Image Copyright: Jennifer Kovalchik
Jennifer Kovalchik has been practicing yoga for twenty years and teaching it for fifteen. She is currently part way through her Master of Science in Aromatherapy at ACHS and has already started to incorporate aromatherapy into classes at her yoga studio, Awaken Yoga.
Jennifer says that she never imagined that she would end up teaching yoga. "I worked in corporate America and did a yoga training that was one day a week for three months. I didn’t think I was going to teach, but after I got my certificate I immediately started teaching and never stopped," she says. Jennifer quit her corporate job in 2008 and became a full-time yoga teacher.
Jennifer explains what Inner Wisdom® is: "It’s a really beautiful psychological way of using yoga practices to allow people to have a dialogue with themselves. It’s really powerful for them to really think past traumas, fears, even physical pain in the body has all been resolved using that type of therapy."
At her studio, Jennifer offers training for others to become Inner Wisdom® practitioners. As a practitioner, "you will be able to help heal people who suffer from chronic pain, anxiety, infertility, general disease and unease with oneself, depression, and much more through a releasing and accepting dialogue that helps empower the client to rid themselves of old cycles that do not honor them."
Jennifer explains the benefits that anyone can gain from a yoga class: “The basic benefits of any well-rounded yoga class would be that your nervous system would be out of fight-or flight so you can relax. Yoga is wonderful for increasing focus, and wonderful for increasing energy but also induces relaxation. When you’re practicing yoga, you’ll be doing physical postures and those are going to stretch and strengthen. It’s also wonderful for strengthening your spine and building better posture muscles. It’s just so good for everything!"
Yoga and aromatherapy
In her studio, Jennifer works with prenatal and postnatal communities and she says that aromatherapy always came up. She thought it would be a great way to add value to her yoga sessions, but didn't have any training in aromatherapy. "I did not understand chemistry and the actual functional level of how deep aromatherapy went. I did a very short online certificate and it really just made me confused but aware of how big the scope of aromatherapy really is. A dear friend of mine did her Master of Science in Herbalism through ACHS so I contacted her and wound up applying, and here I am!" she says.
Jennifer says that she already uses aromatherapy in her yoga classes. “I’ve been incorporating it into my regular yoga classes. I do a tester strip with one drop of oil on it. I let them inhale at the beginning of class during our meditation and breathing practices. Then halfway through the class, we revisit the oil and throughout class I offer postures that match what body system the oil is impacting.”
In addition, Jennifer also educates about the safe use of essential oils. "I do regular talks at the community library. I did a powerpoint that covers safety with essential oils. I know everybody is interested in blending, and everybody is interested in smelling, but my big concern is letting people know how to use it topically, to not ingest oils without proper guidance, and to have more awareness about the constituents of the oils and what they’re therapeutically doing," Jennifer says.
Fitness versus spirituality
Jennifer says that the growing popularity of hot yoga, also known as power yoga and fitness yoga, has impacted her yoga studio. “Right now in Cleveland we have a really hot climate for power yoga and fitness yoga. I just sent a newsletter out to my community because our business has really suffered the last year and a half. Power yoga has really taken away from the true essence of yoga and people relate yoga to fitness and how they’re going to look. They are forgetting the root of yoga. I’m sad that people are relating yoga to the fitness industry,” Jennifer says.
Jennifer explains the type of yoga that her studio practices: "What we practice at my studio is hatha yoga. The word is broken down into two parts. The “ha” means a warming or solar aspect, and the “tha” means a lunar or cooling aspect. The yogis knew that yoga practice needed to awake your energizing and solar experience, and knew there had to be a cooling aspect to balance out that warming aspect. When we practice yoga we have to make sure we have a balance of both or we'll be way too tired if we just stay in the cooling realm the whole time, or we’ll be way too energized and the nervous system will never have a chance to relax if we stay too warm, " Jennifer says.
Then, she explains what happens to the nervous system during power yoga: "I’ve tried to explain to people that when you go into a lobby that’s 65 or 70 degrees (farenheit) and then into the hot yoga studio that's 80 to 100 degrees, and you exercise for an hour and then leave in your car that’s 30 degrees, your nervous system just went up and down, and up and down, and that’s the absolute opposite of what yoga is supposed to be doing for you. The community aspect in power yoga is very strong, and that’s why I think it works for a lot of people. Which is really wonderful, but I think that they’re missing a beat when it comes to actually being yoga.” She also acknowledged that not all power yoga studios are like this, and it can vary.
Experience at ACHS
Jennifer says that she appreciates the quality of her degree at ACHS. "The research quality of this degree has been really eye opening. I absolutely love APA style, and absolutely love the online resources from the library and all the access we have to scientific articles. It’s a totally different style of research than [what I did in art school]," she says.
Another thing that Jennifer appreciates is the flexibility of online schooling: “I have kids, I have a business, I have a family so I’m kind of making my own schedule of when I want to do my class hours. I really love that flexibility.”
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About American College of Healthcare Sciences
Founded in 1978, ACHS.edu is a Portland, Ore.-based, accredited college offering online, on-campus, and study abroad integrative health education. With undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and continuing education units in integrative health, ACHS makes holistic health and wellness education accessible to a diverse community, including healthcare professionals, military students, stay-at-home parents, and lifelong learners. Specializations include aromatherapy, herbal medicine, holistic nutrition, and integrative health. ACHS is a Certified B Corporation® and was named two of 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon 2017 by Oregon Business magazine. ACHS is also accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). In response to our commitment to service members, veterans and military spouses, ACHS has been designated as one of the top 16% of military-friendly institutions in the U.S. for nine years in a row. For more information visit achs.edu.