Tag Archives: Jenniferlyn Chiemingo

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone: Trying New Studios

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Before I joined Haute Yoga Queen Anne, I tested out about a dozen studios in the Seattle area using new student deals. This allowed me to learn a bit more about the instructors’ teaching style and the community before officially joining. I think this is an important step because, unlike working out at the gym, you are part of a collective experience in yoga class. If you’re not on the same page with the message the instructor is delivering, you’ll just be distracted the entire class and counting the minutes until class is over.

All this is to say that I love trying out new studios because I always find something that I like about others’ approaches to teaching yoga. While visiting my family this weekend in Beaverton, Oregon, I did a quick search for studios in the area and wasn’t surprised to learn that there were but a handful around. Most of the studios are within Portland, and even Portland’s yoga community is still “growing up” compared to the likes of Seattle, San Francisco and New York.

Of the slim pickings in the area, I chose to go to Hot Yoga For Life, a studio tucked away in a shopping center right off of T.V. Highway. On the outside, the space looked like it could barely house a practice room, but as soon as you walk in you see that the studio is the size of about four practice rooms combined. It is all very modern and clean, with tons of space to store your things and a nice little vanity area to get ready after a morning workout. What I really loved is that the studio offers all new students a $10 deal for three weeks of unlimited yoga!

I was surprised to see that I was one of four students to arrive 15 minutes before class. I’ve gotten into the habit of arriving 15-20 minutes early to secure my spot in the room. With just about 5 minutes to spare, the room began to fill up with a total class size of about 20. Then again, it was 8:30 on a Saturday morning.

This practice was primarily focused on the physical workout itself. We went through several dancing warrior series and kept flowing for the 75 minutes, as opposed to going through a peak pose. This was great – sometimes you just need a solid workout to energize your body. One thing I was missing, though, was the therapeutic release I get through yoga. There was no Silvia or JL to guide my self-study and challenge me. It was all up to me.

And I hated it. I was way too distracted by my own mind. I kept looking at the clock and thinking, “When is this over?” I was annoyed that my towel kept moving during the flow. Then I couldn’t hold my warrior poses because my feet started slipping on my towel. My mat was right under a heater, and I’ve never felt a mat so hot in my life. I was annoyed that my feet felt like they were scorching as I balanced on one leg.

I know, this all sounds miserable, but I hope you’re not making judgments about Hot Yoga For Life because the real message here is that I made it seem miserable. It was my own inability to see the glass as half full and instead make a fuss over nothing.

And that’s the power of yoga – to help you realize how you react when the going gets tough. That day, I was not in a good mood, and not even yoga was going to help me. So instead of making the most of it, I decided I just wasn’t going to like it and would power through for the sake of powering through.

What has yoga helped you discover about yourself? Have you had similar experiences when testing out new studios?

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4 Ways to Think Before You Speak

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A few years ago at work, we had the option to take the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, which is basically a personality test that identifies key traits such as extroversion or introversion, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, and judging (this is more about order and preference for having things settled) and perception.

We took the written test, and then had an in-person working session to learn about the key traits and what they mean. The purpose was for us to better understand the point of view we’re coming from and our working style so we can collaborate better overall. I wasn’t shocked to learn I was an introvert (and mind you introvert is not synonymous with shy) because I’ve always preferred my alone time, and I’m never the first one to say what’s on my mind. I like to do some information gathering, mull over it in my head, make an informed opinion and then present it.

I was a bit nervous, however, looking at the room full of extroverts around me. My company as a whole is dominated by extroverts, which can make things like brainstorms and general work styles pretty exhausting for those who prefer to internalize and organize thoughts. I’ve made do, though, and have become more comfortable with the idea of throwing things out there and seeing what sticks.

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t think there are inherent benefits to the introverted working style either. Last night’s practice with Jenniferlyn was all about the four gates to speech. Words are so powerful, and these four gates provide a simple guide that can make all the difference to the person on the receiving end. Before speaking, you can ask yourself these simple questions:

  1. Is what you’re about to say true?
  2. Is it helpful to this person?
  3. Is it even necessary to say?
  4. Is it kind?

In particular, I like the last two questions because sometimes what we end up saying doesn’t actually need to be said. And when there are times something needs to be said, it can be said in a kind, rather than accusatory way.

What do you think about this kind of filter? Is it helpful? Do you think it’s missing something?

