Miami-based yoga instructor Jeska Brodbeck reveals powerful tools to achieve your peak performance.
Jeska Brodbeck is a full-time private yoga teacher based in Miami, Florida. Jeska was trained at one of the top yoga schools in the U.S., Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshires, Massachusetts and has practiced yoga for over 12 years. Her teaching style is an open-hearted, Kripalu-inspired vinyasa practice which encourages students to explore their edge, all the while having compassion for where they are in the present moment. She also invites her students to awaken to their inner joy and to the magic of life, which is all around us when we only stop to notice.
Jeska has been a certified yoga instructor for over five years, and she has been teaching yoga privately for over a year. I began working with her at the end of 2014 and the results have been nothing short of remarkable (detailed in the interview below). Jeska is unique in that not only is she an excellent yoga instructor but she is a grounded and an extremely well-rounded human being.
Jeska also offers life coaching, which she integrates into the beginning of each yoga session and which she uses to tailor yoga classes for individual client needs. I couldn’t recommend her more highly as a yoga instructor and/or life coach and I am proud to present this interview with one of the up-and-coming stars of the yoga world.
What sets yoga apart from other healing/mindful practices?
The practice of yoga actually incorporates many of the other healing/mindful practices you may be referring to, such as meditation and breathwork. The West tends to portray yoga as primarily a physical practice, when in fact, the physical postures make up just one of eight limbs of yoga, according to the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. In my teachings, I make sure to emphasize the other elements as well, because they are so powerful.
How can yoga support a person who leads a high-stress lifestyle?
If you’ve never done yoga before, you are in luck: anyone can do it! It’s never too late to begin, and wherever you start will be perfect for you.
It works with the breath.
Would you believe that in 5 minutes you can go from feeling uptight and stressed to relaxed and peaceful? Really, in just 5 minutes. There are certain breath practices, such as the three-part breath (watch YouTube here) that you can perform to bring you into the zone and significantly influence your mental state for the better.
According to an article on the benefits of breath from Yoga Journal, “One study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 17, 2000), coming out of Boston University’s Center for Anxiety Related Disorders, found that slow diaphragmatic breathing [similar to the three-part breath] proved just as effective in reducing anxiety as the antidepressant drug imipramine.” Now that’s powerful.
It stills the mind.
Did you know you can train your mind to work for you versus against you? I like to refer to the mind as a wild horse: if you do not tame it, it will run, dragging you behind it. If you have ever suffered from excessive thinking or from the thoughts generated by that negative voice in your head (you know which one I mean), this is when the mind is works against you. Many times, because it can become such a habit, you may not even consciously be aware of when it happens or realize just how much of your energy it drains. Through an action as simple as connecting with the breath, you can literally train your mind to still itself. Then you will have what Bruce Lee referred to as a “mind like water” which will allow you to do the things you need to do with a high level of efficiency… and ease (read more in this Forbes article.) The beautiful thing is that it is very simple, once you have the tools.
It stretches the body.
“Our issues live in our tissues.” Check in for a minute: do you feel tense anywhere in your body? If so, you are probably housing a mental worry there. Through the physical practice of yoga (stretching and postures), you can begin to move tension up and out of your body. And since mind and body are so connected, when you loosen physical tension, the thought (or the grouping of repetitive thoughts which in time turn into a belief) creating that tension will also loosen its grip on the mind. In this way, through the body, you can create peace and harmony within the mind.
Tell us about a few of your biggest influences: books, teachers, coaches. Who or what has helped shape you and how you view yoga and other mindful practices?
I took my first yoga class over twelve years ago, and immediately, I was enrolled. It was the most powerful tool I had found to allay the anxiety that I had been feeling on a daily basis. As I continued to attend classes in each place I lived, I began to go deeper, and the practice brought me to meditation (although I never imagined I would meditate when I began doing yoga!)
Then four years ago was a breakthrough time for me– I discovered The Power of Now, a book that introduced new concepts that would change the course of my life forever, as well as Byron Katie’s The Work. I learned that I am not my ego, and that I can create an experience of peace beyond the mind by choosing to be present in the moment, every moment. This understanding created a tremendous feeling of freedom within me. That same year (actually, just several months afterward), I went to my dream yoga school, Kripalu, to become a certified yoga teacher. I learned how we can press against the edge of our ability– explore the unknown, as they say– and ALSO be compassionate with ourselves. I like to bring this core teaching into my classes to remind students that life is a journey, and it is much sweeter when we love ourselves along the way.
