Yoga of Liberation | Bio
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Jill Abelson

My yoga journey began as a young child watching the American public TV series “Lilias Yoga and You.” My older sister can confirm that after discovering Lilias,  I spent most of my time upside down. A love of movement drew me first to gymnastics, then to classical ballet that I’ve continued even to today.

When I was 25, I found yoga again. At first, practicing in the Sivananda tradition. By the late 1990s, I started to explore Ashtanga, Vinyasa Yoga and Jivamukti Yoga. I felt that, personally and professionally, all roads were leading me to Jivamukti. And that’s how it panned out.  Working full-time, I did teacher trainings with Shiva Rea (Vinyasa Flow), David Swenson (Ashtanga) and Lex Gillan (Hatha). In 2005, the stars aligned for me to go to Jivamukti’s 300HR teacher training program. As luck would have it, that year was the last full training taught entirely by my teachers Sharon Gannon and David Life.  I went on to finish our Advanced apprenticeship program in 2008 in NYC, became Advanced Certified in 2012 and was a Mentor at the Jivamukti teacher training in 2016 — an opportunity to work alongside Sharon, Emma Henry and Camilla Veen, Hachi Yu and John Smitic. I’ve been on the core Teacher Training faculty at Yoga Tree, in San Francisco, since 2012.

I’m grateful to the teachers and influencers who’ve accompanied and supported me on my yoga journey. Their names would fill an entire page or more:  Sharon Gannon, David Life, Rima Rabbath and Nicole Nichols; Debra and Ian Mishalove of Flow Yoga Center/D.C.; my Sanskrit and philosophy teacher Manorama d’Alvia; my bhakti yoga teacher, H.G. Vaisesika Dasa of ISKCON Silicon Valley; Bay Area yoga teachers Mark Morford, Rusty Wells, Stephanie Snyder and Amanda Moran; Antja Schaefer, Gabriela Bozic and Nadja Palmers of Jivamukti Yoga Munich; and my dance teachers Lee Wei Chao — now at Oregon Ballet Theater — and Stephen Baronovics of the Washington Ballet School.

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

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I am often asked, What is Jivamukti Yoga and what makes it special?

Jivamukti Yoga is a method of yoga created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984, which reintegrates the physical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of Yoga. The emphasis in the west has been on Yoga as mostly a physical practice. More and more people are achieving firmer bodies through regular yoga classes. But many are finding something more: what starts out as a purely physical practice creeps into the hearts and minds of even the least spiritual practitioners. David and Sharon became teachers because they were passionate about communicating Yoga as more than just a system of exercises, but also as a spiritual practice; a path to enlightenment. From their earliest classes, they have taught a living translation of the Indian system of yoga in a way that western minds can comprehend. That is why Jivamukti Yoga emphasizes vigorous asana as its primary technique, but other practices such as meditation, devotional chanting and study of the ancient texts play an important role as well.  The Jivamukti method of Yoga is one of the nine internationally recognized styles of Hatha Yoga.

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500E-RYT – Yoga Teaching Certifications:

Jivamukti Yoga 300 hour (2005) + 800 hour Teacher Training (2008) + Advanced Certification (2012)

Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training with Shiva Rea (2001)

Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training with David Swenson (2001)

Art of Assists Studies with Yoganand Michael Carroll  (2003) + Raja Yoga Studies with Stephen Cope (2002) at Kripalu Center for Yoga

Hatha Yoga Teacher Training with Lex Gillan (1999)