“If a Door Doesn’t Open, It’s Not Your Door.”

Jen Elliott shares the power of humility, honesty, and the ability to recognize your moment.

If you sign up for class with Jennifer Elliott, you’re in for a treat. Her gentle yet innovative approach to restorative and yin yoga is truly one-of-a-kind. Experienced and thoughtful, Jennifer fully understands the common hesitancies one might have toward a slower practice, and finds ways to help her students find comfort in the stillness by encouraging ease over perfection and tranquility over tumult. Even the most ambitious of yogis can celebrate their innate yearning for serenity in her powerful classes.

Jennifer first found her practice when a college professor suggested she write an essay on yoga and meditation. The experience sparked a life-changing fascination with yoga, where she developed the skills to help her navigate life’s many ups and downs. In addition to the physical asana, Jennifer teaches contemplation and self-study, supporting a skill-set with just as much emphasis on the mental as the physical. In her Wanderlust TV series, The Revival, Jennifer offers a mix of restorative and yin yoga to promote therapeutic rest and healing. This isn’t your typical yin class—with innovative propwork, creative sequencing, and a soul-soothing soundtrack, The Revival is a total relaxation experience.

Learn more about Jennifer and her teaching style through our exclusive, one-on-one interview:

What do you consider the most important virtue and why?

Personally, I think humility is one of the most important virtues. When you achieve great things, humility reminds you to be thankful instead of boastful. When you’re not humble, you may put too much importance on your “successes” and may feel superior or judgmental to those who haven’t done the same. Humility keeps us grounded and respectful of others, no matter where they are on their journey. It also reminds us not to be too attached to the outcome of your efforts and to be of service of others.

What do you feel is the greatest misconception regarding yoga?

I think the greatest misconception of yoga is that it’s all physical postures, and that you have to be young and flexible to achieve them. Many people don’t know that yoga postures, or asanas, are only 1/8 of the yoga experience. The postures aren’t even the most important part of the practice. How you treat yourself and others, breathwork, and meditation are just a few of the other aspects of yoga. When students think that the hard postures advertised on social media are the goal, they may feel it’s not for them and really miss out on some great benefits of yoga.

What is something you wish you knew when beginning your yoga practice?

At the beginning of my practice I thought that if I just kept trying that I would achieve every pose. I would feel upset with myself if I couldn’t get into the same pose as the person next to me. Over time some of my poses got better and some did not. I didn’t realize that some of that reason was just structure of the body. Once I realized that my body didn’t bend that way or to that degree, I stopped beating myself up for what I thought wasn’t good enough and gave myself permission to be where I was in the pose. Even if it didn’t “look” like what I imagined was the goal.

What is one thing your students might not know about you?

Some people may not know that we have a rescue bunny. Years ago my husband found some crows trying to eat a baby bunny. He scared them away and thought the bunny would run. It was scared and hurt and the crows just came back. He finally took the bunny and brought him to the house—the poor thing was in shock and slept the whole day. We called a wildlife hotline and they said to put him outside so he could go back into the open, so we put him on our patio where he had access to the outside. But when we tried, he cried,  and that just about broke our heart. The next day the bunny was still there. He wouldn’t leave, and three days later he just hopped into the house. We finally got him to eat and researched what he needed to survive. Now four years later, he’s a delightful addition to our family. 

What trait do you most value in your friends?

Honesty. I think it’s important to know that you have people in your life that will be truthful and tell you their thoughts and opinions. It’s through these truths from people you know and respect that can help you contemplate your thoughts and move forward with all sides considered.  

What is your personal mantra?

“If the door doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” I love this mantra. In the moment I may not always be present to remember it, but in hindsight it always applies. Many times I have felt that some opportunity was meant for me, and I’ve been upset when I didn’t get it. After some time passes I find that that the open space created from the missed opportunity leaves me available for another one that may have even been better. I try and remember that when the door doesn’t open, there is usually another coming.

What is the first yoga pose you do when getting off an airplane? Why?

When I get off an airplane I usually have a bit of a walk to either get to the baggage claim or my transportation. I’m always thankful for this time as the walking allows the back and hip muscles to relax and stretch. Then the first yoga pose I find myself doing is a version of Downward Dog called Extended Puppy Pose. I put my hands on the top of my extended suitcase handle and stretch my spine and hamstrings by walking my hips back and dropping my chest parallel to the floor.

Who is your fictional hero and why?

My fictional hero is Wonder Woman. When I was a kid I can remember running around in my Wonder Woman underoos with aluminum foil wrist bands and yelling, “I have the power!” (Yes, I realize that was a He-Man quote, but I think that the point is the same.) Wonder Woman was one of the only female heroes a young girl could look up to. She was strong and intelligent and forged her own path through life.

What would you like to see change within the yoga industry?

I’d like to see a change in the yoga industry in relation to social media. When I started 20 years ago, yoga wasn’t as mainstream as it is now, so you spent time on your mat with a master teacher learning the poses. Now anyone with a camera phone can post their postures online. Don’t get me wrong, I think that yoga postures coupled with a stunning background can look amazing. But unfortunately it turns yoga into just physical postures and more ego driven then it was originally intended. Also, someone with a lot of followers can have a lot of influence on what people think or do with their yoga practice and they may not even be trained.

What would you like to see change in the world?

I wish the world could unite. Right now I see a lot of adversarial issues in the world. These subconscious motives create false dichotomies where each side wants to be right and the other wrong. At some point you may find your self part of one of these arguments: left versus right, women versus men, religions against each other, ethnicities against one other. I wish that everyone could step back and notice that the lines between us are more blurred than defined and if we look hard enough we can find commonalities that join us instead of differences that divide. It’s through anger and fear that we become blind to these similarities and feel justified in our behaviors.

This is part of our “10 Yogi Questions” series. Click here for other exclusive interviews with Wanderlust TV teachers.