Jenny Blake Yoga

“It has been said that the highest learning comes in four parts. One part is learned from teachers; another part from fellow students; a third part from self-study and practice; and the final part comes mysteriously, silently, in the due course of time.”
–Ganga White

I grew up with a love for dance — bending, moving, stretching, feeling music in my bones — then found yoga during college. Suddenly my whole world opened up — I had a way to decompress from physical and mental stress, and fell in love with the ease and sense of self I started to develop.

As an author and certified life coach, I am fascinated by human potential, and am acutely aware of how our monkey-mind and hectic schedules can hijack our best laid plans for rest and rejuvination. I know this first-hand. With an active mind prone to stress, worry and over-analysis, yoga has provided an unshakeable anchor of solace and sanity in my life. Yoga is my constant when all else seems to turn to chaos.

ABOUT MY PERSONAL PRACTICE

I’ve had an active personal practice for over eight years — starting humbly in my living room with Rodney Yee yoga DVDs, then moving into tutelage from Kim Acker (Iyengar) and Susan Fox (Vinyasa Flow). I feel incredibly fortunate to now be practicing yoga and developing my teaching practice in New York City, a place that is as rich with brilliant yoga teachers as it is with food and culture.

I completed my teacher training and certification in 2010 at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, one of the first yoga teacher training certification schools in the nation. At White Lotus I had the great fortune of studying under Ganga White, the “Architect of American Yoga,” and his lovely wife, Tracey Rich — pioneers of The Flow Series. I also completed Thai Massage training in May 2012 at the Sunshine School in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

ABOUT MY YOGA TEACHING STYLE

I am passionate about making yoga accessible to all. In New York City I am gravitating toward sharing the benefits of yoga with office workers, entrepreneurs and anyone else who finds themselves engaging in long periods of sitting and staring at a computer screen.

I teach Vinyasa Flow classes that focus on an active, well-rounded practice; classes are challenging and introspective with lots of options to modify for all levels of students. My high-energy flows emphasize strong movement, breath, alignment, and inner awareness. I am encouraging, nurturing and positive, helping all students advance in their practice.

I don’t take myself too seriously, taking after Ganga’s approach of “enabling students to approach the poses as unfolding paths to personal evolution rather than as cul-de-sacs of arrested perfection.” My classes are sweaty, flowing and fun. Above all else, you’ll leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, and with a greater integration of mind, body and spirit.

Gratitude from Students

To me, geek yoga is the perfect hybrid of physical experimentation and personal introspection. It always feels like play, yet every week I walk away with a fresher perspective on life than when I came in.

Jenny is awesome at dissecting every pose in a way that actually makes sense! I never worry that I’m doing something wrong. Most importantly, her method of addressing the modification in advance, allows students of all levels to work on their own individual goals.
—Inna A.

I know that I handle stress much better when I do yoga regularly, but Jenny’s classes are truly the only classes that keep me coming back for more. I know that I can show up full of energy one week and pull off poses that seemed impossible, or if I’m feeling completely run down, I’ve been known to show up and lay on the floor doing child’s pose and savasana the whole time. In either case, I always feel better, and I never feel pressured to do more than I can.

Jenny was born to be a yoga teacher. Her style is so patient. Jenny provides rich detail and explanations to help everyone through – both novice and advanced students – so that no one feels lost or out of place. Plus, her genuine enthusiasm and optimism is infectious. Every class, you can see how Jenny radiates her lightness and joy to every student, which they carry with them when they walk out the door.

The best part about Jenny’s classes is that they cater to mostly non-yogis – you know, the regular working people who can’t afford the time or money to go to yoga everyday, who can show up and do what they can do without the intimidation of many classes in NYC. When I go to Jenny’s classes, I feel like I’m going to play. It’s light, it’s fun, and it’s an absolute recharger.
—Julie C.

Until a few weeks ago, I had never understood the popularity of yoga and even questioned attending – I’m not flexible, if I’m going to a class I would prefer dance where I understand its purpose and what’s with the crazy terms and chants?

Tonight was especially enlightening. As the class came to a close, and we bowed our heads in gratitude, Jenny posed the question, “What are you thankful for?”

