Y’all, I’m about to get real sappy.
The day after I moved to Bethlehem in June of 2007, I walked into the Yoga Loft and asked Jessie Thompson, founder of the Loft, for a job.
I started working the front desk on Friday mornings in exchange for free classes and fell in love with her beautiful studio. The natural light, original hardwood floors and wide, open rooms are usually enough to win most yoga enthusiasts over.
I started taking classes with Jessie and my interest in yoga grew 100X bigger than I thought possible. She opened my eyes to the art of alignment, chanting, meditation and philosophy. I started attending classes at the Loft both day and night, easily averaging 10 classes a week. She inspired me to take my practice to the next level and I had no idea at the tender age of 22 that elevating my practice would completely transform my life.
Jessie encouraged me to take the Loft’s second round of teacher training. I desperately needed her nudging because I was not feeling confident in my ability to teach at that time. Perhaps you can recall someone special in your life that inspired you to take a super life-changing leap— Jessie was that person for me. And I remember on my teacher training exam, Jessie commented that if I were to learn more about the philosophy of yoga and really take it seriously, I would be “an amazing teacher.” I took that to heart. That piece of advice alone is a huge part of why I am the person I am today.
My first gig fresh out of training was a co-teaching opportunity, with Jessie (OMG!), at a local day-program for incarcerated women. I was so honored that she asked me and trusted me to hold that space with her. I learned so much from the experience. It’s why I got into service work, which became a centerpiece in my life for many years to follow.
A year later, Jessie invited me into the faculty of the teacher training program, which truly solidified my dedication to teaching yoga as a career path. Her attention to detail and insistence that we teach the training material accurately is why our yoga school stands out as one of the best in the country.
As a young teacher, I didn’t always have the best work ethic or a sense of the greater picture. Jessie taught me discipline, compassion and fairness. I looked to her as a mentor and eventually as a friend. She was a guest at my wedding and when my son was born, Jessie visited me in the hospital. When we brought our newborn home, there were 12 boxes of diapers waiting on our porch, from Jessie. Whenever I need help, she finds a way to offer it sincerely.
And though she is retiring from her position as director of the Yoga Loft, those that are blessed to truly know Jessie will never forget the strong roots she laid down here and the support, encouragement and authentic love that she gave, freely, to her yoga community. To this day, it’s rare to walk into the Loft and not see Jessie at the top of a ladder, in the middle of a studio improvement project or, at the very least, deep in thought behind her lap top, answering work emails or planning a workshop. She has given so much of herself to make this studio a yoga home to so many of us.
I am in awe of the clarity and courage she brings into this next chapter of her life. And we are grateful that the Yoga Loft will continue to thrive, under the leadership of Rachel Abott, who is hungry and excited to continue Jessie’s legacy (Rachel‘s serendipitous journey to her new role is a whole other amazing story for another day!).
Jessie, thank you for the seeds that you planted and for your patience in nurturing my growth. Thank you for caring so deeply and for raising me up over the last decade. You have enriched my life beyond measure.
What a special family you’ve created here. I know I speak for teachers, staff and students when I say we love you and we are excited for you to embark on your next adventure. Of course, we will miss you dearly, but your teachings will be with us forever.
Namaste. 💜 ~ Megan
Me, Jessie & Alysha on June 20, 2015: