We had the good fortune of connecting with Kari Jaffe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kari, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
Risk taking is so interesting to me because there is so much duality in this conversation. It’s the push and pull between two concepts. Taking a risk inherently suggests that there will be one of two outcomes; success or failure. The equal and opposing forces are required, ya know. Without salty we would not know sweet. Success, birthing an idea, bringing something to fruition, tastes so sweet because I have felt the feeling of loss, lack of delivery on a project, or failure. I have to take the risk to have the full spectrum of feelings, to know all the possible outcomes, even leaving space for things I couldn’t imagine possible, so I can make an educated decision about the value and worth of that risk. For example, I just launched my Virtual Reality Yoga School, knowing full well that the competition is endless. There are countless yoga teachers in Los Angeles, but now I have to make myself known and heard by standing tall next to teachers from all over the world. At first glance, this could’ve been a fearful endeavor for me. All the questions of self-doubt arise, but if I don’t roll the dice on a vision that calls to me, then how could I ever possibly achieve my goal?
These days I flip the script on the defeatism of failure. I look at failure as just a word prescribed by societal standards that has negative connotation attached to it, it’s the opposite of successful. I simply equate failure to not yet fully creating what I intended to bring to life. This helps me remove emotions from my attachment to it, and basically I’m just not as hard on myself. Virtual Reality Yoga is an idea in motion. Sometimes ideas continually move forward, and sometimes they come to a screeching halt. I’m willing to get on the ride, while I acknowledge that there is duality, and know that it is my choice how I respond to it. I work to shift my own narrative. Risk taking for me NOW is all about experience. Every moment in my life is treated as a possibility for growth, especially and specifically the experiences that could be conceived as failure. The times when I feel duress or like I’ve fallen flat, those are the truest opportunities for transformation. Diamonds are made under heat and pressure, wine is produced from crushed grapes. These are powerful places I can’t access if I’m not willing to take risks. THIS is actually where the “success” takes place; the space between the celebrations. Beyond that, how I implement and download the information from those moments and experiences is how I set myself up for described ‘success’ when a similar situation or a new opportunity presents itself.
We must be willing to take risks. Every single time you get into a car you take a relative risk of death! But to chase your own dreams, to create a life of value, to wake up every day and know you are living your purpose, you’re not willing to take a few risks? to stumble? to look silly? Everything I do prepares me for the next. The places I’ve been allow me to blossom, and expand my bandwidth, stretch my mind. I believe with every fiber of my being that if I accept all experiences along the way as a lesson and each person I meet on my journey as a teacher, then the truth will not be withheld from me. Take the risk. It’s always worth it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a yoga teacher, but I do so much more than simply “just teach yoga”. I am a community architect, influencing through human connection, movement, music and shared experience. I integrate yogic principles into everything I do. You’ve heard it, ‘how you do one thing is how you do everything’, so I just look at it like that. For example, as smoothly as you breath in a yoga posture, while maintaining alignment in the shape, is the same integrity with which you fold your laundry, or empty your dishwasher. I seamlessly merge yogic doctrines with day to day activities, I offer those tools to my clients and really show up to my life like this, in everything I do. I remain genuine and that continues to propel me forward, both personally and professionally. This really weaves together with risk-taking, because so much of who I am is encompassed in what I do professionally. Easy and hard are part of the process, without salty we would not know sweet, right?! SO you keep moving forward, that’s the lesson. I continually chase my dreams and think outside the box. I do not shy away in the face of adversity. I love the challenges, these are the spaces of growth for me. Challenge really forces me to peel back the layers so I can see myself better. Nowadays, my work as a yoga teacher has effortlessly translated into how I show up for social justice and humanity, shedding awareness on underserved communities and human rights issues. I’m most proud of my ability to use my mental yogic practice to stay calm amongst the chaos. The current political, emotional and mental health climate is intense. All the skills developed through the physical activity of yoga have made me sharper as a teacher for my yoga family, an activist for my global community, an event producer for Beats Balance Flow (www.beatsbalanceflow.com), a creative director for yoga brands, keeping me present and committed to all of my passionate endeavors. The vibe I want people to get from me, my brand, my story is AUTHENTICITY. When you come to me, what you see is what you get. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. I talk loudly. I curse a lot. I say sarcastic jokes. My fiery mouth can and does get me in trouble. But the truth is, I’m just like you. Trying the best I f*ckin’ can to be a better person, to shed old layers and ancestral patterns so I can show up as a better version of myself, so I can more effectively serve the people around me, so I can be who I was born to be.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
My home! Obviously I’ve been spending A LOT more time at my house these last few months with the global pandemic. My space is my movement sanctuary, it’s a place to cozy up and read a book, or break bread with friends and community. I’ve got so much love for Los Angeles, I soak up being outside, whether it’s taking a bike ride in my neighborhood or a hike in Temescal Canyon. I love the Culver City stairs for a booty workout! Beach time is mandatory because duh, Mother Earth! Cafe Buna in Venice is THE breakfast joint. I love Sage Vegan Bistro for brunch, lunch and dinner – they have so many delicious vegan options, especially the Thai kelp noodle salad. When on the Eastside, I’m obsessed with Beelman’s Pub DTLA, it’s legit vegan pub food and I die for the Korean BBQ wrap. In reality, I can create epic times for myself anywhere I go, I live for delicious and innovative food, I adore sporadic activities, a show, art, music, whatever’s clever. I love a good experience.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Well of course, MEGA shoutout to my mom and dad, without whom, I wouldn’t be who I am. Literally. I was always reminded to just be me. Be self expressive, be cool with who you are and where you come from, be willing to fight for what you believe in, are just some of the virtues gifted to me from my parents. They encouraged me to travel and explore and be a critical thinker. I would not be the person I am without these role models. My brother and sister have always been part of my support system too, both as shoulders to lean on and to bounce creative ideas off of. I’m deeply grateful for all the impactful yoga, meditation and breathwork teachers I’ve had along the way. The list is endless, but Lorin Roche, Eden Goldman, Tricia Donegan, Loren Cherrstrom, Kim Tang, Yancy Schwartz, Tiffany Keyser are a brilliant place to start. Each of these teachers communicates the information in profound ways and has a quality of teaching that resonates with students, something I strive to create for myself. Major S/O to one of my oldest and best friends Kate Sedlack Diaz. We grew up together in NJ and she lives in New York City now, I’m in LA. But we have this unbreakable bond. We could talk for hours about nothing and everything all at once; fears, dreams, fighting the patriarchy. I don’t have to explain anything cause she always just knows, or she lets me give all the details incessantly. She’s always on my page, she’s always got my back and been my ear for major meltdowns, relationship advice, my rants down the political rabbit hole. She just fucking gets me. Epic shout out to all the freedom fighters on the front lines demanding equality, justice and freedom for ALL. I see you and I salute you, together we have more power. Lastly, BIG SHOUTOUT to my yoga practice. It keeps me grounded, allows me to play in areas I feel free and also gives me the freedom to explore beyond what I thought was possible. Books, organizations, mentorships, other friends and family, it’s all wonderful to have in your toolbox for support systems. Still the truth remains, only YOU can do the work.
Photos @valerienicolephotography @unstuckwoman @toluani_photography @larrywrightphotography