Today we’d like to introduce you to De Jur Jones.
De Jur, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
It all began when my uterus was incinerated, aka, removed. Prior to this, I had little to no knowledge of yoga. I thought it was for skinny white girls who could put their legs behind their heads. I was wrong. A friend suggested I go to yoga as part of my recovery. I went to yoga and my first class was at the Westside Y with Bhavani, whom I now refer to as my yoga Godmother. Somehow, 10 years later, I found myself in my first of several yoga teacher trainings.
During that first training, I read an article, written by an inmate in San Quentin talking about the one hour during the week where he felt free. He was talking practicing yoga with James Fox’s Prison Yoga Project, an organization that provides yoga in prison. I searched for a Prison Yoga Project training in Los Angeles because I knew I wanted this to be my niche. I did my first training with James Fox in 2012 and assisted him in 2013 and 2014. Around this same time, I also completed my Yoga Therapy certification through Loyola Marymount University.
I began teaching in the women’s unit at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, I later met Jill Ippolito of Uprising Yoga, took her trauma-informed training and began teaching to CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) youth at Eastlake Juvenile Hall. I continued learning about a trauma-sensitive approach through trainings with Hala Khouri. I took the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind 200hr training led by Hala Khouri, Julian Walker and Jay Fields, which furthered my interest in working with underserved communities through a trauma-sensitive and social justice lens.
I am part of Uprising Yoga and Prison Yoga + Meditation. I teach in under-resourced communities across Los Angeles and South Bay, seniors and parolees. My teaching partner, Sarit Rogers, and I currently have a contract to teach adolescents in group homes in South LA and classes at Community Based Adult Service Centers.
I am part of a rotating group of teachers that provides yoga to the women doing time at the California Institute for Women (CIW) in Chino, the men and women at Metropolitan Detention Center Los Angeles (MDCLA), and beginning in June, California State Prison, LA County (CDCR) in Lancaster. Occasionally, I sub at Crenshaw Yoga & Dance and Green Tree Yoga & Meditation.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One of the largest challenges has been getting people to understand the need for a trauma-informed approach–not only in under-resourced and underserved communities but for all people. As Hala Khouri says, “Trauma-informed yoga is people informed yoga.” Often times, I have come up against resistance in some communities based on spiritual conflicts, financial accessibility, a misunderstanding and/or lack of education regarding the value and benefits of therapeutic, trauma-informed yoga.
It’s an honor and privilege teaching to folks in prisons and jails, as we are part of the valued volunteer sector– that means we do not receive monetary compensation to teach. It also means I cannot rely on yoga as a true income source if I solely focus on incarcerated populations. This is why I began teaching at community centers, and offering my services to organizations that provide direct services to the communities that I love to work with.
I Dream In Yoga – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am known for my sense of humor, sociability, playful approach that’s seasoned with a little sass. I specialize in therapeutic yoga and trauma-informed yoga. I am an Accessible Yoga Ambassador, Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) certified to teach Yin, Yoga for All Bodies, Hatha and Vinyasa styles of yoga.
I am most proud of the fact that I have created a path for myself that affords me the opportunities and ability to work in some of the darkest places with a sense of kindness, compassion, wit and service.
I am not your typical yoga teacher: I’m not interested in Cirque de Soleil poses or yoga party tricks (despite their visual intrigue), I am interested in providing a space for healing, self-care, self-love, restoration and resilience.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me today would be mastering the Lizard pose series in Yin without the gnashing of teeth and shallow breaths. Success is finding space and ease in our breath even when things are challenging both on and off the mat.
Success is when my students feel a little bit better or a little bit more relaxed or that they have more patience with their family. I look for small bits of success in folks that are living amidst poverty, traumatized environments, prisons, etc, a piece of wellbeing that reminds them they are alive.
- Private 1 hour Yoga session: $125
- Yoga Packages: 5 classes for $600
- Website: www.idreaminyoga.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @mzdejur