Yoga Teacher Interview Series: Jake Hays & Daniel Sernicola
Jake and Daniel may not fit the stereotypical image of a stick figure female yogi, but that’s part of what I love! They became students of my dear stepmother and yoga mentor Marcia Miller several years ago. I remember being in one of her Hatha Level 2/3 classes and loving their light energy and apparent love for the yoga practice. Since then I’ve watched from afar (and heard through fellow teachers in our community 🙂 ) as Jake and Daniel have continued to advance their yoga teaching. They have been published and featured in Yoga Journal several times (check out here, here, and here for a few of their features)! They also share my passion for fitness and trauma-sensitive teaching, starting a program for LGBTQ youth. Enjoy!
Jake Hays & Daniel Sernicola // Yoga Teachers at Grow Yoga, The Yoga Factory, etc.
Tell me a little about yourselves in a few sentences.
We met in 2012 and haven’t looked back ever since! Currently, we live in the Grandview Heights area of Columbus with our dog, Aesop. We both work day jobs, are active in and out of the gym, and co-teach our yoga classes together in the evenings and on the weekends. We are passionate about working with the local LGBTQ Columbus community and recently won an award for a yoga program we developed and taught at the Kaleidoscope Youth Center. We also love to travel and most of our travel is spent attending yoga training/workshops all across the US so we can expand our teaching knowledge and deliver a great experience to our students!
Where do you currently teach?
- Grow Yoga
- The Yoga Factory
- OSU Women’s Boathouse
- Centered Yoga and Movement
- Upper Arlington High School Crew Team
- Westerville Crew Team
Where did you do your teacher training?
What style(s) of yoga do you teach?
- Vinyasa Flow
- Men’s Sekoia
- Trauma Informed Yoga
- Yoga for Athletes
Yoga with or without music? If with, what kind?
We use music for most of our classes, however, we use the music as a background piece and not as the focus for most of our classes. The exception is our Men’s Sekoia class where the playlist is carefully crafted to assist with the creation of a unique energetic practice. We use many categories of music ranging from World, Ambient, Dance, Alternative and Pop. We try to avoid current top 40 hits so classes remain fresh. Our playlists can include The Carpenters to Madonna and everything in between!
What does “yoga” mean to you?
Yoga is everything! The more you practice, the more you learn about yourself and others. For us, Yoga isn’t about doing a perfect headstand or backbend (although that’s great too!), but it’s about gaining a deeper understanding of yourself. Yoga is a “fine-tuning” experience for body and mind.
When did you walk into your first yoga class? What kept you coming back?
We walked into our first yoga class 4 years ago. We had been playing sports and lifting in the gym for years and lost all flexibility which resulted in common sports related injuries. We decided to take a beginner’s yoga class at our local gym and after our first class (a huge struggle for a few 200+ pound guys with no flexibility!), we left feeling so much better. We had a great teacher that worked with us and we began taking a few classes a week. After practicing for a while, we began to realize that Yoga became so much more than something that gave us more flexibility. We began to learn more about ourselves than we’d ever experienced before practicing Yoga which caused us to keep coming back and eventually enroll in teacher training.
I’m guessing with some of the populations you teach, ex. men and athletes, you get a lot of “I can’t do yoga because…”. What is your response?
Our biggest is “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible” to which our response is “That’s a reason to start!” Fortunately, our background of coming to Yoga was for that specific reason so we understand the intimidation that’s experienced when you’re not flexible and walking into a Yoga class where you feel like everyone else can bend into a pretzel!
Favorite pose? For each of you.
Both Jake and Daniel’s favorite poses are ones that are relaxing for the body and mind. Daniel’s favorite pose is a reclined twist and Jake’s favorite pose is reclined cobbler’s pose.
Least favorite post? For each of you.
We share the same least favorite pose which is a seated wide-legged forward bend. We both have tightness which prevents us from folding forward too deeply which has caused us to call the pose Angry Bear Pose! Fortunately, we have modifications and props that can help!
What do you hope your students take away from your classes?
The takeaways we want our students to walk out of every class with are feelings of safety, inclusion and non-judgment. We encourage the practice to be fun and include elements of self-discovery in a non-judgmental environment. Our hope is that every student can walk away from class feeling a little better than when they first stepped in the door.
What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced as a yoga teacher?
The biggest challenge is trying to get folks into the class/studio especially with the populations that we work with i.e. men and athletes. Most of the time, once students attend a class they’re hooked, however, it can be scary and intimidating to step into a studio and take a class for the first time! This is one of the main reasons we strive to create a safe environment for all students.