Jay Jones

Jay Jones is the owner and director of Bikram Yoga SLC. She’s fantastic.

I met Jay because I landed a spot working at the Athlete Village at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. I was still in L.A. at the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training when I got the news about the job. I sent an e-mail to the Salt Lake Bikram studio to ask if anyone in the Yoga community could rent me a room for a few weeks. Jay wrote back to say that she was looking to hire a teacher, how soon could I get there?

I completed teacher training, flew home to Michigan, and drove out to Utah. Jay had had two other teachers on staff, but through a fluke of timing, one got married and moved away within a few days of the other teacher moving to go back to school. Jay had been covering the entire 22 classes per week schedule by herself for a bit before I arrived. Was she ever glad to see me. I think I taught over ten classes my first week. You can’t beat that kind of frequency to get solid and build confidence.

For a while, it was just the two of us at the studio in what became Stage 2 of Teacher Training for me. Jay had been a teacher in another style of Yoga for 20 years or more before getting certified in Bikram and opening the hot studio. She knew Yoga poses and she knew teaching. She took me apart in both areas and put me back together. In some of the early days, she would take one of my classes and approach me afterward with a written list of 10-12 things she thought I needed to improve. Comments about word choices that weren’t clear, pose directions that weren’t as accurate or helpful as they could be, adjustments to my timing, etc. I can remember feeling tired and overwhelmed and wishing she would just give me two comments at a time. I would be able to remember and work on two. I did improve. The note sheets got shorter and then stopped altogether.

Jay had a fabulous eye for how a student was getting stuck in troublesome poses and how to guide them through the block. She also had a great eye for laziness. We were doing some advanced poses one day in a special class for teachers. I asked why I kept falling out of one and she immediately replied that it was because I cheated on a particular pose in the beginners’ class. Sure enough, when I began to fully engage with that pose, several of the advanced asanas became easy. She saw everything.

Because I wouldn’t be able to teach many classes while working 60-70 hour weeks at the Olympic Village, Jay put out the word and hired two more teachers. She had a four bedroom house and allowed not-from-the-area teachers to stay at her place. Soon we had a cozy and companionable Yoga house with occasional meals together, some cozy evenings in the living room and everyone taking each others’ classes. It was really nice.

When the Games ended, my time freed up tremendously, but we had two additional teachers on staff so I only taught about four classes each week. This gave me lots of free time and allowed me to attend one or two classes per day taught by my housemates. To my great delight, Jay got in the habit of offering a one-hour class each morning for teachers and a select group of students. I would attend the 6am class as a warm-up and then she would work with us on deep backbends, twists, hip-openers, etc. in the break before the 9am class started. I told you it was like the second phase of Yoga training for me.

I stayed on until the end of April. Teaching four classes per week wasn’t really enough to call an income and it seemed silly to get a part-time job to support my hobby of teaching Yoga. I found another studio in need of a teacher and moved on. I still keep in touch with Jay now and then. I’m very aware of the impact her mentoring still has on me as a teacher and I have very fond memories of the time I trained with her. Many thanks!

If you live in Salt Lake City and are interested in Yoga, look into Jay’s studio. She has a great intro plan for Utah residents who are first-time Bikram students. If you’re just passing through, check out her Out-of-Towner special.

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