Jessica Hyland, ‘21, recently started teaching yoga classes at Taylor Gym to share the philosophy of yoga with as many people as possible.
Over the summer, Hyland earned her 200-hour yoga teacher certification through a three-week program in Maui, Hawaii.
After feeling enlightened by the other women in the program and the course itself, she wanted to share the philosophy, anatomy and methodology of yoga with Lehigh students.
As soon as she got back to campus, she reached out to Genna Albano, the assistant manager of fitness and instructional programs at Taylor Gym. After an interview and credential check, she was offered a job at Taylor Gym.
She now teaches classes every Monday at 4:30 p.m. and has recently been gaining regular yogis.
One of her regulars is her Pi Beta Phi sorority sister Tracie Dinh, ‘22, who has taken yoga classes before and wanted to try one of Hyland’s classes. After her first class with Hyland, she said she fell in love with her teaching and has continued to attend. She said Hyland is a really good teacher because she teaches more than just the physical movements.
“I have never had a teacher who focuses so much on the origins of yoga, and she is really good about making the class make sense for beginners, but also making sure you learn a lot while you are there,” Dinh said.
Hyland said the certification program she completed was one of the most challenging things she will ever have to do, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
On the last day of the course, Hyland had to teach her first yoga class and was nervous because presentations often stress her out. However, as soon as the class began, she said it felt like the most natural thing she had ever done.
“It felt so amazing,” Hyland said. “I was in my zone.”
She said teaching her first class was the moment she realized she had to pursue yoga instruction, even if it was just as a side job.
Being able to teach at Taylor Gym has been a way for Hyland to share her passion with other Lehigh students, and continue to develop her teaching skills.
Taylor Gym provides a first step for many students to pursue their enthusiasm for fitness. Albano said teaching is a large time commitment for the students, but it is worth it in the end.
“This year I have the most student instructors I have ever had and I think it really speaks to this generation wanting to find different ways to relieve stress,” Albano said. “Some instructors, like (Hyland), really found yoga as a stress relief.”
Hyland has been practicing yoga inconsistently for a few years, but last year, when she became president of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and was consumed by stress, she started doing it consistently.
She lived in a single dorm room last year, and would take 30 minutes out of her day to be by herself and relax through a session of yoga in her room.
In addition to teaching yoga and serving as president of her sorority, Hyland studies psychology and health, medicine and society, and is an avid member of the Challah for Hunger club.
She said she has dreams of combining her psychology studies with her yoga passion to become a yoga therapist in the future.