I’m Jess Rose, And This Is How I Yoga
Jess Rose is a world-traveling, adventure-seeking yogi who teaches alignment-based vinyasa flow at international workshops and retreats, and teaches online to thousands of students with her 30 Days of Yoga Challenge and other programs on DOYOUYOGA.
Currently dividing her time between Mexico, the U.S., and Germany, Jess loves to travel the world to teach, write, and find inspiration in both the outer and inner worlds she finds herself in.
Name: Jess Rose
Occupation: Explorer, Sloth, International Yoga Teacher
Location: Anywhere and everywhere
Favorite yoga style: Alignment-based vinyasa flow and hatha
Favorite yoga pose: Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Yoga is… fun, and challenging, and confrontational, and therapeutic. It has the power to bring about the deepest feelings of peace in me, or spark my passion and drive…it just depends on the day and the practice. No matter what, yoga is a direct portal to a deep relationship with the self, learning to observe and transform how we react to challenges, finding the peacefulness at the very pit of our beings, and tapping into who we really are under all the layers of how we present ourselves.
What Do You Love Most About Yoga?
I love how versatile yoga can be, so that I can change up my practice everyday to fit exactly what my body or heart is asking for. It doesn’t take on the weight of being a chore, like something you force yourself to do and is exactly the same everyday. You can mix and match and get creative with your practice—you can just lie on the floor in sweatpants and breathe mindfully, you can chant OM 108 times under your breath in the line at the bank, read the Gita, or you can listen to a yoga podcast with your legs up the wall.
Yoga is so all-encompassing when you think of it as an amalgamation of physical practice, breath work, meditation, thousands of years of philosophy, and a path to a better, happier life. There is always some aspect of yoga that I am excited to explore any given day, and yoga and I have had a very long, interesting evolution together without the flame ever going out.
How Has Yoga Changed Your Life, Personality And Physique?
Yoga has had huge effects on my life…where to start? A couple things happened that made me realize just how much yoga was seeping into my veins while I was still pretty new to it. The first was being in a plane that got struck by lightning and the power going out.
When it happened, I had my mala beads in my hand and was using them to meditate. The plane went dark and we were cruising without power, people were screaming…it was pure chaos. I made the decision to keep meditating and not to freak out. I had no control over anything anyway, so I wanted to die peacefully.
I know that sounds really intense, but I felt a huge swell of tranquility wash over me—it was surprising. Ever since then, I try to always choose surrender and peace over fear-based action or panic.
The second thing I noticed, is that I will always skip going out and partying with my friends when there is a yoga class the next morning that I absolutely don’t want to miss. My social life has suffered immeasurably since becoming a yogi! But I’m much happier and healthier this way, so no regrets at all. And, I’ve made a whole new group of like-minded friends who also think that going to bed at 9:30 to be fit for yoga in the morning is the cool thing to do, haha!
Physically, I’m a lot stronger than I used to be, which has helped me in the ways of carrying my luggage or pushing cars that are stuck in the sand, for example. But, more seriously, yoga has taught me how to move better. I feel more graceful, much more aware of my body in space, and totally comfortable with my body in all of its beauty and perfect imperfections.
What Everyday Things Did You Get Better At Because Of Yoga?
I’m very proud of the fact that I can now sit still for over an hour without freaking out. I don’t know if it’s because the flexibility let me be more physically comfortable, or if mentally, I can accept stillness and being present and content with where I’m at and what I’m doing.
So now I can also peacefully sit through movies, which was never an option before, or enjoy a long meal without feeling compelled to get up and rush to the next thing. It’s slowed down my life and allowed me to be present and really appreciate what I’m doing in every single moment, and that is incredibly life-changing.
How Do You Keep Your Yoga Practice Interesting And Challenging?
On days when I’m not in the mood for a strong physical practice, I study philosophy or biomechanics or practice pranayama, and find the other limbs of yoga just as interesting and challenging as asana. But as far as my physical practice, there are always poses that scare me in a good way and teach me new things about my mental flexibility much more than my physical abilities.
