Every month, we’re featuring a different teacher on the Yoga Nook blog. We highlighted Yasa Rasakhoo for the month of April, and now we’re turning our attention to Jessica Nilson. Read on to learn more about Jess’ unique style, then come on in to Yoga Nook — all of her scheduled classes will be $10 community classes throughout the month of May!
Tuesday 8:30-9:45 a.m. — Classic Yoga 1 & 2
Tuesday 4:30-5:30 p.m. — Yoga in Mind
Friday 9-10:15 a.m. — Classic Yoga 1
3rd Friday of the month, 7-8:15 p.m. — Yin Stretch
What originally drew you to the practice of Yoga? How has your practice changed over time?
What drew me to Yoga was an opportunity to teach it in a gym setting. I was already a personal trainer and had taught group classes for years. I had a short training to get started, and I quickly realized that I needed more — more practice and more education.
I continued my education with Jeni Winterburn. I had been practicing with her for awhile and started taking workshops with her. This led to the first change in my practice: realizing that Yoga was so much more than the asana. Over the years, it has continued to evolve into a love of the movement, as well as the inward journey the practice continues to take me on. It is constantly changing me and giving me opportunities to grow, love and inspire … to be open and compassionate, and I am so grateful for that.
Why did you decide to become a Registered Yoga Teacher? What inspires your teaching today?
I became a registered teacher because I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! Giving and receiving the energy of the students, guiding them through a practice that is positive and healing, energetic and peaceful. I feel in my heart it’s what I was meant to do. It feels right, feels real.
How would you describe your teaching style? What makes your classes unique?
My style is a combination of inspiration, honesty, compassion and finding progress without pain. I’m all for challenging students as well, encouraging work. However, Yoga should be fun and positive, not rigid. I like to invoke lightheartedness and humor in my classes from time to time. Intense and focused, or slow and soft, I try to bring a balance to each class.
Are there any particularly memorable or transformative moments from your practice or teaching that you would like to share?
I would say my teacher trainings. In both the RYT 200 and 500, there were so many “aha!” moments that I wouldn’t have enough words to describe them all. I experience transformation and memorable moments each time I teach or practice. Each time is an opportunity for something new to arise — just like each day is a brand new beginning for us all.
What is your favorite pose, and why?
Oh boy, there are so many, but probably Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon Pose. I love the strong stability built in this pose and the gentle grace of the balance. There is also a charming mythical story behind the pose: the Hindu god Ganesha puts a curse on the moon to shine but once a month, which explains why the moon cycle exists. This story is one of my all-time favorites.
What advice would you share with a student looking to deepen his or her practice?
I was reading some literature on Yoga when I came across a quote from a teacher named Sharon Gannon: “You cannot DO Yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”
I wasn’t quite sure what it meant at first. I read more, practiced more asana and meditation, and attended more trainings and lectures — which got me closer, but I’m still getting there. So my advice would be to keep learning about the practice through asana, self-study, and education, including lectures and teacher trainings. Even if you don’t want to be a teacher, it will deepen your practice in so many ways.
If you could choose one quote that best encompasses your approach, what would it be?
“Remember, it does not matter how deep into a posture you go — what does matter is who you are when you get there.” –Max Strom