Okanagan-based Yoga and Meditation Instructor
Over 15 years ago, my dream was coming true. I was on my way to becoming a journalist. In the most unlikely place, I found yoga. An honours graduate of McGill University who quit her communications job at a creative design firm, I’d grown disillusioned by the endless grey walls of corporate corridors. At the time, the future rolled mind-numbingly out in front of me. My soul was restless for some other life – one I hadn’t yet imagined.
So for months, I walked barefoot along the beaches of Southern Spain, soaking in a lacuna of silence, until my brain – full of fear, self-doubt, other people’s voices – quieted enough for my heart to finally speak. My Spanish intermission led me to move from Toronto to the small northern village of Fort St. James, BC, where I cut my teeth as a writer, working in a one-person newsroom. I loved it. I owned it. Until the 24-7 gig owned me. To cope with the stress and anxiety, I did my first Downward Dog to a borrowed VHS tape on the floor of my shitty little apartment, right around the time the Twin Towers fell in New York City.
Yoga made me feel calm and grounded, yet exquisitely free, awake and alive. I was hooked. Six years later, I was working in a big-city newsroom as a lifestyles reporter with my own national sex column. I had a daily ashtanga yoga practice, ate organic, meditated regularly; my inner zen had a tendency to ooze out all over my assignments and over too many pints at the local pub. My identity was shifting again. Something had to give. The veneer of an old dream had cracked, revealing a new one. I realized I no longer craved the rat race, deadlines and neurotoxic stress. Yoga wanted a bigger part of me and – never asking for more from us than we can give – my practice graced me with the insight, desire and courage to leap without fear.
I took a 200-hour teacher training with my beloved teacher, Heather Watson, in 2006. The immersion was transformative. Soon I’d quit my full-time job, and was teaching public and corporate classes all around Edmonton. This brave new world became my greatest teacher. I felt more like me than ever before – and I loved waking up every day to share the physical, mental and spiritual gifts of yoga with my community.
In 2008, I started running popular local eco-friendly yoga retreats in nature. My classes were sweaty, high energy and some students came just for my rocking’ playlists and aromatherapy massages during final relaxation. Through it all, I spent hundreds of hours in weekend workshops and intensives with Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini, Meghan Currie, Ryan Leier, Sarah Powers, Bryan Kest, Christine Price Clark, Elena Brower, Jana Renee Roemer and others.
Like a snake’s bite, I admit, I’ve sometimes learned balance, wisdom, and self-love the hard way: a rotator cuff injury, hyper-mobile hip, painful S.I. joint, all taught me to temper the fires of ambition and ego with a gentler, kinder, more forgiving and compassionate kind of practice. On and off the mat, these lessons began my involution. I’ve been spinning ever since (some days in circles!) but I wouldn’t trade this dance of deepening consciousness for anything.
Increasingly pulled home toward the hidden, energetic and healing aspects of yoga, I completed Yin Yoga and Functional Anatomy with Joe Barnett, a student of Paul Grilley, in 2012, and have since facilitated several six-hour Yin Yoga Intensive Teacher Trainings. Next I delved into the “sister science of yoga” and, in 2014, took my Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy training in Hawaii. This initiation strengthened my view that balance and loving intention are the keys to building a sustainable yoga practice and a healthy, happy and harmonious life. I became a Certified Lifestyle Meditation Teacher under the guidance of Chopra Center-trained Vedic Master Mandy Trapp that same year.
Along the way, I’ve met many kindred spirits, grown and shared in ways unimaginable to me back in the confines of corporate corridors and my old self. At a yoga retreat, I fell in love with one of the most powerful teachers in my life: my husband, Ash, who is a constant source of support, inspiration and unconditional love. We moved to Kelowna in November of 2014. Now I teach in the community – yin, flow, prenatal, chair yoga – and can be contracted for private, semi-private and group sessions as well as Ayurvedic health assessments and meditation seminars in the workplace.
If this journey’s taught me one thing, it’s that yoga and meditation are accessible to everyone – no matter how flexible, fit, happy or healthy you are right now. Here’s the amazing thing: these body, mind and heart-healing practices will go to work on you and get you where you want to go. And in the process, they will also teach you this: that the destination is Here, and you are already everything you need to be. Come share this journey with me. Your true Self awaits. xo Jenn
Jenn Parks – Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor