Interview with a Meraki yogi  |  Jenna Smith 


“Yoga has been teaching me, how to take ego out of my practice and do what my body needs and is asking for. No one cares if I go to child’s pose when my body is telling me it has had enough, its not a competition!”

When and why did you start practicing yoga?


I started yoga 3 years ago when I started seeing my body react negatively to the stress that dancing as a profession was causing. I was getting injured all the time, and the stress was starting to show in all areas of my life. I was desperate to incorporate something healthy for my body instead of just beating it down.


Who has been a great mentor/teacher or inspiration to you and your practice?


When I was living in Tennessee, an instructor named Chris Byford gave me my first yoga class, and he is definitely responsible for getting me hooked. His joy was contagious and he made yoga playful and accessible. When I moved here, I wasn’t sure that I would find that again until I came to Meraki! I have learned so much from all the instructors here. Adrienne H. and Gretchen gently helped me fix a lot of postures to make them more safe for a long-term practice, Sasha and Laura help me keep the joy and playfulness and have helped me overcome my fear of being upside down! I always tell people that when it comes to Meraki I don’t even look at who is teaching any more. I know I will get a great and challenging class no matter what!


How many classes do you take per week?


I always aim for 3, but I would say most often I come twice a week!

How does yoga help your daily life?


Yoga has taught me so much about the concept of non-attachment. I think my personality type can get really “attached” to the end result of something, and it is easy to forget why I started in the first place. It is tempting to approach a class that way too! When I first started yoga it was like a competition with myself. I wanted each day for my lunge to be lower, or a leg to be higher and then by the end of the class I didn’t feel connected to my body, I actually felt more of a disconnect. Although yoga has helped me in MANY areas, practicing Aparigraha on and off the mat has definitely made an impact on me.


If any, what obstacles has the practice of yoga help you overcome?


I think that the biggest hurdle I had to overcome has been listening to what my body needs. As a dancer you are EXTREMELY tuned in, and are very body aware but you are always trying to find your edge and push slightly beyond it. Yoga has been teaching me, how to take my ego out of my practice and do what my body needs and is asking for. No one cares if I go to child’s pose when my body is telling me it has had enough, its not a competition! I am continually letting go of the need to compete with myself and what I know my body CAN do or HAS done. Sounds like something I could probably bring into my life off the mat too 🙂


Do you have any advice for your fellow yogi’s new to the practice?


Breathe. Commit yourself to the practice and truly let go of your head. You leave different every time. It doesn’t matter what anyone does around you, yoga is in the breath and the mind/body connection.

Do you have a favorite mantra or quote?


I get very self-critical so I think one of my favorite Mantras is simply “I am enough.”


Why is Meraki the studio for you?


It is home! Meraki feels like a second family. I have never gone to a yoga studio where literally everyone greets me by name, remembers things that are going on in my life and never makes you feel bad if you miss a week. I feel safe and supported by this amazing group of beautiful humans. Some of the instructors have even come out and supported my dance shows! I feel truly honored to be a part of the Meraki Community.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience at Meraki?


Thank you for making this a space healthy, beautiful and supportive. Yoga classes are truly the highlight of my crazy weeks!!