RidgeGate Up Close
Gwen Jackman, Yoga in the Park Teacher
“RidgeGate Up Close” is our series of interviews with people who make RidgeGate a more vibrant place. Read the unexpected stories of residents, workers and local leaders who live and work here. Know someone who has a unique perspective on life in RidgeGate? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month: Gwen Jackman
If you’ve been to RidgeGate’s Yoga in the Park series in Belvedere Park, you might recognize Gwen Jackman. For the last four years, Gwen has been teaching novice and experienced yogis alike at this FREE event taking place at 6:30 pm on the last Tuesday of each month from May through August. We met with Gwen to learn more about her personal yoga practice and what to expect at this popular community event.
What drew you to yoga in the beginning?
Gwen: I’ve been doing yoga for about 19 years and the reason I can keep track is because I was dropping my daughter off at preschool and a few moms invited me to join them at a class. I would have done just about anything to spend time around someone who wasn’t a toddler. I fell in love with it and practiced on my own for nine years before doing a 300-hour training. I’m certified through Yoga Alliance, and I have to maintain my certs by taking continuing education…which is really a pleasure to do anyway.
You have been teaching classes in the Lone Tree Recreation Center for five years. Have you taught outside before?
Gwen: Oh yes. I’ve taught RidgeGate’s Yoga in the Park for four years. I also teach some of the backcountry yoga in Highlands Ranch and I taught Yoga in the Gardens at the Hudson Gardens years ago.
How would you compare studio yoga to outdoor yoga?
Gwen: Well, being outside makes balance more challenging. There are a lot more distractions too. We also tend to attract a wider variety of ages for outdoor classes.
Does this mean an outdoor yoga class is good for beginners?
Gwen: Yoga is good for everyone. Yoga will meet you where you are. There’s a famous quote that says, “It’s not about touching your toes, but what you learn on the way down.” That’s why people refer to yoga as a “practice.” You are always working on it.
How do you structure your classes?
I like to theme my classes with a poem or a quote to start. I recently used a quote by the Persian poet Rumi that said, “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” In that class, we focused on our muscular energy…the squeezing in and the expanding out.
Do you incorporate meditation?
Gwen: I incorporate a little meditation at the beginning. I once did a 10-day silent meditation retreat in Texas. They take your phones. They encourage you not to bring journals or even books.
So, what did you learn from your 10-day mediation retreat?
Gwen: …That meditation is hard. But honestly, I learned that even when you have no responsibilities and everything is quiet, your mind can still race. It took four days for me to quiet my mind.
Tell me about your bracelets? I’ve seen other yoga instructors wearing those before.
These are malas and you use them for meditation. If you repeat 21 mantras as part of your practice, for example, you can pull each bead through your fingers to keep track. They help with focus and mindfulness.
So outside of Yoga in the Park in RidgeGate, where else can people join you for a class?
Gwen: I teach Gentle Yoga at 10:30am on Thursdays at the Lone Tree Recreation Center. That place is such a hidden gem. It has so much to offer. Please come join us!