I met Jessica a lifetime ago (before marriage & motherhood) at a fitness workshop. I was immediately drawn to her. She has this positive energy and confidence that inspires the people around her. While I was training to become a yoga teacher, I attended her classes religiously! She became my guide and mentor. My teaching style was strongly influenced by her guidance. It’s inspiring to see how yoga has influenced her parenting style. Toddlers are tough, but Jessica approaches her children with laughter, love and loads of patience!
I enjoyed chatting with her about motherhood and fitness. I find her honesty refreshing and I adore her sense of humor. I hope you will too.
Here is what she has to say:
My name is Jess Kos Birney and I’m a wife, mamma, & yogi. I have one amazing husband, Marcus, and two amazing children: Halsten (3) and Selma (1). I have worked in the fitness/yoga industry for ten years and recently, with the birth of Selma, I became a full-time stay-at-home mom. It’s been an interesting transition to go from juggling 8 million things, including people …to managing my home and caring for my children. The hardest part of that transition has been the move away from technology and the desire to check email every 15 minutes. Because, let’s face it… no one emails me anymore. (Cue sigh of relief). You know, I really enjoy connecting with people. Whether it’s a student in my yoga class or a mom at the park, it’s nice to talk with someone about their challenges, successes and of course failures. I’m a firm believer that it does take a village and the more we can surround ourselves with support, the better overall we will all be.
Tell us about a typical day
A day in the life includes basic functions first! Cuddles, food, and clothes. Then we head out. Fresh air is a necessity. There is nothing that smells better in this world than my babies smelling like the outdoors. I love it. It grounds me. We walk, a lot. Luckily, we are situated in an amazing part of Centennial where we are surrounded on three sides with amazing playgrounds and the Highline Canal. We play a lot of “I spy” and “what can we find today”. My son loves to pick-up rocks. My daughter loves to eat them. Sure we struggle. That’s the age they are in, right? Everything in the mouth. Where’s the closest restroom? Please put your shoes back on. No, really. Shoes on. Shoes. When we are outside, the basic functions seem less urgent and life ensues. It’s beautiful. After we get home, basic functions take over yet again. We are working on basics: how to share, how to speak without shouting or whining, how to manage as a unit. It’s working. We are thriving (most days). We love to turn up the music and dance like crazy people. We love to run around our enormous strange circle driveway. We love to run after our crazy puppy. We love cheese, any kind of cheese.
What motivates you to stay fit?
Definitely my little people. I know that, like it or not, I am their role model. I believe that being fit and fitness needs to be incorporated in all aspects of life and isn’t necessarily defined as time in the gym or studio. There’s so much you can do around the house, at the playground, and while walking around the block. I’m a firm believer that the easier it is to do and the more fun it is, the more success you will have.
What is you favorite type of workout?
It will always be a yoga class. Something preferably in the Hot Vinyasa Fusion family. My body, my mind, and my spirit truly appreciates the flow, the heat and the space to breathe. When I’m on my mat I feel all the things that on most days, I don’t have time for. I feel strong, beautiful and most of all I FEEL me.
How do you stay fit while you are constantly taking care of your family?
We walk. We walk everywhere. We work to be active all day, every day. And if the kids can’t come… more than likely it’s not happening. I’m a firm believer that if everyone can do it, we will all be happier and healthier.
Why is health important to you?
Health improves your life and the life of those around you. Do you want to be more energetic? Positive? Strong or flexible? Patient with your children? Yeah, me too. It all comes down to your health. For me, food has always been a struggle. I’ve done lots of work in this area and I definitely have some more work to be done. During one of my nutrition programs I heard, “your body isn’t hungry, it’s STARVING for nutrients.” I think about that every day, and it definitely helps me make better choices when on the go or feeding my family. I take great pride in placing well balanced plates in front of hungry people full of color and tastes.
There was this one day, I think pre-kids… that I had just finished doing a whole foods cleanse (remove all processed food, dairy, coffee, etc) and my husband, Marcus, kept bringinghome big bags of produce. The produce started going bad; I couldn’t keep up with it. Exasperated, I yelled, “why are you bringing these bags of produce home just to go bad!” And his response was, “well… you’re just so much happier when you eat this stuff that I was trying to help.” And drop the mic. Food impacts my mood, my energy, my outlook on life. It’s huge.
Do you have any advice for mothers who want to be active?
Lace up your running shoes and get out of the house! Start by going around the block… then start to venture further. Yes, your stroller will look like you brought your whole house. Yes, it can be stressful and sometimes not fun at all. Make it a habit, part of your routine and everyone will flourish.
Are you working toward any fitness goals right now?
(Lol). No, but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m day dreaming about getting up to take 6am yoga classes (I currently do teach a 6am at CPY Littleton), and I’d like to somehow obtain a treadmill so that I can walk, or hey, maybe run, during naps. My long term goal is to run a marathon, something that I never imagined I could ever accomplish. I tell my students all the time that you can do your pose… that it doesn’t have to look like the person next to you… so I’m trying to take my own advice. I’m going to do a marathon and it’s going to look like me, all the way.
Besides personal fitness goals, I am also launching a 95-hour Children’s Yoga Teacher Training (Yoga Alliance approved) that starts this fall and also has smaller weekend workshops this summer. Children are my future, obviously. And they could be part of yours. Regardless, there should be more teachers to share yoga and mindfulness tools with our children. I see it really as the way that I’ll continue to give back, grow, and serve. My partners in this endeavor, Suzanne and Jessica, are excited to share their knowledge, too! To learn more, you can go to www.youngyokes.org.