Tribute to Jennie Lee

“Several years ago I decided that I needed to learn yoga.” writes Peter Riley, CPA in Newburyport, MA. “I had been going to the gym on a regular basis but kept bumping into this thing called yoga and I wanted to understand it. NOW, there was no way I was gonna haul my fat ass around in a group/class situation so knew I needed private instruction. Our office had just done Jennie Lee’s tax return and I knew she taught yoga so I called her. One on one instruction is her specialty thru her Transformative Yoga Therapy model. Over the next 3 years she quietly yet forcefully pushed me forward to a (I think) real understanding of the practice of yoga. When I started I wanted to use it primarily as an exercise routine, and bypass all the spiritual mumbo-jumbo but to her great credit she did not allow me to do that. During our sessions, without making a big deal about it, she never lost the focus of yoga as a spiritual practice. Now keep in mind that these sessions probably sounded anything but spiritual as I cursed my corpulent self into all sorts of contortions that fat people are simply not designed to do! Jennie was, of course, inspirational and the perfect coach for me; she often said that she had never heard anyone say “f—” so many times while doing yoga!


This week as I did my yoga while on vacation in Maine I thought of her as I often do, I recently told her that her voice would be in my head for the rest of my days: breath, straighten out the back, don’t forget to breath, engage your core, don’t think about the move, just do it (don’t over think it!) and (of course) DON’T FORGET TO BREATH!I was also thinking about an excellent article Jennie wrote for Yoga Therapy Today (you can read it on her website) in which she spoke about yoga’s ability to meet you wherever you are (this is something she often said as we worked together). As I enter my 5th year of doing what I semi-respectfully call “fat guy” yoga I know that this is true. Even when you are tired, depressed, anxious, or worried (and fat!) you can do yoga it will meet you where you are and work with you and uplift you. In all this Jennie Lee gave me a lifelong gift and I miss her and wish her well on her new life away from Newburyport, I am sure there are great things awaiting her!”