JESS JARRIS – YOGA THERAPIST

Describe what you do and also WHY you do it

I am a Certified Yoga Therapist and manage a private practice based out of The Yoga Tree in Fremont. While yoga has been applied with therapeutic intention in India for thousands of years, the term “yoga therapy” is fairly new in the west. In short, yoga therapy is an integrated healing modality and approach to wellness that is anchored in the ancient tools of yoga which includes yoga philosophy and practices that incorporate movement, breathing, mindfulness and meditation. Yoga therapy also draws upon contemporary knowledge of kinesiology, physical therapy, neurobiology, and psychology. In addressing overall health, yoga therapy reinforces that the wellness of the whole person is achieved by integrating the health of the body, mind, heart and spirit.

I believe yoga to be a journey of self-exploration that can open our hearts to the inner wisdom that enables us to live life with authenticity, dedication, and love. After establishing a regular practice, I began to see small transformational shifts arise in my own life and knew that I wanted to make this practice accessible to others, especially those that have hesitation or doubts about whether or not it is for them. Along with seeing private clients, I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of students, including adults in custody in a medium security men’s prison, military personnel, at-risk youth, individuals living with chronic and life-limiting illness, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, and many others. To me, the opportunity to work alongside others as they explore the ways in which this practice can serve them is an honor and joy.

What is your methodology and style?

My approach is informed by my 16 years of personal experience with these practices as well as ongoing education in mind-body therapies, Ayurveda, counseling, and current research in neurobiology. As the teaching of yoga offer the perspective that we are already whole regardless of our life experiences, I work collaboratively with clients as they learn to reclaim their connection to their inner resource of resiliency and wisdom. Each session will include a combination of discussion, movement, breath, mindfulness, and meditative practices, as well as encouragements for home practice. I aim to provide a mindful, compassionate, curious, and safe environment for my clients to explore and inquire what may be holding them from their potential. I specialize in supporting clients to address stress, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, addictive tendencies, life transitions and adjustment, chronic pain and life-limiting illness and personal growth.

When did you know that this is what you wanted to do? How did you discover it?

I first came to this practice as a freshman in high school and quickly recognized the positive impact it had on my life. While during those first few years of practice I was the youngest student by about 20 years, I knew that the path it had put me on would be transformational. I felt the call to share this practice with others during this first year of study but it wasn’t until after I completed undergrad that I took my first training.

What do you wish other people knew about what you do?

I often tell my students that there are no prerequisites for this practice. You do not need to have a certain body type or wear certain yoga clothes. You do not need to be flexible or be able-bodied or skinny or be able to concentrate. Your practice does not have to look a certain way or be a certain amount of time for it to “count”. Rather, this is a practice of bringing curious compassionate awareness to what it is like to be you, living in a human body with a busy mind and a full spectrum of emotions. It is about developing your capacity to bring awareness to your body, your mind, your heart, even when it is uncomfortable, so that you can take steps towards living a vital and empowered life that is aligned with your values. This is a practice about peeling back the layers to reveal the wholeness that has been within you the entire time.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do?

There are so many ways I could answer this question! One kind of moment that comes to mind is when clients share a moment from their week when they drew from what we practiced together in session, applied it to their daily life, and felt empowered by their increased capacity to intentionally engage in their life in a way that serves them. As a practitioner, my aim is for my clients to develop their inner teacher so that these moments become more and more frequent with time and practice.

How could someone’s life benefit from what you offer?

As each individual has unique experiences and needs, each session and the practices we explore will be specifically tailored to support what is arising for each person. With this in mind, people can benefit in a wide variety of ways. While it may be back pain, postural issues, stress, anxiety, difficulty with attention, a disconnect from a sense of direction, trauma that is stored in the body, or many other common experiences of being human, that brings people to consider giving yoga a try, I am a firm believer that this practice can benefit everyone in some way. It is my belief that every human has the innate capacity to embody their physical form as a place of refuge from which they can embrace the uncertainty, challenges, and possibilities of life. It is a courageous step turn to another for guidance and I would be honored to support you in your journey.

What inspires you?

Sitting by the ocean or underneath an old cedar tree, music that comes from the soul, The Yoga Sutras, poetry (especially Mary Oliver and Rumi), neuroscience, and most of all, my students and clients.

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