Wellness Wednesday: Jade Wonzo’s Inside Out Approach to Yoga

My yoga teacher’s three-year-old son joined in our Zoom class one Saturday morning, sitting quietly in the opening poses. When he took off around the patio on his Big Wheel tricycle after a couple of minutes, I was admittedly relieved — it seemed so out of character for a little boy to be still — but I was also impressed that he stayed mostly quiet as Jade Wonzo of Jade Light Yoga maintained her focus on leading us through the class.

I spoke with Jade about it afterwards.

It’s amazing what kids absorb. He watches what I do and we talk about not letting feelings control you. He’s learned to say what he feels instead of letting emotions get to him most of the time.

Jade Wonzo of Jade Light Yoga

Breathing can change how you feel

An even bigger lesson revealed itself when her son was at his grandmother’s house one evening.

My mother-in-law called to tell me that he’d helped her through a kind of panic attack by suggesting she take some deep breaths. I was so proud of him for knowing that breathing can change how you feel. I hope that he carries that knowledge with him as he grows.

Jade Wonzo of Jade Light Yoga

Changing from the inside

Changing from the inside out is part of Jade’s approach to yoga.

You will get more flexible. You will get stronger. Maybe you’ll even lose weight. But when you connect inside of yourself, you will leave a yoga class feeling different. Through this physical practice, we can change from the inside out.

Jade Wonzo of Jade Light Yoga

That would be me. If my Apple watch doesn’t give me credit for the activity, it’s as if I’ve done nothing.

Sitting with the stillness

Jade asks us to bring our thoughts in from the day as we gather on our mats, and she suggests that we stay in our final resting pose, or shavasana, for a few minutes after class ends.

Let yourself simply sit with yourself in stillness. Listen to the silence and let your soul whisper to you in those moments.

Jade Wonzo of Jade Light Yoga

Letting go your grasp on outside things

She understands how challenging this can be, especially when life overwhelms us and we feel at sea. The pandemic, family, health, finances, we all have real stressors to deal with.

I know this is hard. Sit down, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Then, do it again, for as many times as it takes for you to surrender. Let go your grasp on outside things and return to the very thing you need most: your self.

This is the most important part of your practice. Don’t skip it. Be aware of the breath, relax fingers and toes, relax eyelids over the eyes. Remember that whatever you have to do will be there when you’re done with your own practice, your own self-care, your own time. Just allow the stillness to be OK.

Jade Wonzo of Jade Light Yoga

Shanti, shanti, shanti. Peace, peace, peace.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga
Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

Read more of my posts about Jade Wonzo: Meet Jade Wonzo, the Teacher Who Wants Yoga to be for All.

Wellness Wednesday: Meet Jade Wonzo, the Teacher Who Wants Yoga to be for All

I left my first yoga class halfway through feeling pretty defeated.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

I was not expecting my yoga teacher to admit this right up front in our interview. How refreshing!

It was hot. It was hard. I was uncomfortable. But I went back. And back. And back. Because it gave me this feeling of peace and calm all the way home.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

Jade Wonzo was working in the corporate world when she discovered yoga as a place that she could, as she puts it, “shut down.” Within a few years, she had quit her job to train as a yoga teacher, a skill she hoped to put to use in the gym she and her new husband were opening in Palm Beach County. 

Jade never did end up teaching there, but was picked up by LA Fitness and pop-up studios here and there, becoming part of the yoga community. As she was training and teaching, however, she noticed that she stood out.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

I was often the only person in the room who was brown and curvy.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

In addition to being bi-racial, Jade has struggled with her weight, topping off at 240 pounds at one point. She knew that there were others like her, just waiting to be invited into the calming practice of yoga.

How many people have shown up at a yoga class only to be the only one who looks like them? It’s a lonely and frustrating place to be.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

That’s when Jade quit trying to fit in and started teaching yoga the way she wanted to be taught. Her mantra is Yoga For All.

Everyone wants to be seen, to be heard, to be loved. And I think people see me and can identify with me — as a woman of color, as a large woman, as a mother.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga
Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

Jade’s son is three. The gym she began with her husband struggled through the pandemic intact, but the marriage did not. Jade is honest with her students about her struggles.

I’m in the process of a difficult divorce and my son recently had brain surgery. If it wasn’t for this practice, what I’ve gone through would have broken me.

Jade Wonzo, Jade Light Yoga

Instead, Jade gets on her mat and comes back to herself, showing up and sharing her journey with her students and her thousands of social media followers. Check out the stunning pictures and her candid posts on Jade’s Instagram and Facebook pages, and sign up to receive emails on her website.

And come join me in Jade’s 11AM Saturday morning class through the Palm Beach County Library, which runs through August. To register, click here.

Next time: tips from Jade Wonzo on how to get the most out of yoga.

Wellness Wednesday: Why Yoga is For Me

Midway through my weekly virtual yoga class last weekend, I sensed that I was being watched. I was belly-down, chest up doing the cobra on my mat in our backyard, and there, staring at me through the fronds of a spider plant, was an iguana. He was spring green, his spiky back like blades of grass, his neck a series of folds that could have been helped by a little yoga. I held my pose, he held his, and then we both slowly moved on.

An iguana in my backyard
An iguana in my backyard

Jade Light Yoga, Yoga 4 All

I’ve been taking Yoga 4 All with Jade Wonzo through the Palm Beach County Library for several months. Tired of a pandemic-full of ideal bodies showing us mere mortals how simple it is to do impossible things, I was intrigued by the inclusiveness of the class description.

Begin or continue your yoga journey with Jade Wonzo in an inclusive (online) space that recognizes the beauty in all shapes, sizes, colors, identities, and abilities.

The Palm Beach County Library

The instructor’s website, Jade Light Yoga, continues the theme, as she describes herself.

A curvy, short haired, biracial, brown skinned woman.

Jade Wonzo

Which she is.

She is also an insightful, calm, and light-hearted teacher who gives her students crystal clear, seamless instruction with options to take things up or down a notch along the way. I taught dance, fitness, and even a little yoga for many years, and I can say that you are in good hands with Jade.

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Jade Light Yoga

Perfect for my phase of recovery

Letting myself be directed by Jade for an hour every Saturday has become a highlight of this phase of my recovery.

In 2019, just days after leaving my fitness teaching work, I survived a ruptured arterial aneurysm while on vacation in Amsterdam. Six weeks in an Amsterdam ICU sapped my body of the ability to move. Six more weeks in OLVG’s recovery ward, and I was strong enough to fly home.

One year later, I had recovered my ability to fully use my body.

Two years later, I am sturdy and working on becoming supple. Jade’s Yoga 4 All is exactly where I’m at.

Yoga 4 All is free of charge thanks to the Friends of the Palm Beach County Library and is held on Saturdays at 11. Register here . See you there?