During college, a professor suggested that Jennifer Eliott write an essay on yoga and meditation. This experience sparked an immense interest that eventually led to a life changing path and the study of yoga. Through her practice she realized that she had developed the skills to navigate the turbulence of life’s hardships. Jennifer’s journey led her to become an LMU certified Yoga Therapist and ERYT-500. In teaching for almost two decades, her experiences include leading 200 and 300 hour teacher trainings, taking students to Costa Rica and Bali for retreats, teaching at yoga festivals across the country and working with professional athletes. She has also appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks and created the DVD, Yoga for Cyclists and Everyone Else.
What do you do best?
I think that what I do best is teach anatomy in yoga teacher trainings. I was already interested in body mechanics with a massage and yoga therapy background, so I ended up adding anatomy to my regular lectures and teacher training practices. Because I find it so fascinating, and for most it’s a bland subject, I think my enthusiasm and concise breakdown make it interesting and easy to learn. At least that’s what my students tell me!
What makes you the best?
A friend once told me what she said to her daughter, “There will always be someone better than you; there will always be someone that you are better than”. I really liked this perspective; it reminded me to be humble and honest and to do the best work I can for myself. Who decides you’re the best anyway? It seems a bit arbitrary.
What are your aspirations?
As much as I love my students and my regular classes, I would eventually love to be a traveling teacher. When I travel I get out of the stress of the daily grind and feel like I really live. You meet new people and can’t rely on the fact they will just love your class, you have to show up honest and connect to these unfamiliar faces. You realize that there is a whole world out there, that you were unaware of while you were living in the bubble.
Honestly, I feel like yoga itself has made me successful at life. I grew up fairly poor, had a turbulent home life, and no real guidance and help from my parents and family. I had to learn most things the hard way first, but perseverance and yoga helped me through. When I look back now, after teaching for almost 20 years I am amazed and grateful that my journey has taken me to 10 countries, I’ve lead teacher trainings for 10 years, I’ve filmed videos and hosted international retreats. But if I had to pick one moment where I felt the most successful it would have to be earlier this year when I was leading yoga for the L.A. Rams. I showed up to teach and was met with a camera crew. They filmed my class and it made it to the season premiere of HBO’s Hard Knocks. At that moment I realized how far I had truly come.
Most Challenging Moment?
I don’t know that it was the most challenging, but it definitely had the most impact on me. Because I travel a lot for work I didn’t really think twice of flying from Mexico to India by myself for 3 weeks. The day before I left I realized that I would be leaving Mexico and flying to the Middle East all alone. I figured it would work out since I’m used to traveling it’s always fairly easy to navigate airports and cabs etc. But if something went wrong I would be so far away from anything familiar. To make things worse I got sick the last night of Mexico and was really ill the whole flight to India. I was shocked I even made it there! Once I got to my destination and began to feel better, I made some friends and had a great time. Reflecting on the situation later I thought about how I had done something that scared me and had overcome that fear. What resulted was an amazing life experience and the confidence that I could face uncertainty and prevail.
Don’t take things personally, from The 4 Agreements. I’d like to say that I remember this in all situations, but I don’t. I hope to make this my mantra to become less reactive. The way people act is because of their own story and what they are working through, when you can remember that, it shifts feeling like the victim and instead promotes compassion.
Favorite People/Role Models?
My favorite role model in yoga would be my friend Joan Hyman. She is really one of the most committed and honest yoga teachers I know. When others talk about a daily practice, she actually does it. When I attended her training in India, we would meet in the morning for practice and she had already done her 2 hour practice! In this day and age of social media and the dilution of yoga, she is the real deal. She often is a reminder for me to focus on my practice and not on my image.
My favorite person in my personal life is my husband. He is such a dedicated athlete and brings that same enthusiasm to our personal health. He researches the food that we eat, and makes sure we are getting the right nutrients since we are vegan. He is compassionate and feels strongly about the need for change in the meat industries. He always amazes me with his knowledge and I get to regurgitate it to my students as if it were my own!
I have been fortunate to travel a lot in the last decade and I love so many places for different reasons. We used to be avid rock climbers and Joshua tree, Idyllwild and Yosemite were my favorite destinations. I loved being outside in places most people had never seen. The coastline of Big Sur is so spectacular and relaxing of the beaches Costa Rica can’t be beat. For the most unique, Hong Kong was one of my favorite trips.
I love dangly earrings since I don’t wear many bracelets’ and rings with my work. Lately I’ve been in love with my gold hoop earrings with moonstones from Satya.
We’ve been vegan for the last couple of years and it has really changed our lives. I love finding new recipes and eating great food. But it’s more than just eating healthy; being kind to animals helps them, our planet and each other. I’ve always had a love for animals so I am excited to see how I can help creatures who don’t have a voice for themselves.