It felt like I was bursting with countless reasons for which to be thankful and the one that felt strongest was being in that studio. I was joined by a group of people I’ve only just met, but the energy among them is so great. It’s the kind of group where you may not yet know each member well (and the members constantly rotate), but you look forward to being a part of the experience that brings them all together.
—Stephanie Florence

Thank you so much for a wonderful Yogaing last night. It was such a great experience to be in a room full of wonderful, positive people. I have an impossible time quieting my mind. And even though my mind was no quieter last night, I felt less worried and stressed about that. Afterward it was this awesome feeling of love and group accomplishment, like, “We did it.” I just wanted to hug everybody. And the playlist was phenom! Thanks so much for continuing to do what you do.
—Richard B.

As a Yoga newbie, Jenny Blake has been a lifesaver. When I attended my first “beginner” yoga classes I always felt like the teachers taught to the more experienced students instead of to the beginners who were really just starting out.
After attending several of these classes I always left confused and frustrated because I never fully understood how to do each pose. In essence felt like I was doing yoga my way instead of the right way.

Doing yoga with Jenny is breath of fresh air because she isn’t afraid to give you solid feedback to help you improve your posture and form. After doing several sessions with Jenny I always look forward to her classes because I leave feeling challenged and refreshed knowing that my practice is improving.
—Nick R.

FAQ

What is yoga?

From About.com:

The word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit. What is commonly referred to as “yoga” can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word asana, which refers to the practice of physical postures or poses.Asana is only one of the eight “limbs” of yoga, the majority of which are more concerned with mental and spiritual well-being than physical activity. In the West, however, the words asana and yoga are often used interchangeably.Many people think that yoga is just stretching. But while stretching is certainly involved, yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. This is done through the performance of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits. The poses can be done quickly in succession, creating heat in the body through movement and coordinated with the breath (vinyasa-style yoga) or more slowly to increase stamina and perfect the alignment of the pose. The poses are a constant, but the approach to them varies depending on the tradition in which the teacher has trained.

How can I benefit?

I’m tongue-tied trying to answer this question because the benefits of yoga are almost too great to capture in words! Thankfully Yoga Journal does a great job:

  • Increased flexibility – helps release muscle tension, aches and pains, joint tension
  • Increased strength – lengthens and strengthens muscles; also protects from arthritis and back pain
  • Improved posture – backbends and twists help reverse the habit of hunching over a computer all day
  • Improved range of motion for joints, rejuvenated spinal disks; bone-strengthening (which helps ward off osteoporosis)
  • Improved circulation, blood-flow and balance; helps lymphatic system fight infections. gets your heart pumping, improves overall heart conditioning and lower your risk of heart-attack; lowers blood pressure
  • Improved mood – Helps ward off sadness, anxiety or depression (yoga studies have shown it increases seratonin and overall sense of calm)
  • Grounding - Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, focus on the present, and turn inward — practices that are often lost among the hustle and bustle of modern life
  • Promotes more efficient, full breathing — which can be a great tool to call upon during stressful situations
  • Other great benefits: increased sense of confidence, gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness. Studies have also found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores.

In my own words, here’s why I’ve become yoga devotee:

  • At the end of a long, intense, stressful day, yoga ALWAYS helps me release any negative moods or emotions
  • I have a very active mind — prone to worrying, stress, and over-analysis. Yoga helps ground me and keep me centered. It reminds me that life is not just about work and email — it brings me back to a place of calm, centered strength.
  • Yoga helps me get all the creaks and pains out of my body; going to class is like learning to give myself a full-body massage. I leave feeling light and supple — as though the tension from sitting and working all day has been squeezed out like a sponge.
  • Yoga reminds me to take care of my body and eat healthily. I feel more confident overall because I know the ins and outs of how my body works.
  • Yoga gives me a full-body workout, without having to go through the motions of lifting weights. I love the idea of following different teacher’s sequences, and it helps me focus on strength-training for 60-90 minutes — much longer than I would with weights at the gym.
  • I really enjoy the community aspect; connecting with others and getting to know like-minded teachers and students. I’m as inspired by the people in the room, and the incredibly gifted teachers I’ve been fortunate to know, as I am by the class itself.

I’m intimidated by all those bendy yoga chicks — does it matter if I’m not at all flexible?