Certain inversions still intimidate me, and I love to throw them in just to see how I react. Being a yogi who frequently does asana on camera has also upped my game and made it possible for me to explore poses I wouldn’t otherwise have had the drive to try on my own. This is why, when I meet students who have done beautiful inversions with me, alone in their home with no external forces cheering them on, I am so absolutely amazed and inspired.
What Book, Website Or Person Inspires You?
I’m really inspired by Buddhist philosophy, in particular Alan Watts and Pema Chödrön, for their graspable ways of bringing mindfulness and understanding to my frenzied and confused human existence.
I seem to repeatedly find myself in some sort of mental or emotional exhaustion revolving around love, work, or an existential crisis of some kind, so the ideas of impermanence and non-attachment always help me get myself back on track. I also love bringing a philosophical or psychological perspective into my yoga classes from time to time, and the Buddhist ideas on fear, power, surrender, change, and non-attachment seem to resonate powerfully with me and my students as well.
Which Yoga Pose Challenges You the Most?
Hands down, standing split. I really, really struggle with this one! I think it’s because I consider myself to be pretty flexible and pretty strong, but in this case, the parts do not equal the whole. I can do the splits on the ground, but there’s something about that deep forward fold, and the glute and hamstring power to lift the top leg, that my body has not been able to unravel.
So even after years of practice and many, many attempts, I often feel like a chunk of rigid concrete block with a very stern-looking human head on one end and a wobbly twig of a leg aimlessly drifting in space on the other end.
What are Your Go-To Yoga Poses When You’re Stressed or In Need of an Energy Boost?
When I’m stressed, Supta Baddha Konasana is my best remedy. Something about opening the hips softens my mental state, and if I prop my heart up on a block or a bolster, my chest can really expand to allow my breath to deepen and slow down.
For energy, inversions are the way to go. If I’m really low on energy, then headstand is great, but if I can muster the strength, a long handstand at the wall gets my blood pumping, sends fresh oxygen to tired cells, and gives me a little jolt of adrenaline to get me buzzed and reinvigorated.
What Do You Listen To When You Practice Yoga?
For more dynamic flow practices, I really like to move to Nu, Nicolas Jaar, D.Lissvik, and Earthrise Sound System. I like eastern-inspired instrumentation with a slow, pulsing beat in the background to give a bit of a mystical sensuality to my practice.
For yin or restorative practices, I really love to put on Masood Ali Khan, Jane Winther, and Steve Ross. I have pretty eclectic musical tastes when it comes to my yoga playlists, but most important for me, is no vocals. Or, if there are vocals, they are either so reverb-y that they are just dreamy and incomprehensible, or in Sanskrit or a language that neither I nor my students speak.
I’ve been annoyed by lyrics and pop songs too many times in yoga classes—even singer/songwriter music made by yogis is too much for me on the mat. I love having my yoga practice be a time to focus on my breath and my body, not hear some dude whining about his lovelife, or talk about how we are all made of stars and fairy-dust or something like that, while I’m trying to guide myself into a standing split!
What’s The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?
I got this advice from a friend when I was living in France, and it has stuck with me for over a decade: “Reculer pour mieux sauter.” It roughly translates to, ‘step back, in order to better jump forward’. It’s been a personal mantra of mine ever since it was told to me.
I have the very reptilian-brain tendency to go into fast-acting fight mode when I feel threatened or uncomfortable, and this saying reminds me to give myself some space before I make a move. I also apply this advice to my yoga practice by doing plenty of yin and restorative sessions in between strong vinyasa days. This stepping back and slowing down to let my body unwind and re-pattern actually helps it to bounce back stronger and wiser than before.
What’s Your #1 Piece of Advice for Those Just Starting Their Yoga Practice?
Find your teacher! I have been incredibly lucky with my teachers over the years, but I’ve also been to a few classes where I felt totally uninspired (and even been injured!) by an inexperienced teacher. It doesn’t matter whether they’re online or in-person, shop around until you find someone you relate to, who makes you feel not just safe and supported, but also, motivated and empowered.
Without my teachers, I might have dropped my yoga practice years ago and never looked back. It’s all about keeping your focus, being constantly inspired, and being encouraged to keep learning and evolving, and the best teachers are the ones who meet all of these criteria for you.