Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeremy Wolf.
Jeremy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Looking back, it seems there was a very specific string of events occurring over a period of many years that orchestrated the marrying of me and my current work. There was a defining moment that I regard as the primary pivot point where my life began to take a specific direction, though at the time, I could have no idea what direction that might be. Growing up in Arkansas, life had been relatively simple. I spent much time alone in nature as a child and had always been a lover of music. Quite improbably, at the age of 18, I stumbled onto an incredibly progressive and avant-garde ambient music show that was broadcast from a local community radio station which played the likes of Brian Eno and Steve Roach. Until then, my musical tastes were of the relatively typical, popular and alternative music styles that an average teenager fancied, and I had never before heard anything so expansive, abstract and contemplative. It inspired in me an entirely new way of “listening,” and literally overnight, my love for music became coupled with a new-found interest in meditation, setting my spiritual quest in motion. I started spending hours in the evening, multiple times a week, lying on my bed and listening to recordings of the show. I would drift in and out of sleep, having a variety of intangible and fantastic meditative experiences that I would much later find out to be stages of an esoteric practice called Yoga Nidrā. A practice that would eventually become the centerpoint of my work.
In the summer after high school, I was faced with the largest question that many are faced with at that age, should they choose to accept it. What career did I want to spend the rest of my life serving? Though it seemed ridiculous to make such an incredibly important decision while undergoing some of the most turbulent and transformative years of biological and neurological growth characteristic of adolescence, landscape architecture seemed like an effective avenue for fusing my love of nature with my passion for art.
During college, I pursued a more formal practice and study of yoga and meditation which waxed and waned according to my workload. As part of an architectural study-abroad program, I spent a few months in London which completely shattered my relatively small worldview. After returning, I had made an agreement with myself that I must be living or traveling outside of the US by the time I was 30. My professional career, along with my love for the Rocky Mountains, had taken me to Colorado, and at the age of 29, the opportunity I was eagerly awaiting finally appeared. Following a successful interview with an office in Edinburgh, Scotland, it looked like my goal of living abroad had arrived just in time. Within a few short weeks, however, the dream crumbled after receiving an email from the Edinburgh office explaining that there were presently complications in obtaining work visas for the UK. In short, I was told it just wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. My mind had already staked its claim in the fantasy of my new home surrounded by lush, green hills, and this sudden, unexpected news had me deeply question where I was headed and where I truly wanted to be going. After five years of college and another five in the professional world of architectural deadlines and near sweatshop labor, I started to think…”maybe this isn’t it.”
Synonymous with this potential transfer, I was living in a shared house. One of my fellow roommates and I used to spend a fair amount of time contemplating the idea of leaving our corporate jobs and traveling to India in pursuit of the perennial quest for the meaning of life through yogic study. One day she came home from work and said, “I did it. I put in my two week’s notice. Now it’s your turn.” I was stunned, and I recall my mind quickly seeking validations for why I was clearly unable to do the same. Within a few weeks, my hesitation met the reality that I had reached the age of 30 and was still living in a world that was all too familiar and lacking the spiritual richness I craved. I checked my savings account, took a deep breath and decided to match her courage and jump. Two weeks later, I began building my packing list for Africa, Europe and India, and we enrolled in a one-month intensive study in Yoga.
With each new country, the landscapes became ever-more inspiring and life every-more enriching. By the time we reached India for our 200hr Yoga Teacher Training in Classical Yoga our minds were open and our hearts well primed and eager to dive into a wealth of ancient teachings that offered insight into the great mystery of this human experience. Principle to our training was a daily practice of Yoga Nidrā, and part of our curriculum included a study of the theory and methodology behind it. This practice, which hadn’t yet gained global popularity at the time, can most simply be understood as a very accessible form of guided meditation, usually practiced lying down, that leads one into sleep-like states while allowing them to remain conscious. It is recognized as an effective treatment for a variety of illnesses including anxiety, depression, trauma/PTSD, addiction and insomnia. It is common that one may experience profound levels of healing, insight and transformation within as little as one session. I quickly realized that this state is what I’d been entering spontaneously for many years prior, with ambient music as my guide, and now there was context to understand what I was experiencing and why it felt so profound. After one full month of eating, breathing and living the teachings of Yoga, I was passionate to integrate these principles into my life in a much larger way.
My intended five months of travel turned into eight, and once finally returning to American soil, it was clear that my bank account reflected the extended travel. Regardless, there were no regrets. I had received so much inspiration, growth and adventure, that my view of the world and my relationship to life would never be the same. One of the biggest lessons I learned during my travels was to trust. When I didn’t, I was met with obstacle after obstacle. When I lowered my walls of resistance and control, the opportunities were revealed one by one. Along my journey, I ended up befriending and traveling with someone who had also recently left a long-term relationship with the corporate world, and we made an agreement to support each other in creating a new direction and a new life. In the back of my mind, I was still a bit haunted by the idea that I would likely end up calling my old boss and settling back into the known “security” of the corporate world. My friend, however, insisted that I pursue a career teaching Yoga to utilize my recent training and to follow my growing passion. We made an arrangement for me to live in her basement while I offered my landscape architecture services to help turn her backyard into a garden sanctuary. Meanwhile, I slowly tried to forge a new career for myself as a Yoga teacher.
