Birth Sign: Virgo
Favourite Piece of Art: Sunflowers by Van Gogh
Favourite Pose: Dancer’s Pose
Jess Lemon is making a run for it.
She leaves her regular teaching practice at MYDanforth this month to move her family to Montreal. Since becoming a mother to little Gabriel almost five years ago, Jess has identified some new priorities. “As a yoga instructor I don’t get paid very much, and I have no benefits. My partner is employed, but I want to co-own our house.” These are the familiar, practical problems that plague most of us throughout the Yogaverse. Luckily Jess isn’t intimidated by change. “It’s living my practice.”
In the early 2000s, Jess was studying French language and literature at the University of Toronto. She decided to take her third semester abroad traveling to Nantes on the western coast of France, where she taught yoga on the side, earning herself a loyal following. She continued to travel, eventually relocating to Las Vegas to help transition a studio from bikram to moksha – now modo. Then came 2009 and the not-so Great Recession, and Jess found herself in Halifax with a month-long gig, and more training – this time, Vinyasa. “I didn’t think yoga would be my life’s vocation, but it was always there for me. It drew the kind of people that I was spending my life around anyway.”
In 2013, at a yoga retreat she hosts every year in Costa Rica, Jess met the love of her life, David Beaumont. “Steph saw it,” Jess laughs recalling the moment her friend fellow teacher Stephanie Mills noticed the couple’s chemistry. “Steph looked at me and said, Lemon…” she laughs. “He’s a French chef. I sat with the French (yogis) on the rest of the trip, we had so many places in common. A week later he flew from Brittany, France to meet me in Toronto.” It was a done deal; they’d become inseparable. Their son Gabe was born on November 10th, 2014 – exactly one year since the day they’d met.
Jess and David share a common ancestral landmark. “In the 1600s our families could have looked across the English Channel at one another,” she says. Both families departed for Canada at roughly the same time. Jess traces some of her lineage to Normandy, and the family name ‘Lemon’ to le mon, or the mountain – a powerful image in spirituality symbolizing both great obstacle, and divine inspiration. So what is her personal mountain? “Addictive self-help behaviour. Moving from codependence was the doorway for me to start looking at that.” Jess found herself able to relate to everyone’s feelings, but unable to filter out the harmful ones, and without a sense of her own boundaries she began taking on more than her share.
What was her turning point? “I did a mindfulness documentary,” she tells me, “I took a camera and a small crew,” and hit the road “to find out more about the kind of people who are drawn to the yoga community.” The experience reaffirmed Jess’s faith in her practise. “I feel we’re beholden to each other – we are all interconnected. A lot of us are traumatized, and we get into our camps.” This makes me think of the many different places we come from to practice in our studio space at MYD. Some of us are recovering from injury or abuse. We don’t always have the same agenda when we bring our mats into the space, and yet it’s a non-judgmental place to move together and breathe with intention. “Yoga invites us to this super conversation, it’s the courage to connect to ourselves and others.”
As we say our goodbyes on the phone, I tell Jess I’m still taking it all in and she laughs. “Yoga is the only game in town for me, I like to hit it from all angles.” Her last class will be on August 18th at 5pm. See you there.