Name & Hometown:
Jennie Kurth, Wyandotte MI
Who or What inspired you to be a Yoga Instructor ?
I took my first yoga class at the local gym when I was 21 with YAGD member Marie Corless and her son Mark. I enjoyed the relaxation and getting to know other students from the exercise classes in a smaller atmosphere. As a teenager, I struggled with anxiety and after a year of practicing yoga once a week, my panic attacks stopped. In my late 20’s on my way home from work, I would stop at Center for Yoga twice a week for Ashtanga classes and loved the athletic meditative structure. Two years later, I moved to Midland and my instructors at the Yoga Place taught a holistic approach with yoga philosophy, chanting and meditation. When I moved back to the Downriver area, I practiced at Rising Sun/Yoga 4 Peace and was thankful to learn a variety of yoga such as Yin, Flying Dragon and Qi Gong. I loved their Posture Pro equipment which is similar to Iyengar Yoga equipment which helped me learn to bend from my hips instead of my back. It saved me from a lot of back problems!
In late 2007, I moved to Dixville Notch New Hampshire, a very isolated area near the Canadian border. With no yoga studios nearby, I was challenged. I practiced with videos at the local gym or in my dorm room at the resort. The yoga dedications became more meaningful and I developed a deeper sense of gratitude especially for my Grandma Kurth who was a wonderful hostess, baker and swimmer. She passed away from Alzheimer’s disease while I was in New Hampshire. I gained an appreciation for the local nonprofits and community in New Hampshire and when I returned to Michigan in 2010, I knew that I wanted to become a yoga instructor.
In early 2013, I applied for a yoga teacher training scholarship though Yoga 4 Peace, a 501c3 nonprofit yoga studio in Southgate Michigan. I was required to put in 200 hours of karma yoga service and organized their second annual fundraiser. The whole experience gave me the opportunity to know the Downriver yoga community and understand their health needs.
Describe your style of yoga:
After completing teacher training, I wanted to teach Vinyasa but had more fun with the therapeutic yoga and being able to talk about the chakras, the seasons and offering a longer savasana. I love the Iyengar/Adaptive yoga with props to help people ease into their poses. I am currently learning about Somatic yoga.
What’s your favorite yoga pose ?
Savasana, final resting pose! A wonderful opportunity to soak in all the yoga poses from the practice and to “be present in the moment”. It’s amazing how I can relax my throat and let go of the skin irritation and “be present” compared to my early years.
What brings you to the mat ?
After a long day at work and standing for eight hours, I enjoy coming to my mat for legs against the wall and meditating to help me sleep.
If you teach, where ?
I have not taught yoga in the last four years due to my full-time career as a chef. After Covid, I am planning to combine my love for the Culinary Arts and Ayurveda into a personal chef business to help those with dietary restrictions and to teach people how to cook since most home economic classes have disappeared.
How has being a member of YAGD helped you in your yoga career ?
On my first YAGD yoga retreat to Lake Huron Retreat Center, Tracey Flynn, a former YAGD member was doing a presentation on Ayurveda and yoga for each dosha. A few years later, I went on my first Ayurvedic cleanse and loved it and continued my Ayurvedic research. It brought back my love for the culinary arts at a time when I was unmotivated in the profession. Ayurveda also helped me with my personal health struggles. After Covid, I would love to share my love for Ayurveda and the Culinary Arts to everyone. I am working on a business plan!
Do you have a favorite yoga story from your teaching experience ?
Part of my yoga teacher training scholarship requirements from Yoga 4 Peace was to teach yoga to Autistic and Down Syndrome teenagers at a local community center. The Downs children eased into the yoga naturally but the Autistic children were hesitant. At the end of class, a 19-year-old Downs student fell asleep. The Autistic children at the end said, “Ah! He fell asleep!” Right there, they noticed the benefits of yoga!
I didn’t have any experience teaching yoga to Down Syndrome or Autistic children and I wanted them to have a wonderful experience. Before teaching this class, I read an article about YAGD member Lisa Ballo from Belightful Yoga and her yoga classes for children with special needs in a Natural Awakenings magazine. I contacted her for advice and she was also interested in having me teach classes for her in the Downriver area. I taught some corporate yoga for Lazy Boy in Monroe and a couple of children’s classes in Dearborn.
Is there anything else you would like to add, like family… hobbies… karma yoga… or other professions ?
In my spare time, I love volunteering for Community Grown Gardens on Grosse Ile which is a 501c3 nonprofit urban farm. I love planting and harvesting fresh produce for the local food pantries in Southeast Michigan and being part of an organization who is providing agricultural and environmental education to children. I occasionally volunteer for Cooking Matters as a chef instructor through Share Our Strength which is partnered with Gleaners Food Bank. I also enjoy day trips to Bowling Green, Ohio to visit my niece !