Episode 13 Interview with Jennifer Cleveland Yamas and Niyamas

Featured image based on the Coverart from Space Coast Stories featuring a headshot of Jennifer Cleveland

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably have some idea of what yoga is. You may have even taken a class or perhaps have been taking classes for years. For many people, they think of yoga in terms of physical poses, sometimes poses that are difficult for many of us to hold. Most classes also focus on the importance of your breath and breathing during your yoga practice.

For those of us not deeply immersed in a yoga practice, what we may not know is that there is much more to yoga. In this episode, Jennifer Cleveland is going to share with us a little about the Yamas and Niyamas which form a way to live an ethical life.

Yamas are things you don’t do or refrain from like stealing and Niyamas are things to do and practice like self-discipline. And, if this is all new to you, you’re in luck because Jennifer Cleveland is holding a free, online, self-study class to walk us through them.

In this interview, we mention three of the 10 yamas and niyamas. Ahimsa – nonviolence which like most of them isn’t as simple as not hurting others or yourself. It includes being compassionate to others and yourself. We discuss Asteya – nonstealing and what it means beyond not taking other people’s things, and Tapas – self discipline. We’ll cover all 10 in the class.

Jennifer is a certified yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance with over 600 hours of training, and she is also a Thai massage practitioner. She brings this extensive knowledge and training to a 10 week class to share the yamas and niyamas. The class Starts February 18, 2019 – from the comfort of your own home.

Listen to my Interview with Jennifer Cleveland on Yamas and Niyamas

Links and Images for Jennifer Cleveland

Headshot of Jennifer Cleveland

Join the event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/2345679315662145/

You’ll find information on Jennifer’s classes and massage on Facebook and on her Inner Sight Yoga website. You’ll find the links below.

Jennifer Cleveland in a Yoga Pose

Inner Sight Yoga Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/Inner-Sight-Yoga-1417951361754556/

Thai Yoga Massage Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/Vedic-Thai-Yoga-Massage-with-Jennifer-605558546294095/

Inner Sight Yoga Website – https://innersightyoga.wordpress.com/

Transcripts for my Interview with Jennifer Cleveland about Yamas and Niyamas

Kim:                             00:00                You’re listening to Space Coast Stories, a podcast with interviews and stories from people and businesses on Florida’s Space Coast. I’m your host, Kim Shivler. Thanks for joining me.

Kim:                             00:16                Hey everybody. Welcome back to Space Coast Stories. I’m your host, Kim Shivler, and today I’m really excited to have another new guest. I’m talking to Jennifer Cleveland. She is a certified yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance with over 600 hours of training and she’s also a Thai massage practitioner. Welcome, Jennifer.

Jennifer:                       00:40                Hi. Thank you for having me.

Kim:                             00:42                Today. We’re gonna. Talk about something a little different. We’re going to go a little deeper into yoga and talk about a class that Jennifer is going to be offering early 2019 on the yamas and niyamas. Now, if you’ve never heard that before, she’s about to explain it all to us and why we’re going to want to get involved. So Jennifer, please explain to us first what are yamas and niyamas?

Jennifer:                       01:07                So the yamas and niyamas are actually, I believe, the essence of Yoga. So Yoga is the connection of mind, body, and spirit.

Jennifer:                       01:14                The yamas and niyamas are the moral guidelines for yoga. And specifically the yamas are things not to do, so restraints and the niyamas are things that we’re supposed to do, so observances in our life and the path to this. I understand it as with when we’re trying to work on ourselves. We want to do this because it leads us to have happiness, happiness, and peace and more contentment, healthier physical body, healthier mind, a deeper spiritual connection if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s just an overall way of finding, finding balance. And what a great way to start a new year is to set ourselves up for that type of success throughout the. Absolutely. And especially if you’re at all like me, maybe you repeat some patterns, some things that maybe aren’t that great or are not that helpful for growth. And so the only way to, um, to stop that is to critically analyze yourself.

Jennifer:                       02:14                To be willing to say, why am I doing this? Why am I thinking this? Why am I saying this? You know, are doing these behaviors and are they useful to me? Are they helping me in my path to find fulfillment in this lifetime? Whatever that might be for you, you know, it’s different for everyone, but whatever it may be for you.

