NotSoZen YogaJen

Who Is YogaJen? And Why Isn’t She Zen?

Posted on: April 11, 2010

Image credit: Giggle Chick Interactive

Many yoga classes begin with stating an intention for yourself and your practice, so in keeping with this, I thought I’d begin my yoga blog the same way – by stating my intention, and introducing myself.  I am not a yoga teacher (although flatteringly, people sometimes assume that I am because I am such an enthusiastic practitioner).  I am a mere Type A, stressed-out, anxious yoga mortal trying to make my way in the world, and fit as many yoga classes as possible into my my color-coded Outlook schedule – because if I didn’t, things (meaning me) might unravel!  This, is my story…

When I was in college, I thought about doing yoga, and pictured myself in Downward Dog wearing braided pigtails and a super-cute matchy-matchy yoga outfit, but that was about as close as I got to actually taking a class.  When I graduated from college 12 years ago this May, I moved to Manhattan, and within a few weeks I was like, Yo, this place is STRESSFUL! I knew that I had to do something to calm down and fast, so I started going to yoga classes at the local New York Sports Club.  That fall I went to acting school and my modern dance teacher began every class with a hardcore 45-minute yoga warm-up.  And then, two years later in 2000, I had a bad break-up.  Like, it was bad. And that drove me to deepen my practice.  I branched out from yoga at the gym and took classes at yoga studios which incorporated chanting and more spiritual teachings, and had the added benefit of incense and candles, and no booming bass line coming from the Spin class next door.

Which brings me to YogaJen.  As a Jennifer, I’ve grown up surrounded by lots of other Jennifers, and I’ve always had to have some kind of nickname to distinguish myself.  In December, my friend Suzanne, who knows an abundance of Jens, introduced me to her friend Dave as Book Club Jen because we are in the same book club.  However, this didn’t ultimately work because there is another Jen in our book club (it’s 2/5ths Jens), so she had to find another way to name me.  I’ve been known to my friends and their friends as Writer Jen, Teacher Jen, and briefly, Pole Dancing Jen when I was taking pole dancing classes at S Factor a few years ago, although I can say with a fair amount of certainty that that was the least accurate way to describe me.  But Suzanne and I also take yoga classes together, so I became Yoga Jen.

On Friday night we were all at Dave’s watching this week’s LOST, when I started talking about yoga.  “So, are you guys doing any yoga this weekend?  Where are you going to do yoga?”  And Dave was like, “You talk about yoga a lot.”  Then a few minutes passed and we were watching LOST, eating our pizza, drinking our beers, and more yoga thoughts popped into my head.  I tried to suppress them and talk about something else, but I couldn’t do it.  I knew that Suzanne’s boyfriend Pete had an unused Bikram class card so I asked him, “Are you gonna give your Bikram classes to Suzanne?  Suzanne, wanna do Bikram?”  And then Dave was like, “You really are Yoga Jen!”

So I’ve decided to embrace it.  Yes, I really am YogaJen.  I do yoga a lot, I talk about yoga a lot, and I hang out at the Lululemon store just for fun and to chat even when I’m not buying anything.  I reflect about yoga a lot, I’m a reflector.  And now, I’m going to blog about yoga a lot.  Or at least, a fair amount.

I’m not a perfect and serene yogini, but I don’t believe in yogic perfection or perfection of any kind – afterall, it’s a yoga practice not a yoga perfect.  Sometimes I spend entire classes thinking about my To Do list, or worrying about something I said yesterday, or mentally playing out some possible catastrophe that could befall me tomorrow.  And when someone steps on my mat or sweats on me in class, I get yoga rage.  But I practice, and I do my best.  I continue to return to the mat, and bring the teachings from the mat into my everyday life.  Over the years, yoga has helped me with my anxiety and depression, through bad break-ups, and during my most stressful times; it has given me strength of body and peace of mind.

