Teacher Feature; Jelayna di Silva
For some, yoga is an instant love. For others, it is definitely more of a practice. For Jelayna di Silva, who was introduced to yoga in 2006, the latter was definitely the case. ” My friend convinced me to try a Bikram yoga class,” says Jelayna, recanting her first yoga experiences, “At first I thought ‘These people are nuts! Who willingly puts themselves in a hot, sweaty room with heavily breathing strangers and positions their body in weird and unorthodox ways?’ After that first experience, I kept going to yoga. I started to try new styles which lead to a consistent home practice and integrated it into my workout routine. Before I knew it, I was hooked. My body and mind literally craved the movement of yoga. And the irony of it is, I teach mainly hot classes now!”
Jelayna comes from a lineage of teachers. Teaching runs in her blood, and an active life is something that she has always worked for. “Before I taught yoga, I was a rowing coach and volunteered abroad as a teacher,” says Jelayna, “I love learning something, experiencing its effects in my own person and allowing that excitement to fill me. Having the opportunity to share with others what I’ve learned, and see them experience that same excitement is truly a gift. It’s reciprocal as well. I can’t help but learn an incredible amount from the people I have the privilege to teach.”
Like the vast majority of our teachers, Jelayna took her teacher training at Yoga Tree. She passed the studio every day on her commute, and she claims that this afforded her the perfect opportunity to practice. “It was the studio that truly helped me deepen my practice,” she says,”There is a great picture I came across online. It’s a picture of an iceberg. There is an arrow pointing to the top of the iceberg that says ‘Asanas’, or the postures we do in yoga, the physical aspect. Next, there is an arrow pointing to the bottom of the iceberg beneath the water that says ‘The rest of yoga’. That is what my teacher training taught me. I’d only touched the tip of the iceberg, and my journey was just beginning.”
In addition, Jelayna claims that teaching at Yoga Tree has had an incredibly positive influence on her life, affording her the opportunity to interact with people from many different walks of life. To her, yoga is about humanity and establishing meaningful connections with people through their practice. “Teaching at a community like Yoga Tree has continued to show me how to allow myself to be human,” she continues, “To accept all that comes with it; the pain, the joy, the boredom, the insanity, and everything in between. By learning about and accepting others, we learn to accept ourselves in turn.”
The greatest advice Jelayna has for beginners is to keep it slow. “Take your time to learn the postures and the correct alignment with the breath in your movements. Find teachers and styles of yoga that resonate with you. It’s like finding a good therapist. Once you find that connection, the relationship can last a lifetime. Don’t be intimidated. One of my favorite teachers often says, ‘Relax, it’s just yoga.”
Jelayna’s favorite asana happens to be one that some yogis consider to be the most challenging.”To be quite honest, my favorite Asana is Savasana,” she says, “It’s the one where everything comes together. It’s the time where all of the work is done and you are left with no choice but to melt into yourself and simply be. I have the most revelations, the most healing images and thoughts come into my mind and heart in this position. Your heart starts to talk to you in this pose and the things it tells you are often exactly what you needed to hear, not necessarily what you wanted to hear.”
Be sure to catch one of Jelayna’s classes at either the Midtown or Downtown Yoga Tree location!