Teacher Feature; Jennifer Martinovic
Jennifer Martinovic started her yogic journey ten years ago, but even before she was attending classes, she could remember practicing different ‘stretches’ as a child. “I had been putting my body into various different asanas as a kid well before even knowing anything about yoga!” says Jennifer, “I’d be watching TV in Halasana (plow) or Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), without even knowing I was practicing! The natural flow of the practice really speaks to me.”
It was no surprise that Jennifer was called to a life of yoga and well-being. She completed her Yoga Teacher training at Yoga Tree and loved every minute of it. “I had such a great time that I didn’t want it to end,” says Jennifer, “The experience was life changing. It helped me to get a lot further in my personal practice, and it prepared me to be an effective teacher. The knowledge I had been cultivating for years now had more depth to it, and I felt confident to share the benefits of the practice with others. As soon as the training was finished, I felt prepared to teach, which was exactly what my goal was.”
The Teacher Training has been an incredible journey for Jennifer, allowing her to grow and nurture her own practice while she enriches the lives of her students. For her, the Training afforded her the ability to understand the fundamentals of her teaching practice, while also giving her the freedom to create her own style of teaching. “We are not required to teach a set sequence, or a certain number of asanas, so each class is very different,” she says, “As a teacher, I am constantly experimenting and improvising with different ways of combining postures, and I’m happy to be able to do so. Personally, I would not be able to teach the exact same class twice because my mind is constantly flowing with new thoughts and ideas–the possibilities are endless, really. Every time I teach a class it’s an opportunity to grow, and the chance for my students to experience something new and challenging.”
Though some people join the Yoga Tree Teacher Training to simply deepen their practice, Jennifer felt called to be a teacher from the beginning. Jennifer became passionate about sharing her practice with others and teaching them the benefits that yoga could reap for them. “As soon as I began to really deepen my practice, I began informally teaching people–friends, family, kids, anyone that was interested,” she explains, “Essentially, I wanted other people to feel as good as I did after practicing, so teaching just felt like the next step. I genuinely feel that anyone can benefit from the practice, especially when it is tailored to fit their needs physically and mentally.”
When working with beginner practitioners, Jennifer emphasizes the importance of the individualistic element of the practice and how important it is to not be discouraged. “When you begin to practice, the tendency is to be quite self conscious. Because it’s new and it’s a class setting with other students around, the self-doubt and ego can sometimes be overwhelming. As a beginner, it’s important to start slowly and do your best. Listen to your body; back off when you’ve had enough, and push yourself when it seems you can go deeper. In the end, the practice is meant to make you feel good about yourself and your body. Self acceptance and patience will develop in time. Soon, it becomes part of our lives off of the mat as well.”
And what particular asanas speak to Jennifer? “I’m a big fan of inversions of any kind.” she says. From forward folds, to Sirsasana (head stand). The nice thing about inversions is that no matter what your level of experience, there is an inversion to suit it. I usually include several different types of inversions throughout the class, and end with one that is typically held a little longer. The benefits are amazing and felt almost immediately. Increased blood flow to the brain, relaxation–they can even provide an effective relief to headaches. When practiced correctly and safely they can provide a sense of overall well being.”
Be sure to join Jennifer for one of her classes in our Downtown, Vaughn, or Richmond Hill location!