February Teacher of the month – Jazmin Tejada

1) How did you start practicing Yoga? Tell us about your early yoga experiences.
Curiosity. About 15 years ago I kept seeing yoga everywhere and I really had no idea what it was, so I took a class. I thought it was ok but it didn’t hook me right away.

2) When was the moment you knew that Yoga was different or special – more than just another “exercise” or way to be physical?
When I lived in Dominican Republic I was practicing in a little tiki hut by the beach and an overwhelming feeling came over me. It was the feeling of needing to know more and get deeper into my yoga practice beyond just the asana.

3) What is your favorite and least favorite pose, and why?
My favorite pose is savasana. It’s funny I know but for the longest time I couldn’t rest in stillness, now there’s something so comforting about being still.
Camel pose is not my favorite, there’s something very open and vulnerable about the shape that maybe I’m just not ready for. As soon as I get in it, I need to get out of it.

4) What practices do you use to feel more peaceful, present and content?
Any and all of the softer pranayamas. Sitting and breathing. I tend to get airy and float around a little. Breathing exercises make me feel a little more grounded.

5) We are focused on Ahimsa – the Yama of Non-violence, or Non-harming this month – what does your personal practice of Ahimsa look like? Where do you find it challenging, and what is your advice for others looking to commit to this Yama?

My personal practice of Ahimsa is stopping myself from negative self-talk. It’s easy to not harm anyone else but I sometimes get into my own head and the mental chatter takes over and doesn’t always have nice things to say. When this starts I find a way to focus my energy into something else.

6) Tell us something about teaching at Harlem Yoga Studio 

I love teaching at Harlem Yoga! In fact I love it so much I teach on my day “off”, which is Sundays. The students are so dope and connected to their practice and community; I love being a part of that.