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Like Rushing Waters

Jessica Phillips, a yoga instructor operating her studio Earth to Us out of Neighborhood Barre in downtown Troy, began doing yoga out of necessity.

“In between 2007 and 2018, I had five knee surgeries on my right knee,” Phillips explained. “I tore my ACL in my knee four times, which they replaced four different times, and I also broke my right femur.”

Phillips was an active motocross racer, which resulted in many injuries. In one accident while racing, she suffered a compound broken collar bone and a damaged shoulder. “I have a titanium rod and screws inside my chest, and I have an artificial collar bone because it was so broken the doctors said it would not grow back normally,” Phillips said.

Later, she also injured three vertebrae in her back including her L4, L5, and S1, which resulted in damaging her sciatic nerve.

“After my fourth knee surgery in 2010, my doctor told me that I needed to stretch my body
and if I didn’t start moving, I would lose my mobility,” Phillips said. “The doctors told me that
I would walk with a limp and that I needed to prepare myself to never be active again.

“At that point, yoga was about stretching. But then I started researching more into the spiritual, emotional, and mental side of yoga and it just snowballed and developed from there,” Phillips continued.

Phillips no longer races motocross, but through yoga, she has lost 75 pounds, has no physical restrictions, and has full range of mobility in all of her joints. With the help of Jesus and yoga, she said shehas also been able to participate in triathlons and run half marathons.

“On paper my body should not do what it does,” Phillips said. “I’m was actually supposed to have a knee replacement in February of last year, but I couldn’t get peace about it. Since then, I’ve competed in two triathlons and run a half marathon on a knee that the doctors said should not work.”

Now Phillips lives with minimal pain, and through yoga, she realized how she could transform both her body and change her mindset. “After having so many surgeries and so many recoveries, I became lethargic, depressed, and overweight,” she said.

“When I found yoga, I dove into the spiritual and mental side, and I realized I don’t have to be stuck in a place, an attitude, or a mindset,” Phillips continued. “God gives us the opportunity to change our emotions.

“When I was injured, I had a conversation with God and I said, ‘If You will help me get through this, guide me, and direct me, I will become the opposite of whatever I am right now. I will use this for Your glory’,” Phillips said. “And He completely turned my life around and has shown me over and over that this is my purpose.”

While Phillips was going through a time of depression and praying to God to show His plan for her life, she decided she wanted to live like rushing waters. She got this phrase along with a picture of a mountain as a tattoo and on her yoga mat as a reminder.

“I want to live like rushing waters and move like rushing waters,” she said. “When the flow of the river and the force behind the current is strong, it can’t be hindered, and it overcomes whatever obstacle is in its way. That force for me is Jesus.”

“Like rushing waters” has become Phillips motto to live by. “I feel called to live to be a force, to share God’s love, and to use my story through yoga as a ministry of His goodness,” Phillips said.

After realizing this for her own life, Phillips decided she wanted to be able to help others understand they have the opportunity to change, to move, and to not get stuck in a mindset.

“I also wanted to bring people’s attention to the power of meditation and meditating on God’s promises because He promises us so much good,” Phillips said.

To do this, she started teaching yoga. “Here in the South people get a little scared when they hear yoga, but once people meet me and know my vision, they see that it’s a different atmosphere than they expected,” Phillips said.

Phillips has been teaching yoga classes at the Neighborhood Barre in downtown Troy since April and before that she owned a yoga studio in northern Alabama.

“God gave me the opportunity to move to Troy and He just lined everything right up for me to be able to teach here with some awesome women,” Phillips said. “Now it’s grown so much we’re going to need more space soon.”

Phillips teaches classes on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., on Wednesdays at 6 a.m., on Thursdays at 12 p.m., Fridays at 6 a.m., and every other Sunday at 3 p.m.

She teaches a type of yoga called Vinyāsa, which is a slow fluid yoga. “The type of meditation I teach at the end during our rest time, we don’t empty our minds and sit in silence, but instead we replace thoughts,” Phillips said. “We meditate on all the goodness and blessings that’s around us and try to change our mindset by replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts.”

By teaching these yoga classes, Phillips finds a sense of joy seeing women come in who are stressed but leave refreshed and relaxed.

“It brings me joy to help people relax and release those toxic thoughts,” she said. “I have no doubt that God has called me into this as a ministry to help people. I want my classes to be a time where people can come and get poured into and filled back up.”

In the future, Phillips hopes to open her own studio here in Troy and have more options for yoga including the possibility of a yoga festival where people will have the chance to learn different styles of yoga.

Story by Lauren Johnson 

For more stories from the January/February edition of TroyLife, pick up a copy at various locations around the community or at The Messenger office.