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For the Love of Teaching Yoga



Senior Frida Griner adored her yoga sessions with Jerry Snee and thrived while having Primary Progressive Aphasia. Says Snee, "She was one of the strongest yoga students with whom I have worked."
Senior Frida Griner adored her yoga sessions with Jerry Snee and thrived while having Primary Progressive Aphasia. Says Snee, "She was one of the strongest yoga students with whom I have worked."

The Insider:

Hi Jerry. Thanks for agreeing to text with us today!


Jerry Snee:

You’re most welcome! Thank you for having me, Andrea.


The Insider:

Let’s start by finding out a little about you. Do you live in New York City?


Jerry Snee:

Yes. I live in Brooklyn.


The Insider:

Are you a native New Yorker?


Jerry Snee:

Of sorts. I was born and raised on Long Island.


The Insider:

Where did you go to school?


Jerry Snee:

After high school, I attended college at the State University of New York at Fredonia. I received a BFA in Musical Theater. During my time there I worked with many fine teachers and also had the opportunity to assistant teach.


The Insider:

Were you on your way to Broadway?


Jerry Snee:

Hardly! But I did enjoy a tour and several off-off Broadway plays and showcases. I also sang for a few years with an a cappella quartet. No regrets.


The Insider:

Sounds great!


Jerry Snee:

It was. And I learned a lot about human nature and myself. And honed some skills that would later support other endeavors.


The Insider:

What was your next stop?


Jerry Snee:

After performing arts and several years of jobs in arts administration and, yes, working as a cater waiter, I spent about eight years working as an administrative associate at a foundation. During that time, I occasionally did some directing of small productions about town. After that, I spent some time unemployed. And realized that for many years, I had put off doing a teacher training at Integral Yoga Institute right here in NYC. Very soon, I attended an open house for potential trainees, sat on it for a couple months, and then something great happened.


The Insider:

Do tell!


A class with yoga instructor Jerry Snee and the participants of Healing Yoga for Women Living with Cancer, sponsored by the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Jerry Snee:

The summer of 2009 came to a close, and I was feeling directionless. About that time, out of the blue, several people in my circles of friends and family - many of whom didn’t know each other -were coming to me, all of them saying, more or less: “Hey Jerry, you’re out of work and have time on your hands - what about that yoga teacher training you always used to talk about?” I felt a strong sense of going in the right direction. Like the universe was conspiring to bring me to a new place.


I contacted Integral on a Thursday, at which point they told me that Friday was the last day they were accepting applications. I put it all together, had a sunset interview on the roof of Integral Yoga on West 13th Street on that Saturday, was accepted, and started training the following week!


The Insider:

Sounds like it was meant to be!


Jerry Snee:

I believe it. A little side note: After my interview, I met a friend and went to see a film at BAM. In the film, the founder of Integral Yoga was portrayed in the background of one scene. What’s the word? Serendipity, maybe? Whatever the word, there was a lot of messaging to me to keep moving with this new endeavor.


The Insider:

The Yiddish word for it is beshert. Preordained. Inevitable. How long did you go through the training to be a yoga instructor?


Jerry Snee:

I love that. That first training was 200 hours of class time over a four-month period. And then there I was. A certified yoga instructor. With no job. More coincidence: A friend I’d worked with at my foundation job, named “Joy” of all things, checked in on me to seeing how and what I was doing. When I told her, she lit up at the idea, and said she knew someone in her building who taught yoga for people with cancer. I never thought that I was destined for working with folks living with cancer or other special needs, but here again, I was led by the nose - or should I say, by the heart - in the right direction. I met with Joy’s neighbor, Roberta Schine. She mentored me, and over the years we’ve worked together and still remain dear friends.


The Insider:

How did that change your path? Did you start working in that area too?


Jerry Snee:

Yes. For a few years, when I was only teaching part-time, almost all of my work was in that area. A few years later I began working with other folks with special needs and teaching other styles of yoga including restorative. It was a wonderful day when I realized that I could make my living in the service of teaching yoga. By the way, in a sense, we all have “special needs.” I try to keep that in mind every time I teach, no matter what the class or the population. Speaking of various styles of yoga, one of my favorites is chair yoga. Accessible to so many people; useful to anyone. Some of my favorite classes and people are those I've encountered doing that work.


