How I Make it Work: Yoga Teacher Jennifer Allen

By Rebecca Barry Hill
Yoga teacher Jennifer Allen. Picture / Babiche Martens

Baltimore native Jennifer Allen is a former musical theatre performer who married a Kiwi and now runs Jayayoga, a studio in Birkenhead renowned for its yoga teacher training. She is currently writing her first book, Sustainable Yoga. The mum of two shares how she maintains her equilibrium.

“My yoga practice is one of the most integral parts of my personal wellbeing. Regular trips to my mat, even 10 minutes to top myself up, are my salvation. I have liberated myself from the need to associate my yoga practice with any form of exercise. I save that for walking my pug, George, around the neighbourhood or doing Pilates.

Not seeing my yoga as a physical workout has deepened my love for my practice, because now I can make the choice to have movement, or absolute stillness. My practice always begins with meditation while the house is still relatively quiet. From there I will have some breath work, and finish with movement. That way if one of my kids climbs on to my mat with me while I have a stretch, I don’t so much mind.

I remember a time when I was a “yes” person, and it landed me with 22 classes a week at several studios, a consistent teacher training schedule, and a toddler at home. I was eating on the run and arriving home late, with only enough energy to kiss my sleeping daughter and fall into bed. I could see I was following a path of self-destruction. Thankfully, this experience only took it out of me enough to know I never wanted to get back to that place again.

Learning to say “no”, knowing where my boundaries lay and standing firm in them was the most empowering experience of my life.

Because deprivation and excess were such a big part of my life as a performer, I struggled for a very long time with my relationship with food and exercise. I function so much better now when I give myself permission: to have a completely yoga-free day, eat Sal’s Pizza with my children, or lounge a little longer in bed with a second cup of tea. My husband and I are foodies, and he is an amazing cook.

We love good food and wine, it’s definitely the way we like to socialise with our friends, and we can often be found on a Friday night curled up in front of Netflix with some yummy cheeses and a bottle of pinot noir.

I find it so grounding to walk in the bush or on the beach, and the sea is truly healing for me. My mantra for life is to do yoga, eat chocolate, bathe my children endlessly in love, breathe fresh air, and take time to stop and savour the stillness and beauty that life has to offer, because otherwise it will pass us by so quickly.

My beauty essential is Tui facial cleansing oil by LoveSkin. All natural, beautifully moisturising and made with love by local lady Jo Lehndorf.

I'm a fan of Pranayama, a breath meditation app that allows you to custom-create a rhythmic sound wave that helps to guide you through your breath practice.

I love to wear Lululemon. Not only is their gear cozy-comfy, but being an ambassador they have helped me create such a solid platform for my work in New Zealand. Also my Cotton On ripped jeans. They're like a second skin.

I'm reading Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, The Heart of Yoga by Desikachar and Teaching Yoga by Donna Farhi with my training groups.

My favourite healthy treat is Tom & Luke Cacao Mint Bliss Balls. They feel like such a naughty indulgence and taste divine, but they are also full of goodness.

On my Spotify playlist are yoga tunes by Deva Premal, Snatam Kaur, Krishna Das and Donna Delory. Also I love Ed Sheeran, because I am a bit of a hopeless romantic.

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