Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Meet Zen Girl of the Month: Jennifer Oh

This month, I am so excited to introduce you to my good friend, Jeni!
I hope you enjoy reading her interview as much as I did! :)

Hailing originally from Detroit, long-time yoga instructor Jennifer Oh teaches intentionally vigorous and yet playfully inspiring classes all over San Diego. From urban hot-spots Hale Holistic and Ginseng Yoga, to the sun-soaked studios of Prana Yoga Center and Bird Rock Yoga by the beach, Jennifer brings her Midwest flair wherever she rolls out her mat. Hard-working, brutally honest and authentic to the core, this yogini is about to face her biggest challenge yet: learning how to infuse the yogic lessons of her past and present into her future as a first-time mom.

1)  Name, Occupation, Location:  Jennifer Oh, Yoga Instructor and Director at Elite Educational Institute in San Diego, CA

2)  What does a typical day look like for you?  I wake up most mornings to teach a yoga class to the most graceful and gracious yogis in town. I tell you, they fuel my the rest of my day for sure. They are dedicated--it's not easy to practice at such an early hour week in and week out-- positively eager --any arm balance, inversion, extreme backbend or combos of the above are met with smiles and enthusiasm-- and grateful--they are always so kind to themselves and me. I then catch some tea or coffee with a hearty breakfast (usually of oatmeal and fruit, fruit/veggie smoothie, or high protein breakfast of egg whites, tofu and legumes) and either watch some morning news or go hit a Bar Method or Yoga class or the gym for a run (more walking these days). As the director of an educational business, I work with kids from 4th grade to seniors in high school enhancing their study skills to better prepare them for successful high school and college careers. When I go into work, I have the best and most helpful staff that organize the hectic scheduling of hundreds of parents, students and instructors. Meeting with parents and guiding students all day can get taxing, but yoga has helped me to not get too involved, disappointed, or upset with the daily conferences. Education is emotional! I am a therapist to a lot of the students and parents that come in. I leave work at 7:30 and some nights I leave early to teach another yoga class or if it's Spring or Fall, teacher training. Finally, I get home to my loving, understanding and equally busy husband, James. He and I wind down together and catch up with the day's goings-on with either some food or a TV show we've recorded--we love Game of Thrones or Newsroom these days. I have the MOST patient friends. I might not have all the time in the world to spend with them, but I make it a point to see a friend at least once every week so that they know that I still care. You think I have a busy day?! I enjoy and am fully present every minute of it all. My motto has always been live life to the fullest because you're not guaranteed tomorrow. And...I like to think I'm living it  :)

3)  What is the first big (or little) step you took to follow your bliss and create this beautiful life that you have?  Up until about I was 27 or 28, I'd lived my life measured up to everyone else's standards or yard stick. My father always drove me to be a better version of myself. To a certain extent, it might have been a good discipline, but I took it much too personally: I tried to force myself to become the "perfect" everything in all aspects of my life. I didn't realize that this would later cause me to enter friendships and relationships that didn't appreciate me because I didn't appreciate me. It wasn't until I (finally) got out of a rather horrendous relationship that it literally "knocked" some sense into me. I understood why my father pushed me so much despite the inability to convey it in an inspiring manner at the time. My parents loved me so much and I just needed to do that for myself: fill myself up with self-respect and love. When I was doing things that made others happy, I was only temporarily happy. Eventually, I was so stressed out and sad. I started to be real to me and learned to say "no" when necessary and I learned to love myself before I could be real about loving someone else.

A lot of women and even some of my friends come to me and keep asking me why they can't find love or "why doesn't this man I'm seeing love me back in this or that way" or they just tell me blown up stories of how well it's going when I can clearly see it's going nowhere fast. I think women need to know that the answer is within them and not in constantly transforming themselves to fit their men. If you don't find your "inner pretty," your mouth will start telling people what you're truly feeling in your heart and mind all the time. In so doing, you're inviting people to prey on your insecurities.

True bliss comes when you can truly love and respect yourself and your limits/boundaries. You have to know that there is beauty within and stop focusing so much on what's "wrong with you." All of this self-perfecting, as you can imagine, led me to dislike my physique for a long while as well. Yoga has helped me to be the most comfortable in my own skin than I've ever been in my life.

I always end my yoga classes reminding people to "honor who they are and where they are at this station in their lives and in their yoga practices - with total acceptance and humble gratitude, for it is exactly where they are supposed to be."

4)  What is your advice to people in overcoming fear and following their bliss?
You know those people who just keep re-entering into bad relationships or continue wallowing in drama and negative outcomes? That's because that misery is more of something that they know. That's fear. They'd rather go through familiar misery than the unfamiliar discipline in self-love. If you love yourself, you'd get up and find a better job, you'd move and shed those few pounds, you'd work up the courage to leave your abuser, you'd lose the drama and accept peace, or you'd kick your legs up into handstand. It's seriously very, very temporary. You only have to endure the unknown for a few uncomfortable days...but trust yourself. Trust God. Trust nature around you. Call a friend for support in these vulnerable times to help you through it. It's only a matter of days and the other side is so much better! SO MUCH better.
5)  What future endeavors are you most excited about? I am currently 7 months pregnant and I am most excited about becoming a mother! I can't wait to meet my little girl and bond with her. A student of mine gave me a baby yoga book that I can't wait to try out. A lot of moms out there keep telling me that my life will change or the life as I knew it will be over and much of it sounds so ominous and foreboding. To be honest, who wants to be in their 20s forever? I don't! Right now? I want to be a mom. I am well aware that my life will change as it should and I'm ready for it. I want to know what this next stage of my life will bring me and how it will make me a better woman: friend, boss, teacher, mother, and wife. I think it's about time James and I learn to let go of being us or me-centric and learn how to truly love unconditionally.

I am also very excited about becoming more involved with yoga teacher trainings in San Diego. I love teaching because I get to share what I love so much. Soon, I plan to teach teachers abroad. First stop: my home country -- Korea.

To follow Jeni on her new journey into motherhood, daily life as a yoga teacher and discovering a beautiful harmony between the two, visit her blog, Jennifer Oh Yoga and catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. So inspirational. And totally what I needed to hear right now. Thank you both for sharing this.

  2. You are so welcome. Sending lots of loving vibrations your way, Jess! XOXO


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