In this blog, I intend to share my oftentimes stressed-out, white-knuckled yogic existence, as well as the quiet moments of Zen that my practice sometimes miraculously brings me.  I want to write about the things I learn along this path, and share the tips and resources that have helped me, from a profound yogic teaching to just the right yoga mat bag, to where to find the best (and cheapest!) yoga classes.  And I’d love to hear from you!  What brought you to your first class?  A bad break-up, bikini season, spiritual curiosity?  What benefits and challenges have you experienced along the way?  Or if you’ve never taken a yoga class but have always wondered about it (perhaps picturing yourself in Downward Dog wearing braids and a matchy-matchy outfit), what is it about yoga that you’re drawn to?  Post a comment and introduce yourself, and tell me about your yogic adventures.  And maybe we can navigate this path together…

As they say at the end of yoga class, Namaste! (the light within me bows to the light within you)

-YogaJen

 

And check out my blog post on “One Writeous Chick” about the process of writing my yoga blog, and why shitty first drafts are eco-conscious!

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10 Responses to "Who Is YogaJen? And Why Isn’t She Zen?"

I am so blessed to know you first as YogaJen, and then, of course, Pole Dancing Jen. I liked that Jen too, teetering on 7 inch clear platforms.
This blog is BOOKMARKED…and you have SO much to write about! What about the time we went to Jivamukti, totally crowded and sweaty, we were separated and you ended up nxt to a sweaty guy in a speedo who could put his legs over his head. Oh wait, that was me.
xoxoxox!

Yoga Jen (G), as I know you! I love your writing — so funny, touching and insightful, kinda like YOU! My yoga CV- Yoga helped me sail through the first few years of my divorce then my practice and life in general started falling apart,( I’m sure there’s a connection in there somewhere…) Five years later I am reclaiming my yoga (in the true sense of “yuji” union with God) , life, love and everything in between! Looking forward to learning more and laughing a lot! As I write this, I am looking down at my teal matchy – matchy yoga outfit and smile, (alas no braids) but I’m off to downward dog my way to ‘yogasm’!
Namaste/xoxoxoxo
Deb

PS. Can we get a demo from “Pole Dancing Jen” at the next Diva Dinner?!? You never fail to surprise and delight…

YogaJen,

I am so glad to learn about this part of you. From our Twitter exchanges I only knew of your pen sniffing, book loving, marker yeilding way with words.

I am fascinated by Yoga and am hoping some of your YogaJen Zen will rub off on me. Although, I must say I really related to the phrase “Yoga Rage” hee. (that was really good).

So, here’s my experience with Yoga. I took some classes with my mom when I was younger (more like I tagged along). I have several Yoga DVD’s not of which I am particularly fond of and find them kind of boring (maybe this is a hyper Type A disorder?). I also have a Wii Fit and within this is a some really basic Yoga which I actually tried and kind of liked – maybe because the machine was measuring results and progress — not sure. There is also a class at the gym that I’ve “thought” about taking for over a year now. Hmmm…. any ideas to motivate Yoga?

Write on!~

Lisa (aka @writeoncreative )

Thanks for reading & for your comments!

Amanda – so happy to share all these adventures in yoga and pole dancing with you, and I look forward to many more! I’m only sorry that my blog made you remember your traumatic guy-in-Speedo-with-his-legs-over-his-head incident! xoxo

Deb – Thanks for sharing your yoga CV! And I LOVE that you are wearing a teal matchy-matchy outfit as we speak, and I also love your use of the word ‘yogasm’ – so descriptive! And P.S. I am happy to bust out Pole Dancing Jen and some of my old moves, but it will have to be a barefoot demo because alas, after almost 2 years of neglect and gathering dust under my bed, I recently donated my 7 inch clear platform stripper shoes to The Salvation Army. 🙂 xoxo

Hi Write On Lisa!