Kim:                             02:32                And that is so important. It’s one of those things that really interested me as Jennifer and I spoke about this class that was coming up because I think for many of us we’ve taken a yoga class. We might be very familiar with a series of poses or if you do a strong series of movements and maybe even breath. Yes, but this is the piece that most of us that aren’t officially trained the way you are. We’re missing this piece.

Jennifer:                       03:02                Yeah. And, and this is, um, and it’s not always taught in class because a lot of times the classes, just your physical practice. Some teachers bring in some of the other aspects of Yoga, you know, like some mindfulness and some prayer. Um, and of course Pranayama, which is the breath like you’re talking about. That should definitely be in, in a, in a physical yoga class. But, um, all the rest of it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the class. That could be separate. I try to incorporate it all. But this class specifically is, it’s a self study at home. It’s you’re doing it. We’re all gonna do it together. It’ll be guided through my newsletter and through my social media and I’ll give you, you know, the lesson, but it’s something that you do on your own. It’s completely free. You can message me for support or something like that or if you just want to tell me about an experience and then other people. I usually do this two or three times a year and people do tend to want to get together sometimes and they’ll form little groups and get together and have discussions. But it’s completely up to you on how you do it.

Jennifer:                       03:59                So sometimes people work, sometimes people meet up outside of class, but more than anything this is, sounds like to me one of the safest ways if it’s your first step into a self improvement class because you are doing it with support. Yes. But on your own, on your own, at your own pace. Because we’ll give the lesson, Sunday, sometime Sunday, I’ll, I’ll post it and it will say what the lesson is for that week, and you then when you, you can think about it that night, if you want to journal about it, what it may mean to you, whatever you however you want to do it. Then in the morning when you wake up, you’re going to try to embody that lesson in every thought word and action. And now that’s less difficult to do for people who have done a lot of self study and self work. But if you’re brand new at it, maybe the best thing to do is just to start to become aware. So for example, the first lesson, because they’re, the yamas and niyamas are in order, uh, is, is, uh, Ahimsa. Ahimsa means non harming. Um, it means to act with compassion, to act with compassion towards yourself and towards others.

Jennifer:                       05:13                And that’s not always easy to do. And especially when we’re feeling attacked or you know, uncomfortable for whatever, whatever reason. So sometimes the easiest thing to do is to just start to notice our thought patterns and our behaviors. Just notice them. Don’t try to change anything. Just notice when I thought something harmful about my body, like, oh, I look so ugly today, or God, I’m so stupid. How did I do that? You know, just notice that you’re doing. Don’t try to change it. Just notice it. That might be their first, your first step. Then if you feel like you can take it a little farther, then you can start controlling your actions. Don’t do anything that’s harmful. Don’t physically hurt, don’t physically hurt someone else. Don’t make an action that is harmful. Then maybe try to just be quiet. You know? If you can’t say something nice, I’ll say something at all you say anything at all, so just shut your mouth.

Jennifer:                       06:11                Sometimes that’s as simple as thing. If instead of saying something that is hurtful, just be quiet. Then you work on changing the thought to where you can say something that’s supportive or kind. So it’s one step at a time and it’s important to, through the process to practice Ahimsa compassion with yourself because it’s not easy and every time I do this I do it with my students. Every year I learn something new about myself every single time and I try to challenge myself every time and it’s extremely difficult, you know, you always find something where we’re, maybe you’re not as strong in that area as you thought or as you want to be. And it’s hard. It really is hard, but it’s just one, one step at a time.

Kim:                             06:53                And sometimes I find that compassion for ourselves is the hardest. We beat ourselves up sometimes more than we would ever if we said that to someone else. In fact, I, I did an exercise with a woman in a study one time and she had us all write down our negative self talk. Yeah. And then we had to go say it to someone else as though we were judging them. And it was a very awkward situation because you just wouldn’t walk up to someone and say, you’re so stupid.

Jennifer:                       07:26                Right, right.

Kim:                             07:27                But we’ll say that to ourselves.

