If I had to list my ten favorite moments from 2018, one of them was watching Jen Hoar record her video submission to the New England Regional Yoga Asana Championships. Always a yogi with a determined practice, Jen took the plunge in September, agreeing to train with Team Chelmsford. Watching her practice become more precise and focused and her confidence grow as she put in extra time and effort on her mat was an inspirational process to watch. Jen is brave and strong and funny and smart, and whether she’s working on her postures or planks next to you in class, chatting with you in the changing room, or nailing her standing bow during her competition routine, she’s the kind of person you want by your side and on your team.
Read on to get to know Jen better, and definitely introduce yourself next time you’re in the hot room together!
When did you start practicing hot yoga?
I started practicing hot yoga back in 2009 at the studio in Nashua, but only attended classes on a periodic basis.
What brought you to the HYF studio?
Although the Nashua studio is not too far from where I live, the Chelmsford studio is closer and I was all too happy to support Terri Fry in her new business!
What do you remember about your first class?
There are so many things about that first class that I remember! First, Norman was my teacher. He was kind, supportive, and I distinctly remember him telling me to come back as soon as possible for another class! (I thought he was CRAZY). Second, was the HEAT. It was hotter than any place I had ever been and I swore I would never return. Third, was what I was wearing – an oversized T-shirt and basketball shorts! By the end of class, my clothes were literally dripping with sweat and I was convinced that hot yoga was not for me.
How often do you practice?
Currently, I practice 4-5 times a week. I try to come as often as I can, but it really depends on my teenagers social calendars as to when and how often I’m able to attend class.
What physical benefits and changes have you seen from your practice? Overall I just feel stronger.
The biggest benefit I have noticed from practicing regularly is how straight my spine is becoming. It’s been a process for sure, but my back is stronger and straighter than it has ever been in my whole life. I never realized just how hunched over I had become and am grateful to have gained a few centimeters in height 😉.
Has doing this practice affected your life outside the hot room?
Yes. Practicing hot yoga has made me much more accepting of others. I look around in the hot room and realize just how different we all are, yet together we create amazing energy and sense of togetherness. This gives me some perspective on how to be less judgmental in the rest of my life.
What has surprised you about your practice?
I remember when I first started practicing hot yoga, I literally would count down to when class would be over. I would think, 4 more postures until we are on the floor…finally, we got to Camel pose…thank God that’s over…woohoo it’s about time for Final Savasna! Now, I don’t even think about the time. I find that the time I spend in the hot room is a welcome break from my crazy life and instead of waiting for class to end, I’m embracing the time I get to spend with my teachers and fellow yogis.
What is your most challenging posture? Why?
My most physically challenging posture is standing bow. I think the name explains it all…standing on one leg while trying to form a bow between your non-standing leg, arm and back. Those who master this pose truly have earned my upmost respect! My most mentally challenging posture is savasna. I find that no matter how hard I try to mentally stay in the hot yoga room, during savasna especially, my mind wanders. It is a constant struggle to stay present during those times when we are given the opportunity to let our bodies relax.
Do you have a favorite posture? What do you like about it?
I don’t think there is one posture that I prefer over another. For me I just like to see where I can push myself in each posture on any given day and hope that I start to experience some progress towards a better practice.
How did you make the decision to train for competition this year? How did it go?
I made the decision to train for competition this year on an impulse. I had been looking for new ways to challenge myself and go outside my comfort zone and training for competition was certainly a way to accomplish this. Ordinarily, I’m not a very confident individual and I do not like to be in situations where I have to be front and center. So, training with the Chelmsford team really pushed me to develop confidence and composure in situations where I would normally run and hide. It was inspiring to see people of all different ages and all different abilities working toward a common goal. And, the positivity and encouragement were infectious. Each one of us had something unique to contribute and the sense of team and the support for all really made for an amazing learning environment. I’m happy that I made the decision to train and I’m grateful to all my teammates.
Additionally, joining the team really opened me up to the wonderful HYF yoga community. I’ve gained a whole new perspective on the benefits of community yoga practice as it’s not just about the exercise and routine of going to class. Yoga may be an individual practice, but the energy, support, friendship, and acceptance you feel in and out of the yoga studio are benefits that far exceed anything you physically gain. The people here at HYF are what make this such an exceptional place to be.
What is one tip you would give to a new student at HYF?
The one tip that I would give to a new student is just focus on you and what your body can handle today. Don’t judge yourself by what others are doing in the room as everyone is on a different journey.
Have you taken Hot Pilates classes? If yes, what has your experience been? How does taking those classes affect your yoga practice?
Yes I have taken Hot Pilates Classes. I like them as they always have great energy. I think the pilates is a nice compliment to yoga.
What other activities do you enjoy when you’re not in the hot room?
I love spending time with my husband and two teenagers. I welcome any chance I get to watch my 16 year old daughter Irish Step dance or swim, and my 14 year old son play soccer or hockey. My family is by far my greatest joy. I additionally love coaching softball, traveling, spending time with good friends, and drinking beer.
Thanks, Jen! See you in the Hot Room!
–Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford