Jess Hoffman: Yoga Instructor/Massage Therapist
Jess' fascination with yoga and meditation started early on as a child in Western New York. She realized at a young age that there was more to people, life, and the universe than what met the eye. Jess loves to explore the subtle and energetic elements of her practices and teachings.
She started practicing yoga as a college student at Boston University while studying philosophy and religion. She considers herself very much a student of life and has a deep passion for learning and teaching. Her life path led her around the world and through a varied exploration of career choices.
When the dust finally settled, she realized that it was her passion for yoga, healing, and relationships that led her to teaching and using yoga, bodywork, and energy-work as her modalities of choice.
What attracted you to teaching yoga to children in schools? I had worked in schools for several years before becoming a yoga teacher and massage therapist. I taught art to elementary-aged children at an after school program. I was a substitute teacher, as well as a math and English tutor at a high school in inner city Boston. It had been several years since I worked with kids when I realized that I missed it and the rewarding nature of the work. I had left education because I wasn't pursuing my passions - like yoga - so I thought why not integrate my love for yoga with my love for working with children?
What is the greatest challenge you face in this kind of work? What is the greatest reward? One of my greatest challenges is to make sure that all of the students are involved and participating in the practice. I think that realizing that the class is not going to look exactly how I want it to is part of this. We are working with some challenging students who are not necessarily going to be able to sit still or be quiet for most of the class. But I think at the end of the day this is fine as long as they've engaged to the best of their abilities in the practice. As for the greatest reward, on the first day of my training, I witnessed an entire first grade class, sitting in sukhasana, with their hands in gyan mudra, their eyes closed breathing deeply together and it was such a beautiful image that will be forever burned into my memory.
Do you enjoy teaching a certain age group? If so, why? I think that first and second graders are my favorite because they are, for the most part, a little more grounded and conscious of their space than kindergarteners. Meanwhile, the third and fourth graders can think that they are a little bit "too cool" for school. Many students in first and second grade look at you with magical eyes, and they are still so innocent, honest, and imaginative. So many of them are smiley and love practicing yoga.
What have you learned from your students since you started teaching yoga in schools? Just keep going. Some days or classes can be particularly challenging, but no two days or classes will ever be the same. So keep teaching because everything will be different the next go around.
What advice do you have for others who are interested in this kind of work? It's definitely not for everyone. However, if you have a passion for yoga and teaching kids it's incredibly fun and rewarding. I am very honored and proud to be doing this work.
How has your role as a teacher informed the other work/endeavors you are pursuing? I definitely am much more attuned to the language that I use not only in my classes, but in my life. Using language that is clear can be incredibly difficult. It's very important to know your audience. And while language is important, not everyone learns best through auditory cues. So, body language, movement, participation, and speech are all equally important when it comes to communication and learning. Sat Naam is helping me transition to a full-time career in the healing arts with yoga and massage therapy. I am thrilled that I am aligning my career plans and goals to the very essence of my being. I am so fortunate to have a career that I am passionate about that I have chosen with complete confidence.