Two years ago, I overhauled my diet and implemented tools to shift my thinking so that I no longer experience anxiety. Through this experience, I realized anxiety can be physiological (and exacerbated by what we eat) as well as psychological (a result of fear-based thoughts.) If you experience anxiety, feel free to reach out as I love to share my journey and support others in their healing process!
I also attended a transformational leadership training called Gratitude Training (www.gratitudetraining.com), where I had the realization on a very deep level that I am the creator of my experience in every moment. Since then, I have served as a coach and co-captain within the trainings, standing for people to create their best life now. Each of these experiences became milestones along my development to become the best teacher possible for my students.
Please tell us about some of your clients and the results they have generated from their yoga practices.
One of my clients has lost over 30 pounds since I began working with him about a year ago, doing 1-2 yoga classes per week [this person happens to be our very own CEO Technician]. He also quit drinking alcohol and began eating more mindfully, which helped him to normalize his blood pressure after nearly having hypertension. Another client of mine has lost over 15 pounds in 8 months’ time.
Yet another client and company executive has significantly improved her posture and, as she has begun to stand up straighter, she has also generated beautiful experiences of standing in her power and speaking her truth. This is just another example of how mind and body are so intricately connected. When we hold our body in a certain way, it actually speaks to the emotional aspect of self. Skeptical? Try this: begin to smile and then say, “oh, it’s a really bad day.” Do you notice that it doesn’t really work? The smile alone begins to trick the body (and your emotional self) into actually starting to feel better.
photo credit: Carley Siedlecki
What are the health benefits of maintaining a consistent yoga practice?
Yoga offers the opportunity for awareness of… well, everything. I like to say that our experience on the mat is like a petri dish for life. The way we do one thing is the way we do everything, and as we use the breath to go inward, we begin to develop an awareness of our thoughts, of our physical body, of our resistance and our willingness….
For example, if a student is holding his breath during a difficult posture, where might he be holding his breath– resisting– elsewhere in his life when things become challenging? If a student pushes beyond their physical capacity in a pose because they see someone else going deeper, where else might they be pushing themselves in life beyond their capacity, or comparing themselves to someone else and creating discomfort in their own life experience because of it? It is these little distinctions that generate a greater awareness of how students are showing up in their lives, both on and off their mat, and AWARENESS is the KEY to transformation. Once we have awareness, we regain the power to CHOOSE. And when we have choice, we can consciously make different choices to create the results we desire. So then perhaps that student chooses, in the next moment, to breathe in the posture instead of holding his breath. He begins to move into a flow in his physical body and finds that he is able to go deeper with ease. He realizes it is actually more EFFECTIVE and EFFICIENT to stop fighting and start breathing. And then in life, he chooses to do the same… and generates the same or even BETTER results, AND he feels good while doing it.
Tell us about what you bring to a client and what you’re committed to creating when working with a client over an extended period of time (months/years)?
Constantly experiencing tension and stress is the antithesis of living a good life. I work with many high level professionals (CEO’s and entrepreneurs), and our yoga sessions allow them to release what is no longer serving them so they can focus on what is actually important. Time and time again, I see my clients releasing stress and tension and moving into the flow. Their minds and bodies both reflect this as they lose weight, experience greater energy, and feel peaceful.
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all of these things and still be calm in your heart.” We all deserve to live the most optimal, best life possible. It is our nature to desire this and our right as human beings to experience it. When we feel good, we can create the best results in our work life and personal life. I am committed to my clients creating their optimal life and optimal health! It is an amazing journey.
How can someone reach you? Do you teach students who do not live in the Miami area?
I work with clients nationwide via Skype. I also teach private yoga sessions locally– here in Miami, I drive to students’ houses, and I also teach private sessions at two separate studios in the city. It is my joy to teach. Please reach out if you feel that what I have shared here resonates with you and could serve you in creating your best life!
You can reach Jeska at email@example.com and follow her on Instagram @belightyoga
photo credit: Matt Roy