• An Interview with Jenny Perez

    Passionate, Sweet, Corky

    Where are you from and/or where do you live?

    Born and raised in Miami, FL where I currently still live

    How did yoga come into your life?

    I was seeking a spiritual practice and was open to exploring what that looked like for me. I took a yoga class and fell in love with the practice.

    How long have you been practicing yoga?

    4 years

    Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved, and transformed?

    I feel like I’ve always been a very physically active person, but more so in the realm of competitive sports and weight lifting, running, etc. Before yoga, I didn’t know how crucial it was for me to move my body with a deeper intention. That changed a lot for me. I’ve always been an artist and always will be. I suppose that came first before anything else. With that came a huge responsibility to be able to take care of my physical and spiritual well-being so that I could continue to create work that really reflected my truth.

    Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what qualities do you feel are important to build and work on as a yoga teacher?

    I decided to teach in a way that was more like “ok I guess this is what I am being called to do”. I stepped into teacher training simply wanting to learn how to deepen my own practice with zero intention to teach but, the opportunity presented itself and I decided to explore it. I think as a yoga teacher it is important to understand how to hold space for your students. The asanas are just a language through which we can communicate, but really, it’s about feeling safe and creating the space for someone, and yourself also, to heal. That can take time to come into.

    What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice, in teaching, and within the yoga community?

    I’ve struggled with practice guilt many times. That voice in my head that says “you didn’t practice enough” is always quite prevalent. I am in the process of unlearning that mentality that practice comes only in the form of the physical asana but is also in sitting still for just one minute or an act of service, etc … I think I can be hard on myself and it’s important to practice compassion for myself so that I can be more compassionate with others. Additionally, I’ve struggled with an injury, and so I find that through that I’ve managed to create a more compassionate self-dialogue with my body and my practice. The community can be tricky also, I’ve had teachers that I’ve become completely dependent on, almost like my practice can’t exist without them …and I think in some cases that comes from a few different places: the teacher claims ownership over your practice, the traditional dogmatic structure of the yogic lifestyle, and the trust one builds over time with a person – that can be so hard to walk away from and in turn, keeps you from growing.

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga student?

    Every day on my mat is inspiring. But I can particularly recall for a long long time telling myself I could never achieve this thing or that thing and then one day, it just happened and I did it. It reminded me how often I can box myself in which strips me of my power but in that moment – I felt free.

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga teacher?

    I remember during class I had my students in one of my long 12 min pigeon holds. I was walking around and adjusting each person and when I placed my hands on one student, they began to weep. I felt all this energy moving through them and out of them. I kept my hand on their back for a few extra breaths to let them know they were safe to release. I loved that moment – for me, it was a reflection of how important it is to create the space to be with ourselves intimately. We oftentimes don’t realize until we are in that space how much we’ve been holding onto- literal unnecessary energetic weight. Yoga is just so cool like that because it’s such a direct way to get there with yourself.

    Why do you practice?

    It makes sense. I feel good afterward every time. That’s really it.

    Why do you teach?

    I teach because i want to contribute in the same way my own teachers have and continue to. They’ve changed my life, I want to pay that forward.

    What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

    Ego. We all have one and some of us let it run our lives especially those in position of power. That’s can be quite troublesome.

    Do you have any recommended yoga reading?

    I don’t have a yoga book in the traditional sense but “The Artist’s Way” taught me quite a bit and has so many similarities to the philosophy of the practice.

    Through your own personal journey, what do you feel is your path and offering to the community- local and global?

    I think if I could just continue to be true to myself and to continue to be authentic in that expression then I’ve just created a larger shift in collective space.

    What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?

    To follow your excitement and curiosity. To not have any expectations or feel the need to post or share everything – some things you should keep for you. I think we have this strange habit of oversharing online – but yoga is such a personal thing so I recommend you keep some things private like you would if you were having a breakthrough with your best friend or life partner. Yoga is so multi-dimensional- you just can’t always put into words.

    Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

    I am currently gearing up to create a monumental public sculpture, my first one! It’s very exciting. I’ve got a solo exhibition coming next month and I’ll be starting a weekly in-person yin class soon as well. I look forward to sharing the practice with my students In-person again .

    What’s your Favorite Book?

    The Giver.

    What’s your favorite meal at a restaurant?

    Pasta always. French fries come in a close second.

    What’s your favorite meal to make at home?

    Veggie stir fry. It’s an easy way to get whatever is in your fridge and make it all come together and taste good.

    What do you like to do for fun that’s non-yoga-related?

    I love to paint.

    Who is your greatest inspiration?

    Other artists and yogis. I’m inspired by my friends.

    Do you have a favorite podcast?

    I recently really enjoyed Man Enough, by Justin Baldoni.

    If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring with you?

    My dog, Sage. As much peanut butter as I can stuff into a bag, and an iPod.

    When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

    Actually, I always wanted to be a doctor. Before I discovered art, I wanted to be a healer.

    What’s your favorite movie?

    Vicky Cristina Barcelona

    What’s your favorite TV series?

    Boy Meets World – I’m a 90s kid at heart.

    Do you have a favorite band/singer?

    Florence + The Machine, Radiohead, and Amy Winehouse. Can’t just pick one.

    Favorite song to dance to?

    Body Snatchers by Radiohead

    What’s your favorite quote/affirmation/mantra?
    Divine love, through me, blesses and multiplies, all that I am, all that I have, all that I give, and all that I receive.

    What is your life’s biggest question?

    Where do I go from here?

    Find out more about Jenny Perez on her website: http://www.jennyperez.com/

    Follow Jenny on Instagram: @jennyperezart

    By Jenny Perez

    Jenny is a Yoga Alliance 200 RYT under the guidance of Wynwood Yoga based in Miami, Florida. Although she was originally trained to teach vinyasa and power yoga she then studied an additional 6 months under the watchful eye of her teacher, Megan Elizabeth to be able to teach Yin Yoga, her true passion. As a professional visual artist, Jenny felt that the intuitive and graceful nature of yin was the most complimentary to her practice and teachings. To Jenny, the yoga practice is part of an essential mental and spiritual maintenance. Her goal is to help people understand that yoga is beyond just this physical practice, she wants people to feel good and connect to that part of themselves that is beyond the ego- she hopes that when people take her classes they feel empowered, at peace, and grounded in order to live with real intention and love.