FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Interview by Sarah McElwain
Jennifer Block has been practicing Yoga since 1998. She is certified in Levels I and II, Restorative Yoga, and Chair and Gentle Yoga. She is also a certified Integral Yoga 500-hour teacher. Jennifer has studied dance, Tai Chi, and Qigong. At IYI she has taught Levels I and I/II, Gentle Yoga, and Restorative Yoga. She currently teaches the First Step Yoga class at IYI to formerly homeless women, in conjunction with the Coalition for the Homeless, and also teaches Chair Yoga at senior centers.
What is your definition of Yoga?
Yoga is a way of life and a way of being connected to both yourself and the outside world. It is not only loving and caring for yourself; it is also sharing that love and care with others on a daily basis as you interact with them in a variety of situations. It is listening and responding to what you hear. It is giving with no expectations.
What do you love about Yoga?
What I love about Yoga is the Yogic lifestyle, which nourishes the mind, the body, and the spirit. I enjoy asana practice because I always feel calm and relaxed afterward. I enjoy the vegetarian food because that not only keeps my body healthy; it is also quite tasty, especially those veggie lunches at IYI. Most of all I love being part of a Yogic community known as a sangha. Over the years, I have met many, many nice people at IYI, and I am grateful for all those whom I have found along my spiritual path.
What are the particular areas of Yoga you are teaching in now or in which you have created your own, special offerings? What attracted you to those areas?
I teach Yoga to share its benefits with others who are seeking a spiritual practice and a spiritual path to follow.
Currently I teach Chair Yoga at senior centers and senior residences. I also teach Gentle Floor Yoga and a one-hour class at various times throughout the year. My path happened to draw me to Chair Yoga because I was serving at a senior center where I have volunteered for years. Back in 2001, when I graduated from Level I Teacher Training, I mentioned to the director that I had just completed Yoga teacher training. She asked whether I could teach Chair Yoga, and I said, “Yes.” She said, “You are hired; you start next month,” and that is where it all began.
What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher, and what do you hope students will get out of your coming offerings and workshops?
I hope students experience a sense of community in feeling welcome at IYI, as they would if someone welcomed them into her or his home. I hope the students feel the love that both IYI and I have to offer and also feel that this is a safe space for them to learn and grow as they travel along their newly found spiritual path.
I teach the year the First Step Yoga class, in conjunction with the Coalition for the Homeless, to low-income women who come to IYI for three weeks in a row on Tuesday mornings. Every six weeks I get a new class. The women in the First Step Yoga program enjoy taking Yoga and have even come back to IYI to do Karma Yoga work to continue their Yoga practice.
Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share with the teacher sangha?
My favorite book is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda. The first thing I did when I finished Level I Teacher Training was read that book cover to cover. It also makes a great gift, and many of my friends have enjoyed it.
Ongoing class at IYI: Gentle Yoga at 2:15 on Fridays