Monday, 24 August 2015

#Snoopette - Jen Crescenzo, Yoga Teacher & Power Lifter

My name is Jennifer Crescenzo and I’m a full-time yoga teacher in Melbourne Australia. I’m very passionate about Yin Yoga but when I arrived in Melbourne five years ago everyone was practicing Hot Yoga and Power Yoga so there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for a slow, deep stretching practice that emphasizes meditative stillness! Today I teach, write and facilitate Yin and Hatha Yoga teacher training, and travel to lead yoga workshops, trainings, and retreats.   
I think people envision the yoga teacher lifestyle as really relaxed - teach a few classes, spend lots of time practicing yoga, drink some kombucha, talk about chakras - that kind of thing.   But it’s really more like running your own small business with a research and development department, a sales and marketing team, and people who need to get out and deliver the product. Oh - and you are the head and sole employee of all those departments :)  I am often up early to write - whether that is developing material for new workshops or writing content for teacher training.  I don’t like to go straight from bed to sitting at my computer so I move around a bit first.  Some mornings that means sun salutations but other mornings I go straight out to the garden and dig around in the dirt a little.  It sounds a bit yoga cliche but it changes my perspective when I start the day caring for other living beings rather than seeing who has liked me on Instagram.  Also I have discovered that my plants like coffee as much as I do! So, we share a morning ritual.  I make coffee in my French Press  and enjoy my morning cup and then pour the grinds over the plants.  


Part of my job, like any other job, is meetings.  And that means having some cosy meeting spots near my home or the studios where I teach.  Current favorites include Urban Projuice in Albert Park because it’s a family affair run by a mother and her daughters and they make delicious vegetarian and vegan food.  This winter I am especially fond of their Turmeric Latte because it’s earthy and spicy and warming and Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and boosts your immune system. 
Because I don’t have a car, I’m often on the go and I carry everything I might need for the day in my bag, a beautiful hand-sewn creation from my last trip to Thailand.  Inside you’d find whatever book I am reading (currently it’s Connectome: How the Brains Wiring Makes Us Who We Are), my iPad, a scarf (I collect them from all over the world!) some sort of refreshing spray for my face (I picked up Yuli Cocoon Elixir in LA a few months ago ) jasmine essential oil from Jamal Kazura Aromatics in Singapore, YSL Touche Eclat, and usually a random piece of fruit (this week it's mandarins)  

Since I’m on foot or on trams a lot, I’m a big fan of podcasts.  I spent 10 years as a documentary filmmaker so I’m passionate about storytelling.  On my podcast playlist you’d find RadioLab, 99 Percent Invisible, Serial, Invisibilia, Planet Money, and This American Life.  I love how a good story can grab you and turn you in a different direction, compelling you to see the at the world from a totally different perspective. And I think that’s what yoga offers - twisting your body into different shapes gives you different ways of seeing yourself and the world around you. 

Although I have built a reputation as a Yin Yoga educator, those who know me best know that I embrace the cooling, contemplative nature of Yin to balance my fiery, Irish-Italian Yang side. Whether it’s powering across the finish line of a race or facing an opponent in Kung Fu, I love to move!  This year I found a new passion, Olympic Lifting.  Although lifting something big and heavy sounds more brutal than mindful, it’s actually a delicate balance of the two.  Like Yoga, it is all about a union of opposites!  You have to be patient but violent.  You have to be willing to fail but determined to succeed. The moment you put your hands on the bar, you have to coordinate all of your power and intention to lift it.  But, when you take your hands off the bar you have to relax and let go.   My Olympic Lifting coach, Luke Bryan of CrossFit 3000, said I was being “too zen” in a lifting session and that I needed to get a little more violent.  So we created “Nej”, my lifting alter-ego who resembles the fierce Indian warrior goddess Kali. Kali holds a severed head and wears a necklace of skulls made from her fallen foes. I know - it doesn’t sound very yogic.  But Kali represents the erradication of ego.  She cuts through the illusions, forcing us to see things as they are rather than as we want them to be.   And I would describe Olympic Lifting in much the same way.  It quickly reveals where you lack coordination, power, or precision - like the parts of you where electricity doesn't flow. And if you are willing to work on those parts of your body and mind, you can electrify them! 


I wear a lot of yoga clothes - comes with the job!  Since I can spend all day in a sports bra or pair of yoga pants, I need things that are durable but feel good on my skin and can transition from the studio to dinner with friends.  When I’m not in yoga clothes, I’m either in jeans or Melbourne-made Nevenka.  Designer Rosemary Masic blends lace and edge.  It’s like Stevie Nicks meets Lauren Bacall...

Jennifer teaches weekly classes at Ohana Yoga, MOVE Yoga, and Power Living South Melbourne and runs yearly retreats at Le Yoga Daylesford. For more about Jennifer, visit her website yoga.jencrescenzo.com 

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