Tomorrow I leave for Greece. I spent yesterday evening at my big Greece send-off gathering surrounded by all of my favorite yoga teachers, yoga students and dear friends. It was so incredible to watch so many people I adore from different corners of my life intersect, mingle and reunite. Being around this beautiful community of people left me feeling astounded, humbled, excited, and truly, truly blessed.

Many of my students have been asking for my suggestions of other great yoga teachers in the area on account of my leave. So I thought I would put together a little blog-post of some of Grand Rapid's most inspiring yoga teachers. These ladies have been my go-to subs over the past three years and, although we are each unique teachers with different areas of emphasis and specialization, I think you will encounter the same heart for the practice within us all. 

Jessica Shelton

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I teach because yoga has consistently been a place for me to return to myself again and again, and is a tool that anyone can use. I hold space for students to explore their own inner guide and challenge their own limitations in order to reveal more creativity and divinity within. I am deeply grateful for all of my teachers and the ongoing passage of knowledge that I am part of.

What is your yoga teaching philosophy?

My yoga teaching philosophy is one of adaptation.  I think every time we get on our mat we have to check in with our minds and bodies in the present and meet ourselves fully and compassionately right where we are.  You can do a little, a lot, whatever's right.  I try to see students truly and teach from my own experiences.


What guided you into your yoga practice?

I found yoga through aches in my joints and anxiety in my breath.  The first class that I took, the whole time my mind was thinking "What am I doing?" but by the time savasana was over I understood what the "yoga buzz" was all about.


Who or what are your primary guides in yoga and in life?

The more I practice yoga and life, the more that I can trust the primary guide in my life to be myself.  The part of me that is connected with all other living beings and our earth is where I want to listen, the divinity that is part of every single human.


What does it mean to you to live inspired?

To me, an inspired life is guided by your deepest desires and dharma, and there is a trust of one's own gut intuition.  I am inspired when I consistently listen to this voice and make choices based on what option feels most light, which option will make me feel brighter.


If you could travel anywhere in the world, free of cost, where would it be and why?

If I could travel anywhere free of cost, I guess I'd choose the moon!  I mean, no holds barred here right?  I love to travel, to be immersed in other cultures and languages and smells and tastes, but I can only imagine how it would feel to look back at my home planet in the silence and see my place in the grand vastness of space.


If you could have all of your students take one message away from your teaching, what would it be?

 I want my students to take away the reminder that their yoga practice does not always have to have a sticky mat.  The space that we come to when we practice is not physical.  It is a home within each of us that is always there, and that the tool of self awareness of the body and breath is the door in.  Also to take rest!

You can practice with Jessica at the following places and times:

  • Sundays @ 11am at Seva Yoga, Monroe North
  • Thursdays @ 9am at Seva Yoga, Gaslight
  • Wednesdays @ 5:45pm, Yoga for Healing at Metro Health Hospital
  • Thursdays @ 5:30pm, Summer Yoga Series at Metro Health Hospital
  • Saturdays @ 9:30am, Grand Rapids Downtown Market

 

Nicole Hensch

   

 

 


What is your yoga teaching philosophy?

Have fun, but listen to your body. It's truly that simple. Our bodies are very smart and will talk to us if we listen.


What guided you into your yoga practice?

I am a recovering runner (said with jest).  Growing up, I was inflexible, not graceful and very injury prone and running made all of that even worse.  Chronic injuries and even tighter hamstrings led me to yoga almost 10 years ago and it's been a fun journey ever since.


Who or what are your primary guides in yoga and in life?

I've had many fabulous teachers near and far and tend to gravitate towards alignment-based practices.  I've always been thirsty for knowledge and love reading- yoga books and otherwise.  I can find just as much inspiration towards teaching/life reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as I can reading Harry Potter.


What does it mean to you to live inspired?

Have fun, but listen.  This goes back to my yoga teaching philosophy.  I don't take myself too seriously and I try to listen to my body and soul.   Sometimes that involves travel to another country.  Sometimes that just involves a walk around the lake with my dog and no phone to disconnect.  


If you could travel anywhere in the world, free of cost, where would it be and why?

Colombia.  I lived there for a while and miss it dearly.  The food, the people, the culture... I crave it!


If you could have all of your students take one message away from your teaching, what would it be?

Don't take a yoga class too seriously... and certainly don't take life too seriously.

You can practice with Nicole at the following locations and times:

  • Tuesdays @ 5:30pm at Seva Yoga, Monroe North
  • Wednesdays @ 7am at Grand Rapids Downtown Market
  • Friday @ 7am at Grand Rapids Downtown Market
  • Sundays @ 4pm at Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Nicole also teaches regularly at Priority Health and MVP Sportsplex as well as subs at Metro Health Hospital. You can connect with Nicole via her Facebook page here.

 

Gretchen Brockman

I came to yoga in my early forties, a delicate time filled with life changing experience: a difficult marriage, depression, career changes and a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease for my mom. The yoga mat was a place of quiet reflection and safe place to challenge myself in manageable bites. I became comfortable in my skin and my mind. Yoga has helped me cope with all that life has to offer and has opened my heart to more than I thought could be.

