By now we're all familiar with the many benefits of yoga for kids. But for 13-year-old Jaysea DeVoe from Encinitas, Calif., it wasn't long before her love for the practice became a part-time profession, amidst the already hectic schedule of a typical eighth-grade teenage girl.
DeVoe teaches donation-based Vinyasa classes that she calls Sea Vibes Yoga, at a small studio inside Bergamot Spa where her students range anywhere from age 4 to 60. Upbeat, energetic and full of positive vibes, the bubbly teen is wise beyond her years both on and off the mat. She's also one of the youngest yoga teachers in the world.
Brought up by the sea with two brothers, DeVoe's family is close-knit. Her parents — a father who manages bands and surfers and a mother who stays at home — encouraged her to try yoga at a young age and continue to support her journey. (Yes, they come to her classes, too).
And when she's not meeting the demands of schoolwork, DeVoe is devoted to studying asana and yoga philosophy — always furthering her education as the youngest 200-hour certified teacher in the United States, registered with Yoga Alliance. She's also the world's youngest certified stand-up paddleboarding instructor.
Already branded as an ambassador for several yoga clothing lines and the board company Glide SUP, DeVoe is a rising star in her community. She's also passionate about the non-profit work she does for organizations geared toward helping disadvantaged youth, for charities like the One Love Movement in San Diego, and Children Mending Hearts and Uplift Yoga Bash in Orange County.
MindBodyGreen caught up with the busy teen and asked her a few questions about the unusual life of a young yogi.
MBG: How did you first decide to become a yoga teacher?
JD: When I was 8 or 9 years old, my mom took me to a kid's yoga class in our area. It was awesome! I didn't know much about yoga because I was so young, but I had a lot of fun with it and felt so energized afterwards. So we went back every week.
Then when I got older, I did teen yoga with Kristen Butterfield at Bergamot where I teach now, with a couple of my girlfriends. That's when I met my amazing mentor, Lindsay Russo who teaches at The Soul of Yoga in Encinitas — she taught me about the spiritual side of yoga. She inspired my friends and me to become teachers and got us accepted to do the training, which started in October 2013 and finished in February of last year. My friends are a bit older than me, so as far as we know I'm the youngest certified yoga teacher in the U.S.
As a teenager, how do you take your practice off of your mat and into your life?
It's definitely stressful to get all of my work done! School days can be a lot of work, especially on Tuesdays when I have to teach. So I wake up, go to school and then teach yoga, and it's dark out by the time I come home. But when I get to the studio and see people coming in, I feel so much more energized and relaxed.
If I'm ever stressed out or have exams, I always meditate before them. That helps me a lot. Anytime I'm nervous about something, I meditate and feel 100 times better. I normally meditate with my mala or my crystals — they really inspire me. Most people tell me I'm an old soul, and stuff like that.
Do you feel like you can relate to other yoga teachers who are older than you?
There's always so much more to learn. I know enough to teach, but I never want to stop learning. I realize how much more I need to learn because my teachers are so wise.
When I was younger, I always wanted to be a teacher of some sort. I love teaching other people and bringing people together. With yoga, it's such a cool experience to do what I love and also teach. I learn so much from my teachers and I want to help my students learn, just like I did. I really want to inspire other young people to do yoga and become teachers! It's such a great opportunity for teens and an amazing life experience.
How do you feel about all the body image issues that are circulating in the yoga industry?
Some of my friends say that they want to come to yoga so they can get skinny. But it's not about that. The spiritual part of yoga is not about looking a certain way; it's about honoring yourself and telling yourself you're beautiful.
Some people think they need to look or act a certain way. But people need to be themselves, be free, and do whatever they want.
Why do you call your classes "Sea Vibes" and is your name just a coincidence?
It's awesome — my family all has sea names! We grew up on boats and spent lots of time on the beach and on islands. The ocean has really inspired me — it's always moving and changing; going and flowing. I just think that's so awesome. It's always different than it was the day before.
The body is always different and always moving — just like the ocean. That's why I named it Sea Vibes Yoga. I always incorporate the ocean into the practice. In Forward Fold, I tell my students, "Imagine you're a piece of kelp in the ocean; your feet are rooted into the bottom of the sea, but the rest of your body is going with the current."
And what are your classes like?
Vinyasa is pretty much my thing, but the theme of my classes are different every week. I talk about astrology a little bit, especially if there's an equinox, or new or full moon. I'll also find a quote for each class ... one of my favorites is by the Buddha, "Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, but concentrate the mind on the present moment." It shows how much you jump forward and back with your thoughts, but in yoga, you want to focus on the present moment that you're in.
I usually play some meditation music at the beginning of class, but then I like to get it moving and flowing. I'll play some Bob Marley — I like fun songs that flow easily, and sometimes my friend and I will play the ukulele; it just sounds so beautiful. But when I do yoga at the beach, the sound of the waves is my music.
I teach a family class, so all ages come. My students include little kids with their families, too. It's really fun! It's all donation-based and it's really awesome to teach there because I like to bring the community together and meet new people. I really just love yoga and I love sharing my passion for yoga with others.
Do you think that you will teach yoga forever, or could you ever see yourself doing something different?
I want to teach yoga for as long as I can. I just did my SUP yoga training with Amelia Travis. I also just started making jewelry out of beads and crystals with a simple wire wrap. I call them Wise Wraps because you can wear them as a bracelet, anklet or necklace. I also just started drilling sea glass so I can make earrings. I like to use moonstone and amethyst. I also want to eventually make malas. I use all of the money I earn to buy more boards and other yoga-related stuff, and to further my training.
But my real goal when I'm older is to travel. I do a lot of charity events, and I want to do that around the world. I really want to do more and more training. There's just so much to learn about yoga, and I only know a little part.
This conversation has been edited and condensed.
Photos courtesy of Horizon Light Photography and Fisher DeVoe