This was an interview with Jessica Gregory for a healing environments graduate level class concerning yoga and personal healthcare. 

Who are you and what is your background and experience in yoga?

I began studying yoga in earnest in1996 in Australia while working in a large multinational advertising agency there. Soon after I left advertising and began studying back in the US. I was primarily studying Iyengar yoga with various senior teachers of that style. I started teaching in 1998 or 99. Around 2000 I began studying Anusara yoga. After directly apprenticing with its founder I earned certification in that style in 2006.  Since that time I have taught throughout the US and Europe as well as Taiwan and Mexico.

How do you establish a holistic relationship with your clients?

Well, yoga is intrinsically a holistic practice that considers all aspects of a person. If you teach with that understanding and you establish trust with your student, then the practice can go very deep. Your aim is to see the student for who they are and meet them where they are in their personal development. You acknowledge and honor that. As a teacher you endeavor to show a student where they might go in their process while allowing them to determine the degree and pace of that process. Basically you offer to take them as far as they wish to go in an individualized and methodical way.

What strategies do you employ to create a healing environment?

As I alluded to earlier, trust is key. Once your student feels you are sensitive to their needs and current abilities, real change becomes possible. It’s quite individual and everyone has different reasons for coming to yoga. Listening to your student is very important. They need to feel heard and their situation appreciated. If you can see your student in this way and you have mutual trust, then you and they will naturally work together to create healing and positive personal transformation.

What is your philosophy or belief about wellness and health?

Wellness and health are our birthright. Of course there are many people who are born with health challenges. Or despite their best efforts, illness comes. Yet how we each engage and manage our health is an individual choice.

Even if you are basically healthy, this blessing of sound health needs to be consciously cultivated and tenderly maintained. We should not take our intrinsic good health for granted. A large number of common health issues stem from poor habits. Our everyday living habits that include how and what we eat, the degree of physical activity, what we take in through various media, as well as our daily pace and stress levels all impact our physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual condition.  These aspects of us can either be regularly acknowledged and addressed with wisdom and care or neglected to varying degrees. So the maintenance of our continued multi-faceted health is largely up to us.

I also feel that personal wellness and health are a reflection of what’s around us; family, community, work and living environments. These all need to be given similar priority in terms of skillful, wise, committed and loving attention.

Any other pertinent information?

A student asked me once about my physical asana practice (the poses). I told her that after these many years, when I practice, it’s like sitting down to a beautiful dinner with all of my best friends. People I’ve grown up with. I know them intimately. I know and love all of their strengths and limitations. They are life long companions and my support. It’s a lot of fun!

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