Learning to Let it Go

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I had this instructor a couple years ago who would always say, “Let it go, let it flow” as we’d move through our vinyasa, particularly as the “hour of power” class was really picking up steam. I always found this reminder useful, with my triceps trembling while moving through plank to chaturanga and willpower waning. But, I survived every class, and by the time we were laying in savasana, I was always glad I powered through.

Then this week Jenniferlyn Chiemingo got me thinking about the difference between just powering through an activity and surrendering to it. To illustrate, she had us sit on the backs of our heels, with toes curled to the ground and arms raised in front of us for two minutes. She warned us that we’d all hate her for this, and we all did. The first minute was fine, but then my feet started to feel like they might break, and my shoulders were aching from all of our planks and chaturangas. I was sure we’d never finish. I kept opening my eyes to make sure she was even looking at a clock and kept thinking “Just get through it! It can’t be too much longer.”

After what seemed like 10 minutes, she let us out of the pose, and we all breathed a sigh of relief and verified that our feet were still in tact. The point is that I survived, and I don’t necessarily think I needed to exhaust all of that mental energy to sit in such a simple pose. Could I instead have just surrendered into the pose, knowing that two minutes is two minutes, and no amount of negative thoughts or looking for the clock was going to change that?

I learned a lot about myself in those two minutes. I want to tackle everything head on — I want to be active in it, dig deep and power through. In other words, I don’t know how to just, “Let it go, let it flow.” Sometimes life events call for you to just experience it and move on. Not everything requires some sort of active, emotional response to it. Sometimes it just a waste of energy, and I know this first hand from many a mental fit.

Jay-Z had it right — Dirt off your shoulder.

I Brought My Co-Worker to Hot Yoga

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This week, I brought my co-worker to hot yoga, making this her second class…ever. I have to admit, I felt a little weird bringing someone along to my hot yoga sanctuary. I’m so used to going solo — and apparently I have a reputation for “my spot” (front row, second spot from the mirrored wall) because Maria saved it for me and quickly realized I’d be taking a back-room seat this class, per Allison’s request.

I should clarify that Allison isn’t just any co-worker, so this makes this sweat session much less awkward. We started at our firm together as interns and quickly became friends outside of work — we even went to Cabo together and shared a parasail. True friends!

Monday night, I picked Allison up from her place in Queen Anne, and we headed over to the studio for my favorite 7:30 p.m. class with Jenniferlyn. As soon as we opened the doors, I felt the welcome tropical heat thaw my skin, and Allison just as soon remarked, “Dang, it’s so hot in here!” Yes, yes it is. And then I started to see this experience from the eyes of a newcomer.

As we entered the practice room, I ask Allison where she wants to lay our mats down, and she looks at us about two feet into the room and points to the back corner. Ok, back corner it is! We were a few minutes early, and I used the time stretching, while Allison explained to me that she can’t touch her toes but still made valiant attempts to do so.

The first 10 minutes or so of class were fairly manageable. The focus of the class was on ujjai breathing, so we laid still on our mats doing some basic stretching exercises and worked on our breathing. It wasn’t until JL instructed us to raise our feet above our head, interlace our hands behind our head and start doing some serious crunches that I got my first worried look from Allison.

The rest of the class continued just that way — Allison and her worried face. In our down dog she’d look under her arm at me and mouth “What the eff ?!” as the rest of the class was two steps ahead, jumping to the front of their mats and moving into our dancing prayer — Serie A. What seemed like this simple, intuitive move now all the sudden seemed so foreign as I watched Allison follow the steps and move through the motions.

When we moved into our balancing series, she just gave me this look like “no way in hell am I attempting to do that.” I couldn’t keep myself from laughing, and the girls next to us were visibly offended by the fact that Allison was whispering in class to begin with, not to mention using profane words.

She took frequent water breaks and sometimes just sat in child’s pose, but soon the 75 minutes were over, and class was finished. From the moment we entered the door, to our closing Om, I felt like we were in a different country just seeing it all through Allison’s eyes. I thought she’d never attempt hot yoga again, but the next morning she sent me an IM saying how great she felt from last night’s class and how she wants to go again this week. Maybe I have a yogi in the making!

