Jennifer Guinter '16
Q: What is your background in Yoga and how did you come to join the Master's in Yoga Studies?
I first tried Yoga in high school after seeing an advertisement on the side of a pickup truck in rural North Georgia. It was a humble beginning; I practiced on a beach towel, and quite often would be the only student to show up to class in the garage-turned-studio. The teacher welcomed me to stay as long as I liked in shavāsana every week, and then join their family for a vegan lunch afterward; I knew nothing of the history nor philosophy of Yoga, but did sense that there was something profound about living a yogic lifestyle, and learning to link movement and breath.
I worked in nonprofits after college but always felt a drive to more deeply understand Yoga. Initially I achieved this through an embodied approach of becoming a licensed massage therapist through the Asheville School of Massage & Yoga, which utilized Yoga to teach anatomy and ethics--and did a 200 hour yoga teacher training at the nearby Asheville Yoga Center. Through my nonprofit work I had scholarships for graduate study, which led me to the Yoga Studies program at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
Q: How did the master's program influence your future trajectory?
My previous work had been a very embodied approach to Yoga, which is very important; however gaining a greater understanding of the language, history, and philosophy has resulted in a far more well-rounded understanding of Yoga as a system of holistic wellness AND a fascinating and meaningful network of interconnected philosophical systems. I feel equally prepared to write and/or speak about what I have learned about Yoga in both an academic, philosophical context as well as a holistic wellness context--and perhaps more importantly, bridge any gaps between those contexts.
Q: What courses or specific topics have you found most relevant moving forward?
While I was most anxious and hesitant about learning Sanskrit, it was actually one of the more profound portions of the program for me. Gaining a deeper understanding of Sanskrit allowed me to formulate my own opinions about what the ancient texts we studied were conveying, thus not relying entirely on another person's translations and biases; and studying the language helped me more deeply understand the context in which Yoga evolved. Exploring Samkhya, Buddhism, Sanskrit, and more also offered a far deeper connection to the Yoga Sūtras in a way that I had previously never been able to access. History of Modern Yoga was also beneficial in helping me gain a deeper understanding of how and why yoga evolved as it spread outside of India.
Q: What are you doing now?
I teach Yoga and Yoga Therapy at University of Southern California, and am completing the Post Graduate Yoga Therapy (PGYT) certification at LMU--soon to offer a presentation about a therapeutic approach to AcroYoga. I also do some writing and editing on yoga books and articles, and work with private clients and small groups through my small business Southern Sun Wellness, which includes assisted stretching, AcroYoga, bodywork, and yoga therapy.