Join Isabel Romero as she shares her journey in health, fitness and mental wellness. Her goal is to serve as an inspiration to others by helping all her readers achieve their personal best.
“Respect your body.” These are the words that I hear every time I try to push myself a little too far in a yoga pose or during any other physical activity. They are the words that were said to me during one of my very first yoga classes which happened to be after my cervical spine surgery. These are a few of the words that Jennifer Barrass lives by.
People have practiced yoga for thousands of years. It is believed to be one of the best physical forms of exercise to promote overall well-being in both mind and body, and when utilized correctly, can have positive effects on ailments such as depression, anxiety, arthritis, high blood pressure and back-pain amongst many others. Despite its positive benefits, when not done properly, it can actually lead to injuries or worsening of a pre-existing injury. As a matter of fact, an article was published by The New York Times in 2012, talking about the rising numbers of tears, sprains and pulls while doing yoga. What’s the main reason for this? Many women and men who are otherwise sedentary are turning to yoga to improve flexibility and strength but are often not properly guided during a vigorous class. Especially in our present-day fast-paced society, everyone seems to have quite the competitive spirit, pushing themselves beyond their limits and sometimes causing unnecessary harm to their bodies.
I first met Jennifer when my friend suggested I take a yoga class at Yoga Cure in Coconut Creek, Florida. I was immediately drawn to the name of the studio, as it embodied exactly what I was hoping to get out of yoga: a cure for both my mind and body after having gone through some major transitions in my life and had major surgery. Jennifer, co-owner of the studio, greeted me with the most vibrant and infectious energy of any individual I have ever met. I could actually feel the warmth of her soul as her smile beamed with joy. I was instantly hooked.
Jennifer first experience yoga about 10 years ago when her mother encouraged her to take a class with her. At the time, she was working in the restaurant and title business and had plans to go onto Law school. However, about a year after starting yoga, she had an “aha” moment when she realized that the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of yoga were more appealing to her than anything ever before. She described it as “never feeling more beautiful than on the mat”…her “anxiety just melts away”…”never feeling more spiritually connected to a higher power.” I have heard this described by other Yogis before as a type of euphoria. Jennifer knew in her heart that the direction of her life was about to change. She was fortunate enough to have parents that embraced her passion surrounding her practice and encouraged her to go to teacher training. Not only that, but her dad helped her open Yoga Cure!
Having gone to several studios now and experienced several instructors, I have come to realize that every single teacher is so different. They each add their own unique quality to the practice. For me, Jennifer is the complete embodiment of the ideal yogi. She is such a happy person, genuinely feels compelled to spread her love and good vibes, loves teaching, and truly cares about helping her students grow in their own practice. She is not strict with her teaching style, which many of her students enjoy, because while she definitely emphasizes the importance of proper alignment, her carefree style allows them to go at their own pace and modify the poses as needed in order to prevent further injuries.
Some of the many valuable lessons I have learned from her are that in order to grow as individual, you have to be open to change. As a mother, she also shared her insight on exposing children to yoga at a young age. She has found that it helps them be better prepared to handle the adversities in their lives and to not be so reactionary. Could you imagine if we all learned these valuable lessons so early in life? Perhaps people would not be filled with so much volatility and anger.
If you have not yet tried yoga, I encourage you to do so, as it has served as a “cure” for so many people in so many ways. If you are new to yoga, just remember to take your time easing in to the practice. Slow down. Enter into your stretches mindfully, and do not push yourself past your limit. Listen to your body. Respect your body.
Love, health, peace and happiness,