Q+A with Jenna
Where are you based out of? town + studio?
We owned Bikram Yoga Red Deer in Alberta, Canada from 2010-2015, but then we decided to sell it (and pretty much everything else) to travel full time with our kids. So now we’re nomads and travel around teaching yoga at different studios. We’ve been all over Canada, USA, and are now in Mexico.
When + where did you first stumble into hot yoga?
2007 at Feel Hot Yoga/Bikram Yoga Kingston in Kingston, Ontario.
Do you remember your first class? Did someone bring you or did you venture out on your own?
I had been practicing yoga on and off for a few years before I went to my first Bikram Yoga class. I was doing my Masters at the time and went with my friend Lauren, who almost ditched me and left after about 20 minutes in the hot room. I’d played competitive sports growing up, so I enjoyed the challenge, but that first class felt like the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life! When class was over, I remember thinking that I never knew it was possible to feel so good naturally.
What made you go to teacher training?
I went to teacher training for purely selfish reasons! I had struggled with depression in my teens, and even though my life seemed fine on the outside, I had been self-medicating to feel better for years. When I started practicing hot yoga, I had just recently moved across the country to go to grad school and ended a messy long-term relationship with a guy, and with drugs and alcohol. It was time for a change. After a few months of almost daily practice, I knew that I had never felt so good — happy, healthy, and emotionally balanced — in my life. The yoga taught me to like myself, love myself and start taking care of myself. I felt in control of my own happiness. I knew I had to go to teacher training so that I would continue to do this yoga every day and keep feeling like the best version of myself.
What’s your favorite thing about teaching?
It doesn’t matter what’s going on in life outside the hot room, as soon as I go in and start teaching nothing else matters. And it’s the same with practicing. I always leave the yoga room feeling more grounded, clear, and optimistic than when I went in. It’s not possible to do yoga and not feel better afterward. I love the students who come in to the studio grumpy, glare all through class, and then leave with the biggest smile on their faces!
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you while you were practicing? teaching?
Two guys showed up for their first time at the last class of the evening. I thought they were acting a little strange, and that maybe I smelled alcohol as they walked into the change room, but I couldn’t be sure. I had one of our most experienced teachers on that night and I was practicing, so I thought, let’s see how this plays out. I kept a close eye on our new students. The coordination required for Pranayama breathing put their class off to a bad start. I saw them start to lean against the wall during Half Moon. I was amazed when they made it to Party Time. When we got to the Standing Bow Pulling line “Mama give me money,” one of the new guys started singing “Money, money, money, money, MONEY!” like in the scene from Jerry Maguire! Not only could he not grab his foot, but our new friend fell into the back wall, and the whole class erupted with laughter. Clearly, they were just barely sober enough to make it past the front desk, but they did considerably well, even with their added challenge.
Do you have other (non-hot yoga) passions?
Our current nomadic lifestyle is my biggest passion because we get to travel to awesome locations, spend all our time together as a family, be outdoors exploring constantly, be entrepreneurs, and stay completely open to all possibilities. Honestly, between traveling full time, kid wrangling, lining up teaching gigs and trying to maintain a yoga practice, sometimes it seems like there’s not much time for normal hobbies! I’ve always loved writing, travel, and healthy living, but now I’m also interested in alternative education for our kids and minimalist living.
If money wasn’t an issue, what would you spend the next year of your life doing?
We’re already doing it! When we sold everything to travel, we made the decision not to let scarcity thinking get in the way of our dreams. When we opened our yoga studio, owning a yoga studio was our dream, even though at the time we had no idea how we were going to afford it. 5 years later, we decided to focus on a different dream – traveling with our kids and teaching and consulting at lots of different studios – and we just went for it. There’s so much abundance and opportunity; doing what you’re excited about is more important than worrying about money.
What is the name of the class/classses/workshops you’ll be teaching at One Fire? Tell us what they’re about.
Josh (my husband) and I will be doing a lecture on yoga business based on his experience mentoring studio owners all over the world, and together we’ll be running a continuing education workshop for hot yoga teachers called “Back to Basics.” During our travels to different studios, we’ve encountered so many teachers who have incredible yoga teaching skills and passion, but their classes fail to reach their full potential because they’ve forgotten (or never implemented) some of the basic principles of teaching hot yoga. We’ll use our experience running a yoga studio and implementing a teacher mentoring program to go over some of the essential principles of developing as a teacher, giving feedback and mentoring, and teaching students with injuries or special cases.
I’d been practicing yoga on and off for years, but never full committed to a practice until I took my first Bikram yoga class while attending grad school. After my first class, I couldn’t believe it was possible to feel so good naturally! I replaced all my self-destructive addictions with a healthy addiction to a regular yoga practice. After finishing my Master of Arts degree in English lit, I did a 180 degree turn and went from academia to Bikram Yoga teacher training in Acapulco in 2008. After two years of living, breathing and dreaming of nothing but yoga, I opened Bikram Yoga Red Deer in 2010 with my husband Josh and our 6 week old son, Arjuna. After receiving a lot of conflicting information about practicing yoga during my first pregnancy, I went to the source and studied the Pregnancy series with Rajashree Choudhury at Kripalu, practiced throughout 2 more healthy pregnancies, and created a Pregnancy Yoga poster that is featured on Rajashree’s website and used in studios worldwide. Ready for a change, and to test our belief in non-attachment, in 2015 Josh and I decided to sell our successful yoga studio, house, and all our belongings to travel the world with our kids and teach yoga on the road. We moved into an overland RV and have been driving from studio to studio throughout Canada, USA and Mexico teaching yoga, doing seminars, and business coaching as the Nomad Yoga Family. We strive to apply our yoga principles to everyday life through travel by living simply, being in nature, and staying flexible in all situations!