A yogi, performance artist, presenter, holistic health practitioner and enlightened being, Jessica Gabrielli is the ultimate ‘slashie’. Hailing from Switzerland, she is also the founder of Foldenmove®—‘an embodied approach to understanding our human condition through movement and art’.
Read on to learn more about our charming Swiss Miss and the unique style of movement class she teaches.
When did you first discover yoga?
At the age of 13. My practice began as a way to counterbalance the high demands of long distance running and competition, to keep my body agile and to learn how to breathe. I was far from imagining that one day I would be teaching yoga! It is not until 2014, after 10 years of personal yoga practice, that I decided to pursue my teacher training when I moved to Australia.
When did you move to Australia?
I moved to Australia in February 2014, with the desire to further my studies in Human Movement. The supportive community of humans I have found here has made Melbourne feel like a second home.
What style of yoga do you practise?
I grew up with an Iyengar Yoga practice, and completed my teacher training in Hatha yoga a few years ago. When I arrived in Australia, I discovered a very specific method called Controlled Strength™, created by Shimi Nadaraja-Ambrose. This method is designed to help yogis strengthen their bodies over an 8-week program, to safely perform advanced arm balances and inversions commonly found in styles such as Ashtanga yoga and Vinyasa flows.
I have been teaching the Controlled Strength™ method at Power & Posture in Collingwood since November 2016. I wanted, however, to also create my own point of difference and Foldenmove® was born in December 2016 out of pure calling: a desire to find my own authentic way to combine human movement and painting as self-healing modalities, and share it with the world.
What’s unique about your approach to teaching yoga?
My early training in the Iyengar method, current qualifications in Hatha yoga and the Controlled Strength™ method, self directed studies on the field of Bioenergetics and my personal Qi Gong and Taiqi practices all come together to shape the hybrid approach through which I share the practice of Yoga today.
My style merges both traditional and modern yoga practices with energetic work to result in a powerful process of integration between Body, Mind and Spirit.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Seeing people tap into their full potential. I get the most joy out of witnessing someone reach a goal or a state that they previously thought impossible to reach, transcending old beliefs, limiting thought and behaviours and experiencing an enhanced level of freedom and joy.
What’s your favourite yoga pose?
Although it is only known to be a position used as a transition in Ashtanga Yoga, the handstand is my favourite pose because of its significance to my growth in the field of movement. The handstand is something I never thought possible to achieve, yet it has become such an important part of my movement meditation practice.
The handstand position can be the scariest and most difficult position to achieve. However, once accessible it becomes this amazing door that opens onto a whole new dimension of body awareness and centering. It is such a direct lens on your state of being, once mastered the handstand can become both a humbling and self-empowering tool for checking in with yourself.
What’s a common misconception people have about yoga?
I often observe people understanding yoga simply as a physical practice geared to stretching and relaxation. Yoga is the practice of life. If you acknowledge it in its entirety, yoga will teach you about the principles of breath, hydration and nutrition, and then movement! And they are all interconnected.
And the biggest mistake people make in yoga class?
The biggest mistake I see people made in a yoga class (although I’d like to see this more as a pattern rather than a mistake) is comparing themselves to other practitioners in the room. Thinking that you can either do a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ job at a certain pose, and then actively looking for validation of that thought by looking at others, is missing the whole point of your yoga practice.
Learning how to trust your inner authority and focus on your ‘felt sense’ through the physical body is not an easy task. However, it is an essential part of deepening one’s own understanding of how body and mind can come together.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Handstands and running are two of my favourite things. You will also find me hanging off monkey bars, climbing trees, reading books and journaling or spending time with my favourite humans. I also ensure I make time for daydreaming and contemplation. When I quietly watch the world in movement, I get some of my most powerful ‘aha!’ moments.
For a greater mind-body connection, book a yoga class at The Alignment Studio today.