Jeniffer Zimmerman MA, LPC , RYT 200- Founder She/Her
Jeniffer is a yoga teacher and mental health therapist in Tucson, Arizona. She has over 20 years experience as a group facilitator. Jeniffer teaches yoga classes that support healing from systematic oppression and views self-care as an act of resistance. Jeniffer holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology, a Master’s degree in counseling psychology, and is passionate about community action.
ABRY Recognized Teachers:
Ashley Gee RYT 200 She/Her
I believe in a world where all bodies are beautiful and capable. I have worked for several years with teenage girls with addictions, eating and body image disorders, and self harm, among other common struggles. I, too have had to face my own inner battles. For nearly 10 years, I suffered from a severe eating disorder, body image dysmorphia, anxiety, and depression. In my early 20's, I began regularly practicing yoga, and my yoga mat quickly became my sanctuary. By practicing yoga, I learned very much about body awareness and self care; things which were once foreign to me. ABRY is important to me, because of the message it shares about the importance of self love, and of the love and acceptance of others. I am passionate about spreading this message to future generations, in order to help create a world where all bodies are free from oppression. My intuitive nature allows for me to create a safe and supportive class environment, where my students can explore themselves freely. Just as my own practice has been my refuge, I wish to offer such a space for each and every student, of whom I have the greatest fortune teaching.
Emma Bell RYT200 She/Her
Before I found the nurturing LoveYoBody class at Yoga Oasis, I feared that all the hate I had for my body would be life long. Becoming a part of the body love revolution community taught me this one simple truth, which changed my entire perspective: You can love your body, or at least find body neutrality, without having to change one single thing about yourself. My whole life I felt pressured to change my body, whether it was from certain relationships or just the general media sources that only represent one body type being drilled into my brain day after day. I was also very tough on myself because I really, really wanted to be a model. I knew I was too short to be in say, New York Fashion Week, but as a size 4 I was also told to lose a good amount of weight. I weigh quite a bit more now than I did when I was told I wasn’t good enough, and I'm so very much happier because I’ve let go of wanting to change my body so badly. I still am very passionate about modeling and photography as a whole, but won’t settle for an industry bent on making people hate and change themselves. I believe more women and men should be displayed in the mainstream media to combat this feeling of not fitting in that so many people experience. Yoga in general has been a huge part of my healing process, but I have experienced the same sort of body oppression, no matter how unintentional it was, in yoga spaces as well. I aim to be the yoga teacher that I would want to teach me; someone who is encourages me to listen to my body’s wisdom, gives loads of options/variations, doesn’t care about which stage I’m in, treats me as an equal and respects my boundaries. I am also obsessed with props! All Bodies Rise Yoga classes have changed my relationship with yoga and my body to be more loving, accepting, and flat out unapologetic.
Cori Runyon RYT200 She/her
Before I found out about ABRY, I felt like my body was some separate entity from myself; a burden I was forced to schlep around my entire life. I grew up always feeling very ashamed of and disappointed in my body because it was never good enough and only brought me grief and negative judgement from my family and kids and school. I thought I would have to diet forever and would never be truly comfortable in my body no matter how much (mostly negative) attention I gave it. Once I joined the ABRY community and got to know my amazing, inspiring, wild and loving mentor, Jen, I began to feel free of all the negative and harmful thoughts I had about myself and my body. I learned that I am not alone and that society and the media play a huge role in placing toxic body ideals on people, distorting our self image. I gave up on dieting which was so liberating and started focusing my energy on nurturing my mind and body through self compassion and self care practices such as yoga. I started indulging in things that make me feel good without experiencing feelings of guilt, shame or self judgement. My feelings of shame toward my body turned into feelings of gratitude for all that it does for me. How it carries me through this life and how it is the only body I have, so I should cherish it. When teaching yoga, I do my best to provide a space for my students to recognize all that our bodies are and all that they do for us instead of the all too often heard message of all that our bodies lack. I am so grateful for Jen and the ABRY community for teaching me how to love myself.
*Visit The Pantry, located in front of Fortín de las Flores at 102 E 31st, which is stocked weekly with free feminine hygiene products and other essentials for Tucson's underserved community, and is the result of Cori's mentorship with ABRY!
Mandy Bergstrom RYT200, LMSW She/They
Since my early teens I have struggled with depression, anxiety and body dysmorphia. When I first started practicing yoga 12 years ago, I was suffering from a lot of emotional and physical pain and I was hoping to find relief. At that time my body sent me confusing signals that I didn't understand and tried hard to ignore. While I found healing in my yoga practice I also found that attending many public classes fed my self-criticism and perfectionism, reinforcing an unhealthy relationship with my body instead of freeing me. In ABRY I found a way to practice yoga from a place of love and acceptance instead of punishment. For the very first time I began to listen to my body and make peace with it. Now my yoga practice has become a place to connect with myself in a loving way. I was drawn to the ABRY mentorship because I wanted to continue the work of freeing myself from the internalized oppression that comes from living in a body dysmorphic (racist, heterosexist, et. al.) society. I also wanted to teach in way that acknowledges and works to dismantle the systems of oppression that cause us to suffer. I believe that when we approach self-care and self-love without acknowledging/addressing systemic oppression our work is incomplete. I incorporate principals of trauma informed yoga into my teaching. Anyone and everyone is welcome in my class, no prior experience is required!
