About 8 or 9 years ago, I met Jen Fowler through a mutual friend. She, as it turns out, is the kind of friend who isn’t just fun to be with (which, trust me, she is). She transforms your life. I’ve been so lucky to have her first as a friend and then as a partner in founding and running Circle de Luz, and I am so excited that Jen and I are partnering together this fall for a very cool series that blends yoga and self-awareness called aware: an everyday yoga experience. Jen is an incredible yoga instructor- real and enthusiastic, vulnerable and encouraging. She leads a great class (if you are Charlotte-based, she teaches at Yoga One and Melting Point). She’s also a terrific cook, a concerned and committed community member, and a passionate and real mama among so many other things. She calls her yoga approach Your Everyday Yoga. I asked her to share some of her wisdom and experiences with us here today.
I love the concept behind your everyday yoga. Can you tell us about why you think yoga needs to show up in our everyday lives and what that really means?
I love my teacher Baron Baptiste and he has a guiding principle that basically says, the way you are here is the way you are everywhere. Are you gentle with yourself when you are on the yoga mat? Do you allow yourself to take child’s pose when everyone else is in headstand? If not, do you not allow yourself grace to take a break or step back for rest at home? Do you ever find yourself doing for everyone else, pushing hard to achieve and do only to run yourself into the ground? Take child’s pose on your mat and in your life. The way you practice yoga is the way you live your life and the goal for me and hopefully for us all is to take what we learn about ourselves on the mat and apply it off the mat too. When you bow your head in a place of peace after class to say namaste and then curse the first driver in your path who doesn’t use a turn signal then where’s your peace.
In yoga we call the movement of your body and the poses that we do asana. For me yoga is about a consciousness; an awareness both mentally and physically. When I show up on my mat, I take stock of the way my body feels and how I’m showing up in my life. Recently, I practiced and it was just one of those days that every pose felt challenging. I didn’t feel a lightness in my practice, I was moving slowly like molasses. This is how “everyday yoga” works. Being aware of that heaviness in my practice and acknowledging it (without judgement — just being in a place of inquiry) about it led me realizing how I was taking that same heaviness to my life. We are selling our house and making choices about where our kids will go to school right now and it seems overwhelming at times. Part of everyday yoga is just realizing that your physical body and your mental state are connected and realizing that yoga
What is your authentic living inspiration and intention? You know I’m inspired by people who are vulnerable. People who put themselves out there, who aren’t afraid to fail, who crush perfection and own their life. Those people inspire me tremendously. Wow, my living intention. My intention is to live authentically with love and from the heart. When I practice yoga I experience vulnerability each time. Some days it’s coming down to Child’s Pose when my ego and head say keep going and other days it’s falling on my face or toppling over in a headstand. Looking that vulnerability in the eye and coming out the other side is empowering.
Your professional life has been so varied. Can you talk a little about when yoga first showed up in your life and how it became part of your mission? Yoga led me to finding a profession that was heart-led. In each of the jobs I had before I was a yoga teacher, I felt something missing. I started in investment banking, wandered through a few marketing jobs and eventually landed in fundraising. I loved the people in each of those places but I was missing a connection between my passion and my work. I have been practicing yoga since the start of my professional career (about 14 years) and my practice led me to my current profession. Practicing yoga helped me wake up and become aware to my need and desire to have professional passion in my work.
What is your vision for aware? My vision for “aware” is to help people connect with their bodies and to take the things they learn about themselves on the mat, off the mat and into their lives.
What is something you most appreciate about yourself? My feet that keep me grounded. That’s part of an everyday yoga practice, standing in your feet and really standing tall allowing all four corners of your feet to root you. It’s a different feeling. I also appreciate my eyes, eye contact with another human being is sometimes the greatest hug you can give. And I am grateful for my appetite for growth. My husband and I realized the single greatest value we share in common is a desire to grow.
What is a community issue you care about and why? I’m a community issues junkie. I’ve rarely met one I didn’t find moving or inspirational. However, what I believe in most is creating the space in life to connect with what it is that completely lights you up. I wish for everyone the time, space and means to pursue their heart-led passion. What’s really cool is watching people come to class, grow their practice and then one day you see the light go off and they’re awake. They just look more alive than you’ve seen them, their faces light up and they truly radiate their whole being. When you tap into your greatness, you shift, the people around you shift and therefore you are changing the world and that is what I am into. I get all goose bumpy just thinking about it.
What do you wish all women knew? That there really isn’t a way that “it” SHOULD be done, there’s only the way YOU get it done. True freedom happens for me when I let go of that notion that there’s a right way to do something.
Want to learn more about aware or register? Check out the details here.