Insight + Interview: Jacqueline Smyth

Meet Jacqueline Smyth: Proud mama. Destination Coach and Yoga Teacher. Writer. Traveler. Story Collector. Believer. And Founder of Sisterhood of the Traveling Mats

Jacqueline Smyth

We are so excited to welcome Jacqueline into our CREATE community! We had the opportunity to get the down low on the experiences and insights that led her to where she is today just before her recent adventures in Bali and, we find ourselves spilling over with so much inspiration from her story that, we can’t help but share the interview with you:

How AWESOME is it that we’ve come together when so many things you’ve been manifesting are now unfolding Jacqueline! We can’t wait to see and hear about everything you are up to as your journey continues. It’s always so beautiful to watch people’s dreams manifest right before them; even more so, captivating to hear the story that goes on behind the curtain and all the experiences that got them there.  So, let’s hear it. We want to know more about the real you.

First thing’s first: yoga seems to be a huge part of your life. How did it first come into your life?

Yoga came into my life, I think like many, at a time of transition. I wasn’t incredibly happy with my life and career path, and initially found yoga searching for a new workout. But right away I found that after I practiced I found the clarity I was looking for. It didn’t matter what day or time, what I was going through–I knew once I stepped off of my mat I felt good. And that’s the way I wanted to feel.

How has your practice changed over the years, both physically as well as teaching?

Oh man! I can’t even count the ways. Yes, I love the physicality of a strong practice–but more so for me, the mental aspect is where it’s at. I teach to what I need and what I’ve been going through… And it seems (just even by the memes as you scroll through your social media feeds) that we’re all going through similar things at the same time, and I find that even in a difficult pose, if you relate it to something mental, your body will open up and soften into it differently. Mind body connection over everything 😉

We love your blog! What inspired you to start Sisterhood of the Traveling Mats? (SOTM is a lifestyle blog for the dreamers, go-getters, yoga-loving souls and wanderlusting hearts of the world that offers online community, life coaching, retreats and more.)

SOTM was dreamt up in my yoga teacher training in Bali. The freedom, the knowledge, the travel, and the relationships were so captivating–I wanted to know what it’d be like to open that up on a broader spectrum.

How has SOTM evolved over the years?

It’s evolved the same way I have. From traveling, to exploring philosophy, to adventure (even in the day to day aspects), I want to encourage anyone who reads to follow their instincts–because at the end of the day, it will never lead you astray.

We know you love to travel. What are some of the most life-changing places you have been?

It seems crazy, but anywhere can be life changing. I’m the sort of traveler who doesn’t like to plan much, which automatically pushes the unknown on you! From being lost in the rain to finding connections with other travelers who are doing the same thing, to booking the shittiest hotel and checking out in the middle of the night–I live for experience. The once in a lifetime kind.

Life changing? Yes please!

What about travel inspires you?

What doesn’t inspire me about travel?! I love to get lost. I love to find more of myself. I love everything in between.

How does travel inspire your practice, both physically as well as teaching?

I think the one thing that travel really puts into such great perspective for me is that I am always exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m always at home.

In my body, in my breath… Wherever that is in the world.

How does it inspire your writing?

Yoga inspired the travel, and travel inspired the writing. Again, following those simple instincts have dominoed into creating my whole life. And I’m really proud of the person I’ve become since I embarked on my yoga practice. Mostly because it’s 100% authentically me.

You’ve recently embarked on an amazing adventure. Why Bali?

Bali is the place in the world where transformation occurred the strongest for me. When I was a little girl I remember my mom telling me how when I was older I’d go away to Paris and paint and find myself. I chose Bali, and yoga chose me…but my mother was right.

Tell us about your son and your relationship to Bali!

I have a 2 year old son named Asa. He’s also a direct domino from my practice! (Long story, but seriously…direct 😉 ) When I was five months pregnant I left the country and traveled around the world solo; I wanted to fill my pregnancy with the best things I could, because after all…I was creating a human being. It came out of a place of really needing to find inspiration, and I loved the travels, but I wanted to bring a life into the world in the most magical of places that I could imagine… And so, back to Bali I went. We stayed for 4 months after he was born before returning back to the US, and now we’re back here again because I couldn’t wait to show him where he came into this world.

What were you most excited to do in Bali this time around?

First time I was here I was doing my YTT, second time I was super pregnant and then newborn status…this time…TRAVEL! I’m seeking out all the hidden treasures that Bali has to offer…and MAN…am I finding some good ones!

What are your plans when you return? Where can we find you to connect and hear all about your adventures?!

You know, it’s so funny. I’ve never traveled and had a strong home base before. Every time previous to now I was in some sort of life transition. I couldn’t be happier that I miss home. First time missing…and it feels SO good! I’m excited to come home and teach, lead women’s circles and get back to goal coaching–and so excited to be a part of CREATE and watch it blossom!

What are you most excited about with CREATE?

I can’t wait to build a community with you guys! Your vision is so amazing, the room is EPIC, and the tribe is really inspiring. I’m excited to…well, CREATE 😉

What makes you feel most creative?

The unknown. Transforming struggle. Coming alive through inspiration. So many things.

What are you excited to create this year?

I’m leading my first retreat here in Bali in January focused around manifesting for the new year! I’m super excited to bring a group here and watch the magic unfold. I’m also really excited about leading online women’s circles, and to connect with my readers that maybe aren’t able to access that kind of community.

And again, we are so thrilled to have you as a part of our community here. One last question, and this is one we may ask all of our contributors to the blog: When you’re 85, what’s the one thing you hope people will say you’ve created with your life?

A fucking life I LOVE. Filled with all the good stuff. Community. Connections. Love. Magic… Actually, all the best stuff.

