What strikes me the most as I sit and chat with yoga student Jill Cervant at the Goorus studio is the joyous glow that emanates from her eyes. A dedicated yogi with an impressive commitment to her daily practice, Jill clearly loves what she does. As I ask her questions like, “What is your favorite yoga pose?” (shoulder stand, for the record: she likes that you are reversing the effects of gravity) and “How did you first start practicing yoga?” she responds with laughter, smiles, and a lightness that spreads across her features. Talking with her is infectious; by the end of our chat, I am feeling more centered too.
Jill first started practicing yoga in New York in her early 20’s, where she worked as a dancer on Broadway and in nightclubs. When she decided to leave the dance world, a friend brought her to her first yoga class. She loved it.
Thirty years later, Jill is an avid yogi. For the past three or four years now she has maintained a beautiful daily practice: she meditates for half an hour before focusing on the core yoga poses. “When you focus on the basics,” she says, “you can build a strong foundation. You can make simple poses as rigorous as you want.” She finds the benefits of a daily practice significant: “Just starting that practice everyday and just breathing, it becomes second nature,” she says, describing an ease in the constancy which she didn’t quite find from practicing a few times a week.
Proof of Jill’s passion for yoga? Her daily practice takes place first thing in the morning. “It’s the only time I know I’ll be able to get here,” she says. This includes zipping down from her Mandeville Canyon home to practice with the core morning group that attends the 6:30 AM Wake Up Yoga classes at Goorus. She describes to me how special it is to practice in the early mornings, “You arrive in the dark,” she notes, “and it’s light when you walk out.” An apt metaphor for the ongoing practice of yoga itself.
In addition to her M/W/F earlybird practice, Jill attends 8:30 AM classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, adding Kundalini and Iyengar to the mix. “I love the variety,” she says, “taking classes with five different teachers with five different perspectives.” She loves the variety that yoga has become now, in general. Each student can choose from a wide range to find “the kind of practice you want for your body and your life.”
All of this dedication pays off. Yoga affects every area of Jill’s life. She finds herself more centered, more focused, and notes that yoga lowers her anxiety level, or, she corrects with a laugh, it makes her “more able to cope”. It is this sense of levity and groundedness in the face of life’s struggles that makes Jill’s yoga practice so inspiring.
When asked to offer words of wisdom to yoga students who might be new to the mat, Jill shared these gems: “Be patient with yourself. Yoga is not a competition. Just getting yourself to the mat consistently, no matter how much you can bend or not bend, is beneficial.”
She grins and that soft glow illuminates her face again, “Just getting there,” she says.It’s a lovely reminder that sometimes, just showing up, once, and twice, and then over and over again, is enough.