Fresh off of leading her first yoga class at Space 15 Twenty, UNDO spoke with Jacqulyn Whang on her binding relationship with yoga and how she became 5thmindyoga.
Who is Jacqulyn Whang, the 5thmindyoga master?
I’m pretty chill. Mostly to myself. Quiet in person, but I can be assertive when I see needed. That’s probably the first thing that people notice about me. I like good music, good people, and good food. I like to keep things simple, even though my car can get messy at times. But that’s because I’m a high school teacher, so I live out of my car during the day. I love cozy scents and the smell of fire. I use candles, oils, and incense; they make me happy. I really like things that make me happy.
As for being a yoga master, I’m a student for life.
The mind is a fundamental element to a human being. How does one access the 5thmind through the practice of yoga?
I began 5thmindyoga about a year ago. I was reading a book about time traveling and it went over the five dimensions. I’m not well versed in quantum physics. I actually never took physics, but I love symbolism and I read a lot, which is what drew me to the book. The book explained black holes, the Big Bang theory, string theory…so on and so forth. From the read, a concept really stuck with me. I became obsessed with the theory of the fifth dimension. The school of thought may be a bit psychedelic, but I like funk. In short, the fifth dimension represents a “heaven-like space.” During this time of my life, there were many ambivalences and uncertainties. Thus, this theory acted as a framework for me to find a grounded hope that relied more on my faith than on my shifting and ephemeral circumstances.
And this is yoga, turning the mind.
Photo by Celina Kenyon
Looking from the outside in, someone like myself who doesn’t practice yoga religiously may be intimidated by the flexibility and agile nature many yoga instructors and participants demonstrate. What do you say to someone who is just beginning their journey towards a yoga-induced lifestyle?
Never compare yourself to others in a way where you feel defeated. Use intimidation as a challenge. Everyone’s bodies are different, so our shapes are different. Yoga is art. It is creativity in the way we move and breath. You would never compare your baby to another baby (haha). Yoga practice is an extension of you. Admire others’ and grow your own. Take it slow and start off with the basics. Even basic postures build flexibility and confidence in your alignment. I personally don’t do crazy yoga poses every day. I honestly have a set of sequences I stick to and then move into building flexibility with weird poses I make up as I go.
Yoga has all these predispositions. But in essence, it should promote the wellness and health of the mind and body. It’s a mind state. Quiets the ego and gives us space to listen.
What is the beauty of linking the mind, body, and soul when you place yourself on that yoga mat every day?
There’s a general appreciation for the linking of the mind, body, and soul. First of all, I do not think that many of us are doing forward folds throughout the day. Nor are we doing handstands and allowing blood to rush to our heads. Stretching in ways that counter our usual body posture not only feels good but also evens out our own body alignment and structure. I know many people, including myself, have cried in yoga. It is a mind, body, and soul thing because you are feeling something new and at times, it’s exactly what your body needed, but you never thought of it.
So the activation of our body, awaken the mind and soul.
The most beautiful thing about the linking of all this is the connection. Feel one with yourself and feeling good about it. I don’t feel this a lot. I’m scattered and always fighting insecurities. On the mat, too. But in certain moments of good synergy, I’m elevated and fully connected, and just so grateful to God. It’s worship really.
Describe the importance of a healthy diet when choosing to become one with the life of yoga.
Everything in moderation. My school provides teachers conchas and donuts – I don’t pass on these. When there are burritos, I”ll ask for the hot sauce. But, I do watch what I eat. I like to be healthy, it makes me feel positive. I have a lot of digestive problems. I have really bad cases of IBS, so I am conscious of what I eat.
However, recently I’ve been learning a lot about how a healthy diet brings purity. The purity of body and intention. I am a month into being a vegetarian, so that has shifted my perspective on healthy diets immensely. I have experienced an elevation in my practice of yoga. I have more control of my abdominal muscles and this allows me to be more stable in my inversions. I stopped lifting at the gym, and work more on slow flows and bending deeper into stretches. Also, I have more focus because I may not have the energy to muscle through things as I did when I was eating meat. I’ll be writing a blog on the fruits of self-discipline that comes from self-love and vegetarianism.
“But, in course of time, the practitioner of yoga has to adopt a vegetarian diet, in order to attain one-pointed attention and spiritual evolution.” – IYENGAR, LIGHT ON YOGA
Music makes your body do all sorts of things you probably never knew it could do. What is the connection between a lovely playlist when yoga is involved?
I love music. I grew up on good R&B and hip hop. I had people call me Bobby in high school, after Bobby Digital from the Wu-Tang Clan. Haha.
I moved around a lot growing up, from the IE to LA to Illinois to the suburbs, so as cheesy as it is, music kept me company. I was also always in trouble in high school, so I would get CDs and play them on my little boombox in my room. Music calms me down, it excites me, it makes me cry, and at times cringe. It sets the mood and can influence the way I feel. Music is nostalgic and it brings newness. It makes you want to sit still, but also dance. Sway or get low.
Music is a way of thinking. Most genres started off as movements. There are layers and layers of analysis in this, but I’m going to stop there.
Basically, it’s fun to bring that all on the mat. Yoga is a reflection of our lives. Sometimes serious, sometimes chill, sometimes funny. It’s everything. Silence is cool too. But music makes me feel like myself, so while I play it in yoga, it guides me to myself.
Recently, UNDO teamed up with UO Spaces and Space 15 Twenty to host a Yoga + Chill workshop, which was led by you. How was your first yoga class and what did you learn from the experience?
It was an amazing opportunity. I love teaching yoga because it is something that got me through my hardest moments and gives me a space to think, feel, and be genuine. I love how I feel when I do certain sequences and poses, thus to give others a chance to make that their own is appreciated. The pictures almost made me want to cry. I had a rough 2016, so to start off early this year with such an amazing event with dope ass folks was more than I asked for. There’s this one picture of everyone doing a reverse warrior looking fly as hell. I hope the yogis feel good as much as they looked good – in all shapes and forms.
I learned that I love to see people love yoga. I had some folks come up to me and share that they never thought they could do a pose and they did it that practice. I grow so much in teaching and sharing this passion. My students teach me something I could never attain myself. It’s a community and that’s what I love.
Also, check out her website as she documents her intimate relationship with yoga.
All photos taken by Celina Kenyon.