Interview: Jessie Diaz-Perez

yogini, dancer and Real Housewives addict

alignyo Los Angeles yoga news: Interview with yoga teacher Jessie Diaz-Perez
Jessie Diaz-Perez

Last month, Jessie Diaz-Perez left a nine-year residency at Liberation Yoga to start a new teaching venture at R Studios in West LA. This former ballet dancer’s emphasis on alignment and breaking down poses into easy-to-follow steps lends its self to teaching newbies. Her students love the refreshing realness that she brings to her classes, like admitting she doesn’t know the Sanskrit name of a pose she’s teaching. Find out how sheer, yellow pantyhose and The Real Housewives TV show came up in our Q&A. 

What makes your style of teaching unique?

I think my students would say what makes me a unique teacher is that I share my own vulnerabilities.  I tell them which are my least favorite poses (read:  the postures I’m not good at), or I’ll admit that I don’t know the name of a pose I’m teaching, though I assure them the proper Sanskrit name ends in “asana.”   

I make it part of my practice as a teacher to tell my students the truth.  That includes sharing the daily challenge I face of embracing myself fully. I believe the practice of yoga is the process of learning to be kind to one’s self. More important than mastering any pose, I try to teach the importance of being your own best friend.

What’s the most frequently asked question you get as a yoga teacher?

My favorite question is, “Why are we doing this?” It’s usually asked about hip, foot, or quadriceps  “opening” poses. The poses are brutal and require such a devotion to surrender that they tend to bring up lots of emotion. My explanation involves the benefits of letting go of our stories and observing the feelings that rise to the surface, which are commonly anger and grief. As the wise, wise Ana Forest would say: “Never waste a good trigger.” 

What’s the strangest thing a student did, said or wore to your class?

Sheer, yellow pantyhose with the feet cut off, no undergarments. Three words: Happy Baby Pose. 

What’s the most yogically incorrect, or stereotypical thing you do as a yoga teacher?

I drink, swear, gossip and eat meat. I have a strong affection for sugar and money and I watch The Real Housewives. There, I said it. Got a problem with that? Namaste. 

Which profession would your alter ego choose and why?

That’s easy. I’d be a great soul singer who was also an Olympic ski jumper. 

Who or what inspires your practice and your teaching?

I’m terrifically inspired when I take classes with great teachers.  If I’m taking a good class, I think, “Ooooo, I can’t wait to teach this next week!” I am a fanatical student and am humbled by the intelligence, generosity and humor that so many of my teachers bring to the mat. (I’m also directing lots of consternation and resistance toward them as the practice is generally very difficult for me, but that’s a whole different story!)

I also love my students, I mean I truly adore them and find them deeply awe-worthy. I get so lit up when I see them loving their time on the mat and hear their stories of progress, whether physically or emotionally. It’s such a blessing to teach yoga, I’m honored that I get to be of service in this sacred way.

Comments

I love this quote.

This cracks me up, love this quote. Was psyched to just learn that she's got a new gig in West LA. (We used to work together, she's awesome).
"I drink, swear, gossip and eat meat. I have a strong affection for sugar and money and I watch The Real Housewives. There, I said it. Got a problem with that? Namaste."

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