By Kathryn Boland, Flow and Grow Kids Yoga Blog Manager and 95-Hour Training Graduate
Teresa Jackson is one of those people who makes you smile more and feel lighter just by interacting with her. A passionate and driven individual, but also notably calm and collected, she embodies the yogic concept of balancing effort (sthira) and ease (sukha). She graduated from Flow and Grow Kids Yoga's 95-hour training, as part of our first 95-hour cohort in Spring 2020.
I caught up with Teresa as part of our Grad Spotlight blog post series. She discussed core aspects of her mission as a yoga and mindfulness educator, what she's been up to since graduating, how she hopes to go forward in this work (in personal/professional development, new projects, et cetera) and more. Here's what she had to share!
KB: What have you been up to since you graduated from the Flow and Grow Kids Yoga 95-hour training? We in the Flow and Grow community know it's all a lot of wonderful work, but please fill our audience in!
TJ: I can't believe that it has been a year since I graduated Flow and Grow Kids Yoga 95 hr teacher training! Since then I have used the tools and practices on a daily basis, both in my personal practice as well as my teaching.
I especially love practicing the breathing exercises daily and getting myself into that childlike mind! Even when I am teaching an adult class I find myself making references to poses using the kids yoga posture names! It brings out the kid in all of us and gives adult students permission to play!
COVID has made teaching kids yoga a bit challenging this past year and I have adjusted my services to try to meet the needs of kids and families. I love being in nature and teach as many of my classes/private sessions outside whenever I possibly can.
During this past year, I have taught outdoor classes for kids at Boys and Girls clubs, taught kids yoga at a summer adventure camp, and taught family yoga by the water. I live in a small beach town on the coast of NC and partner with several local businesses.
I am currently also working privately with several teenage girls who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. We do nature yoga and mindfulness sessions every week at a nearby Wildlife Sanctuary. I also offer kids classes at this wildlife sanctuary and incorporate the animals into our sessions.
For example, we will walk around and observe the animals in nature and then go to our mats and do the animal postures, They love making up their own postures after watching the animals.
I have also worked privately with a prenatal yoga client who is due in a few weeks. Once the baby is born I will start working with mom and baby. I am so excited about this and am forever grateful to Lara for teaching me the skills for this amazing opportunity!
In addition to my private clients, I am currently teaching a sunset yoga by the water class as well as a monthly full moon yoga class, also by the water. I lead a Tea and Meditation class once a week at a local coffee shop and am starting weekly candle light yoga classes there in a few weeks.
I am also planning to incorporate a retired trained service dog in this class to add some additional calming pet energy! This class will be open to families. In addition to in person sessions and classes, I record and post short asana practices and breathing exercises for both kids and adults on my facebook page, The Pure Light Yoga.
Beginning in August, I will also be offering virtual weekly yoga classes to kids and their mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
KB: What was your favorite part of the Flow and Grow training? What are one or two essential points of learning that you took away from it?
TJ: My favorite part of the Flow and Grow training was feeling the love and support of Lara and my cohorts which lifted me up tremendously in my teaching! I also enjoyed lesson planning the classes and then recording them.
At first I was very intimidated as technology and I are not best friends! I had never recorded myself teaching before and it was very awkward at first. I was not comfortable watching myself. I learned to quiet my inner critic voice and observe myself as I would one of my cohorts.
I became more gentle and compassionate with myself and started learning and growing by not personalizing the things that challenged me. I also grew to accept my imperfections and let go of my beliefs that I had to have everything perfect before putting it out there for others.
We learn by doing and just like a child learning to ride a bike, the lesson and growth comes from the falling down, then brushing off with a chuckle and starting again.
This has always been hard for me to do, and I am forever grateful to Lara and my cohorts for always being so supportive....and I know they are still there with their nets to catch me! This is a deep connection that will always be with me!
KB: Through your business, The Pure Light Yoga, you offer yoga and mindfulness for all ages. Is there a guiding mission to this work for you? Is it rather from the practice itself, and you see yourself more as the vessel? How do you see that for yourself?
TJ: I have gone back and forth with who I would identify as my ideal student. I spent over 25 years working in a nonprofit career with at risk kids and families. I have worked with children of all ages and helping them learn to love themselves, to find their power, their inner light, their gifts, their self worth, their beauty and uniqueness has always been my passion.
I also love sharing my yoga journey with adults who want to learn how to quiet and calm their mind and body through yoga and mindfulness practices. I especially enjoy working with adults who, for whatever reason, think they can't do yoga or are intimidated by yoga studios because of the misconceptions they have about yoga.
My classes are all accessible to every age, every body. Practicing yoga and mindfulness has transformed my life in ways I could never have imagined. To be able now to share this with others through my teaching is an honor to me.
So I have come to the conclusion that my ideal student is anyone who wants to learn yoga as a way to calm, quiet, relax, destress, stretch, gain strength (in lots of areas) and improve their overall state of being, first from within, then radiate outward.
My personal mission is to do my inner work in order to shine my light as bright as I can and to help others shine their light while sharing love through kindness and compassion for myself and others. I extend this mission to my business through the service of teaching yoga and mindfulness with children and adults.
Teresa and fellow members of the Spring 2020 95-hour cohort, in a training session over Zoom
KB: We graduated in the midst of COVID, which changed the ways in which we offer classes and practice (as it changed standard procedures in every industry). How did you adjust to those challenges? Did your yoga practice itself inform that in any way?
TJ: While COVID created many challenges for all of us, I have to say that I am grateful that it resulted in more yoga trainings and classes being offered online. Thank you Lara for offering this training online!
This has made yoga more accessible to more people. It enabled me to be able to grow and transform my personal practice and my teaching. It challenged me to face my fear of recording myself and to work through my technology challenges.
This has not only helped me adjust my business to offer online yoga sessions, it has expanded the number of students I am able to reach and widened my connections. Becoming comfortable with recording my practices has enabled me to post short asana and breathing practices on my social media, which I had been very hesitant to do before COVID.
COVID also brought me deeper into my personal practice, especially during the lockdown. Going deeper and trusting my own practice gave me additional confidence to help bring others to yoga as a way to help them through whatever challenges and traumas they faced from COVID. I wanted to be of service in any way I could and sharing my yoga was how I wanted to serve.
KB: It can feel so uncertain nowadays but to the extent that you can say, what's next for you? Are you planning any trainings or new teaching offerings? What can we keep an eye out for and support you with?
TJ: While I continue to create new ways to bring yoga to others as a teacher, I will also continue to be the student. It is the student in me that is the reason I teach....to expand myself through helping others expand. And the more I learn the more I can share and give to others.
I have just started my journey to earn my YTT 300 hour certification in yoga therapy. I earned a double BA in Psychology and Sociology in college and spent my full-time career working in Social Work.
After "retiring" from that career I dove deeper into yoga (earning my YTT 200 and CYTT 95) and found the parallels so fascinating. I am in love with the marriage of psychology and yoga and hence am now training in Psychotherapy and Yoga.
My goal is to use this training to continue to transform myself and my teachings and offer more yoga therapy to my students. I also just completed my Reiki Master certification and I incorporate energy healing into my yoga and mindfulness work.
I continuously feel the love and support of Lara and my cohorts from Flow and Grow Kids Yoga. That's what helps keep me going on the days when I ask myself "what the **** am I doing?". So much love and gratitude for this amazing training!
This week, we go over the Turtle Pose. Inspired by the patient turtle, this pose increases mental focus and stretches the arms, back, and legs. This pose looks like a turtle withdrawing into its shell!