Jenay began to practice Yoga during her undergraduate studies in Boston. At that time there were few places to practice. She explored various studios and lineages including Svarupa, Vinyasa, and Iyengar. Through consistent practice, Yoga asana helped to heal her back and allowed her to continue to enjoy playing outside. It wasn’t until she began practicing in New York with Amy Pearce-Hayden that she truly began to understand the depth of Yoga.
Jenay believes that Asana, like every limb of the eight (Asta Anga), is just one aspect of the practice. To access Yoga you must address the entire system.
Learn about this exquisite individual in this MysticMag interview.
Can you explain your understanding of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and its significance in the practice of yoga? How do you incorporate its teachings into your own practice and teaching?
Patanjali’s Yoga sutra and the Hatha Yoga Pradiplika are the two guiding texts for our practices. I was trained in the RajaHatha lineage rooted in Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya’s teachings. It is my intention to incorporate the practice of the eight limbs of Yoga into each practice through philosophical explanations, guidance in asana, instruction in pranayama, and establishment of Sankalpa directed by the Yamas and Niyamas. Every class I teach offers evident and subtle inclusions of the philosophies as described in the Yoga Sutra intended to give those practicing with my guidance a knowledge base upon which to grow their own practices. For those whom I guide in a therapeutic setting, I instruct them in the application of the eight limbs as they apply to the current ways of the world.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika provides detailed explanations of yoga postures and techniques. How do you interpret and utilize the teachings from this ancient text in your yoga practice and instruction?
The asana described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika are the roots from which the many postures we practice today. The descriptions of these asanas provide a starting point and place to return to in every movement practice. As the interpretation of Yoga in modern times becomes diluted to focus solely upon asana, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika is a guide and reminder that the application of asana is to cleanse; to remove impurities. Asana is not intended for performance and attention, but rather to develop connection and awareness of the limitations and, ultimately, interconnection of the koshas.
In the context of yoga philosophy, it’s often said that “Yoga is both the means and the end.” Can you elaborate on this concept and share how you apply it in your personal practice and when teaching yoga to others?
More and more I remind those who practice with my guidance of this statement. The eight limbs are the tools that, if applied properly, persistently, and consistently, will allow us to clear away that which prevents us from accessing Yoga. As we develop a deeper awareness of ourselves and connection with each aspect of who we are, we engage in Yoga. Once we have truly integrated our self-awareness with awareness of the interconnection of all things, we access Yoga.
Dedication and consistency are emphasized in the path of yoga. Can you describe a personal experience where your dedication to yoga had a profound impact on your growth and transformation? How do you inspire your students to stay consistent and dedicated in their practice?
Yoga is not just a practice to be done on the mat or in a particular place, it is a way of living life. Each day, I incorporate the practices to the best of my abilities and remember to stay on the path of dharma. I share accessible explanations of how I live a Yogic lifestyle as well as how I struggle. Through my example, I offer guidance to my students to incorporate the eight limbs of Yoga into their lives in ways that enhance how they live.
Yoga is often seen as a journey of self-discovery. How do you encourage your students to practice as themselves and explore their inner selves through yoga? Can you share an example of a student’s transformative journey under your guidance?
The first attempt I made at opening a studio was in 2005. I called it Svadhyaya. Although difficult for most people to pronounce, it opened the doors for many who were new to the practice to understand self-study. I have observed that those unfamiliar with the practices have gradually learned not only how to control and direct themselves on the mat and in the studio, but as they engage with the world. We honor the saying “self-discovery in progress.” One of the practitioners I guide is emerging into his 80th year of life. He has a daily practice that includes asana, pranayama, and mindfulness. He is addressing his needs in his current state while also considering the direction in which he wishes his life to continue. He has increased his quality of life by becoming more relaxed, aware of how he moves, intentional with his actions, and directive of his lifestyle.
The idea of connecting with the “Jivatma,” the tiny piece of the universe within us, is a central theme in yoga. How do you help your students cultivate this connection and recognize their interconnectedness with all things through their yoga practice?
I close every practice with the reminder that we are all peaceful, content, and divine. My teachings incorporate some of the philosophies of Ayurveda including the concept that everything in the universe is made up of the same elements. As we practice asana, pranayama, and mindfulness, I encourage Svadhyaya in the form of sensing the depth of the practice. As we move, we observe how our bodies and energy feel, as we breathe we notice the subtle effects and as we focus our minds, we seek to detach from the distractions and quiet the Citta vritti. Every once in a while a glimpse of that which is beyond the external world becomes available and this is what keeps me and my students returning to the practice.