“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”
I define Yoga as inherently therapeutic in nature. Anyone can benefit from its practice, whether you are an elite athlete, have a physically debilitating condition, or are looking to reduce stress and improve general health.
Yoga is for everyone — at all ages and stages. It is more than learning poses and increasing flexibility and has many benefits to health and fitness. Its practice can:
- improve flexibility and strength
- reduce stiffness and improve mobility
- aid recovery from injury and overuse
- reduce fatigue and increase energy levels
- ease tension and reduce stress
- reduce discomforts of back and muscle pain
- improve focus and concentration
- improve cardiovascular health
I challenge athletes to set aside their competitive spirit and not approch Yoga as another sport. Instead I ask them to focus on taking care of their bodies, using Yoga as a means to help them prepare to play.
I encourage anyone recovering from injury or dealing with any physical issues to be very attentive to how the body, especially the injured area, responds to the Yoga practice.
The Student Owns the Process
The body is constantly sending us messages about what it needs — hunger when we need food and tiredness when we need sleep. But what about illness or injury? Our response is often to head to the medicine cabinet or the doctor to look for a prescriptive fix. “Tell me what to do or take so Iʼll feel better.” Sometimes this approach is very necessary. Often, however, we underestimate our bodyʼs ability to heal itself.
My teaching approach has prescriptive aspects. If students have a physical complaint or goals they want to reach, I will “prescribe” asanas (postures) and a Yoga practice. However, I will also encourage students to take charge of their own healing and wellness process by being attentive to the messages the body is sending and responding accordingly.
This approach is incredibly empowering! …and often a little scary. However, with consistent and compassionate practice the benefits are profound; and not just on a physical basis. This approach helps develop the habit of being attentive to and taking care of oneʼs self on and off the Yoga mat — in all aspects of life.
“Before taking Jan’s classes, I never really clicked with yoga. As a lifelong jock I came to it with a completely wrong-headed approach: I could never turn off ‘competition mode’ so would always push too hard and invariably injure myself. Jan’s was the first class where I felt like it was okay to drop the ‘tude and hey, what do you know? I was actually able to reap the benefits of yoga for the first time.”
— Heather, Curator, Brooklyn, NY
Jan is an extraordinary teacher and human being, whose compassion, humor, warmth, skill and patience enabled her to introduce yoga and peacefulness to the children, both unknown to most of children on the unit. She had made, I think, a profound commitment to these children by volunteering her weekly class for over 6 years. She was trustworthy, consistent, patient, compassionate and reliable, making considerable contributions to the milieu therapy. Jan’s presence was as important as the yoga, offering the children a very positive encounter with an adult. I write this in gratitude for the difference Jan has made in many lives, including my own. I know many of these children continued to practice yoga after they were discharged. I imagine and hope that they receive some of the many benefits that I do from my own practice that started in Jan’s class. – Barbara McKechnie, LCAT, RDT/BCT, Pediatric Psychiatric Unit, St. Vincent’s Hospital, New York, NY
“Jan gently reminds us to listen to our bodies — it’s not a race to see who’s the most flexible — and always says we’re giving our bodies the gift of yoga. I had never considered something I was ungraceful at as a gift.”
— Sherry, Editorial Program Coordinator, Brooklyn, NY
“I hadn’t taken a yoga class in quite some time and I approached the one with Jan with some trepidation as I had injured a hamstring the last time I gave yoga a shot. But all doubts and anxiety flew right out the window after Jan opened the class with a very calming introduction and a few gentle poses. After one session I was hooked. This wasn’t yoga the way I had remembered it. This was yoga the way it should be: thoughtful, serene, well-paced, soulful, safe, and effective. For lack of a better word, Jan’s style is extremely genuine. There’s no ego in her teaching. She’s there to help you achieve whatever it is you’ve set your sights on. Like all great guides, she’s nurturing, informative, supportive, and understanding. Thanks to Jan, yoga once again has an important place in my wellness practice.”
—Tim Haft, president, Punk Rope, New York, NY
“Jan is a godsend of a yogini. As someone who finds yoga classes stressful, mostly because of tight shoulders and upper back (and the fav move being down dog held for a spell), having Jan as my yoga guru has brought peace, calm, better health and increased flexibility into my life. She is innovative and effective at helping ease me into poses, challenging me to go further in a pose without making yoga seem overwhelming. She also has an amazingly calming vibe, great for high strung, overwrought individuals. I went through fertility treatments and am luckily pregnant and yoga therapy with Jan went a long way through the initial difficult process and in helping me stay calm and limber through a tiring first trimester.”
— Ashwini, Actuary, Coach, Life Long Lerner, Chicago, IL
“Jan has helped me so much with learning how to breath properly when doing Kripalu yoga. I am actually able to relax very well now. I am becoming much more flexible and have had success with working through a long standing trauma. I highly recommend her to anyone who wants the ancient tradition of yoga in India in the beginning of its creation. I will as long as I am able to have a private lessons in my home every week. Jan is a very wonderful woman and teacher.”
— Vivienne, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Orland Park, IL