  • No! All levels are welcome — and in fact, I have a special place in my heart for bringing yoga to those who think they can’t do it because they are not flexible. It’s a classic chicken and egg dilemma. You want to be more flexible (and receive all the benefits listed above) but you think you have to be flexible first, before taking a yoga class. Nothing could be further from the truth!
  • Sure, the first few classes you will feel creaky, stiff and even frustrated at certain poses. But over time, you’ll start to notice a marked improvement in your flexibility — of body AND mind. Your mind will adapt and learn to be more patient with yourself. You’ll learn that yoga is about breathing into the pose and your body, no matter how far you go into the pose. You’ll also begin to relax your urge to compare yourself to others — a useful (albeit challenging) skill on and off the mat.
  • Contrary to what you may have experienced before, yoga is NOT a contest to determine who is stronger or more flexible, or even doing the poses “right.” It is about listening to your body, recognizing that all bodies are different, and tuning in to exactly what works best for you on any given day or in any given practice. While observing and learning from other students is great (and we’re all sometimes prone to comparison and competition), yoga is about learning to return your awareness inward.
  • Not only are all bodies different, each day is different for every body too! Some days I wake up and I can fold right in half like Gumbi. On other days it hurts just to sit with my legs straight out in front of me.

I notice a lot of classes chant Om at the start and/or end, and people bow and say “Namaste” afterward. What do those practices mean?

  • Ohm (Aum)- Chanting Om (also pronounced/spelled Aum) is a harmonizing practice: harmonizing within your own body, and harmonizing with the entire class. Om is said to be the universal sound, the most sacred mantra. From Yoga Journal:

    Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean? Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.

  • Namaste- Bringing hands into namaste means placing the palms together, finger tips up — also known as prayer position. When said at the end of class (typically while bowing), Namaste is a way to acknowledge the teacher (and the teacher acknowledges the students) in an expression of gratitude. From Yoga Journal:

    The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. “Nama” means bow, “as” means I, and “te” means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.” We bring the hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head and closing the eyes helps the mind surrender to the Divine in the heart. For a teacher and student, Namaste allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection.

    Ideally, Namaste should be done both at the beginning and at the end of class. Usually, it is done at the end of class because the mind is less active and the energy in the room is more peaceful. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage, thereby allowing the truth to flow—the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart.

Don’t you ever get bored? I tried a few classes and it’s not for me.

  • If you can, give yourself at least 5-10 classes with different teachers and class styles to truly assess if yoga is for you or not.
  • I’m hooked on yoga, but I found the first ~15 classes to be challenging, frustrating, and hard to get through without my monkey-mind wandering all over the place. As you get more used to the sequences and start building more muscle strength (and flexibility) you will find yourself able to relax more into the practice.
  • Even after many years of regular practice, there are still days where I just don’t want to be there and may only give 80%. But I’m still glad I went, and on those days it might be even more important for me to be there.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself staring at the clock! Some classes will go faster than others; the main point is to make a habit of attending regularly, and accept whatever moods are showing up on a given day.

How are your classes structured?

  • I teach Vinyasa Flow classes that focus on an active, well-rounded practice. What is Vinyasa Flow, you ask? Vinyasa refers to a series of poses linked together with breath and movement — these are classes that are active and flowing, with equal focus given to alignment, strength-building, working out all the kinks in your body (with special focus on countering the effects of sitting all day) and integrating everything with a slower, more relaxing floor sequence at the end (exercises you’ll do while sitting or laying down).
  • I am encouraging, nurturing and positive, helping all students advance in their practice. I’ll always provide lots of options to modify for all levels of students.
  • I don’t take myself too seriously, taking after Ganga’s approach of “enabling students to approach the poses as unfolding paths to personal evolution rather than as cul-de-sacs of arrested perfection.” My classes are sweaty, flowing and fun. Above all else, you’ll leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated

What should I wear and bring to class?

  • Ladies: any pants or shorts that allow you to move freely — I find that tighter, stretchy pants allow full range of motion without getting caught up in my clothing. Same goes for tops — tighter tend to be best (and I’m not just saying that for the guys’ benefit!) — that way when you’re in down dog your shirt isn’t flying over your head. Beware of low-cut tops though…I’ve made the mistake of wearing cute yoga tops that I was practically falling out of by the end of class!
  • Guys: shorts (bike shorts are great) or loose-fitting lounge pants are best — just avoid jeans which are too heavy and constricting. Make sure, if you’re wearing shorts, that people can’t see into them (when you’re in a plank position for example)…if you know what I mean. If that’s the case, be sure to have a pair of boxer briefs on underneath. I recommend against full-on sweatpants which can get very hot — but if that’s all you have, it’s better than nothing!
  • Both: the studio has yoga mats, but you could bring a face towel and a bottle of water. No need to wear socks (if you are, you should take them off so that you’ll get better traction and connect directly with your mat). Make sure you bring a sweatshirt or jacket for after class — if you’re dripping sweat, your body will be freezing when you leave!
  • Important! Don’t eat a large meal right before coming to class. It’s uncomfortable to say the least — and all th movement tends to promote gassiness…which I’m guessing you don’t want interfering with your practice :)

