encourage students to practice in a way that suits their individual body, nature and spirit, helping bring them each to a place of Sattva (balance).
What I love about ISHTA is that classes are about so much more than Asana, they all include pranayama, and meditation. In ISHTA classes I finally gave myself permission to practice in a way that listened to and nurtured my body, rather than the mind and ego. I now judge the success of my practice, not by how far I can go in poses, or how long I can hold an inversion, but rather by how present, aware and calm I can be in everyday life. That is Yoga!
My daily meditation practice, which I had struggled with for years, is now steady and gives me so much peace. The ISHTA meditations are really accessible with techniques and tools to help guide you to a peaceful place and quiet the mind! Often incorporating Pranayama, Kriya, Mantra and Mudra.
I love that there is so much yoga everywhere these days. I think there is more need of it than ever before. So many people are experiencing anxiety, stress, and a sense of isolation and loneliness. This comes from the way we’re living and the stresses of modern life. We are in need of more authentic and well-trained teachers. I was noticing so many new teachers coming out of teacher training and felt this creates a real need for community and ongoing support, to help give them confidence and some of the skills which don’t get covered in TT’s.
So in February this year I began a 6 month Mentor programme for new teachers. The 11 wonderful yogini’s who I’m working with, have really inspired me and cemented the desire to help new teachers find the confidence and refine their skills. The more great teachers out there the better! I really believe that if Yoga is taught in a way that gives a fuller experience, rather than just focusing on asana, as so many modern classes do, then we can share the amazing tools that can help people to feel more connected to themselves, and each other and deal with the stresses of modern life.
“Range is of the Ego, form is of the soul” Alan Finger
Jess is teaching our Marrakech Spring Yoga and Meditation at Peacock Pavilions, March 2020 – email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.