9to9 Selfcare with Jessica Winderl, yoga teacher, Founder and podcast host

Jessica Winderl is an Oslo-based American yoga teacher (ERYT 500), Ayurveda Yoga Therapist, and the Founder of the Atman Yoga School. She also teaches and lectures at yoga festivals across the US and Europe (including the Bhakti Fest, Copenhagen Yoga Festival, Sedona Yoga Festival, Portugal Spirit Festival, the Arctic Yoga Conference, and others), and leads workshops and teacher trainings in Norway. Jessica is known for her creative and unique vinyasa flow sequences, and her ability to make yoga philosophy accessible and relevant to the modern yogi. She strives to live her yoga off the mat by embodying her yoga through acting with integrity, kindness, and compassion. Her most intrinsic practices include cultivating stillness + clearing space for radical self-inquiry, and she is fascinated by the process of meditation that uncovers the layers of our spiritual being while bringing us closer in connection with Source.

I met Jessica at a HER drinks a month ago and then again over a heartwarming dinner with the HER sisterhood. And I really loved her vibe. Something in her was warmer than usual and kinder than usual and deeply interested in others. When the idea of launching 9to9 Selfcare with started to flesh out in my mind - she was numero uno on my list! It’s like this new content section was made for her! She oozes out of self care and self love - I am absolutely obsessed with her morning routine and ordered my Triphala right away. This interview if full of tips and knowledge nuggets fuelled her career, research and her practices. You will love this one. I can only recommend her beautiful podcast - it is joy for the ears and the heart!

jessica winderl

Now time for 9to9 Selfcare with Jessica.

Selfcare = ?

Self-care is non-negotiable, and is a daily routine I do to feel centered, grounded, happy, and to help me manage stress in my life.

Are rituals and routine important to you?

YES! I practice and teach a lot of Ayurveda, which is the sister science of yoga and is a 5,000 year old holistic healing modality from India. According to Ayurveda, having daily rituals and routines are very important to aid in health, stress relief, and ease in our life. As humans, we actually respond really well to routine and predictability, as it gives us a sense of structure and foundation. I used to think that being “wild + free” was exciting, but living with no real boundaries made me feel lost, ungrounded, and unhappy.

In the chaos of modern society, having rituals and routines helps us activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us down and allows us to breathe deeper, feel more peaceful, and feel safe.

Many of us operate with a state of chronic “fight or flight” activation in the nervous system, which leads to lowered immunity, more stress hormones, weight gain, poor sleep, lack of clear thinking, anxiety and feelings of panic, and unregulated emotional responses. So the goal is to learn how to slow down, do one task at a time, and use daily rituals to keep us anchored in our intention of health and self-healing.

I do a few daily rituals in the morning, and a few at night. The key to incorporating or starting new rituals is to start slowly, and to set yourself up for success. Don’t try to do 10 new things in one day! The rituals that I do are the ones I have done for over a decade, and they work for me. I do them almost every day, but because I travel a lot and have a weird teaching schedule they don’t always happen, and that is ok.

In the morning, I always start with tongue scraping with a copper scraper. This removes the toxins that the tongue organ expelled during sleep. This is my number one Ayurveda self-care tip. After this I brush my teeth, and do my face care routine with organic and natural products — toner, serum, oil, sunscreen. I wear very little makeup, but am obsessed with good skin care! Depending on how much time I have, I will also dry brush my body with a little Rosemary essential oil, starting at the feet making small strokes upward toward the heart. It feels so good, and gets the circulation going, stimulates the lymphatic system, and it prevents cellulite. The next thing I do is sage palo santo throughout my entire house to clear the energy and set the tone for a good day. Then it is water, coffee, dog snuggles, and reading emails. 

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At night, I take a hot shower, do my skin care routine, and my second favorite ayurvedic practice which is called abhyanga, or warm oil massage. I use Sesame Seed oil (organic, cold pressed, unrefined) mixed with Patchouli and Lavender essential oils. I rub the oil all over my body taking time to give myself a massage. This is moisturizing, calming to the nervous system, and prepares me for a good night of sleep! You can either sleep in the oil or rinse it off in the shower.

how to burn sage palo santo

What's your safe place?

My home, my yoga mat, my bed, snuggling with my husky dogs, reading a good book, hanging out with my husband, and watching Friends episodes!

What is your selfcare commitment to yourself?

To do the best I can to prioritize myself. It is hard for me to do my job leading yoga teacher trainings if I don’t feel good. But the cool thing is that once you start incorporating rituals into your daily life, you quickly realize how much you love them and it becomes easier to do them.

jessica winderl yoga school

How defined are you by a mindful practice?

I am very defined by my yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry practices. These are not just things I “do”, but at this point in my life and career, they have become who I am. I live my yoga off the mat in the way I view the world, show up for myself and others, and try to lead by example with grace, integrity, and compassion.

How would you describe your relationship to food?

Neutral. I love food, but I am also slightly disinterested in it at times. I love to cook, and am pretty good at cooking, but I have to be in the mood and not feel rushed. I don’t follow diets, and I don’t restrict myself. I love to eat vegan, and healthy, but because my work schedule gets a little crazy, sometimes my dinner looks like a frozen pizza or quesadillas. And I don’t spend a second feeling bad about it ;) Years ago I decided to prioritize my energy on my spiritual practice, and gave myself permission to be human when it comes to food. That being said, I definitely feel better when I am more careful about what I eat. I was vegetarian for many years, and started eating meat when I went through cancer treatment three years ago. But I plan to go back to a full plant-based diet soon. I love ayurvedic herbal supplements, and use them daily. Ashwagandha for stress adaptogenic properties, Triphala for colon tonification and overall digestive support, Gotu Kola for brain and nervous system support, and Kutki for liver support.

What relationship do you have with exercise and movement?

Love it! I love yoga, pilates, and downhill skiing. I also enjoy working out at the gym. In my perfect world, I move my body daily. I also walk/hike my husky pups for an hour or two each day (depending on time and weather).

Does the thought of losing control ever scare you?

Yes and no. It depends in what context. I am very driven and ambitious, so that keeps my pretty focused and in control. But yoga has taught me that there is not a lot that I am really in control over, from a spiritual standpoint. And I actually find it comforting to rely on my faith and belief system in something bigger than me to help me make sense of my world, and to let go of the reins a little bit.

jessica winderl yoga teacher podcast

'Digital detox days' yay or nay?

Yay!

I think digital detox is great! I struggle with this though, since I work online a lot. But I would say I am on the lax end of social media engagement. Some days I post, then a week will go by until I post again. I realize this is not effective for using algorithms, but I also don’t care enough to be a slave to posting. I post thoughtful and insightful captions related to yoga philosophy on instagram, and I figure that if people like what I have to say they will pay attention. But I am not driven by likes or comments...

The podcast that makes life a little happier?

My own podcast, One Sacred Pause! This is Norway’s first yoga + meditation podcast that just wrapped up Season 2, and Season 3 starts in June. One Sacred Pause is a podcast dedicated to the yoga, wellness + meditation communities of Scandinavia. It is designed to bring real and raw dialogues about spirituality into the forefront of living your yoga off the mat. Each week I chat with inspiring wellness entrepreneurs who are doing exciting things in the yoga + meditation communities, and learn the tools they use to stay committed to their practice, and to live their yoga off the mat. You can listen in on spotify, iTunes, and Podbean, and learn more at www.onesacredpause.com 

Interview by Evodie