On the mat // A Gorilla Yogi guru

An interview with yoga teacher Jessica Rosenberg

Jessica Rosenberg is one of the co-founders of Gorilla Yogis. It’s a creative movement that has been bringing people from all over the metro together for special yoga practices once a month at venues you might not expect to find yogis — places like Target Field, the Guthrie Theater and Mpls Photo Center.

Rosenberg teaches at studios all over town, including many places in Southwest. She is also the founder of the Adventures of Super Stretch, a yoga program for children. Here are highlights of a recent interview with Rosenberg.


SWJ: What drew you to yoga?


Rosenberg:
I was drawn to the freeing movement, the richness of the breath, the philosophy, the yogic lifestyle. The first time I stepped on to a mat my whole body/mind felt balanced and peaceful. I was ‘om sweet om.’

How has your practice evolved over the years?

When I started yoga I was following what I read in books. And then I began to go to a lot of yoga classes and workshops. Now, my personal asana practice has become a playful and dynamic version of Ashtanga with a daily seated meditation at home, in a park or any available space I can find.

What’s the Adventures of Super Stretch all about?

The Adventures of Super Stretch is an inspirational, interactive yoga journey for children of all ages. Super Stretch takes kids, their families and friends on a series of fun fitness adventures. The Adventures of Super Stretch uses yogic principles, breathing tools and movements to help teach a variety of life skills, which include: self-respect, sharing, honesty and staying calm in challenging situations.

The books, flashcards and games teach children how to incorporate the lessons into their daily routine. The goal of the program is to make yoga available to everyone, creating strong bodies, clear minds and pure hearts. And to inspire children to develop healthy habits at a young age that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

 

What’s your take on the popularity of Gorilla Yogis? Why do you think there’s been such a strong response to it?

Gorilla Yogis is what yoga is all about — community, joy, experience. I think that is why it has caught on. Gorilla Yogis creates awareness to new places and new spaces in the Twin Cities. The mission of Gorilla Yogis is to take yoga out of captivity of the four walls of a yoga studio and into the urban jungle. Gorilla Yogis are pure of heart revolutionaries. We live in the OM and Respect the Unexpected. We are dedicated to connecting and creating a community of peace, love, and happiness — through yoga.

Now, Gorilla Yogis are spreading their wings with new affiliates popping up around the world. Since the Gorilla Yogis movement started in early 2010 it has already raised thousands of dollars for a variety of charities.


Where do you teach?

I teach group classes, individual privates and once a month workshops for adults and children at wonderful places all around Minneapolis: The Firm, taraNa, Marsh, lululemon, Blooma and Om Collective. Plus, I teach wellness classes for many Minneapolis child development programs in the greater Twin Cities like Project Success.

What’s your advice to someone new to the world of yoga?

Dive in, try it all and enjoy the amazing experiences that every style of yoga has to offer. There is no right or wrong type, find what resonates with you. Yoga is an art and science of the body/mind connection. It challenges the body, focuses the mind, the philosophical principles encourage growth and it has a wonderful meditative aspect. It is an incredible holistic approach to living.

How has yoga changed your life?

Over 10 years ago I took a sabbatical from my industrial design job. I have never looked back. Yoga has offered me amazing opportunities and life experiences, wonderful people to meet and incredible mentors to study with and constantly learn from.