Jeniffer Zimmerman MA, LPC , RYT 200- Founder
Jeniffer is a yoga teacher and mental health therapist in Tucson, Arizona. She has over 20 years experience as a social worker and group facilitator. Jeniffer teaches yoga classes that support healing from systematic body dysmorphia, and incorporates yoga and mindfulness into her therapy practice. Jeniffer holds a Bachelor's degree in sociology, and a Master's degree in counseling psychology, and is passionate about mental wellness, social justice and self compassion.
Heather Heintz E-RYT 500- Facilitator
Heather has been training and certifying yoga teachers for over a decade. She invites participants to dig deep into their personal relationship to self, to other, and to practice before taking the seat as a teacher. She ordained as a Buddhist Chaplain with Roshi Joan Halifax in 2014 and weaves the dharma into her teaching. She is currently working on a Masters Degree in Social Work with an emphasis on parental bereavement. She lives with her partner and their baby boy in Volcano. For more information, visit: http://www.heatherheintzyoga.com
ABRY Recognized Teachers:
Ashley Gee RYT 200
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
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
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
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!
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.