Like She Already Knows You: Class with Jackie Shaffer

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by Sue Eisenfeld

Jackie Shaffer’s voice is like sipping tea with an old friend on a front porch. It’s as if she already knows you before you have met and before you even know yourself. She knows what you’re going to do or forget to do instinctively before it happens, like while lifting your arms overhead and making a crescent moon to one side, you’re bound to shift your weight onto one leg. “Keep your weight in both legs evenly,” she’ll say before you’ve recognized you need to adjust.

Her yoga is as gentle and as wise as she is, with an emphasis on coaching you toward effortless awareness, toward using your senses to pay attention to what you are experiencing in the moment, like temperature or texture, as a tool for choice-making in life. 

Though her emphasis is more on mind maneuvers and practical advice for living than athleticism, Jackie offers some challenges and fun surprises as well. “Here’s a project,” she said in one class. “Be aware of your whole body all at once!” As if! In another, she dangled the suggestion of doing savasana in the middle of class—which feels kind of like eating ice cream in the middle of the afternoon! Perhaps most enjoyable one day was her guided immune-system self-massage, using your own fingertips on scalp, face, neck, and chest to move lymph fluid and stimulate fascia. Mind & body, yoga & meditation – in Jackie’s classes, all are one.