We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess Taing and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jess, what makes you happy? Why?
Quality time with people who hear me, see me, and hold space for me makes me incredibly happy. I find that when I am in the presence of a friend who has my best interest at heart, does not offer unsolicited advice, and shares similar interests, I feel wildly empowered. When I feel empowered and energized after a conversation with a good friend, I know that I’m in safe hands to express myself confidently in the future. I believe that having a solid and dependable support system is one of the keys to a sustainably happy life. A support system can be your family members or your chosen family. For me, my support system is a combination of both; my sister and brother are magnanimously influential in my life, while my closest friends show up when we need each other the most.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career in Yoga is one that is incredibly diverse. It is influenced by my desire to assist others who seek empowerment, trauma healing, and spiritual development. The foundation of my teaching lies in the paradox of “both, and;” as I do in my personal life, I encourage my students and clients to expand beyond binary thinking and embrace the prospect that it can be both, and. This principle is inspired by my personal lived experience as a first generation Cambodian American navigating the world as we know it. It has not been an easy or linear path to get to where I am today, but I am deeply appreciative of the challenges that I have endured. Yoga is only my business because it is my way of life. I would not have been able to overcome the various road bumps along the way without my practice. What I am most proud of right now is my dedication to my recovery. I will vulnerably admit that I have just recently started my recovery from alcoholism. With this newfound dedication to my sobriety, I am learning a massive amount about myself. I know that choosing this path will not be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it. I am grateful for my Yoga of Recovery mentor and teacher, Durga Leela, for guiding me through this. I am also wildly excited about the 2021 Conscious Yoga Summit (previously known as the Breckenridge Yoga Festival) in Breckenridge, CO. I am honored to share that I am the Creative Director for this Summit and I am so looking forward to offering a new way to do the standard Yoga Festival. We hope to deliver a Summit that encourages authenticity to intentional practice, honors Yoga’s roots, and embraces the intersection between Yoga and social justice. I am also currently on the verge of launching my personal business, Soul River Healing (SRH), where our mission is a movement: a movement towards racial and social justice through Yoga and creativity; a movement towards radical self-love; and a movement to recovery. SRH is rooted in the sacred self; the self that flows freely through creativity and endlessly nourishes our deepest desires. The vision behind this mission is to embrace the beauty that arises when we acknowledge that heightened creativity can lead to a greater understanding of our power. When we trust ourselves, when we know who we are, what we deserve, and just how worthy we are, we can allow the river of transformation to burst through preconceived dams that we’ve unknowingly placed in the way of our personal growth. Personal growth through creative endeavor is only the beginning. Once we can wholly embody within our worthiness, we are invited to access new layers that may surprise us. Activism and the fight for social and racial justice must come from our hearts. And when we recognize that our own body is solely our own responsibility, we can also recognize how wrongly it feels for others to police the decisions we make for ourselves. The intention behind my business is to first and foremost reconnect to the Self; to encourage radical self-love above all else; and to stand courageously in your power. The leap to empowered racial and social justice activism is not one that will happen overnight simply through personal transformation, but one that slowly builds over time. We must first break through the dams we’ve built ourselves, so that we can unequivocally know that Yes, We Can. We can share our voices and stories loudly and bravely; we can do the hard work and know that our worthiness is not attached to any one person or event that happens in our lives; yes, we can (and will) demand social equity for all. The demand for balanced equanimity in society begins first with reconnecting to our bodies, so that we can understand how much it is worth to fully embody a life we’re grateful to be living.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Assuming that this visit occurs post-pandemic, I would bring my best friend to Sweet Basil, Mountain Standard, The Drunken Goat, and The Rose. We would hike Booth Falls, endure the bumpy road to Piney Lake, and do some yoga at Mountain Soul. I would definitely bring her to Breck, where we could visit my favorite studio there, Meta Yoga Studio. We would breathe in the fresh mountain air and camp freely in BLM land. Most importantly, we would create beautiful memories in the mountains, sitting in awe underneath the night sky.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My first shoutout goes to my parents, who endured great atrocities to get to where we are today. As survivors of the Cambodian genocide, my parents carry within them a resiliency that I admire greatly. Their commitment to myself and my siblings has never gone unnoticed and I am so grateful for their perseverance and love. My next shoutout goes to one of my early Yoga mentors, Marley Vigdorth. Without Marley, I would not be on the path of yoga that I am on today. While she taught me how to refine my teaching language, she also taught me the importance of radical self-love and boundaries. She introduced to me to the foundation of my meditation practice: chanting and Kirtan. I would like to also offer a shoutout to my Sister Goddesses, the women in my life who show up and remind me to stand courageously tall in my power: Gracie Mayer, Meghan Do, Beth Kennedy, and Kimberly Ghorai. I would not be the woman that I am today if it were not for these four extraordinary women. Thank you, I love you.
Bryan Edward Creative, Andrejka Photography, and Kaila Towle