Sooner than expected, a dear friend and yoga/dance studio owner entrusted me to teach weekly classes. This allowed me to begin developing my voice as a Yoga teacher and share asana, Yoga Nidrā and meditation classes on a regular basis. Soon after, another studio, one of only a few in town that offered the very obscure and still quite unknown practice of Yoga Nidrā, reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in filling the position of their current Yoga Nidrā teacher who’d be heading back to her homeland of India. With Denver’s yoga scene on a major upswing, it wasn’t long before there was an emerging interest by practitioners in the practice and benefits of Yoga Nidrā, and so it continued to be a doorway for me into other studios. Within a few years, I was humbled to be teaching Yoga Nidrā, asana and meditation for the Denver studios that I most had an affinity for. Along with an abundance of weekly classes, I began co-leading teacher training, workshops and retreats. My passion for Yoga grew, and I continued study of traditional Yoga from a variety of teachers and lineages including all of the modern masters of Yoga Nidrā. Today my life is quite different than my temporary run in the corporate world, and instead of designing outdoor spaces, my focus is on helping others explore their own inner landscapes.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
While the opportunities to teach yoga have been abundant in Denver, a yoga teaching career is not one that’s known for its financial abundance. Especially when you’re trying to offer a practice that mostly involves students lying down for 45min, from which some awaken wondering why they paid you for a nap that would’ve been fulfilled much more easily and cost-effectively on their living room couch. It was quite challenging, initially, to build classes because of my traditional orientation to Yoga, since most practitioners were primarily seeking the challenge of a physical workout. Yoga Nidrā had been one of my primary offerings since the beginning, though in the early days it was unknown by most and attended by even fewer. I taught many very small classes and many free ones hoping that those seeking slower, more meditative practices might wander in and that others who stumbled in accidentally might discover the benefits of a more contemplative approach.
As it turned out, my traditional Yoga training was both a bit of a curse and a blessing. In the beginning, I didn’t fit the more fitness-oriented approach, and I was teaching beside friends and peers who’d been teaching for 10-15 years. I thought I had little chance of being successful with so little experience and an emphasis on offerings that didn’t fit the familiar mold. In time, thankfully, more and more practitioners came to appreciate the slower and more traditional practices, even if that may have found them snoring in a room full of strangers.
Since pay for a yoga teacher is commonly quite low, paying the bills and supporting a family were some of the greatest challenges I faced. It’s quite common for a yoga teacher to find themselves running all over town, bouncing from studio to studio in attempts to make ends meet. In the process, one’s personal practice is often compromised as the balance of work/self-care can sway in an unhealthy direction. It’s not at all uncommon for a yoga teacher to spend hours a week in front of a classroom, while spending next to none on their own yoga mat in the quiet of their own process.
Alright – so let’s talk business. What else should we know about your work?
I am incredibly grateful that my current work often involves the marriage of my love for Yoga and music. On a good day, I might get to DJ for a friend’s yoga class, and on a really good day I might get to guide meditation to ambient music that I produced. Some evenings are spent playing music for ecstatic dances and others leading 2.5hr extended journeys through the active and passive methodologies of Yoga practice. Yoga Nidrā has long been at the center of my practice and study, and it has now become my specialty. I now teach it multiple times a week as well as lead Yoga Nidrā workshops, full-weekend immersions, retreats in Peru and a Comprehensive Yoga Nidrā Teacher Training. When I look back as to how all of the dots are connected, it was Yoga Nidrā that initiated my spiritual quest when I was 18, and it was the same practice which became my niche giving me a foothold as a yoga teacher in Denver. The timing happened to be just right as the demand for more nurturing and healing practices increased and more scientific studies appeared validating the efficacy of Yoga Nidrā. I’m grateful that I have been able to help accelerate Yoga Nidrā’s popularity in Colorado and share its incredible benefits with so many.
One thing that distinguishes my Yoga Nidrā offerings from others is that I have had in-depth training in 7 different approaches to the practice, including study from the four most well-known lineages of Yoga Nidrā, and I will often interweave tools from each when guiding the practice. My training emphasizes the relevancy of a wide variety of tools while illustrating that they all, in fact, share the same endpoint. Yoga not as a “practice” but as a state of “Being.” I do my best to keep the richness of Yoga’s timeless wisdom present in all of my offerings while making it accessible for all styles of practitioners. An important theme that’s present across my life, whether it’s designing outdoor gardens, curating a musical journey, guiding Yoga Nidrā, meditation or asana, is my attention to and emphasis on sequencing. I take great care on the importance of transitions in attempts to create uplifting experiences that unfold seamlessly. Whether through music, nature or Yoga, I believe happiness and peace should not take years of searching to attain but be accessed in the moment using any variety of mediums. We’re all at some stage in our personal process of discovering that the source of both peace and happiness is inside, and what matters most to me is how we can intentionally use these different tools and mediums in order to remember this truth.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me success is defined by a combination of doing what I love, continuing to grow internally and having financial stability or abundance to support my family. The markers would be that each year I work a little less and have a little more free time and that my work is continually reaching and helping more people.
- Right now I offer weekly online classes twice a week, via Zoom, by donation. Suggested donation is $5-$20 per class.
- I offer donation-based Intro to Yoga Nidrā workshops
- I offer full weekend immersions into Yoga Nidrā for $250
- I offer a 60hr Comprehensive Yoga Nidra Teacher Training for $1108
- Website: https://jeremywolfyoga.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeremysolomoonwolf/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.s.wolf/
Ethan Watts Photography