Here’s a spotlight post on one of my friends and yoga students Jennifer Payne. She has been practicing yoga for years and just completed her 200 hour teacher training, is a personal trainer, animal lover, and an all around amazing lady!
How does yoga help you to express who you are and who you want to be?
Yoga has helped me unlock the best version of myself. As someone who has been tightly wound since birth, it has taught me to breathe and to let go while simultaneously feeds my passion for physical strength. I find that it is the perfect combination of lessons for me to practice on a daily basis. After a particularly challenging class I feel light, I feel calm, I am happy. The lesson here is to be able to hold onto that place of contentment for a little longer each day, until it becomes engrained. Like anything you want to improve it takes dedication and commitment. I feel as if I am allowing myself to soak up
the benefits with each practice and because of that I am learning to unwind and just enjoy what comes.
(A Key West sunset- Jennifer’s home away from home)
What important lessons have you learned about yourself through your yoga practice?
I’ve learned humility and patience. Just when I think I have mastered the art of my own yoga practice, I am constantly humbled by the fact that I have SO MUCH more to learn. Even after eight years of practicing and completing a 200 hour teacher training course, I realize I haven’t even scratched the surface. Because of this realization I have learned patience. Patience has never been a strong suit. It wasn’t until I completed the teacher training that I learned how to let go and appreciate where I am at this moment. I realize that it’s okay if I cannot get into every pose and that every class will not be perfection.
I have learned to be patient with my body and to listen to it when it’s telling me to back off. There are days when even the “easiest” yoga classes are the most difficult for me. Allowing yourself to recognize humility and to be patient without judgment can be unbelievably freeing.
(Jennifer and her husband David on their wedding day)
What’s your favorite pose? Why?
As my yoga practice improves my favorite pose is always changing. It becomes whatever new trick I have learned or mastered, which in turn becomes a party trick for me to wow friends and family..seriously (I was recently in a headstand at an engagement party just to prove a point). At the moment I am working on mastering handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), so I guess that would be the pose of the moment.
What inspires you?
Strength inspires me. It comes in many different forms and never ceases to amaze me.
(The puppies! Fulsom and Cleo)
How did you get into yoga and what made you want to become a yoga teacher?
I initially became interested in yoga as another form of exercise in my early 20’s. I was living in NYC and kept hearing about the new “it” workout, which was Bikram at the time. Unfortunately, my first experience was not a good one. I found Bikram to be highly competitive and aggressive and not in a positive way. When I finally moved back to Baltimore, I stumbled upon a little studio called Charm City Yoga and was hooked. I appreciated the calm and supportive environment the studio offered and the heated vinyasa classes kept me challenged and focused. When I started running competitively, I
found that the two went hand in hand. Yoga has helped me make tremendous strides in my running ability (no pun intended).
Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of people that share my negative first experience with yoga OR they are so intimidated by the classes themselves that they never give it a chance. Becoming a teacher was not only important for my own practice and career; it has allowed me to change the minds of many by offering them the same experience I had through Charm City. I own my own studio where I offer private lessons and small group classes twice a week. I help teach the poses in a smaller setting where people can grasp a firm understanding of the pose, the benefits and the adjustments. My hope for all of my clients is to graduate from me. The best compliment I can receive
is to see my clients start to use the tools they have been taught and to have the upmost confidence in themselves and their practice.
(As a side note- Jennifer has rescued tons of pets! She has literally chased stray dogs down the street to find them good homes.)
How will you incorporate your yoga teaching into your career?
I am a personal trainer so yoga is incorporated into my job each and every day. I am constantly using poses and stretches in my sessions with my clients. Many of my clients want to feel the proverbial burn and think that yoga is for the birds. I love this challenge because I am constantly changing their minds and introducing them to a whole new
world of physical strength. My number one belief is that without balance and flexibility you have nothing. Most everyone can lift a weight, perform a squat or do a lunge. While these are good exercises, they only get you so far. When you incorporate the principles of yoga into your exercise routine the rewards are endless. The standing poses increase overall strength and balance, the seated poses increase flexibility, and mastering the art of breathing not only improves endurance, it is pretty much the cure all for everything.
I have learned to introduce my clients to yoga slowly and perhaps without them even realizing it, and when I get the usual response “I loved that session,” I always say “Yoga!” Without saying “I told you so!”
Jennifer is the owner of The Garage, a private training studio where she offers private or small group weight training, private yoga lessons and teaches two mixed level vinyasa classes a week. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30-10:45.
You can contact Jennifer at email@example.com