Welcome to our new Interview Series, BAM Close & Personal.
On a semi-regular basis we will chat with people who are BAMs or BAM-like, and who have an interesting story to share with the BAM community. In addition to a few standard questions that combine BAM silliness with Proustian philosophy (thank Sarah for that – Linda and Ruth had to look it up – click here if you’re really curious), we will have hard-hitting journalistic questions (ha) to uncover the stories.
Anyway, thanks so much to Jen Xanders for being our first interviewee! Jen is a certified (and by that we mean SUPER certified – more about that below) yoga instructor, and was kind enough to make a few videos for BAMstrength earlier this year, which we will re-post at the end of this article. When asked to tell us a bit about herself, she said:
We reside in Indianapolis, although we love being near, or on, the water and beaches. I’m a Mom of twin 13 year old girls. My boyfriend and I have been married for 15 years and just celebrated our anniversary by renewing vows in Scotland and watching the Mr do the Tough Mudder there. Obviously I married an adventure junkie (which I am not, although I learned this year that I love climbing mountains and trail running and even did a mini race with the Mr and loved it too. Who knew? ).
Without further ado, Jen Xanders!
How would you describe the practice of yoga in 25 words or less?
Yoga is connection. It often starts with the postures, but truly, it is a science that helps to give us tools to enrich the ability to understand ourselves, and our potential, so that we no longer limit ourselves with fruitless thoughts and actions. Yoga makes possible what once was impossible. (That was over 25 words OOPS!)
What inspired you to become a yogi, and what did you have to do to reach your current level of certification/qualifications?
Originally, I turned to yoga for aches and pains from my job, which required a lot of driving at the time, and quickly I realized that there were many other benefits such as stress reduction and a new, brighter outlook on life and its challenges. I now have practiced well over 20 years. Eleven years ago I did a 200-hour training certification, and started teaching one class at first (as my girls were quite small). Over time my class load has grown, and now I teach full time and run training to teach others how to become yoga teachers. I am currently in the process of finishing my final level of training – so that I can teach/lead advanced studies in yoga. I should finish this spring, and it is the highest level certification available, ERYT 500.
How has yoga helped shape your life?
First, it helped me feel stronger and have a better understanding of my body. Actually, it helped me make peace with it, and love it. Next, it helped me handle challenges with more confidence in my strength. Also, it has helped me notice how to encourage better balance in my life. Lastly, I think it has made me a better friend, partner and parent. I think it has helped me come to relationships more open and available- including the relationship with myself.
What can yoga do to help everyone, and specifically women, be the best version of their badass selves?
I think I’m so fortunate, as I get to remind people (especially women) that we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. That we are warriors and badasses. I get to remind people how fantastic they are, and reintroduce them to their greatness. I think a good yoga practice shows us the way back to being our greatness.
Two of my favorite quotes:
- “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured, and to endure what cannot be cured. “ BKS Iyengar
- “ that being able to sit with what is- is the path of a warrior.” Yoga teaches us how to sit with what is whether it is pretty or not.
How do you respond if you hear people say “yoga is boring,” or “I can’t stand all that third eye chakra stuff?”
First, yoga is crazy challenging! My favorite classes include arm balances, handstands and all kinds of other crazy maneuvers. If you are bored- find another style or another teacher. There are as many types of yoga (and teachers) as there are shoes – if you don’t like flip flops you can find stilettos, but don’t give up all shoes! For my BAM friends who are very fit, a vinyasa or ashtanga class would be a good start. They move at a quick pace and include the yoga version of burpees. If you are physically needing something a bit more gentle, look for descriptions that include “gentle” or “restorative.” Feel free to reach out to me , I am happy to help guide you.
If a BAM wanted to get started and try yoga out, what tips might you give them?
Go to a class. Keep trying until you find a good fit. Its about how you feel later, not necessarily during, as during might be quite challenging mentally and physically. Take away the poses and stretches that help you and do them at home. Lastly, give it 5-10 classes before you even decide if you like it. It is so different than anything else you do so it can be easy to give up too soon.
OK, Now Time For Our BAM-Proustian Questions
How long have you been a BAMstrength member, and what makes you stick around?
I think it has been a year and a half. I happened upon you all and was inspired by the tenacity of the group and how crazy supportive it was. I was also blown away by the amazing women you have brought together. And how ballsy everyone is. Going to events all over, and meeting up! It is just amazing. It is such a gem!
What is your favourite curse word? (Feel free to use emojis!) Is there a story behind your choice?
I really like them all! But, I must say the king of all cuss words holds a very special place to me. How can you top F%$##@?
What would you like to see next for the BAMstrength community?
I would love to actually meet up with a few of the BAMs that I haven’t yet met. I had hoped to go to NYC, but other things came up. Soon though.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I definitely think true happiness comes from an inner place. I certainly get joy from lots of silly external stuff. But perfect happiness, to me, is a choice to see each moment as a precious gift and to try not to squander it, and to try to use it to perpetuate goodness.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
That is hard. I admire so many people. But currently, I admire my sister more than ever. She is going through an unimaginable hard time and she is doing it with such courage, grace and love. Its breathtaking to witness.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Since I use my body for work and put it through the ringer with my workouts too, I get a massage every other week. I am almost embarrassed to admit it, because it seems too extravagant. But it is not generally fun, she beats me up pretty good, ha!
The other thing extravagant in my life is my husband. He is the one who makes big splurges (like our Scotland trip last summer) happen. I am far too practical. So I am very grateful for him.
** thank you for including me. I’m honored to have been asked to share. Xo Jen
To learn more about Jen, follow her on Twitter (@XandersJen) or on Facebook (Jen Xanders Yoga). And to experience what her amazing practice is like, check out these videos she made JUST FOR US! They are short clips you can work into your day, and we know you’ll feel better for it.
Thank you Jen. Namaste.