Yoga love: Meet Jessica Burylo Yoga
One of the reasons I started designing and making Yoga and Turban Headbands is that I love practising yoga. One thing I hate while practising is when my hair keeps on falling into my face and I start eating it when I try to blow it away. Or when sweat starts trickling down my neck. I mean, just imagine standing there in a tree pose (for all of you non-yogis, that’s the cliché yoga pose where you balance on one leg while the other one is pressed in an angle against your upper thigh), well, just imagine standing there, trying to balance while the sweat tickles your neck and your gaze focuses on your hair instead of a point in the distance to help you balance. That’s when the headband is necessary.
For me a yoga instructor is also necessary. After I had to leave my wonderful yoga teacher behind in Germany, I started practising yoga on my own here in Calgary. With the help of videos and books but it just never really worked out for me. I had to step out of poses to look into the book or rewind the video to double check whether I was supposed to turn my head left or right. That doesn’t make for a very focused and meditative yoga practise. So I started taking different classes all over town. I met lots of inspiring teachers and tried all different kinds of yoga (some of the yoga-related practises out there are seriously confusing!) which was really fun. Then I discovered a studio that really resonated with me and this teacher who teaches just the kind of yoga that is perfect for me. I still take classes with other teachers because it keeps my practice interesting and well rounded. But I love my Tuesday 7pm class. It’s unconventional, spontaneous and most of all fun! Meet Jessica:
Please introduce yourself in 3 short sentences!
Hello everyone! My name is Jessica and I have been Leonie’s friend for a little while now. I started off as her Yoga teacher though! In my own mind I see myself as a a strange link between two worlds. On one hand I have been teaching yoga for seven years, and on the other I am emerged in the incredible world of academia as I slowly inch towards my PhD in paleoanthropology. This juxtaposition confuses me and completes me.
Since when have you been practising yoga and what made you start?
I have been practicing yoga for 8 years. 19-year-old me started working the desk at a yoga studio and took full advantage of my free yoga. It appealed to me primarily as a way of coping with the last of my time as a – I’ll say it – crazy teenage girl. I found an outlet for self-study and a calling that helped me to find a purpose at a time in my life where I was really ready for one.
What prompted you to become a yoga instructor?
Yoga was one of the first communities I found myself in where everywhere I turned, I saw a beautiful person, inside and out, that I wanted to be just like. One of my first teachers, Heidi, inspired me to be strong in ways that teenage me had never considered to be possible. She encouraged me to try yoga teacher training despite my fears of being as cool as her…. and of wearing spandex pants in front of a group of people.
What makes you/your teaching technique different from other yoga teachers?
It took me a few years to find what made me unique as a teacher. I spent too much time repeating anecdotes that I heard from other teachers, taking their sequences, becoming conflicted with my passion for science and wondering why I hadn’t started liking hot yoga yet. Then, I metaphorically grew into my spandex pants. Now, I really enjoy teaching a class that in many ways plays to an anti-culture group of students. I play off my education strongly with acute anatomical queues and stick with a philosophy that I find applicable to life – thoughtful, but not spiritual. My classes can be a little challenging but I always try to work in a good laugh.
I once heard you say: “I wish what I’m teaching wouldn’t be called yoga.” What did you mean by that?
I once told Leonie, over a pint, that I wish I didn’t have to call what I am doing “yoga”. Shortly afterwards, I glared at her as she laughed and jokingly called me her Guru. Yoga originally was developed about 5000 years ago in what is now India. You can bet that the yoga they did then was remarkably different than even what the most spiritual, or authentic, of teachers practice today. I, being one of the less spiritual of teachers, am even farther from the original practice. Since its birth, we have learned a great deal more about the physicality of the human body and as a result postures are taught, anatomically, very differently than the first yogis. Moreover, 5000 passing years, mean the spirituality of yoga has had 5000 years to evolve, especially in its applicability to a our modern western world. Concluding, I think that, while what I teach is really good for one’s health and mind, it has become a transformation of the yoga of old, to the point where more people do yoga in the state of California than in the entire country of India. As a good anthropologist, I don’t see this as a bad thing at all. As we have adapted this practice into our own culture we can respect its origins, while evolving it further to better meld with our lives.
You will start your first self-hosted yoga class next week, what can we expect?
Yes! I am very excited to announce my first self-hosted class starting in September. The number one thing I hear from my friends, and their friends, when they inquire about my classes (besides: “Do you teach hot yoga?”) is something along the lines of “urgh! yoga is so expensive”. As a student, I totally feel for all my practitioner-wannabe friends who can’t swing the expense of a monthly yoga pass. I will be offering my class for a $10 drop-in. It is located in the Calgary Buddhist Temple which is an absolutely beautiful and interesting space to practice. I really hope you guys like it! Classes will run every Tuesday night from 7:00 to 8:15 pm starting September 8th.
What are your favourite yoga poses?
My favourite yoga poses are backbends! I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea but there’s something about the grace and specific strength in doing a safe backbend that I love. I also often love any good long hold for the hips… because my hips need it!
Tell me about other passions in your life!
I have mentioned it already, but I love it so much that I feel it warrants another mention: I love school! I happily spend my extra hours there working as a research assistant for the geology department. My work addresses the Nature and Philosophy of Science and how we can help the general population make decisions in a more scientifically literate way. Also, I love breakfast so much that I wish I was breakfast and I have a disturbingly close relationship with my cat, Kevin.
Thank you so much for this interview + the awesome photos, Jessica!
Now that you got to know Jessica a bit, you must be dying to take one of her classes. I know I can’t wait for next Tuesday! Why don’t you join us on September 8th at the Buddhist temple in Bridgeland? If you need more information, you can email Jessica at [email protected] or follow her on her Facebook page: Jessica Burylo Yoga
She also wrote an article on how features of architecture come up in yoga postures and make us strong, in the Fall issue of Poser Magazine. So interesting!
With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,