CONTRIBUTOR • YOGA TEACHER, AUTHOR
Jennilee Toner, author of The Perfect Chaturanga: A Comprehensive Guide to the Human Body Through the Practice of Vinyasa Yoga, has been practicing hatha and vinyasa yoga since 1996, teaching hatha and vinyasa yoga since 2003, teaching experiential anatomy to yoga teachers in training since 2010, and teaching her own Hot Warrior Yoga teacher trainings since 2012.
After many years working as a Deputy Sheriff, training as a medic, military policewoman, and drill sergeant for the US Army, as well as living in shock after the sudden death of her young mother, Jennilee found herself waking up to the fact that she wanted to be a kind person and wanted to live her life intimately aware of the tender sweetness of each moment. In that illumination and in that wanting, Jennilee found herself at her first yoga class. In an attic, standing in tree pose, weeping as the teacher read a poem about the unconditional giving of the earth’s trees, Jennilee felt the precious interconnectedness of all things for the first time. She has been practicing yoga ever since!
To teach or not to teach…
There really was no question. Already a bellydance and fitness instructor, Jennilee immediately knew that yoga would be a perfect complement to any workout regime. At first, Jennilee taught from a purely physical fitness standpoint—Oh, how she can still ROCK a good kick-butt cardio flow! Then, just as all things in this universe organically evolve, Jennilee began to both expand and deepen her perspective. In the process of practicing Bikram yoga six days per week for two years straight, she witnessed tremendous shifts in her body, in her mind, and in her heart.
In 2008, Jennilee chose to study with Yogi Hari of Sampoorna Yoga (Sivananda lineage) in his ashram in Miramar, Florida. The study and teaching of classical yoga began.
Where is Jennilee now?
In 2010, Jennilee enthusiastically embarked on the inevitable journey of a yogi into self: a ten-day silent Vipassana-style meditation retreat with no eye contact. How her mind entertained her for eight of those 10 days! While she was supposed to be focusing her mind solely on her breath and the sensations in her body, Jennilee found her mind continuously wandering. By day eight, she had created the 50-plus posture practice that is Hot Warrior Yoga (a 90-minute creative, intelligent, and safe sequence), the teacher-training format, and the manual that would accompany it. It was only on the ninth day of the retreat that Jennilee rested her mind and meditated deeply.
Jennilee has the best job in the world. She travels and teaches three of her passions: human anatomy, injury prevention, and vinyasa yoga. She is so blessed to work with the best yoga teachers in our field: Vidya Heisel, Jennifer Yarro, and the amazingly awesome training team of Frog Lotus Yoga Teacher Trainings, her top notch training team for Hot Warrior Yoga teacher trainings, and the creators of the five New York trainings for whom she has taught Yoga Anatomy as well as Language and Myths of the Asanas. Jennilee is also very excited (and super grateful) for her ever deepening relationship with Esther Ekhart. Jennilee first wrote anatomy articles for Esther’s blog, and then became one of the teachers on ekhartyoga.com. This year, Jennilee will teach Embodied Yoga Anatomy for Esther in her 2016 yoga teacher training.
Halfway through her two year around-the-world Perfect Chaturanga book and workshop tour, Jennilee’s excitement and passion about teaching safe and intelligent yoga knows no bounds. Much of her time is now spent in Europe spreading the good news that SAFE YOGA ROCKS! This year brings in the very good fortune to teach the Frog Lotus Yoga 300-hour Teacher Training and to co-create 300-hour Teacher Trainings with Gretchen Mills of Inner Sanctum Yoga in Key West and Susan Richardson of Rebel Monk Yoga in New York. Book number two, Teach Vinyasa Yoga Well, is nearly completed and book number three, My Anatomical Love Affair with the Hot 26, halfway done. Namaste!