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Jacquelin Smyth

For more from Jacqueline Smyth about bringing the freedom of choice, adventure, authenticity and creation into your own life  join the inspired Sisterhood of the Traveling Mats! You can also celebrate her return to LA and attend her Manifesting Moon Women’s Circle Workshop at CREATE|YOGA this Friday at 8PM or, find her teaching her weekly yoga classes in our space Thursdays 5:30-6:30PM and Sundays 11AM-12PM!

Celebrating EVERYbody at CREATE|YOGA’s Soft Opening

I am a closet yogi, in that I do yoga in my closet. Okay, it’s a modified sunroom where I hang my clothes and get ready, but I think the physical space I allow myself to do yoga in is a pretty decent metaphor for the space I give my practice in general–not very much. I took yoga in college and after supplementing my knowledge with youtube videos I’ve figured out how to squeeze it in before work, after tutoring, on lunch breaks, or between grocery shopping and homework. I do it by myself with my eyes closed. I don’t think I’m unique in this private DIY sort of workout or yoga practice; in Los Angeles, where so many of us spend time chasing dreams and challenging our minds, it’s easy to neglect our bodies. Maybe we find ourselves egotistically concerned with the superficial appearance of them. Or our body’s health takes the backseat. We become ashamed of them; we think about, feel and treat them like they are secrets. But the reality is: we do live in them and WILL live with them–this one, the same one–always. Shouldn’t we be mindful of how we use our bodies and seek out ways to appreciate and celebrate them?

I think so.

Reconnecting with this belief, I took my invitation to CREATE I YOGA’s soft opening from my friend (and CREATE owner) Marissa like a sign: it was time to stop confining my body to small spaces like offices and cars; it was time to break out of the shell I’d made out of my skin. Everybody—yogi or not—needs a class to motivate, inspire, challenge and support them. What better place to do it than here with a creative, welcoming community? And how awesome would it be to support a group of young, inspired friends?

My friend Nikki and I arrived about 15 minutes before the free class started in our yoga best: extravagant leggings and impressive bodysuits. We were welcomed into the lobby from the sidewalk with the electric buzz of bass and thumping beats from the DJ and the excited chatter of voices inside. The lobby looked like the interior of a genie’s bottle with curtains, soft rugs and bright lighting. We kicked off our sandals along the shoe-lined wall and moved to enter the larger room–but not before Selah (another one of the owners) stopped to give us both a big squeeze to thank us for coming. Nikki and I concurred–it was a memorably great squeeze.

Walking into the studio looked like walking into the sea: the floors are a shining teal and the ceiling is lined with fabric not unlike clouds or ship sails full of wind. It looked and felt open and bright. We put away our purses in the honeycomb cubbies and walked to the tables along the back wall where about fifty people mingled about the clothing vendors, food and drinks. I sipped on maca and Nikki and I toasted each other turmeric orange and ginger lemon shots before Marissa asked us to lay out our mats.

 

As we all made our way to our backs the music changed and so did the mood. Paige, the instructor asked us to set an intention for our practice and I reminded myself of what I came for: to break from my routine, and celebrate my body. The room was full–and as we moved to standing and then forward fold we giggled with our butts in each other’s faces until we shifted, learning to work together so that the room felt open again, instead of crowded.

Despite our varied levels, Paige had us all sweating with tough core exercises and I enjoyed being reminded of poses I’d frankly forgotten about. I breathed deeply into my chest, shoulders and belly in “wild thing,” opening my heart towards the sky. When I rested my head on my hands in “pigeon” I heard a faint swishing sound above me from Paige rubbing her hands together, before she massaged my shoulders and back. Energy spread from my breath to my hamstrings in standing splits and I noticed my mind was quiet–focused entirely on the pose and the moment. I smiled to myself; I was proud of how alive my body felt.

When we arrived in savasana a sweet cover of “Landslide” rang over the speakers and we all took a moment to soak in the lyrics: well I’ve been afraid of changing. CREATE | YOGA’s first theme for the blog’s rolling submissions* is all about creating change—how perfect. I took a moment to be grateful for the changes, however scary or difficult, that are happening in my life and the world, and how necessary these changes are. Paige sent us off with anjali mudra and one last phrase we all “chanted,”

YOU. ARE. AWESOME.

In a state of post-yoga bliss we all rolled up our mats and returned to mingling and enjoying complimentary sparkling tea and hard cider poured by yet another inspiring CREATE owner, Jenn: a sweet reward for our hard work. I felt refreshed and rejuvenated from the yoga class and now, more eager to get to know who else was in the room. After starting up conversation I found out some people lived in the neighborhood and were drawn in by the signs on the street; others found the invitation on Facebook, and others were teachers at the studio, or friends and family of the owners. Part of the CREATE | YOGA mission is to foster an inspiring community, and discovering what brought everyone together at the soft opening spoke to how strong that community already is.

As I left the studio that day I noted some of the classes they had scrawled on a chalkboard in the lobby for the Grand Opening Party on July 16th: Deep House + Glow Yoga, Jedi Yoga, Manifesting the Sh*t Out of your Dreams, and I realized the potential this space has for changing lives. I already feel like a Jedi for stepping out of my small sunroom and into the open sea of a studio to celebrate myself and a new community, and I am stoked to see how else I can engage my mind and body at CREATE | YOGA.

*Much like the studio itself, CREATE’s blog is a space that facilitates and celebrate’s creativity. We will be accepting rolling submissions based on quarterly themes. This quarter’s theme is “Creating Change.” If interested in submitting, email us at submissions@createyoga.com.

Author: Katy Avila