Happy New Year! Our first Yogi in the Community for 2012 is the refreshing and vibrant Jessica Lesley! Jessica and I met during a very challenging time in my life when I was experiencing an obstacle in the online yoga community that transformed into a blessing. Not only is Ms. Lesley a yoga instructor, she also pushes folks to think critically about issues that arise within and outside of the yoga community.
As a contributor to The Magazine of Yoga, Jessica’s piece entitled “There is an Elephant in the Room and it Ain’t Ganesh” pushes practitioners to think about the ways in which yoga is represented with regard to diversity and class. Although I have never experienced a class with Jessica (yet), I can imagine that her teaching is as straightforward and honest as her words. Spoiler Alert: You will be inspired after reading this interview!
Location: Los Angeles, CA
What inspired you to begin practicing yoga?
Honestly, not wanting to take anxiety meds led me to yoga. I had severe asthma as a child and once I outgrew it I became obsessed with exercise. Years of being told I could not go out and play or participate in sports combined with a deep rooted fear that the asthma would return gave way to panic attacks. The intense workouts led to pain and soreness. A friend suggested I take a class and I was hooked!
How does yoga inspire your path in life?
With so much of my anxiety stemming from the fear of not being able to breathe, yoga has inspired me to slow down and observe my thoughts instead of just reacting. This observation has shown up in my life and off of the mat as well. Yoga has brought Trust into my life, trusting yourself to be supported in a pose is really no different from trusting your own truth. This practice has helped me release the idea of wanting to control everything. In practice we can control our breath and our movement – but only to a certain extent. This has brought peace to my life and helped with my relationships.
What are you learning about yourself through your practice?
I am learning to trust myself, it is so easy to doubt the authenticity, kindness, and intentions of others if I don’t even trust myself. Letting go of expectations and simply express gratitude for the current moment is also an ongoing lesson.
What role does yoga, or the lessons you learn on the mat transfer to the ways in which you approach obstacles in life?
Everything I do on the mat shows up in how I deal with life outside of the yoga studio! Breathe, modify, know when I’m simply not ready for a pose, when to rest in child’s pose, when to tell that nagging voice of self doubt to shut up and go for that handstand – all of these things can be applied to career, family, and relationships.
200RYT / Yoga Tune Up® Certified
Facebook: Jessica Lesley