The Insider:

I’m sure that among our readers, there are both yoga devotees and yoga deniers. Can you help explain a little why so many people are enthused these days about yoga?


Jerry Snee:

As far as yay- or nay-sayers, I am totally comfortable with the fact that yoga may not be for everyone. As for the enthusiasm, I’m thrilled about it. To those who find yoga is right for them, the benefits go on and on. Better health for the mind and body - "body and soul," if that speaks to you. For some, yoga as a practice also supports their spiritual health. It can build community - the Sanskrit word is “sangha”. You should see how folks in ongoing classes rally around each other through thick and thin. I am sure I’m leaving something out. Suffice it to say: I love this work.


A very active senior, Frida Griner and her instructor Jerry Snee worked together in partnership with her son, Philip for over a year.

The Insider:

You mentioned teaching different populations. Can you please give us a sense of the type of people you’ve worked with?


Jerry Snee:

Great people, one and all. Really. But to break it down a bit more, I’ve worked with people in their late teens through early 90’s. Some who use wheelchairs, some who use other chairs, some who use yoga mats. All of whom have likewise been my teachers.


The Insider:

That’s wonderful! What kind of classes are you teaching now?


Jerry Snee:

Zoom! Sad but fortunately true. I say fortunately because, without this technology - and other platforms like FaceTime - the pandemic would have obliterated most of the classes in which I’m involved. That said, I’m still involved in cancer care classes with great organizations like Mount Sinai and the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. And I have loyal and lovely private clients. Chair yoga, wheelchair yoga, mat yoga. It’s all good. If I can loosely translate, Yoga means “union”. And I love that union, that connection. I’m devoted to it.


The Insider:

What’s your advice to neophytes who are worried that they’re too clunky to do yoga gracefully?


Jerry Snee:

At the risk of commercializing yoga more than it’s already been, I’d say “shop around”. Talk to people. Ask questions. State with no hesitation what your needs are. Your doubts and hopes. As for being “too clunky”, no worries, we all have our moments, don’t we? And we come in all shapes and sizes. And as far as grace goes, it’s one of the things one can learn to cultivate by the very practice of doing yoga. So don’t think of going to your first class as a final exam. It’s a learning process. And yes, yoga is often referred to as “practice.” I love that, in yoga, practice just cultivates more practice. I often think that in yoga - and in life - the real perfection is in doing one’s best.


The Insider:

That’s a lovely place to stop. But before we do, I’d be remiss in not asking you what your own yoga lifestyle is.


Jerry Snee:

Ah, great question! I remember one of my trainers at Integral saying: “don’t become a yoga teacher who never takes class, never studies”. To that I’m hardly perfect. I do my best. I’ve taken additional trainings. Before the pandemic I went to more classes in-person. In terms of yogic styles, I enjoy Hatha in which I was trained - characterized by among other things, sustained poses - and Kundalini, which I discovered and was welcomed to years ago right here at Kundalini Yoga in Park Slope. Lovely people. Among my favorite yogic practices are meditation, breathing practices, and doing things with devotion, or “Bhakti” in Sanskrit - be it in teaching, in doing yoga poses and movement, or just in the actions of daily life.


The Insider:

Makes me want to grab a mat! Thanks so much for your time and enthusiasm.


Jerry Snee:

Grab a mat, grab a chair, bring yourself. Welcome! Thank you so much, Andrea!


 

For more information on yoga classes, including private classes and the following cancer-care programs, please contact:

Jerry Snee, Certified Yoga Instructor

jerrysnee@msn.com


Chair Yoga for Seniors + Caregivers Section 1

Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Thursdays - Mar 31- Jun 9, 1:30-2:30 pm

For more information and to register, go to:

https://mmjccm.org/programs/virtual-chair-yoga-seniors-caregivers


Yoga for Men Who Are Cancer Survivors

JCC/Mount Sinai - Thursdays 3:00-4:30 pm


Healing Yoga for Women Living with Cancer

JCC - Thursdays 6:45-8:00pm


Yoga for People with Cancer

Mount Sinai - Fridays, 2:00-3:30pm






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