By Laura Faye
If one of the objectives of yoga is to gain a clear and focused mind, then lessons from Jasmine Lieb are the essence of the yoga experience. Many fine teachers aim for clarity in their classes, yet Jasmine neatly strikes the center of the target. She is a master of clear, clean, and straightforward instruction.
Jasmine Lieb has refined a yogic voice: pure, simple, and lucid, until her manner of instructing has become an art in itself. The heart and soul of her teaching is immersed in precision and clarity as well. Her specific, detailed descriptions of the body parts are so understandable and so welcoming, that they encourage the confidence of self-awareness and the sense of being present with the body in a warm and endearing way. Rather than intimidating with commanding orders or lulling with tedious descriptions, Jas recommends a very specific instruction for her students to “choose.” With her guidance, the simple process of hugging the knees to the chest can become a substantial exploration of the internal organs, the low back and the shoulders. That one specific detail then becomes a focus for the class and she gradually builds up a running theme throughout the lesson.
When Jasmine attended her first lesson at the age of 18, she said to her mum, “I want to teach this stuff!” For the first ten years, she patiently built up her own practice, refining and distilling the essence of the asanas before attempting to make a living or to share her knowledge with others. In those early years she practiced without a teacher, learning from many books and from Lilias Folan and Richard Hittleman on TV.
When she moved from Manchester, England to Los Angeles via New York in the late 70’s Jasmine began to attend group classes regularly. Her family encouraged her to take a teacher’s training and she enrolled at the Harriman School of Yoga in Santa Monica (no longer open) as a student of the legendary Indra Devi. There, she learned a non-aggressive Bhakti approach. She was also strongly influenced by courses in yoga therapy with Richard Miller. Through teacher’s training at Samata International and numerous workshops at Center For Yoga she was able to consolidate information from the Iyengar and Desikachar lineages: from the former, principles of detail and precision; from the latter, philosophy and understanding of the benefits of working dynamically before statically so as not to force an injury. Years later she tasted Astanga Yoga with the faculty and international teachers at Yoga Works.
Jasmine has always tended to study with many teachers, never choosing a favorite or adhering exclusively to one system, rather formulating a synthesis of the whole by combining the important kernels from the various schools.
Adding to her seemingly unquenchable thirst for traditional knowledge, from her own sensibility she delved deeply into each asana, breaking it down in order to discover its essence and its primary effects. Now, after 30 years of teaching, Jasmine has developed a style that is distinctly her own. Many of the postures are adapted rather than ’classical’, yet each pose is built solidly, from a strong foundation. Part of the foundation building includes collecting and holding imaginary sand with the toes in a wide and often infuriating variety of creative ways. Jasmine’s skill in standing close yet guiding each student into their own inner exploration has the profound effect of creating and maintaining mental focus during the lessonStudents learn to focus on their own sense of self, not on the teacher. Jasmine, therefore, teaches without being in the way, and this ability is a real lesson in how to teach with humility.
Like a human filter, she has integrated and distilled knowledge from the world’s greatest yogis and mixed it with her own experiences to come up with the pure elixir that encompasses her work today.
Find Jasmine’s class schedule at www.yogaworks.com or at www.smc.edu/emeritus