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Coffee Break with Jerry Givens, Personal Wellness & Yoga Coach

In Coffee Break, we catch people who inspire us during a rare break in their busy day for a virtual coffee date. We chat about what drives their personal and professional passions, how they get reenergized at home, and what they’re currently obsessing over. 

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Having practiced yoga and meditation since 2006, Jerry Givens is an expert at helping people find their inner peace. Previously the office manager at TaskRabbit, he’s now pursuing a full time career in teaching yoga and meditation, writing, and private coaching. Read on to learn more about how Jerry finds inspiration and creates balance in his own life.

How did you come to be a personal coach?

Personal coaching is something that I naturally fell into. After years of teaching yoga and working with students in group classes and one on one, questions about life and mental organization came to the surface for many of my students. So I took some coaching and psychology courses and made coaching a part of my offerings.

Tell us about your work style. Where do you draw inspiration, and what conditions, environment, or motivations do you need to do your best work? 

My work style depends wholly on what it is I’m working on. Being a Life Coach, Yoga Teacher, and Writer, every day and moment can be different. The one commonality is that I practice mindfulness through it all. I try to understand how my mind is working in addition to what it’s working on. This allows me to see any stuck mental patterns and course correct when necessary. I also try to know when to stop working and reset. Spending time in nature is one of my favorite ways to reset the universe in my mind. Having strong work/life balance makes sure that I’m consistently in a place where I can do my best work.

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What’s a project you’ve worked on lately (professional or personal), that made you come alive? 

Last Spring, I ran a yoga and psychology retreat in Santa Cruz, California. This touched me both personally and professionally, as I got to combine my knowledge of both yoga and psychology into one cohesive experience. Everyone who attended had a wonderful experience and it made me excited to continue with both yoga and coaching.

What’s one thing about personal wellness that most people don’t realize or address in their day-to-day lives? 

One thing that I see is many people think personal wellness has to be a dramatic shift from their current lifestyles. I think of personal wellness as small habits we incorporate. This could be meditation/mindfulness, a fitness class, choosing healthier food options, or even journaling. I find that the small shifts are the ones that have the most significance and the most staying power. Even sitting and watching your breath for two minutes a day could drastically shift someone’s overall mood. Also, I find that when these small yet significant habits are established, we naturally want to do more to be healthy.

Finish this sentence: The mind is…

…trying it’s best to help you, though it doesn’t always know how. Be gentle with yourself.

What was the first place you called home? Your favorite place you’ve called home?

Ann Arbor, Michigan is the first place I called home, though my favorite place is the San Francisco Bay Area. Between the culture, the weather, and the nature I can’t imagine living anywhere else!

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What words of advice do you have for people who want to start practicing yoga? Any tips for getting started? 

For getting started, trust that you don’t have to be good at it right away (or ever). You don’t have to be able to touch your toes, you don’t have to be flexible, you don’t have to know how to stand on your head. I really recommend that newbies start by attending a studio class, in lieu of watching youtube videos or DVDs. Like any kind of physical activity, there’s an element of risk and a teacher leading and watching you will help you to stay safe and fix any alignment issues. Other than that, just have fun with it. It’s a great way to explore your body, it’s abilities, and your relationship to it.

What’s your favorite way to prepare for a busy day? What about to unwind at the end of the day? 

For winding up, I try to meditate for at least a few minutes and drink some Earl Grey tea (my version of coffee), giving myself plenty of time to not have to rush when able. I always make myself breakfast too, no matter what. At the end of the day, I’ll hang out with my friends or roommates and share our days’ activities. Netflix is also there when all else fails.

Currently, what are you…

  • Feeling inspired by: Watching people grow and evolve

  • Reading: MISTBORN Series by Brandon Sanderson (I love fantasy)

  • Watching: WHAT/IF on Netflix

  • Listening to: CUZ I LOVE U by Lizzo

  • Snacking on: Trader Joe’s Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

  • Next on your to-do list: Create more online meditation recordings for the app Insight Timer

  • On your phone wallpaper: Yosemite National Park

  • The messiest thing in your life: The novel I’m currently writing. So many ideas. So many continuity issues. Still very exciting though!

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