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.”  After this discovery, my older sister says that I spent most of my time upside down. Love of movement drew me first to gymnastics, and then to classical ballet training I continued through college to the present.

At age 25, I rediscoverd yoga, initially practicing in the Sivananda tradition. By the late 1990s, I began to explore Ashtanga, Vinyasa Yoga and Jivamukti Yoga. While working full-time in environmental policy and communications, I completed teacher trainings with Shiva Rea (Vinyasa Flow), David Swenson (Ashtanga) and Lex Gillan (Hatha). In 2005, I undertook Jivamukti’s 300HR teacher training program and in New York City, completed Jivamukti Advanced apprenticeship program in 2008 and became Advanced Certified in 2012. I served as a Mentor for the Jivamukti teacher training in 2016 working alongside beloved teachers and colleagues Sharon Gannon, Emma Henry, Camilla Veen, Hachi Yu and John Smitic. I have been on the core Teacher Training faculty at Yoga Tree, in San Francisco, since 2012.

I have profound appreciation for the many styles and traditions of yoga that continue to influence my practice and teaching to this day.  Living in the SF Bay area has been a life-changing experience, as it is an area rich with spiritual resources, natural beauty and a uniquely innovative and incredibly powerful yoga community.  It has opened my eyes to the scope, scale and power of yoga’s teachings, the way yoga helps to build connection, and the role of yoga in making the world a better, kinder, more loving place.

I am grateful for all the teachers and influencers who have accompanied me to where I am now, to name a few: Sharon Gannon, David Life, Rima Rabbath and Nicole Nichols; my Sanskrit and philosophy teacher Manorama d’Alvia; H.G. Vaisesika Dasa of ISKCON Silicon Valley; Bay Area teachers Mark Morford, Rusty Wells and Stephanie Snyder; and the incomparable Lee Wei Chao of Alonzo King Lines Dance Center.

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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) both at Kripalu Center for Yoga

Hatha Yoga Teacher Training with Lex Gillan (1999)