Fitness Files: Jessica Crow

Jessica Crow is a 500-hr registered yoga teacher in New York City. She has served as a mentor and anatomy instructor on the staff of the 'Life of a Yogi' teacher training by world-renowned yogi, Sri Dharma Mittra of the Dharma Yoga Center in Manhattan. I met Jessica while attending a Global Wellness event earlier this year. After discussing the benefits of Yoga I knew that I had to interview her for my Fitness Files series. Continue reading to learn more about her unique and effective ways of teaching to bring the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies back into harmony for her clients. 

NMF: Has fitness always been a major part of your life or was there a catalyst/point in your life when you made it more of a focus and priority? 

Jessica Crow: I’ve always been exceptionally physically active. I studied ballet, tap and jazz dance from age five to fifteen years. I also ran track, played soccer, and did gymnastics and cheerleading. As an adult I’ve studied belly dance and aerial acrobatics, and I currently dance West African Sabar, strength train, practice yoga, run and bike. I feel really lucky that intensive physical movement was such a large part of my childhood because it’s been so much easier to maintain- I feel it’s ingrained in every cell of my body- the desire for and memory of movement. 

About ten years ago I was living in an extraordinary amount of daily, chronic stress from a very unhealthy relationship and its effects were taking a negative toll on all levels of my body and health- physically, mentally, and spiritually. It was for this reason that I signed up for my first yoga teacher training. I dove deeply into the physical practice of yoga asana and the (very novel to me at the time) practice of pranayama, or breath control. I learned tools to help me calm my nervous system, relieving stress and balancing my mind and emotions. The practice of yoga definitely helped me grow into a better and stronger version of myself- and still does on a regular basis.

NMF: What are a few of your go-to healthy snacks/drinks that help keep you on the straight and narrow?

Jessica Crow: I’m a green juice fanatic. Fresh green juice made with organic veggies like kale, collards, chard, celery, cucumber, lemon, etc always makes me feel energized and purified. I try to have a least one a day. Almonds or sunflowers seeds, either raw or slightly roasted, and avocados with a little Himalayan sea salt and homemade berbers spice sprinkled on top keep me feeling filled and energized for my classes and sessions. I also come from a family of coffee-drinkers- I absolutely love strong coffee and I believe its health benefits outweigh its potential detriment if consumed in moderate amounts. It’s great for the circulatory system- especially before you work out.

NMF: How do you train your mind and stay motivated? 

Jessica Crow: Meditation plays a huge role in my life- I teach and guide it, and I practice it every chance I get. Whether I’m working out, commuting, showering, washing the dishes, listening to a friend, eating- I’m constantly bringing myself back into the present moment and trying to see myself as the ‘observer’ of thoughts and feelings as they arise and shift again. I’m constantly receptive to learning more about how Jessica operates on both conscious and subconscious levels.

I think the practice that most affects my motivation is prayer, gratitude meditation/ journaling, and creative visualization techniques. The more I appreciate what I have and what’s working in my life, the more I feel supported in moving towards new goals and bigger successes. Visualization techniques help me get comfortable with being there in my mind and psyche before the circumstances even manifest in my environment, which helps me to accept them more easily when they show up- allowing me to move on to the next step on my path. All of these practices sustain forward motion and personal evolution for me.

NMF: How do you change your body?  What are your fitness favorites?

Jessica Crow: First I change my mind about how I *feel* about my body (meditation and visualization all the way here). Then I switch up my fitness routine to something that really challenges me- mind and body. I’ve jumped into styles of dance I’ve never even heard of, or dropped into a muay thai series or spin class or rock climbing center. Once I took the metro-north an hour out of the city and hiked a 5-mile mountain trail that I’ve never been to before by myself. It’s so important to change it up. 

I’m a huge fan of cross-training. I think it develops the muscles in a more balanced way, and switching styles of movement and heart rates and even your exercise duration and environments creates a more elaborate and functional neural network in the brain- which ultimately controls your body’s daily energy output, reflexes, sleep patterns, pain or comfort sensations, food cravings, and I believe even creative output- to a large extent.

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