Jackie Foley is our teacher of the month for July!
Check out her classes on Wednesdays at 6:30pm, Saturdays at 11:30am, and Sundays at 9am.
Q: You just returned from leading a yoga retreat off the coast of Scotland. How was it?
It was amazing. We had a beautiful group of yogis and Isle of Skye is pure magic. We were welcomed by the most wonderful community in Skye who all came together to offer us an incredible experience.
Q: Why did you choose the Isle of Skye given its remoteness and the challenges of planning a retreat there?
I was really called to the land and Skye was continually showing up in my life (and Lisa’s) in various ways. At one point we connected about it, and it became quite clear that this is where we were being guided to go. The moment we said yes, everything began to unfold with as much ease as one could hope for.
Q: How did you begin practicing yoga?
Yoga found me over 12 years ago. I was playing [flute] professionally having just graduated from conservatory. I remember being struck by something quite profound when I started, even though I had no words for what that was at the time. When I was able to create more space outside of playing [music], I started going to class every day, sometimes twice a day and it unfolded from there.
Q: Are you still playing music professionally?
No, not anymore.
Q: How did that transition happen?
I was really blessed with music in that I got to live out a dream. I was playing in orchestra and I had a chamber music group. But after I graduated and was playing professionally full time, I realized that there was something missing. Even though I was very much fulfilling a part of who I was, [I realized] that this wasn’t all that I had to offer the world.
I had no idea what I was being guided towards. There was just this very strong intuition that was saying, “This isn’t it.” Admittedly it was absolutely confusing and in truth slightly terrifying at times, but I was clearly being given a message and knew in my heart that I needed to take the risk. So I left.
Q: Is that when you started to teach yoga?
I was still practicing yoga, but the connection hadn’t been made yet in terms of teaching. That actually took quite a while. I had some deep inner work that I needed to do and it was on that path that I went from practicing yoga to living yoga. Along the way came the clarity of what I was being guided towards.
I’d always been someone who was drawn to creative expression in all of its forms. One of the things I realized that I had lost in playing music professionally was the opportunity, the space, and the time to express myself creatively in other mediums. I started painting and writing again, doing yoga more and moving my body expressively. It took a while, but after some time it began to illuminate pretty clearly that teaching was my path.
Q: Why do you think that yoga is what ultimately resonated for you as the path forward?
For me, yoga integrates all of my loves and deepest soul passions and with it, the opportunity to breathe them back out into the world. It was this incredible realization when that began to come into being and from there things flowed with ease.
One of my favorite quotes is by John O’Donohue, an Irish poet and philosopher, and he says. “I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” When I said yes to yoga, in the way that it exists for me now, the current opened up in a whole new way. It is a constant flow of growth and evolution. There is always more to learn, more to be humbled and astounded by, more to offer.
Q: How do you approach your classes?
Whatever I’m teaching that week comes from something I’m inspired by or working with myself. Usually it drops in from my own practices, be that from my own writing or a poem I’m inspired by that week, in a painting that I’ve done, or in meditation. That inspiration informs what my theme will be and creates a trickle down effect.
From the theme comes the peak energy of what we are exploring, and then from there it’s working backwards to discover the path that we need to get us there. It’s very much an energetic journey.
Q: Yoga has obviously played a huge part in your own journey. What benefits has it brought to your life?
I think one of the most beautiful things for me about living yoga has been the space and unfolding to truly hold the whole of my journey, the darkness and the light. To be able to really honor and celebrate each moment and to dance in the fullness life.
Q: You came to Bread and Yoga about a year ago and then you moved to the neighborhood right?
Q: What drew you to Inwood?
Some of my dearest loves live in Inwood so I found myself spending more time up here then I was in Brooklyn. I also knew for quite a while that it was time to shift where I was living and create a new home, but I wasn’t quite sure where that might be. Once I started spending more time up here I absolutely fell in love with it and realized that this was where I was being called to.
Q: What do you love about the neighborhood?
I think it’s the fact that it really does feel like a neighborhood. There’s this incredible sense of community, which I personally hadn’t experienced in this way anywhere else in New York. Even before I moved, just by spending so much time here, people got to know me and welcome me in.
And then, nature. Nature for me is a really vital part of my own existence. There are so many aspects of New York that I’m head over heels in love with, but the biggest struggle for me by far is not being immersed nature. So having the parks up here and actually being able to find some quiet space in a tree or on a rock at any time of day is such a gift.
Q: What do you enjoy about teaching at Bread and Yoga?
One of the things that strikes me so much about Bread and Yoga is the community. It’s such a blessing to be able to take classes there and be a teacher there. It feels like a second home in so many ways. I am filled with gratitude each time I walk in the door, for the people, the space, the energy. It warms my heart.