By: Heather Hope
The teacher of a yoga class is responsible for more than just taking their students through the poses – they set the tone and feeling for that class. So let’s get to better know one teacher through our interview with Jodi Fischtein one of our Life On The Mat course teachers.
Jodi is a mixed-lineage yoga teacher who loves aspects of Ashtanga, Prana Flow Vinyasa and Yin yoga. In 2005, Jodi moved from Long Island to Toronto and has been sharing her yoga practice in Toronto since 2008. Jodi’s training includes prenatal yoga and Thai Massage. She is currently immersed in Dr. Jon-Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Toronto. Jodi lives in Toronto with her husband and four children.
Jodi was a bit hesitant to try yoga when she began attending sessions in New York in 1999: “I resisted the practice initially as I didn’t want to be still. So I behaved in a silly manner, yet I attended those sessions. Eventually I was subdued by the asana, noting the strength and flexibility I felt. Initially it was purely physical. Years later I began to draw my attention inward, to the subtle body.” When asked what advice she would give her younger self, Jodi responded, “Relax. Speak less. Listen deeply”.
Apart from learning to be still, Jodi says the greatest benefit from practicing yoga has been learning to be flexible in mind, body, and spirit. “I embrace new concepts and points of view. I try not to hold on to firmly held beliefs or opinions. Staying grounded allows safe exploration; think of it as ‘the root is in the fruit’.”
Jodi has found that parenthood has added to her yoga teaching. “As a mother I read body language. This gift enhances my teaching. I enjoy guiding students to lengthen and strengthen, as well as to seek comfort and ease in their breathing and asana practice. Yoga cultivates physical and mental strength, which then allows us to better support our family, friends and community.”
“Being at ease within a studio is essential to explore your maximum potential in the physical sense and within a group think. Spynga is cozy, Spynga is freewheeling, flexible and dedicated to creating a great experience for their community.”
Spynga’s Life On The Mat, of which Jodi is among the faculty, offers yoga training for both teachers and students alike. It is based on practice, integrity, embodiment, and taking the seat of the teacher and helps students deepen their practice, whether they plan to teach yoga or not. For Jodi, the key for the teaching candidate is compassion, the “ability to meet the student just as they are, and guide them to live their yoga as fully as possible.”
Jodi is a lifelong learner and believes that’s part of being a great yoga teacher. “Yoga teachers embrace ‘beginner’s mind’; keeping their mind open and receptive to innovation and inspiration. Currently, I enjoy teaching pranyama (breath techniques) and dynamic vinyasa sequencing that speaks to our natural body rhythm.”
Jodi’s favourite pose is kapotasana, a backbend that “reminds me of the dedication and years I have practiced yoga asana.” She enjoys chia seeds in her smoothies, raspberry jam and, of course, in chia pudding. “Chia seeds offer rich fiber content which assists in digestion. Chia seeds are one of nature’s high-antioxidant foods.”
For more information on the Life On The Mat program and its modules including Yoga history and philosophy, optional Kids Yoga Certification, and advanced study of asana, please click here.