Our Live Your Passion campaign spotlights individuals in our community who are living their “passions” on and off the court. Each month, we highlight one of our passion players, so that they can share their inspirational stories with us.
This month, we had the pleasure to interview Jessica Parsons, an inspirational yoga instructor from Santa Barbara, CA. Born with Down Syndrome, Jessica is able to offer her students, with and without disabilities, a unique approach to yoga and life in general. Let’s get to know this awesome woman!
What is your passion and how do you live it?
My passion is teaching people yoga to help them be strong and healthy. I love to eat good foods, do yoga and work out with my friends and family. Teaching yoga lets me hang out with my friends and gives me a job I love.
What role has yoga played in your life growing up?
My parents are yoga teachers and own a yoga studio. They train other teachers too, so I grew up with yoga in my life, taking their trainings and classes. My 3 sisters are also yoga teachers, so they inspire me too.
When did you realize you wanted to become a yoga instructor?
Since my mom is a yoga teacher I knew I wanted to be like her. I have been teaching yoga since I was 12. As a homeschool project, my sisters and I made a Yoga by Teens DVD and taught in schools, for girl scout troops, at health fairs, and at other events in the Santa Barbara community.
Is there a certain student that has inspired you?
I like all of my students, they are all my friends. We have so much fun, we laugh a lot and they make me happy. I learn from them too. Everyone has differences that make us unique. When we are doing yoga together we can be ourselves.
How does Yoga help your students that live with disabilities?
Yoga is a time for us to get together and do a healthy activity. I think it helps everyone to make friends and be active. But I also get my students to focus and listen to me. A lot of my students are working on getting stronger and more flexible. Poses like plank pose are challenging, but when we do them together it makes it more fun.
Were there any challenges you faced when training to become a yoga instructor?
I am a 200-hour certified teacher, so I have taken lots of trainings. I like to learn new things and trainings are always fun, but can be really long days which makes me tired and sometimes I get frustrated with remembering the instructions for the poses. I have to practice teaching a lot just to get the right words, it isn’t always easy for me. But the more I practice, the better I get.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a yoga instructor?
It makes me happy to see my friends at each class. I love to meet new people and help others stay strong and healthy. I also like to practice new poses and learn new styles of yoga to become a better teacher.
What is your favorite part about practicing yoga?
Yoga makes me stronger. I am naturally very flexible but like to build my muscles. I love the way yoga makes me feel good about myself and my body. I love yoga!
We heard you are competing in the Special Olympics! Can you tell us more about what you will be competing in and the training process that’s involved?
Yes, I swim in the Special Olympics and usually win first or second place! I am very proud of that since I swim by myself and on a team, and I am the fastest swimmer on the team. I love competing with my Santa Barbara teammates. I love to swim more than anything. I practice every week and it is so much fun.
We’d also love to learn a little more about you!
How would you describe your style?
My style is really casual, but I also love fashion. I like to be comfortable and wear my yoga clothes most days, especially since I teach 3 days a week. I also love to wear bright colors and fun patterns. Turquiose, blue and pink are my favorites. That’s why I love Fabletics, it has all my favorite colors and it is so comfy. I like to wear it all day!
What are your other hobbies or passions?
Bike rides with my dad, learning how to cook with my mom, working out, acting and improv, knitting, ceramics, dancing, laughing and having fun! I keep very busy. I am very social so being with my friends and family is my favorite thing.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Gluten-free sweets and great movies! My favorites are comedies and love stories. Zac Efron is my favorite actor, he is so cute!
In your past life you were…A mermaid! Because I love the water so much, it makes me feel free!