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Meet Kari Jaffe of This Yogi Life

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kari Jaffe.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kari. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I had an incredible childhood with a loving and supportive family who surrounded me with a community that allowed me to perpetually grow and expand. However, in that sacred community, food was also a constant. Growing up in a semi-religious Jewish home, my family hosted most holidays and my mom was above and beyond a fantastic chef. It was normal in my house to finish your plate, and then another. In fact, it was almost offensive if you didn’t. In my family, food was used to bring people together but also used as a dependency and coping mechanism.

Diabetes, heart disease and depression had a history in my family and I was definitely headed in that direction. My childhood into young adulthood was riddled with obesity.

This trickled into college where I gained the freshman fifteen, which in my case was actually the freshman forty. During the second half of my sophomore year, my first real love broke up with me and I sunk to an even lower place. The magnitude of my heartache was swept away in sugary snacks, salt & vinegar chips, and entirely too much In-N-Out.

After some time of coddling and self-loathing, I looked in the mirror to find myself at 210 pounds. I was completely disappointed in my lack of self-care and in that moment, I knew I had to take charge. I went to Weight Watchers the next day and started their program of counting points. Their tools were very helpful and before I knew it, I lost 40 pounds the good old fashioned way with diet and exercise. My body began to plateau so I dove into private workouts with personal trainers.

By 2008 I was living in Miami’s South Beach and working out with my trainer Tiffany, who became a close friend. She challenged my body in ways no other trainer had before.

We did all sorts of plyometric work, suspension training, boxing and basically anything with a Bosu ball. Together we made demands on my body that I didn’t even know I was capable of. After some time working together, she invited me to join her for a Bikram Yoga class. Immediately, I clammed up at the idea of stepping into a 105-degree room, in August, in Miami. But Tiffany knew what I was made of and essentially did not take no for an answer.

I was jarred by what some of these yogis were capable of and the way they moved their bodies. I hated the heat, but I was hooked. I practiced quite consistently for just over three years. I could not believe the benefits. Fascinating on so many levels. I slept better.

I was hydrated all the time and my skin started to get a new, more brighter glow to it. My joints began to loosen and I actually began the long journey of re-aligning my duck feet, fallen arches, knock knees, and chronic lower back pain. I watched myself shapeshift my own physical body. Around the beginning of 2012, I had an epiphany that I could be a teacher. I signed up for teacher training in Los Angeles to commence in spring of 2013.

Upon completion, I found a home at Bikram Yoga Marina del Rey (now re-branded as Beyond Bikram). I was so well received by the community there and really given a platform to grow. I knew a Yogic entrepreneurship would be my life’s work so I decided I had to brand myself. Enter: This Yogi Life.

I quickly started a kids program, implemented at a few schools on the west side, called Practice not Perfect, serving ages 5-15 and is coming up on its fifth year. It was so much fun to explore yoga at the level of a child’s mind. This also leads to kid’s birthday parties and other opportunities for children in the conscious community. I’ve spent time working closely with all levels of athletes who suffer from chronic injuries and ailments and have worked with seniors who practice postures from the comfort of their chair.

Ever the student, I am always searching and striving to learn more, so I can be the most effective teacher possible. I continued my education at Loyola Marymount University, Yoga and the Healing Sciences program, 200-hour RYT and went further for accreditation with Hot 8 Yoga, receiving my certificate in Yin Yoga. While I teach nearly 30 public classes a month, I have also brought my vast experience to health and wellness retreats, mindfulness workshops, the festival community, corporate offices, professional athletes and many private clients.

My style of teaching is mechanical and super anatomically driven. However, above all, I stand behind breath as the ultimate guide. It’s always breath first, form second, and the two together will unlock the magic of your practice. I am extremely compassionate, I keep it effortlessly real with humor, laughter and a little bit of Jersey, plus all the hand gestures you can handle. I have a deep understanding that in this human experience we’re all in it together.

As a student who remains forever interested in her practice, I require that same inquisitiveness from the people who honor me with the duty of teaching them.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Of course not! Who’s story is?? I’d like to meet them!

