We'd like to introduce you to our Volunteer of the Month, Jen Kraft. Thank you for all that you do, Jen!
Here's Jen's story:
I used to be a diet and workout junkie on a quest for the ideal body that exists only on photoshopped magazine covers. I developed anorexia as a senior in high school, and although I “recovered” in college, the negative body image stuck with me. I spent years overdoing it with workouts - too much running, too much spinning, too much lifting - until the abuse to my body caught up to me. Three knees surgeries later, I knew I had to stop and change my ways, and I was totally freaked out. What would happen to my body when I changed my routine? Would I gain a million pounds and become a lump of flab?
Desperate for a sweaty low impact workout, I decided to try a hot yoga class...purely for the physical component. I was positive that I would simply space out when the teacher spoke about philosophy and, of course, I would never ever utter an “ Om"! But before long, the yoga philosophy began to sink in…life changing ideas that thoughts become things, that our lives are unfolding as they should, and that our bodies are gifts that should be respected and loved, not tortured and starved.
I had the opportunity to do my 200 HR teacher training with Ben Wisch at FLOW Yoga Studio in Ho-Ho-kus, NJ in 2014. Through yoga, I am discovering the magic of the mind-body connection and am developing a more positive outlook overall. I am learning to accept my body just as it is. But negative body talk is an epidemic in our society. Ninety percent of women and over fifty percent of men are dissatisfied with their bodies. Every time I talk to a friend who is complaining about how fat s/he is, every time I look at a magazine cover that vilifies someone for gaining weight or celebrates someone for losing, every time I hear about another diet, and every time someone’s worth is measured by their looks, those negative feelings resurface.
Just as negative talk can be contagious, positive body talk is too! As a yoga teacher, my primary goal is to help people learn to love their bodies exactly as they are. With the support of my amazing and supportive husband, I opened my own boutique studio, DEFIANT YOGA, last July. At DY we DEFY anything (like negative body talk) that gets in the way of us embracing and loving ourselves, exactly as we are.
I am thrilled and so grateful to have been given the opportunity to teach Body Positive Yoga for Kula for Karma. I am also grateful to Pandora Healing for providing us with such a beautiful, tranquil space. I love teaching this class because it is truly a celebration of our bodies. This is a class for ANYONE, of any age, who feels any negativity toward their body. We have gotten to the point where conversions that include statements like “I feel fat, I feel wrinkly, I feel guilty for eating that” seem normal, and in this class we remind ourselves that it is most certainly not! In addition to this consistent, body positive theme, the class includes a safe flow that can be customized/modified for anyone and any level, attention to alignment, focus on matching movement to breath, and a fun, eclectic playlist.