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Tulum Yoga Retreat Leader Jazz Braden on the Yoga Practice & Why She Laughs At Herself

January 20, 2016

With a great appreciation of the outdoors and the yoga practice, vinyasa teacher and ocean-lover Jazz Braden will be leading our upcoming journey to Tulum.

We spoke with Jazz about how she got into yoga, what she hopes her students will gain through her classes, and why it’s important that she laughs at herself.

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Hey, Jazz, we’re thrilled to have you leading yoga in Tulum. Can you tell us a bit about how you got into the practice?

I stumbled onto yoga as an injured and unhappy varsity basketball player in college and quickly began to notice how much better I felt after being on the mat. I fell head over heels with the practice because it was the first time I ever felt graceful in my body and that grace carried me onto my first training at the spritely age of 21. I have been teaching ever since and still have a soft spot still for athletes and those in the non-flexible category. My style stems from over a decade of study in the movement from strength training to  vinyasa flow to meditation and I try my best to make sure everyone feels challenged but supported.

I have a flare for the art of weaving in a theme or story that offers a glimpse into yogic philosophy and how it applies to our lives today. We will most likely chant, sweat, laugh, fall over, work together and then sit still and soak it all in!

What do you hope students gain in your classes on retreat?

On this retreat, I am really hoping to send each student back home with tools to use for those bat-sh*t-crazy days when nothing seems to be going to plan. We are going to learn meditations for anxiety, something I struggled with for years, mantras for clarity, breathing techniques for self-care and classes that build strength and confidence in ourselves. I hope that everyone can land back home feeling like they fell back in love with their bodies and their lives.

Why should someone attend a yoga retreat? What happens on retreat?

Yoga retreats are the ultimate gift to yourself! It is such a wonderful way to show up and check in with where you are on all levels. There is something about removing yourself from all other expectations and immersing in nature. For me, a retreat has to connect you back to nature. Our lives can get so busy that we forget the healing powers of the ocean, the strength we can find in the earth or the moments of bliss we feel when gazing up into the stars. A retreat is all about getting back to your roots and returning to your natural state.

Why are you excited to travel to Tulum?

Tulum has been on my radar ever since I passed through it en route to another trip. From the day I was there I could feel the magic. I am most excited to come together in such a healing place with so much history! How amazing is it to explore ruins that used to be temples for ancient prayer and ceremony? The land is so incredibly charged with history and so it is such an honor to offer our own prayers into that. I am also excited for our group to get into nature in a big way — sand in our hair, salty skin, basking in the sun, eating fresh fruit — feeling every element as much as we can.

Who’s your biggest inspiration?

Is it too cheesy to say, my mom?! She dragged me to my first yoga class as a teenager and I hated it but years later I actually dragged her to a teacher training and we became yoga teachers together! She moved up to northern Canada as a young women, found a wolf dog and explored every rock and lake she could get out to. She is so strong and loving and she inspires me to live a life of passion and love for the wild outdoors.

What quote inspires you the most?

Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, we can shake the world.”

I love this because it serves as a reminder that you don’t have to stomp, shout, or fight your way through this life. You can create waves of change around you with gentle compassion for others and by living from the heart.

Besides yoga, what are you passionate about?

I am a tree hugger and ocean lover. My boyfriend jokes that he could leave me on a beach and I would content for days collecting driftwood and looking at rocks or just staring at the waves. In another life, I must of been an explorer because I love the feeling of standing in the middle of nowhere wondering if I am the first human to stand there.

What’s one thing you want all your students to know?

That I can laugh at myself. I find humor makes almost everything easier so it finds it way into all of my classes. For a long time, I felt I had this image of perfection to uphold as a teacher but soon discovered that the more human I was for my students, the more they softened and opened.

Why YOGASCAPES?

YOGASCAPES creates a community of teachers who love what they do and live what they teach. The care and creativity that the company, as well as their teachers, put into these retreats are so special. Offering anyone and any body a chance to explore this beautiful planet as well as their potential to change the world around them for the better. I especially appreciate the attention YOGASCAPES gives to conscious eating and sustainable food.

Join Jazz Braden in Tulum this March 12–18, 2016. Find out more.

Born and raised in Yellowknife, NWT Jazz grew up with a massive appreciation for the wild outdoors. Every day, her family would bundle up and brave any arctic temperature and go play outside. Trudging through the snow, canoeing on the lake, climbing on the rocks or skiing through the trees was the cure to any and all problems. Movement was always a big part of her life, but it wasn’t until she stumbled onto a yoga mat that she understood why her mother rushed her out of the door at -40 degrees in the dead of winter. At the most basic and primal level, we all crave one thing: Connection. We want to feel connected to something greater then ourselves. The truest and simplest ways (I have found) to feel connected is by being in nature or by practicing yoga.
Yoga is the practice of self love and self discovery. These shapes we bend, stretch, bind, jump and twist our bodies into exist purely to show us our true nature as magnificent beings. The clumsy athlete I was 6 years ago would have just rolled her eyes at that statement. Yoga found me in my last year of varsity basketball when my body was at its wits end. It was the first time I ever felt graceful and beautiful in my body. And it was the first time I was moving just to feel good rather then to improve my stats. This practice has opened my eyes and heart repeatedly to my pure potential beyond what I ever thought possible. Every time we come to the mat, we are given a chance to fall in love with ourselves over and over again. What a gift that is! No matter how scattered or torn in all directions we may feel, that connection to self is what pieces us all back together, it brings us home.
Jazz teaches vinyasa flow style yoga that offers something for every body. You are given space to challenge yourself and be playful, as every sequence creatively brings you closer to your true self. Mantra work, pranayam, heartfelt intention, soulful music and a sense of community are all important elements of her classes. Through play and adventure, you flow into a deeper understanding of your own body and ultimately wake up to your own divinity.

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