Throughout my self-exploration journey, I’ve moved countless times, being far from my family and home base, living in Miami, New Jersey, Barcelona, Los Angeles, Las Vegas to name a few. I’ve gained a few pounds, compared myself to the unrealistic social media expectations of yoga posing and constantly question if I’m moving towards the ultimate goal.

I got married, separated, back together and then ultimately split again, finalizing in divorce. Of course, that story has many chapters of its own, but ultimately, the lessons learned from that are priceless. Being a healer and an unconditional giver can attract some toxic people. The most important lesson from that relationship is to trust my intuition and find the balance between loving freely and being taken advantage of.

I lost my dad this past November. His untimely death has left a massive hole in my heart. I’m like my dad in a lot of ways, gregarious, boisterous, ability to find humor in things, the power to love on an unparalleled level. But my favorite trait that we share is my ability to walk into a room and command attention, not in an ego-driven way at all.

Rather, that people respect me and acknowledge what I have to offer. So even with this challenge and pain in the loss of my dad, I know that he is always with me which allows me to continue to shine so bright.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the This Yogi Life story. Tell us more about the business.
This Yogi Life was created to bridge the gap from the yoga room to the street. I specialize in the proliferation of Yoga evolution.

As I mentioned, I work closely with all age ranges from small children to professional athletes to elderly in wheelchairs. I’ve taught students who are fighting morbid obesity and others who have lost limbs. I’m an activewear sales rep for Uintah Collection, made in LA, which has allowed me to share my gift of gab, love of yoga and obsession with fashion. After years of friendship and a craving to work together, my dear friend DJ RyToast and I have developed a dope underground yoga event called @beatsbalanceflow that is homegrown and flourishing organically. We curate sequences to music and share our passion with anyone who has a willingness to explore, We just came off the heels of Lightning in a Bottle and Disclosurefest, with some other fun festivals in the lineup.

What really sets me apart are two things. Relate-ability and Intuition. I’ve struggled profusely with weight and body image issues, which I’m very candid about. People appreciate that level of honesty and it builds a special kind of trust. My intuition, with the combination of my tremendous understanding of the physical body, allows me to push students right to their edge without them ever feeling like they are not capable. For me, it’s really all about making that one personal connection, letting people know “I got you”. Sometimes that requires dropping an F-bomb in class or taking time after to just listen to a student who is struggling on a deeper level. I always make myself available to my community and keep it real with laughter and a deep sense of humanity.

In the west, we are so culturally inundated with technology and overstimulation, that people “go to yoga” to decompress. My goal is to perpetuate that message outside of the yoga room. We should be able to be yogic at any level, like the intention with which you empty your dishwasher or fold your laundry. You see, “doing yoga” is really just a slice of the pie, literally.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga, described in Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s, include yoga asana (posture) as only ONE of the limbs! How do you treat self? How do you behave towards others? What is your level of cleanliness? How do you meditate? Concentrate? Can you incorporate breath work? How do you detach yourself from ego-driven forces? These are ALL part of the practice.

At This Yogi Life, I’m most proud of having fostered a community that recognizes that all of these different facets help to create a better version of self, so we can all vibrate at our highest potential.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t really believe in luck anymore. On some level, I know that I create exactly the life I want. However, on the other hand, I could argue that our lives are already destined before we even take a step.

I remember when I was younger, my mom had a stained glass piece of art hanging over the kitchen sink. It said, “you make plans and God laughs”. While I’ve moved away from religious terms like ‘god’, I know for sure that there is a higher power, a source, a vibration that is not tangible, but always available should I seek it. So I guess like with anything, there is a balance.

The conversations I have with the source and the way I choose to speak to myself and about myself propel me into the next realm and stratosphere where I am afforded the opportunity to grow and meet like-minded people who help perpetuate my message.

Those interpersonal connections are the driving force behind my life and my business.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
DJ RyToast @rytoast, Leila Brewster @leilabrewster, Jamal Damon @jaydamon

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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