June Teacher of the Month: Jill Phoenix

Jill

This month we are celebrating Jill Phoenix as our teacher of the month! Jill is one of the most authentic people you’ll ever know. She’s so genuinely herself it makes you feel more comfortable to be yourself in her presence.

Jill is the real deal, down to earth hippie. She teaches an amazing yoga class, drives a VW bus and her middle name is Love, what more could you want??

Not only does Jill donate multiple classes a week, she also attends classes regularly. It’s always a joy when she walks through the door!

“THANK YOU for this lovely honor and the acknowledgement that the path I have chosen is apparently the right one for me! :) I am super blessed to have you all as sisters, brothers, friends, and my community!

What was the experience with yoga that got you hooked?

My first experience with yoga that got me hooked was with my very first yoga dvd that I purchased in 1998 with Rodney Yee.  I used to practice on my deck overlooking a lake in Washington State. The connection I felt immediately with my breath and my body immediately made me crave more and my yoga path began.

What inspires you to continue yoga?

I am continually inspired to dive deeper and deeper into my yoga path. The more I read about yoga philosophy and the history of how yoga originated and the more I experience with my ever-changing body, only takes me deeper. I spent a month this winter in Nepal, India, and Bali studying yoga and meditation, and the techniques I learned and the experiences I was lucky enough to have, have only blown my love for yoga wide open! My favorite thing about yoga, is that no matter how much time I dedicate to read and study and the more I practice, there is just no earthly way that I will know half of what there is to know, and that fascinates me and inspires me to learn and push myself further into my practice.

What is your favorite pose?

So hard to pick a favorite pose, but if I had to choose one that I almost always incorporate into my practice, it would be Extended Side Angle. I love the process of setting myself up for this pose, usually transitioning from another favorite, Warrior 2, and feeling the stretch along the side of my body, and there are so many variations and modifications for my arms in this pose, depending on where I need the extra stretch. I also love the strength this pose makes me feel in my legs. So much power in this pose, but the real experience is finding that balance between effort and ease, and finding the areas of softness while there is so much strength and balance at the same time.

What is your most challenging pose?

My most challenging pose lately, and one that I find myself avoiding, is Camel Pose. I used to love this pose, but my knees are disagreeing with it lately. I admit I just need to practice it more and find modifications that work for me.

What is your favorite time/place to practice?

I would love to admit that my favorite time and place to practice would be alone in the woods or in my home, but to be honest, there is no place like home! And by home, I mean Asheville Community Yoga and any time works for me. I LOVE being with my community practicing and hearing and connecting together with our breath. I love all of our teachers and learn so much by attending classes. I honestly don’t feel right if I am not in the studio daily!

How has yoga changed your life?

Wow, yoga has changed my life on many levels! I truly have a deep passion for yoga and it has helped me on many occasions. I have had an interesting life and have gone through many changes, like most of us have. Yoga has helped me through divorce, loss and grief, success, falling in love, transitions and transformations. I have cried many times on my mat, burst into laughter, and felt my heart blow wide open, all while practicing. I find yoga to be my best therapy, both mentally and physically. If I find myself struggling in any way, I get on my mat and it always seems to work its self out in some way. I find so much comfort going within and listening to my true self.

Do you have a favorite yoga book or video?

My favorite yoga book currently is the Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele  I can’t recommend it enough if you are wanting to deepen your spiritual and yogic practice!

What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself?

I would describe myself as Considerate, Generous (with my time and love for others!), and Loyal

Is there a recurring theme that runs through your yoga practice?

I find my recurring theme in my practice for at least the last two years always seems to lean towards developing more patience and acceptance!

If you could just share one practice that has helped you the most, what would it be?

One practice that is helping me lately, is also my recurring theme!! I have been practicing acceptance a lot lately. My body is getting ready to turn 40 next month, and having to make adjustments for the subtle changes I have noticed can be a real interesting practice with releasing the ego within. Although I am in the best shape I have ever been in, thanks to my yoga practice, I do notice that some poses are changing. Remembering to be grateful to be able to do most poses and recognizing that things are changing, can be a real mental challenge. Luckily for me, competitiveness is a trait that skipped right over me when I was in the womb, so I am very patient and forgiving with myself. I think it is important to come back to gratitude and remember that even though poses can be a challenge, I am still fortunate to have arms and legs that work and allow me to use them. I find so much compassion within when I realize some people can’t even lift an arm or leg, or take a deep breath.

What is your current or all time favorite song or artist for a yoga playlist?

I think anything by MC Yogi at this point, will find its way into my playlist…although, this is a really hard question to answer!!  I LOVE music and especially devotional music!

What is your mantra?

My mantra that I chant daily, is Om Gum Ganapatayei Namah.  Which is a chant giving blessings and praises to Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles. He is also the one
responsible for placing obstacles or challenges in your path, when you need to learn something in order to grow spiritually and emotionally. Apparently, I like to learn and grow a lot because man, do I ask him to help me learn some challenging lessons!

Do you have a passion other than yoga you’d like to share?

I have a lot of other interests in life, but old Vintage Volkswagens are my guilty pleasure and passion! Anything before 1980 and I am a complete dork spitting out facts, engine specifications, and other nerdy info that most people could care less about! I have been a proud owner of a VW Bus for 21 years and have traveled through all but three states, and through three Canadian Provinces in a Bus, mostly solo!

How did you find Asheville Community Yoga?

I first walked into Asheville Community Yoga just two days after separating form my ex-husband, in January of 2015. I remember every second of that first hour. My life completely changed when I realized that I found my home and my tribe. I was going through so much loss and grief from a life I knew for over a decade, also losing my sweet Love Dog, who was my traveling companion and true best friend. I left a three acre farm I had worked hard to develop, gave away or left most of my possessions, taking only what I needed, and all that I knew. I felt lost, scared, sad, and FREE all at the same time. The open environment of the studio and the smiles and love I felt, even though for many months I kept to myself while working through these changes on my mat, really made me feel like I had found my home and my people! And I haven’t looked back!!  I LOVE YOU ALL!!

Do you have a spirit animal? If so, what is it?

You would think the Phoenix would be my spirit animal, and it is in many ways! That is why I changed my name to Phoenix….but, the one animal that I seem to repeatedly have interactions with and feel is my true spirit animal, is the Fox!

What’s your most embarrassing moment in a yoga class?

I try to embarrass myself each time I teach..well, maybe not intentionally, but I almost always seem to try to say two words at once or say the wrong pose that we are moving into, but the one really embarrassing moment that sticks out is waking myself up in Savasana snoring loudly in a class last year!”

We hope you treat yourself to a class with Jill! She teaches

  • Gentle Yoga 8:00-9:00pm on Mondays,
  • Warm Vinyasa 8:15-9:15pm on Wednesdays and
  • Gentle Flow 12:15-1:15pm on Fridays.

Jill – Thank you for being so generous with your time, your laughs and your hugs! We are lucky to have such an authentic yogi teaching here. We love you!