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Jen had a wonderful childhood, growing up with her parents and pet guinea pigs near Washington, D.C. She climbed trees and read when she wasn’t playing the violin, riding horses, diving, or teaching swing dancing. In college, she was exposed to prejudice and other social sicknesses for the first time. The experience led her to study the mind, hoping to overcome such less pleasant aspects of life. She completed studies including a B.A. cum laude in Neuroscience at Columbia University in 1998 and an M.A. in Psychology at Princeton University in 2003. She took up fellowships at the National Institutes of Health and the Max-Planck Institute in tandem with her studies.
In the fifth year of her Ph.D. research, Jen accepted the invitation of a friend named Nick to attend an Ashtanga yoga class. For Jen, it was love at first “dog”. A couple of times, a Jivamukti teacher named Emily substituted for the regular teacher and sang “lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu” (May all beings everywhere be happy and free), which Jen found absurdly idealistic at first. But as the mantra sank in, Jen began to feel that laboratory research (which causes much animal suffering) was not the best means to end human suffering. In fact, yoga opened her up to the possibility that all beings everywhere really could be happy and free as a result of our thoughts, words and actions.
Jen realized from yoga that advances in science and medicine are not likely to bring about lasting happiness or health because such reliance on external factors cannot fulfill us, nor help us avoid old age, sickness, or death. She found that as we develop awareness, we see that our wellbeing (and the good of all) lies in our own hands at each and every moment and that we can become independent (by becoming inwardly dependent instead). Jen realized that once we learn to be mentally present and to take responsibility for our state of mind, we can tap into the limitless energy of the universe and discover true peace. Then, no matter what happens, we can choose not to suffer and instead radiate bliss in all directions, liberating countless beings!
Jen has completed over 800 hours of Jivamukti Teacher Trainings with Sharon Gannon, David Life and Petros Haffenrichter, as well as more than 300 hours of Ashtanga Teacher Intensives with Richard Freeman. Her personal practice also includes Iyengar yoga, Kirtan (devotional music involving singing, violin, and harmonium), Osho Dynamic Meditation, and Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka.
Jen seeks to integrate and share with her students the best, most practical, and most inspiring techniques that she has learned from her many wonderful teachers, incorporating what she discovers each new day from her greatest guru: life itself. Jen has most recently been based in Munich, Germany, where she has been teaching yoga on a full-time basis since 2005.
YOGAJAYA TEACHER TRAINING
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