Rebecca Patterson-Markowitz She/They
I believe that self love and body love are practices that we cultivate, not things we attain. Everyone’s journey looks a little different depending on how our gender, race, class, ability, weight, age, and cultural background interact with the world we find ourselves living in. Given that we live in a society where people profit off of perpetuating a young, white, thin, cis. bodied beauty standard, which is equated or so we’re taught, with happiness, it is no surprise that many of us struggle. We live in a highly visual culture, and I love the ways our bodies speak, to ourselves and to each other. There is both artistry and freedom in crafting and claiming certain body aesthetics as our own. The risk is in loosing touch with how we actually feel in our bodies, regardless of what they’re doing or wearing.
Through my late teens and mid twenties I went up and down the scale yo-yo, and I still catch myself in old stories about my worthiness as the numbers change. It is both humbling and infuriating to return at times to feeling ashamed of my body or alienated from it. Humbling because we can choose to find connection and compassion from this place, and infuriating because we don’t get to choose the messages we’ve internalized our whole lives that warp and hurt our self-perception.
In 2014, encouraged by a friend’s mom who is always up to exciting stuff, I stumbled into conscious dance. On the dance floor the invitation was to move to music in a way that was primarily about how I felt, and not about how I looked to those around me. This felt like mission impossible, even if no-one else was watching I had my internal audience on high alert. But I started dancing, and it’s now been four beautiful years of learning to move, improvising, and finding freedom and expression. I now DJ and have trained with Open Floor International to create the same opportunity for those who show up on my dance floors. Wether you can just move a pinky toe or want to dive into a limbs flying fast and furious process I am excited to offer you a safe space to feel what there is to feel in your body and to move it. Dance also lead me to an M.A. in human geography, where I’ve been geeking out for the last year and a half reading feminist theories of embodiment. I am so excited to be joining the ABRY team as a dance instructor. This group of passionate and socially conscious women inspire me to keep moving and stay grounded in making small changes in myself and in my community.
Savanah Martin RYT200 She/Her
At the beginning of 2017, I set out to find ways to resist the forces of oppression that were gaining momentum around the world— from a president who openly bragged about molesting women, to white supremacists marching down American streets. It was around this time that my yoga practice and my role as a yoga instructor became, for me, inherently political. Yoga teaches unity, love, and compassion for all, regardless of race, shape, ethnicity, gender, religion, orientation. In fact, one of the core facets of yoga is the belief that we as individuals are part of one universal consciousness; we are not separate from each other, but rather pieces of a unified whole. So to hurt another is to hurt oneself. This notion should not be a political issue. Yet in an era where African Americans are gunned down in their own backyards for holding cell phones, where immigrants fleeing a war-torn nation are locked in jail cells, where women continue to be paid less than men, and where the people in seats of political power condone all of the above and more, teaching and practicing a philosophy that claims we are all equal and deserving of love is a political act. When I realized this, joining the ABRY community was the logical next step.
As I progressed in my ABRY mentorship, it became clear to me that the way many oppressive institutions—patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism— succeed is by weaponizing human bodies against the individuals that inhabit them. I understood that my body, and my perception of my body and myself, had been infiltrated by oppressors. All of the years I spent dieting, all of the minutes wasted in front of the mirror meticulously critiquing each part of myself that wasn’t good enough, all the money spent to make me match an unattainable ideal, all of it was part of a series of tactics to keep me in the oppressors’ grasp. ABRY helped me realize that it was time to usurp the usurper and reclaim my body as my own.
My yoga practice has become my weapon to aid me in reclaiming my body. I come to my mat to take pleasure in my body as it is, to relish in the simple miracle of my breath, to bask in the warmth of my own sun. I still struggle with my body perception, but I can feel my mindset shifting. I take my relationship with my body one day at a time, and I’m gradually freeing myself of those old ideals that had me believe I wasn’t good enough. Like yoga, fostering a loving relationship with my body is an endless practice. And like yoga, the fruits of that practice only get sweeter.
Allison Constanza RYT200
In college I studied Women’s Studies and became passionately involved in feminism. I learned about the ways our patriarchal society has oppressed women throughout history and even still today, valuing masculine traits and devaluing the feminine. Through this study I became involved in Divine Feminine spirituality. Yoga, veganism, and women’s spirituality became central in my spiritual life.
I have found Divine Feminine-cultivating communities that are women-only to be profoundly and positively life-changing, but have since realized that these spaces are unnecessarily exclusive. As part of the ABRY mentorship program I am now working to expand my Divine Feminine community to all femme-identifying folks, leading monthly Divine Femme Yoga & Ritual gatherings.
As a queer femme myself, I have found the term "femme" to be incredibly empowering. Femme is intentional. Femme is not inherently connected to sexuality or the gender binary. Femme is political and radical. Femme is not intended to please the male gaze. Femme is authentic. Femme is rebellion against the patriarchy. Femme is for anyone who connects with the word.
Through the ABRY mentorship program I evolved and now continue to evolve my understanding of the interconnection of different forms of oppression. I am passionate about ending oppression in all its many forms. I advocate for compassion for all life and the planet as a whole through social justice activism, spiritual practices, and sustainability.