There is definitely a way to apply Type A-ness to a yoga practice! Re: DVDs, I get really bored and agitated with them, too (which, um, defeats the purpose). I’ve never done Wii Fit yoga but if you like that (and it measures results & progress! Is there a way to involve markers in this?!), then keep up with that! I started with yoga classes at the gym and I think that’s a great way to start and ease into yoga so move those thoughts into reality and check out some classes and find teachers you really like. Basics classes are great to learn the, well, basics, and get acclimated, and when you feel ready you can try more advanced classes. For me, I need really intense, hardcore, fast-paced classes to get my out of my head. Oherwise, if it’s too slow, I just use yoga class as another place to hang out with my anxious thoughts. Although I have to say, there is something divine about the occassional restorative yoga class. Where do you live, maybe I could suggest some yoga studios in your area if I know of any.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Office-Supply-Loving Jen xoxo

Hi YogaJen,

Well, I can incorporate markers in just about anything. 🙂

Regarding my locale… I am currently sequestered in Idaho. Many things I love about it and at the same time there is not a plethora of yoga options. I’m a member at Gold’s and they have a class that I haven’t check out yet.

However…if you know of a good Yoga studio in a cool, hip town somewhere that isn’t too populated, has good hiking and some eclectic music venues as well as basic amenitites including multiple wineries– I might relocate.

Write on!~

Lisa

In 1994 I took my first yoga class for one reason: While at FIT getting my design degree, I saw Alie McGraw (Love Story) on TV talking about how her home had burned down during the fires in California and if it wasn’t for yoga she wouldn’t have been able to survive it. Back then, at 20 years old seeing this statement from Ali, I was about as enlightened as a fence post. I could not wrap my brain around how yoga could make something that catastrophic better. But I was completely fascinated. I just had to find out for myself, especially considering at that time, when I was watching Ali McGraw say that, I too had experienced just about every form of loss possible in my life.
Well, 16 years later I get it. I totally get how someone could survive anything life slings your way if you have a regular yoga practice. I still deal with loss, change, ups, downs, yesses and no’s, disappointment, change, grief and bliss. The only difference is that I know how to live in the space of all of it… and I have yoga to thank for that.

Bridgette – thanks for sharing your awesome story of what brought you to yoga! And thanks also for being my Bikram Mentor! I look forward to seeing you in the sweat lodge that is Bikram yoga in a few weeks!

Lisa – Unfortunately I know nothing about yoga studios in Idaho! However, let me know if you visit New York and I’d be happy to recommend some great yoga studios! And if you come to NYC, stop by and say hi, and we can take a trip to Staples and party in the office supply aisles! But I have another suggestion…yoga retreats! Check out my friend Kristin McGee’s website, she’s a fabulous yoga teacher! http://www.kristinmcgee.com/ And while she’s New York-based, she is from Idaho 🙂 Keep me posted! xoxo

YogaJen, I know you as JESSIE or TOAST or even the ECT but I love this new nickname for you!
Just wanted to say you are the TOASTIEST out there, and I’m so happy for your new blog! Continue to rock it!
Also, when you referred to the bad breakup of 2000 (including my own horrible-no-good-very-bad-turn-of-the-century-China-boy breakup situation), it made me think of how in that recovery process we realized our total toastiness in the form of the Pinetum and our Parade Distracting Powers!

Hi Jen,
So glad we bumped into each other today so we could swap stories about our yoga blogs. I love your writing! So fun.

I first heard about yoga at age 14 through a short story by Roald Dahl called “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.” Maybe it was a connection to a past life, but somehow I was convinced that yoga would be just the thing for me, so I bought a book and taught myself a few poses. I had a ten-year hiatus and returned to a regular yoga practice after I was diagnosed with stomach cancer at the age of 25. Through yoga, dietary and lifestyle changes I learned to heal myself inside and out.

I too would consider myself a yoga addict. I’ve seen it do amazing things for people. Check out my blog, http://www.sadhanainthecity.wordpress.com.

Love,
Annie

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