Daniel and Jake Yoga Finds Niche with Yoga Based Fitness Program
“We started doing yoga to become more flexible and just fell in love with it,” says Jake Hays of Daniel and Jake Yoga. Since graduating from the Yoga On High Teacher Training program in 2015, Hays and his partner Daniel Sernicola have been teaching public and private yoga classes around Columbus earning many accolades.
Through their Yoga for Athletes by Embodymen™ programs, Hays and Sernicola teach public and private yoga classes geared toward athletes. One popular location for these classes is The Yoga Factory in Westerville near the Westerville bike/running path.
“A lot of athletes do the same repetitive motion over and over with certain muscle groups. A yoga class like this creates space in the body to open it up for other fitness work,” says Hays.
One woman next to me during a Yoga for Athletes class mentioned how she found that her running form improved after every session. Another student remarked, “I find my physical self even more in tune with my spiritual and emotional self – thus allowing me to reach my fitness goals.”
Yoga for Athletes by Embodymen™ was developed by Sernicola and Hays to provide an accessible yoga-based fitness program for men and women of every body type.
“The program incorporates yoga practice, concentration, and breath awareness to allow athletes to stay focused and calm in competition and life,” said Sernicola.
In addition to The Yoga Factory, the two lead Yoga for Athletes sessions for the Columbus Coyotes rugby team and the Greater Columbus Rowing Association, which has a beautiful boathouse on the Scioto River.
“They’ve created a program for the Association that focuses on the muscle groups used for rowing; this has reduced muscle soreness and increased flexibility,” remarked one rower. Plans are underway to develop programs for additional sports, including a golf series starting this spring.
They also have a faithful following for their Sekoia™ for Men class at Grow Yoga. Sekoia™ is a program developed at Yoga on High that blends smooth Vinyasa yoga flows, essential oils, breathing exercises, Reiki, and meditation for a multi-sensory class designed to activate energy, restore balance, and awaken a deeper connection to yourself and your body.
“We didn’t know how this was going to work,” says Hays. “When you mention essential oils to men, you often get a funny look -but guys have really gotten into it. We think it’s that the mental relaxation is so intense… you just get hooked on it.”
One of their regular students agreed, and another remarked, “The class is the only all male class in Columbus, and it brings guys to yoga that may have misconceptions about yoga, particularly those who may have flexibility limitations. The classes maintain a balance between the body/physical aspect (balance, stretching, flexibility, etc.) and the spiritual aspect, with every class having a thought-provoking theme and sutra.”
Although Hays and Sernicola started yoga as way to counteract some of the stiffness they acquired from repetitive gym-based workouts, they soon grew to appreciate the mental benefits of a consistent yoga practice, and this led them to working with yoga students at several locations around town and also with LGBTQ teenagers.
The two are passionate about their work with LGBTQ youth at the Kaleidoscope Youth Center (KYC). Through support from The Yoga on High Foundation and the Columbus community, they have developed a yoga program targeting positive body image, self-acceptance, and anti-bullying. They create a safe environment where the youth can experience freedom in their bodies and minds.
“These kids can be traumatized,” says Hays. “They are beaten up at schools. They need a safe place and a way to start to feel comfortable in their own bodies. Like the men’s yoga programs, they found some resistance among the kids, but once they tried it, there is no stopping them now, they just get it!”
Michelle Jordan, Center Program Coordinator for KYC adds, “More than anything, our young people need and deserve a safe space to feel comfortable in their bodies, something they are denied in so many other spaces. Over the course of our yoga sessions, we saw tremendous growth in our youth. They grew in strength and flexibility, sure, but most importantly, they expressed using yoga as a coping skill and to reduce stress. In fact, many youth expressed that their weekly yoga class was the “highlight of my week” and “when I felt calmest.”
She continues, “Many youth who were initially very body conscious and anxious became more confident and comfortable over the weeks, and most beautifully, perhaps, was seeing our youth meditate quietly together, encourage one another, and laugh hysterically together– which is encouraged by Daniel and Jake, of course! They have skillfully created a warm and affirming environment that our youth look forward to each week. They’ve shared such a tremendous gift with our young people – we are so fortunate to have them as part of the KYC family!”
This month the Kaleidoscope Youth Center is moving, and they have a wish list on Amazon of needed items for their new home.
This dynamic duo is leaving their imprint on lives throughout the city and suburbs and their work with adults and teens to provide self-acceptance and relaxation is much appreciated. The two plan to expand their Yoga for Athletes by Embodymen™ classes and develop a healing yoga program soon.
Photos by Jared Petersen.
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