Jennifer:                       07:30                Absolutely. And like one of the things that the, some of the simplest things, oh, I have a bad knee. Well, you just call it your knee bad. Is it your knees that it hurts? Did it hurt itself? No, it didn’t, you know? And so, uh,

Jennifer:                       07:43                you know, just watching the language like, oh, I have some, I had an injury in my knee or I had some challenges with my knee. Don’t insult your body. One of the things I do in my class when I close my class is I have everyone tell their bodies how much they love them and how they’re going to protect them and how they’re going to take care of them and keep them healthy and strong because of your body is your only true companion in this lifetime that you’re gonna have forever with you other than if you have a belief about the divine, but your physical body is the only one that’s going to be with you through this lifetime. So it’s important to be kind to him or to her and to treat the body and speak to the body with compassion.

Kim:                             08:24                I don’t think many people point that out and I hear when I hear you say that I, I, it takes to me that wow, we’re actually kind of the protectors of our body.

Jennifer:                       08:34                We are, our bodies are our vehicle in this lifetime and um, you know, we’re the only ones that can totally protect and take care of our body. We’re in charge of our body and we have to treat it with respect. I hate using the word is for the body, but you know, male, female, so I’ll just use the word it, but we have to treat it with respect because it’s, it’s doing everything for us in this lifetime that if we didn’t have our body wouldn’t be able to do it. So that deserves some reverence.

Kim:                             09:04                Absolutely. And as we go into that, then let’s go ahead and talk about a couple of the other yamas and niyamas that we’re going to be looking at. We don’t want to throw all of them out here because you guys need to get in and do the practice with Jennifer. So there are actually 10 of these and Jennifer is then broken it down into 10 weeks of study to make that easy for you. Correct?

Jennifer:                       09:29                Right. So we’ll present like back to Ahimsa. So we’ll say like the first week is Ahimsa. So, so for seven days, you know, when you start Monday morning you wake up and you try to embody that and every thought word and action for seven days. And so you just focus mostly on, Ahimsa, on that one. And then the next Sunday we’ll present the next lesson and a which would be Asteya for the next week. And so when you wake up Monday morning you bought embody Asteya in every thought word and action so that it kind of in it and then it does build on itself, but you don’t worry. Like if it’s too much, you don’t want to try to focus on too many at one time. You just focus on the one and you do the very best you can. And um, and just study it for seven days and within a couple of a couple of days you will really notice changes in yourself. You’ll start to become much more aware of your patterns and your thoughts and your actions and a little more mindful for sure.

Kim:                             10:27                And some of these I think are a little easier than others to wrap your arms around. Sure. So you talked about Asteya which is not stealing, correct? Yes.

Jennifer:                       10:37                Non Stealing Asteya the simplest thing, the simplest way to think about that is don’t take anybody else’s stuff, but it goes much deeper than that. For example, don’t steal someone else’s time. So like if you have an appointment with someone, show up on time, they’re waiting for you, they’ve scheduled you in, and then you show up 15 minutes late, you’ve just stolen 15 minutes from them. Also, don’t steal someone’s peach. Don’t play your loud music at 11:00 at night while your neighbors are trying to sleep. Don’t be rude to someone. Things like that. Don’t steal other people’s peace and happiness. It’s much deeper than what we may think it would be. And in that, and then we just challenge ourselves to figure out what does this mean for us and then how can we put it, how can we add it into our life

Kim:                             11:19                And where do I. tying back to what you mentioned about patterns, where do I have patterns? Is My pattern to be late? I’m personally, I am tend to be a 10 minute early person, but some people have that. They noticed that their pattern is to be late. My father, the family would tell him two hours before it was time to be somewhere because he always ran late. He’s much better now, but we can then see our patterns and know that that’s something we want to work.

Jennifer:                       11:47                Absolutely. Maybe you just going to become, become more mindful with your time. Maybe you want to go and figure out why am I late? Why do I do this to myself and other people? Why do I think it’s okay and why do I think? Why can’t I get ready and show up? Why does it have to be? Why do I have to put everyone else in that position to make them have to lie to me, you know, in two hours early that’s, you’re making the other people lie, putting everyone in an uncomfortable situation, so why do you do that? But it’s, you know, it’s completely your choice of whether or not how do you want to look at it and how deep do you want to go.

