If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 9 in an interview series with aspiring and experienced yogis called Yogi Insight. I hope that you enjoy each person’s shared journey. Namaste!
I met Jenny when I was looking for a yoga teaching job. My omie Amanda told me about a new yoga studio called FierceOm that was opening and hiring instructors. I reached out to Jenny, the owner, auditioned and received an offer to join her FierceOm tribe. Sending out positive vibes that Jenny’s studio venture exceeds her dreams!
Yogi: Jenny Sy
Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I have been practicing yoga on and off since 2000 when I was in massage therapy school at the National Holistic Institute in Berkley, Calif. In 2015, I started practicing yoga daily while I was living in Miami.
Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: I just had a baby; I tried going to the gym and another mom said you have to come to Alper JCC and take a yoga class from an amazing instructor named Bianca Mestre-Cabrero. I was hooked after taking one class of hers and that’s when I started practicing yoga daily. It was amazing, so I made it my priority every morning to take Bianca’s 9:15 a.m. class after I dropped my daughter off at school.
Q: What aspect of practicing yoga do you like the most and why?
A: Originally it was the movement/flow that I liked best, but now it’s the meditation — the mindfulness aspect. You look at things differently. It used to be very difficult for me to calm my mind, but now after years of meditation being part of my practice it comes more natural and helps me to focus better and be centered.
Q: What is your favorite style of yoga class to take and why?
A: Vinyasa flow is my favorite! I love taking classes with music and I love to flow along with the music.
Q: What is your favorite posture and why?
A: Pigeon. You can feel your body opening up, especially King Pigeon Pose where you get a nice stretch. Actually, Pigeon ties with Forward Fold (standing or sitting) as my favorite. I love to fold because it feels really good! My hamstrings need it.
Q: Who or what influenced you to become a yoga teacher?
A: Bianca 100%! I remember watching her in class and thinking I want to do that — I can do that! If you look at my background as a massage therapist and Reiki teacher, levels 1 and 2, I have always been a little hippie. I packed up my car at 19 and left to drive across country to Arizona. I have always been drawn to the yoga lifestyle.
Q: What aspect of teaching yoga do you like the most and why?
A: My favorite time is at the end of class after everyone sits up from Savasana and you have a moment to thank them for giving you the opportunity to guide them. It’s very special — the gratitude that is felt — I always get teary-eyed when everyone collectively says Namaste because it’s so powerful. The energy exchange is very very special!
Q: What is your favorite style of yoga class to teach and why?
A: Vinyasa is my favorite class to teach because the style is true to who I am.
Q: What advice would you give to a new yoga teacher?
A: Always be yourself! Don’t think you have to embody a certain attitude or be a certain type of person. You’re there to hold space so that you can guide the people taking your class and help them to find a connection within themselves. Be 100% authentically yourself — people shouldn’t feel like an instructor is on one level and they are on another. The people who vibe with you will come to your class, and the people who don’t will go to someone else and that’s OK. You’re there to genuinely connect with people and create a space in which they feel safe.
I remember the first class I taught. It was for Bianca when she was on maternity leave. I had just finished yoga school. I walked into a 6:00 a.m. class to people who had been going to Bianca for years and knew what they liked. I was so nervous. I didn’t feel like I was ready. I shook off my nerves after the second or third salutation. By the end of my teaching time there those same women told me how amazing it was watching me grow with them. It was the humility that they said I showed and shared — we were in it together and we all flourished!
Q: Why did you open a yoga studio?
A: I am an entrepreneur at heart. I always wanted to be in charge of my own time. I have done everything from retail to corporate work. When I moved back to Virginia from Miami I had trouble finding a studio where I felt that I fit in and that I wanted to go to all the time. It made sense to open up my own studio. I knew if I was looking for a certain environment, there had to be others like me seeking the same.
Q: What are you most excited about as a studio owner?
A: The people! We are putting a vibe out that we are here creating a positive space. I’m really excited to have a place where a mom who can only find an hour out of her day to get out and do something for herself chooses to come to FierceOm. Also, we have an incredible group of well-rounded instructors with so much to provide.
Q: Your studio offers a great range of classes — sculpt, flow, power, zen, barre and kids yoga. How did you determine the types of classes you would have?
A: I wanted there to be something for everyone, but not based on any one certain type of class. Our goal is yoga and mindfulness, but I also want it to be fun! We just added Om Buti to the schedule, which is a mix of Afro-Dance and yoga. It’s all about community, so it’s important that there is something for everyone to enjoy!
Q: Will you be offering any additional services at your studio in the future?
A: Yes, hopefully, next year toward the end of summer we will do teacher training. I would also like to offer some alternative workshops like Reiki. There will be special events on evenings and weekends.
Q: What are your top goals for your yoga studio in the first year of business?
A: To pay rent and our teachers! We have an amazing group of teachers and I want to keep them around. Also, the excitement that we are all currently feeling — I want it to last because we managed to stay authentic and build a strong community.
Q: What makes FierceOm different from other studios in the area?
A: We are not trying to be better than anyone. We are just trying to hold a space that makes people feel good when they are there and that they can’t get enough. Every studio is special in its own way — our teachers and our vibe are what make FierceOm distinct. The focus will be on community and having diverse instructors and classes that appeal to everyone.
Also, I want to break the stereotype of what people think yoga is — forget the mentality of I’m not flexible, so I can’t do yoga. It’s not about being the most flexible or learning complex postures. No one is better than anyone else. It’s about the never-ending journey and what changes in you along the way, not I achieved that handstand and now I’m done. There’s always more to learn and room to grow!