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    Jivamukti and I – A Year of Transformation by Elisaveta Stoilova

    I’m sure you have heard of the saying “When the disciple is ready, the teacher will come” – well, Jivamukti Yoga found me a year ago and I think I was ready. I have always wanted to “do” yoga, but I didn’t just want to go to any yoga studio, so…I kept putting it off. I had heard of a few in JC, but I never went in. Internally I wasn’t “feeling” it. Then last year a friend told me about a vegan dinner at a yoga studio in JC and I went with my husband. Yoga and Vegan? Perfect. It was the sign I needed. As a spiritual vegan of over 17 years I never really understood (without judgement) why aren’t all yogis vegan. So, finally coming across this yoga studio that would openly talk about veganism and animal rights, and in fact practicing what the yoga system has been preaching about for thousands of years (and that is ahimsa – the act of non-violence and non-harming toward any living being, including animals), was a dream come true.

    And so, on July 9th of 2014 I attended my first yoga class at Jivamukti Yoga Center Jersey City. It was a Basics class. My teacher (Jenna Faith) made me feel welcomed and at ease, and not at all worried about my stiffness and lack of flexibility. We were all there to learn and she was eager to teach. I completely enjoyed the class and knew I wanted more of Jivamukti Yoga in my life.

    Jivamukti offers a variety of classes which are all created with a purpose. Their Basics and Beginner Vinyasa are great for new and beginner students, and for seasoned practitioners as well who want to polish their foundation. Then come the Open and Spiritual Warrior classes which are fast paced, rigorous and challenging. After I took several Basics classes, I decided to throw myself in the “fire” and go to an Open class. I knew I wasn’t so ready for it, but I wanted the challenge. The teacher lead a great class starting with a warm-up sequence, very vigorous and…I almost lost my breath. It felt like the warrior poses sequence (Virabhadrasana I and II) and Trikonasana lasted an hour and a half (when in fact they are not longer than 20min). I was sweating like I had never sweated before, from just keeping my muscles engaged and breathing. It was the first time I ever saw a sweat drop fall on my mat from my face. Not to mention my arms wanted to give up on me in Adho Mukha Svanasana and this was supposed to be our resting pose. This first Open class kicked me in the butt. But I loved it. It made me appreciate the yoga practice even more. It humbled me. After that I kept alternating Basics, Beginner Vinyasa and Open classes for a few more months before I completely switched to attending Open classes only. I needed to push myself. We don’t get better in anything staying in our comfort zone.

    A year of yoga is almost like a minute in ‘yoga years’. I am a newbie and will consider myself such for a long time in my yoga journey – spiritual, physical and soulful.

    I want to thank Sharon Gannon and David Life (whom I had the pleasure of meeting) for creating the Jivamukti Yoga Method. I want to thank Bobby and Austin Sanderson for this wonderful space they offer us where we can practice yoga, chant, meditate and meet beautiful like minded beings. And a special thank you to all my teachers at Jiva – Austin, Julie K., Karina, Heather, Lawrence, Jenna Faith, Jordanna, April D., April Joy, Cassandra, Jeff Scios, Jules, Helida, Karen, Dechen, Lauren, Luis D., Michael, Susan, Meg and Sarah W.! You teach with such humility, dedication and care, and I appreciate each and every one of you – I am where I am today in my yoga practice because of all of you!


    Elisaveta Stoilova