Kim:                             12:22                That makes so much sense and it actually brings up something to me now that I think about that is that I, again, showing up on time is one thing, but what about late with deadlines, right? Are we meeting our deadlines and is it always. Are we identifying that it’s always that I’m just doing this because I’m pushing this out on other people or maybe am I putting my finger now on? Am I doing it because of maybe my own lack of self confidence? I’m not meeting my deadline because when I give you what I promised, do I trust that it’s what you wanted, so you’re stealing your own peace in a way with that too. That’s interesting. That’s an interesting way to look at it. I never thought of it until we just talked about it because that’s when I always show up on time for meetings, but sometimes I get wrapped up in deadlines and it’s not that I don’t want to be the, it’s that am I giving them what they want and is it perfect enough.

Jennifer:                       13:25                And see the new backup into some, Ahimsa am I being compassionate with myself and gentle with myself or am I a putting too much, too many demands on me and not being reasonable? Yeah. Very cool. Interesting.

Kim:                             13:41                I can’t wait to take this class. I will be there everybody. If there was another one, there were a couple of these, the jumped out and again we’re not going to give everybody everything, although we are going to give you the link to where the class will be and that type of thing is one of the ones I really thought interesting was contentment and I think that’s because first of all, many of us are already trying to have a mindfulness practice and to be present in where we are, but also when I looked at that one, it mentioned the physical piece of this and a frustration that I think many of us have and that is to when you’re doing your physical yoga practice, contentment includes just relaxing and being whereever you can be in the pose, not where the instructor is or the really flexible guy next to you is, but where you can be.

Jennifer:                       14:32                Right. And speaking about the, the physical. We’re somewhere different every day and if you want to talk about the, the, the Austin of the yoga practice. You know, some days we can do this pose and we can do it really well. We can go deep into it, but really strong. Other days we fall over, we’re painful, were less flexible, you know, and it’s different every day and it’s true in every aspects of our life that way. So it’s, it’s learning to be okay with today I’m very accomplished or him on the ball, you know, or today I’m tired and I’m, I’m, I’m not as focused or a I’m sore or whatever it is. And that’s okay. That’s okay. With Santosha contentment. It makes me think of, um, you know, have, when you bang your thumb with a hammer, you know how bad the thumb hurts and you can’t think of anything else but we never think of, but we rarely think of when our thumb doesn’t hurt, how good that feels. And we don’t necessarily think of how good we have it in that moment with no pain, with no injury or with minimal pain or minimal injury. Because if you’re like anybody else, you got something going on pretty much all the time, but it’s not bad, you know, it could be so much worse. So let’s be grateful and happy and at peace with where we are in this moment because it’s gonna change. Everything changes. It changes for the better and for the worse constantly.

Kim:                             16:06                That makes sense. And it makes you think of my other half talks about a lot of times being grateful for what didn’t happen, you know, you drove home today and nothing spectacular happened on the way and nothing bad happened on the way. And there’s a gratitude aspect to I drove home without drama.

Jennifer:                       16:30                Yeah. I love the term that nobody gets credit for crisis diverted and you know, so yeah, being happy with the fact that you know everything’s okay, we’re okay right now. It’s all right. Even if even if you’re not getting to do what you wanted to do or you’re not where you think you should be aware where everyone tells you you should be learning to be just comfortable where you are and that comes and to do that you, it takes the, the teachings before, like the top, like top is discipline and, and some other. The other ones that are that come before because we can’t just sit down and just, Oh, I’m just going to be, I’m just going to be content. Well, how do you do that? You know, so you had to figure out a step by step, where am I, where am I stealing my peace and my contentment? Where am I not being compassionate? Where am I not being, you know, whatever else so that I can now reach this point of just sitting in comfort and peace with myself.

Kim:                             17:30                Absolutely. And that then brings up a, you mentioned the top, and that’s part of that is that willingness to do this, whatever this is.

Jennifer:                       17:42                Yeah, absolutely. It’s discipline. It’s discipline. So you know, don’t start this practice unless you’re, if you’re not ready, if you’re, if you’re not ready to learn about yourself, if you’re not ready to make some changes, they don’t. You don’t have to change your whole life, but if you’re not ready to learn about yourself, who you are, why you, why you are, and do some, some growth, then don’t start the practice. You have to be willing to start exploring yourself and it is, you know, it’s a 10 week process, but it’s on your own. It’s at home. It’s okay if you can only partially do it. Um, if you can just say, I’m just going to focus on this for the next hour and that’s all I can do. I’m just going to go about my business and focus on it for an hour. That’s okay. Um, or if you can wake up in the morning and do it every waking moment, that’s great too. But you, you do have to be ready for the process. So if you’re not, if you feel like I’m not ready to discover more about myself than just maybe wait until next time.

