5 Questions With Resident Yoga Instructor at The Clymb

Warrior 1

Jen Dug­gan, Direc­tor of Mer­chan­dis­ing at The Clymb, has taught many sun­rise yoga class­es here at the office. Sleepy-eyed employ­ees shuf­fle through the doors of Clymb HQ way ear­li­er than nec­es­sary and, for an hour, the office trans­forms into a place of total peace. Jen’s calm­ing voice leads us through a morn­ing rou­tine, and all the dead­lines, projects, and crazi­ness of the upcom­ing day takes a back­seat as the class focus­es on one breathe at a time.

To accom­pa­ny this yoga col­lec­tion, we asked Jen to offer you a lit­tle bit of the yogi wis­dom she offers us on a dai­ly basis. We’ve asked her a few ques­tions about her prac­tice, and got a few tips to improve our own. Here’s what she had to say.

At Home

1. How did you first get inter­est­ed in yoga?

I’ve been doing yoga now for 6 years. I start­ed it right after I ran my first marathon, and came down with a hor­ri­ble case of plan­tar fasci­itis. It real­ly end­ed that whole run­ning thing for awhile, so in the inter­im I start­ed prac­tic­ing yoga, and it turned out I real­ly liked it. Com­ing into some­thing that I wasn’t imme­di­ate­ly good at put a sense of self-com­pe­ti­tion in me, which kept me com­ing back because I was deter­mined to get it. Know­ing what I know about yoga today, that’s com­plete­ly the wrong way to approach it, but nonethe­less, that’s what pro­pelled me to keep going. Things like fig­ur­ing out what style worked best for me, what time of day I liked to do it, and how far I could push my body all kept me motivated.

So, an injury led me to yoga. And dur­ing that first year a lot of old injuries came out. From my days play­ing ten­nis, to old ski­ing acci­dents, all these injuries start­ed to sur­face and remind me that they were still there in some form or anoth­er. If I paid atten­tion, I got the sense that yoga would help me work it out.

2. How did you go from that ini­tial inter­est in yoga to want­i­ng to become an instruc­tor, and what did that path look like for you?

I found a stu­dio that I real­ly loved, and I con­nect­ed with the oth­er teach­ers there, and the own­ers of the stu­dio, and it was real­ly the own­ers that put teacher train­ing in my head. Teacher train­ing is a way to fur­ther your prac­tice even if you don’t end up teach­ing. There’s still so much to learn, you can take your prac­tice in a whole new direc­tion and start to under­stand the phi­los­o­phy of yoga, dig deep into the roots of its ori­gins, and learn how its pro­gressed in the Unit­ed States. Then I decid­ed that I real­ly want­ed to com­mit to the inten­sive 200 hours of prac­tice, and that I real­ly thought it would ben­e­fit my life. I was encour­aged by a lot of peo­ple along the way, and that encour­age­ment made me feel like I was on the right path fol­low­ing a nat­ur­al call­ing to teach.

3. How does yoga help you in your day-to-day life?

Oh, so many ways. My prac­tice is typ­i­cal­ly at 6AM. So I start each day with an inten­tion­al act for myself. It is an unin­ter­rupt­ed time where I can come into a space that allows me to be phys­i­cal­ly active, and helps wake me up. Dur­ing the prac­tice I typ­i­cal­ly set an inten­tion. And whether or not I suc­ceed in keep­ing that inten­tion through­out the day, it’s help­ful just to try. Whether it’s call­ing for more patience, strength, or under­stand­ing, it helps set the tone for the day. I just come into my breath, and come to that basic under­stand­ing of what it means to be alive. It helps me be present in the moment. So it real­ly sets the tone for my day, and the phys­i­cal strength­en­ing helps in so many ways.

Handstand

4. What tips do you have for main­tain­ing your prac­tice even when your sched­ule gets busy?

Main­tain­ing a good prac­tice is real­ly com­mit­ting to a rou­tine, what­ev­er that rou­tine may be. Some peo­ple real­ly might not like start­ing at 6AM, so find­ing a time that is eas­i­ly adhered to is the best way. Find­ing a stu­dio that you real­ly like going to, one that’s easy to get to, is impor­tant. You need to avoid any­thing that might pro­duce excus­es not to go, whether it’s on the oppo­site side of time, or if its an aggres­sive time of day, so basi­cal­ly you just need to make it as easy as pos­si­ble to fit into your schedule.

I have very recent­ly got­ten into home prac­tice, just because of a recent move I’ve been find­ing it more dif­fi­cult to get to my usu­al stu­dio. I’ve been find­ing that my home prac­tice is real­ly nice. It might be hard­er for a begin­ner, because you need to know what you’re look­ing for and what your body lim­i­ta­tions are. A live teacher real­ly helps put you into posi­tion in the right way so you don’t hurt your­self. Whether it’s yoga, run­ning, or cross­fit, you need to just com­mit to it and make it a part of your life. If that’s a dis­ci­pline you want, do it, com­mit, and just show up know­ing it’s ok that some days you won’t be at 100% and that’s ok. Some days you’ll be 110% and oth­er days you’ll be 80%, but you’re doing your prac­tice not to com­pete with any­one but yourself.

dancer

5. Do you feel like becom­ing an instruc­tor is piv­otal to people’s learn­ing process in fur­ther­ing their prac­tice, and would you rec­om­mend that path to everyone?

Part of me says yes, if you’re inter­est­ed in it then take it to the lev­el that ful­fills you the most. I would say that about any­thing. If you like some­thing, a dri­ve to under­stand more, take more class­es and become a teacher. When you teach you devel­op a cer­tain lev­el of mas­tery. That said, I don’t know if every­one wants to take that path or to get up and teach. It takes a huge time com­mit­ment, and you have to fig­ure out if it fits into your life long term, or if it’s just a fleet­ing wish. Part of being a teacher is ded­i­ca­tion to your stu­dents and being there for them in a men­tor­ing role. There’s also the time you have to give up from your own prac­tice. When I first start­ed teach­ing I was lead­ing 5–7 class­es a week and also work­ing a full-time job. What I found was that I was teach­ing so much that my own prac­tice was tak­ing the back seat, but that was some­thing I just had to learn how to bal­ance. But yeah, I rec­om­mend it to any­one. It’s a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to stand up in front of a group of peo­ple and lead them.

6. What is the one thing you are most excit­ed about for the future of your yoga practice?

I’m most excit­ed that this is some­thing I can do for the rest of my life. It has infi­nite poten­tial because of how many vari­eties there are, and in the true yogi world, your yoga prac­tice is mea­sured in decades. With that, I’m only an infant. In a way, I’m find­ing that the more I prac­tice the less I know because there’s so much to it. The ulti­mate path of a yogi is to achieve that place of enlight­en­ment. I have no idea if that’s in my path, but the abil­i­ty to think that I can rest in a place of pres­ence and peace is very moti­vat­ing. The idea that i can inspire oth­ers to live this lifestyle can tru­ly change the world, and before yoga I’d say I nev­er thought of myself as an over­ly opti­mistic per­son but I def­i­nite­ly believe that there is a place where we can get to that is peace­ful once we rec­og­nize and appre­ci­ate life, the world, and prac­tic­ing yoga is a way to that.

with Barney