From hobby to career to force of good
Gorilla Yogis : From hobby to career to force of good
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Change is part of life. Sure, it can be scary and stressful, but sometimes it’s what you need to live the life you want.
Just ask Jes Rosenberg. In 2000, she was working as an industrial designer and creative director at a beauty company. She enjoyed the job, but it never felt like a perfect fit for her.
“It was this superficial thing that I was pushing, almost like a drug dealer. Like ‘Buy this and you’re gonna feel really good,’” she explained. “I kept thinking, wow, this isn’t my lifestyle practice. This isn’t what I believe and this isn’t how I live, so why not be really true to myself and go out and try something different?”
She requested a month-long sabbatical to attend a yoga retreat—and she never went back. Not only did her experience with yoga inspire her to become an instructor, it helped her get over any nagging self-doubts about the decision.
“When you create balance through a practice like yoga or any kind of discipline—whether it’s running or knitting—whatever it is that puts you in the zone where you’re truly focused, that’s where you can let that wandering stuff go so that you can truly be present and listen to things instead of listening to that negative self-talk,” she said.
Now Jes brings her positive energy to others with Gorilla Yogis, which stages yoga classes in unexpected places.
“You have your favorite coffee shop and then you only go to that coffee shop, and you get stuck in a routine,” she said. “I was sitting with my friend and we were thinking of different ways to create community and create fun experiences, almost like an Andy Warhol happening. That was the idea—getting people out of the box of what you’re usually into, flipping the switch, starting something new, and meeting new people.”
As a result, yoga fans have found themselves doing Downward-Facing Dog in parking lots, museums, nightclubs, even the middle of the street. The events also give back to the community in another way: people give a donation to participate and the proceeds go to a local charity.
Running a yoga studio that’s constantly on the move can be tricky, but Jes looks to her yoga experience to help guide her busiest days.
“I think the biggest thing is to stop ruminating, to just sit down, take a deep breath. What are three tasks that I can completely accomplish today? And then if I can accomplish those three things and not think of all the other umpteen things on my list, I won’t start losing my balance,” she said.
Jes has also created a mobile app that’s cultivating a new generation of yoga enthusiasts. Super Stretch uses animated animals to teach yoga poses to children, a group that can benefit from the practice more than you may think.
“The thought of being in charge and responsible for everything was very intimidating,” she admitted. “I didn’t think I had the strength or the organizational skills or the guts to do what I did. When I first started Rhythm and Shoes, I did all the choreography. I answered the phones. I did the emails. I did all of the accounting, and that was ridiculous. People around me said, ‘You have to delegate. People want to help you.’ It’s not that I didn’t think anyone could do a good job. I just didn’t want to burden people.”
In the studio’s second year, she learned to let go, handing off responsibilities to her staff. The effect was immediate.
“I think the biggest thing is to stop ruminating, to just sit down, take a deep breath. What are three tasks that I can completely accomplish today?”
“[Yoga is] this way of really teaching yourself how to ground down through breath and movement,” she said, “and that’s why I created Super Stretch—to teach kids that same thing. I hear these great stories from people in Japan or Australia, or someone who texts me and says, ‘My child just used Super Stretch. They were having a temper tantrum in the car and they asked for Super Stretch so that they can do the breathing.”
For Jes, it always comes back to breathing. Take the time to quiet the noise inside your head and meditate on what you want and how you can get there. That’s when the path comes into focus.
“I literally just dove from one career to the next,” she said. “I took the leap from ‘career path’ and I just decided to follow my passions. If you’re passionate about what you do, if you take a breath, calm your mind, build energy and really come from a place of truth and authenticity, then anything is possible.”