Resources

Resources

Check out the yoga archives for posts I’ve written on this site.  

Books

Books for Developing & Deepening Your Practice:

Bite-sized bits delivered daily:

Contemporary Books About Yoga: 

My Yoga Playlists

Take Classes Online

Websites — General Reading

Websites — For Teachers

Workshops

Geek Yoga — New York City

Jenny Blake Yoga - 5Pointz (Photo by Adam Chaloeicheep)I’m a lifelong geek, starting way back with designing a family newspaper on my first Apple IIC at ten years old. I know how exciting it is to get buried in something you love, AND how important it is to lift your head up every once in a while. To stretch, get fresh air, and re-connect with the body that goes along with that big ‘ol brain of yours.

Geek Yoga is a place for entrepreneurs and go-getters to come together in a non-intimidating environment. I can’t tell you how often I hear, “But I’m not flexible,” or “I’ve never done yoga before.” Then you’re perfect! Geek Yoga is for newbies and veterans — everyone can take something from it, and they often do — I love the serenity and relief that washes over people by the end of class. The broad sighing “Ahhhhhh” and the blissful glow of release and rejuvenation radiating from every pore by the time we get up to leave.

I also love bringing like-minded people together for a weekly meet-up — we refer to it as “detox then retox,” often heading out to grab a bite after class. It takes the hassle out of coordinating with friends, and provides a steady stream of awesome new people to meet! 

Vision & Vinyasa

Jenny Blake Yoga - Side PlankVision & Vinyasa is a 2.5 hour combination of yoga and reflection exercises for full mind, body and spirit integration. The workshop is based on the idea that we find ourselves rooted in our body first, find physical release and awareness, then invite our mind to the conversation (rather than spinning in tornadoes with only the mind as many of us have a tendency to do).

The workshop starts with a sweaty, fun and reflective hour-long Vinyasa Flow, emphasizing strong movement, breath, alignment, and inner awareness. From this centered foundation, a series of guided vision exercises and restorative poses will help you map out what’s most important to you, navigate current changes and identify what’s next. You’ll leave class feeling calm, clear, integrated and on-purpose — in body, mind and spirit. 

Yoga for Athletes / CrossFit

Jenny Blake Yoga - ChaturangaJenny Blake Yoga - Upward-Facing Dog

This workshop was developed in partnership with Adam Chaloeicheep to address the needs of athletes, with specific emphasis on hamstring, shoulder and hip-opening as well as wrist-strengthening and muscle release. This is an introductory-level yoga class for all athletes to help decompress and stretch muscles after a week of intense workouts. Yoga offers many benefits — strength-building, flexibility, muscle-lengthening, and mind/body/breath integration — but it can often be overwhelming to find a class that resonates for those who don’t go regularly.

About Jenny: Jenny is a long-time yoga lover with an active personal practice of 8 years. She has been teaching Vinyasa Flow classes in New York City for the past year, after completing her teacher training in 2010 and Thai Massage training in 2012. Jenny started Crossfit six months ago thanks to Adam’s encouragement for how it could elevate her yoga practice, and quickly realized two additional things: her yoga practice significantly boosted her Crossfit ramp-up, and many Crossfitters were hungry for yoga (or at least yoga-like movements) but didn’t know where to start.

About Adam: Adam is an avid Crossfitter with a soft spot and equal love of yoga, particularly from teachers who focus on the vigorous, precise, intellectual and alignment aspects of the practice. He knows from experience how well yoga and Crossfit support each other — he is often bringing yoga stretches into his Crossfit warm-up and cool-downs, and his Cross fit training brings strength and agility to his yoga practice. Adam completed his Yoga Teacher Training and Certification through Eoinn Finn’s Blissology program in Bali, in May 2013.