Yoga for every body interests me so much! I love to offer yoga that is accessible and open for ALL types, EVERY body, which means modifications, props and poses that move into a practice that is perfect for each unique person. Yin yoga as well as hatha flow suites my teaching style as I share from my heart and offer my light.

What is your yoga teaching philosophy?

Be open and try something new. Find a fit and breathe into it. If it's not right, change it up. Be light about it!


What guided you into your yoga practice?

My teachers: Michele Fife, Marro Spehar and Mimi Ray. Their encouragement and their presence in  my life, with words or touch or breath. Also, the work of yin yoga teacher, Paul Grilley.


Who or what are your primary guides in yoga and in life?

It's all discovery. For me, I have to try it myself to see if the fit is right. I can't always read from a book, I have to explore.


What does it mean to you to live inspired?

That difficult! To me, it means to live in the moment. But as an avid planner, and sometimes worrier, I frequently have to create a structure for my inspiration. As a mom, a soon-to-be wife, a home owner and dog owner, I sometimes long for the unbridled inspiration I had before I had restrictions. I'm beginning to see these chains unbinding. But for now, I live with supported inspiration.


If you could travel anywhere in the world, free of cost, where would it be and why?

Greece! Greece! Greece! Greece! Greece! It's magic. You will see. I should've been born a Greek.


If you could have all of your students take one message away from your teaching, what would it be?

Love yourself unconditionally. You are already perfect.

You can practice with Gretchen at the following places and times:

  • Saturdays @ 8:30am at Seva Yoga, Gaslight Village
  • Sundays @ 7pm at Seva Yoga, Gaslight Village
  • Tuesdays @ 6pm at Seva Yoga, Gaslight Village
  • Wednesdays @ 7:30pm at Seva Yoga, Gaslight Village

You can also check out Gretchen's Yin Yoga workshops at Expressions of Grace Yoga here. You can also connect with Gretchen at her yoga Facebook page here.

 

Jaclyn Szelong

I am a yogi, student of ayurveda, a lady of nature, an animal lover, and a self-proclaimed chef-in-training. I received my 200-hour RYT with Michele Fife, of Seva Yoga. After internalizing Ashtanga as my passion practice of choice, I continued my studies with Manju Jois. I have been trained and highly influenced by David Swenson, Dena Kingsberg, Richard Freeman, and Eddie Stern. I am on a mission of self realization, and through this process, striving to teach and share from my own life experiences.

What is your yoga teaching philosophy?

My intention is simple: to guide others into the realization of who they already are. If i can facilitate the recognition of the inherent goodness in all beings, and focus the energy of all on seeing the similarities in humanity, rather than the differences, then I have manifested my desires.


What guided you into your yoga practice?

I came to a point in my life where I was struggling with my own health and wellness. I was unhappy, chaotic, and searching. I started with a few videos, and finally, after weeks on end of driving past a local studio, I mustered enough confidence to walk in. It snowballed from there.


Who or what are your primary guides in yoga and in life?

Pema Chodron, for her undeniable ability to awake my spirit, break my heart, and put it back together again. Manju Jois, for teaching me how to sustain my own yoga (both on and off the mat), while sharing my gift with others. My mother, for passing on what it means to be a strong woman with a soft heart. Oprah, because who doesn’t love Oprah.


What does it mean to you to live inspired?

Always be curious.  For me to recognize all aspects of myself, the beauty and the devastation, means I can relate to those same aspects within this Universe. From that place, I can heal and grow. That is inspiring.


If you could travel anywhere in the world, free of cost, where would it be and why?

India. This is not a question of if, only when. I believe it’s one of the greatest places in this world to observe humanity in its entirety: the trauma, the beauty, the perseverance, the injustice, the abuse, and the truly inspiring people struggling to make a change. As a bonus, my stomach loves Indian food.

If you could have all of your students take one message away from your teaching, what would it be?  

The essence of yoga has very little to do with what goes on within the confines of the sticky mat. It’s how we treat others, how generous, how forgiving, how committed, how mindful we can be walking around in this world, in the short time we inhabit this body. Act from love, be kind, and recognize your greatness.

You can practice with Jaclyn at any of the following locations and times:

  • Sundays @ 4pm & 5:30pm at Cascade Yoga Studio
  • Tuesdays @ 9:00am & 10:30am at Expressions of Grace Yoga
  • Tuesday @ 5:30pm & 7pm at On the Path Yoga Studio
  • Wednesdays @ 10:30am & 12pm at Cascade Yoga Studio
  • Wednesdays @ 4:15pm & 5:45pm at Expressions of Grace Yoga
  • Thursdays @ 5:30pm at On the Path Yoga Studio
  • Saturdays @ 8am & 9:30am at Cascade Yoga Studio

Well, there you have it! Four incredibly knowledgeable, authentic, inspiring and Jessica-recommended yoga guides to support your practice in Grand Rapids. I highly suggest taking the time to visit and get to know each of them. Each will edify and impact your life in an entirely unique and beautiful way!

My next update will be in Greece!

I love you all so much,

Jessica

 

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