Kim:                             18:53                Maybe start preparing yourself for when should I get ready to start working on that?

Jennifer:                       18:57                Yeah. Yeah. And that’s a, that’s a great way to think about it too, because it’s just like anything else. You don’t go hire a personal trainer until you’re ready to get in shape. You know, you don’t start college until you’re ready to start studying. So when you’re ready to change your life, then come forward and start a process like this and at the same time if you are ready to just get started just with your yoga practice, your physical yoga practice, start wherever you are and build on that. It is not a judgment process about I’m not as good as he or she, etc.

Jennifer:                       19:32                No, because we were all beginners at some point. You know, I’ve done this, um, you know, a few times a year, a couple times a year for, since I started teaching yoga in a while and learned about the yamas and niyamas in 2012. So it’s, it’s new to me too, you know, I haven’t been doing it that long. I know yoga teachers who have been teaching for 20, 30, 50 years and they’re far more advanced in this area than I am, but there’s no, there’s no competition, there’s no level of. One of us is better than the other. That’s not, that’s not yoga, that’s not yoga. So we are, we start right where we are and everyone, everyone is a beginner at some time, some point, everybody’s a beginner and really

Kim:                             20:19                I know in my experience everybody’s a beginner at some things. So perhaps you’ve been studying for a while, but yet you go into a new area of your practicing, you’re going to be new at that.

Jennifer:                       20:32                Yeah. And absolutely. And what else do you have to do? Honestly, you just gotta you know, otherwise we’re just gonna keep going with our patterns and time’s gonna pass anyway. So would you rather go ahead and start engaging, getting an I’m making change or wait another year or another five years and continue the same patterns and continue the same things that are making you unhappy or unfulfilled or go ahead and try to figure it out and make some changes now.

Kim:                             21:03                Sounds like a great time to me to start making some changes. We’ll have links to Jennifer and the class and all of that in the show notes at SpaceCoastStories.com. And Jennifer, if someone is here local and would like to tell, take a yoga class, would you like to tell us how they can do that?

Jennifer:                       21:22                Sure, sure. well you can, um, you can fInd Inner Sight Yoga. So I’m, I’m visually impaired and so mine, my pages enter like inside inner sight, like the eyes site yoga, or you can find avedic Thai yoga massage with Jennifer and I teach my regular classes at the Henegar Center in historic downtown Melbourne, FL. And I also do private yoga sessions and Thai yoga massage sessions

Kim:                             21:55                And sometimes some special sessions that I have heard wonderful things about but haven’t tried yet for restorative yoga, correct?

Jennifer:                       22:02                Right. So this class is a specialty class that I go around the different studios in town and teach and it’s restorative yoga with thai massage. So very limited in space because I go around to each person and I will, I put him first. We start out in a, in a yummy restorative pose. And if you haven’t taken a restorative yoga, all you do is we have a bunch of pillows and blankets and you curl up and get into a wonderful position that is restorative and useful to healing and you lay there for 20 minutes, 15 to 20 minutes in that pose. And then I go around to each person and do some thai massage on them and to help them, uh, open blocks, movie energy, relax the joints, relax the muscles, and sink a little deeper into that posture. And it is a wonderful, wonderful class.

Kim:                             22:53                That’s something I highly recommend. I look forward to this class, uh, in early 2019. I think it’s going to be fabulous thing.

Jennifer:                       23:02                We will start sometime in mid February I think is going to be our start date.

Speaker 2:                    23:06                Excellent. And we will finalize the dates and get them in here. Thank you so much for being on the show with me, Jennifer.

Jennifer:                       23:12                Thank you.

Kim:                             23:14                Hey, Space Coast friends. Jennifer has set the date for her class. It starts February 18th. And remember, you can do this anywhere you want. I’ve got the link to sign up in the show notes, just go to Space Coast Stories.com forward slash Jennifer (https://spacecoaststories.com/jennifer).

Kim:                             23:35                Join us next time for another episode of Space Coast Stories. You can find the show notes and other information at SpaceCoastStories.com. The views of the guests on this show are their own and don’t necessarily represent the views of the show owners, host or company. Thanks for listening to Space Coast Stories.

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