Jenniferlyn Chiemingo: “My Journey to Yoga”

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I’ve been taking classes with Jenniferlyn Chiemingo (JL) since I started practicing yoga, and there are many other yogis who can say the same. JL makes yoga accessible to the average person with great music, inspiring words and an energizing flow. I’m excited that JL has decided to share her story on “Yoga for the Soul” of her journey to yoga from her news producer role in San Francisco. In her own words:

When I was a kid in the 1970s (Yes, I am that old) – my mom did yoga.  She married young, but still wanted to be a cool hippy.  Growing up, we had yoga and meditation books around the house that my sister and I used to giggle about and make fun.  Little did I know I would make a career out of this path!

I’d always wanted to be a TV News Producer.  And I am the kind of person, who, once I decide something, it is done.  At 13, I decided.  I was relentless in my pursuit of that dream. I worked at a local cable television station, I applied to college to study journalism, and even watched Tom Brokaw nonstop. 

I graduated at the top of my journalism class and secured a job in the Midwest right out of college.  Not bad, really. Granted it was a small town and the ‘TV station’ was in the middle of a corn field, but I was the six and ten o’clock news producer. I was also the top writer, editor, and janitor too 😉

From there, I moved up quickly becoming an Executive Producer in a top 50 market by the time I was 24 years old.  It was high stress, but I thought I loved it. I was married young but then divorced young too.  I lived in tiny apartments and had to defer my student loans because of my measly salary. 

Then I moved up again. San Francisco.  I wasn’t sleeping, I had lock jaw, my chronic back injury flared up and I was married again.  We wanted a baby. But after three years of trying, we were still alone.

The doctors all said it was stress.  My mom suggested I try Yoga.  (Um, no way.) I was a runner, a cyclist, not a chanter and stretcher.  But mom made a bet with me; she would pay if I went to three classes.  Of course I hated the first; I tolerated the second and LOVED the third.  I was practicing several times a week. It helped me sleep, it helped me laugh, and it helped me find peace in a high stress job.  Then 9-11 hit. 

I was surrounded by horrific images and honestly felt so much pressure and pain.  I realized that day; my life was passing me by. I was a 3-time EMMY nominee but I had no children, barely saw my husband and was really unhappy.
I went home to my husband and said, ‘I want to be happy. I want to have a family.  I love yoga. I think I want to be a yoga teacher.  Can I give up my BIG salary?’ 

With time and planning, I did give up that job and that salary. 
This year, I just passed the 10 year mark of teaching yoga. That’s equal to the time I was a TV News Journalist.  I have a son and my husband and I have been married 13 years now.  Do I credit yoga with all this change, transformation and growth – You bet I do. 🙂 

You can join JL at Haute Yoga Queen Anne for one of her regular classes — you won’t regret it! 



Rethinking Priorities

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Tonight’s yoga class with Jenniferlyn Chiemingo (JL) was exhausting and gratifying. I felt strong and took each vinyasa and chaturanga with careful calculation and — by the end of it — still had enough fight in me to try out some arm balances. To my surprise, I actually got the peak post: half crow, half koundinyasana. I continue to have a hard time with arm balances and often don’t even bother attempting them, so this was a personal feat. Oh, and if you’re thinking, “What the heck is that pose?,” it is actually a blend of two poses and not “official” in that sense, but here is a picture of each to help you visualize it. One leg is stretched straight out, while the other leg is balancing on your arm. Crazy, right?

Anyway, the theme of the class was priorities, with JL asking us what we believe is a priority to us and whether or not we are doing that/those thing(s). This seems like a simple thought, except as I began to list things in my head, I don’t know that I can check off all of my priorities. For example: have I been in touch with my family as much as I would like to? No. Have I allowed myself actual time for myself? Not really. Have I been taking care of myself (sleeping enough, eating healthy, etc.)? On occasion. But, there are other priorities like doing well in my graduate program and at work that I also have to consider. So what stays, and what goes? Well, there’s no easy answer. It’s just about balance, which is what this entire blog is focused on.

Here’s an excerpt from Melody Beattie’s “Journey to the Heart” (also listed under Readings for the Soul) that JL read at the end of class and really exemplifies the action we need to put behind our priorities.

Look around and you’ll see your answers. Your life as it is now reflects the priorities you have chosen so far. If something is happening too slowly, try switching your priority setting from low, to high.

Seems simple enough! Are there any priorities you’ve had on the back burner? Maybe now is the time to reconsider!