Our C-U Women Outdoors series is all about highlighting the women in our local RuggedOutdoors community who are passionate about the outdoors. Meet Jodi Adams, a yoga instructor, Occupational Therapy Assistant, and photographer who is always seeking adventure outdoors.
Name: Jodi Adams
Occupational Therapy Assistant, University of Illinois, DRES, Division of Disability, Resources and Educational Services
Yoga Instructor – freelance, self-employed, Clients include Busey Bank, University of Illinois Krannert Art Museum, School of Labor and Employment Relations, and Research Park, Urbana Park District, Amara Yoga and Arts, and private clients
Photographer, freelance, self- employed.
Jodi left the corporate world in 2012 and took a bold leap of faith to make it as a professional skydiver, freelance photographer and yoga instructor. A skydiving injury in 2015 offered Jodi a very real experience of coping with chronic pain and loss and ultimately influenced her decision to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant. In addition to leading yoga classes, workshops and retreats, she currently works at the University of Illinois at the Division of Disability, Resources and Educational Services. As an OTA, she helps students with disabilities participate fully in the college experience.
Jodi is passionate about living life to its fullest and knows that in order to do so, one must have good health. Through her own personal experiences with trauma, she believes that yoga is a powerful force in one’s life to maintain lasting health of mind, body and spirit. As a well-respected yoga teacher in her community, she offers an insightful approach to the practice. Her intention as a teacher is to guide you on your own journey to achieve strength, maintain balance, and unify the mind/body connection.
What does the “outdoors” mean to you?
Nature is simply an extension of who we are. All of the elements that make up the natural world are also in us. I find that I am most in tune with my own rhythms and natural cycles when I am in touch with nature. It is essential to who I am.
If the weather is nice on a Saturday, what can we find you doing?
I like to wake up early, meditate, do my yoga practice, and then go to the farmer’s market. The past two Saturdays, I’ve been heading out to the woods to go camping. This coming Saturday, I’ve been asked to return for the 4th year in a row to lead yoga at a conference for women. So, my Saturdays tend to hold a lot of adventure!
When did you first start practicing yoga?
I’ve been practicing yoga since 1991; long before there was a yoga studio on every corner of every town. I believe this has reinforced my own practice, and the importance of a home practice as a way of life.
What do you see as the biggest benefit to practicing yoga?
The benefits are more than physical. I’m always a better version of myself after my practice. I get an opportunity to slow down and check in. By practicing in the morning, I set the tone for the day and have a better awareness of my emotions, energy levels and what my body needs.
What differences are there to practicing yoga outdoors opposed to indoors?
There’s nothing quite like an outdoor practice. It’s freeing, and playful. Anyone who has spent time outdoors knows it’s not always idyllic. There are bugs, and the ubiquitous Midwest mosquitoes. But when the weather is just right, and the sun is shining, there is no better place to be.
How did you get started with acro yoga?
As adults, we are given very few opportunities to play, so when I discovered this joyful practice, I was hooked. Acro yoga invites us into this playful exchange with others. We learn to trust and communicate in ways that are not presented in day to day life. I am training to become a certified acro yoga instructor, and often travel to take workshops and classes.
Is acro yoga only for people that are highly experienced and in great shape?
Acro yoga is for just about anyone. There are different poses that one can try with their partner or a friend that are accessible. I offer a partner yoga workshop at Amara Yoga and Arts in Urbana as well as Acro classes each Sunday. This is a great place to start!
You’re also a skydiving instructor. How did you get started with that?
I initially got into skydiving because I’m a bit of a thrill seeker. I like the rush of trying new things and being challenged physically and mentally. I had always wanted to try it, at least once. At the time, I was working a soulless job that paid well, so I had a bit of spare cash to finally take that leap. I did my initial tandem skydive and it changed me. I felt like I could do anything. So, I did 2 more tandems, and went through the training to become a licensed skydiver. Since then, I’ve made more than a thousand skydives out of hot air balloons, helicopters, and other various aircraft. I’m currently on a sabbatical from skydiving. Ever since my injury, I’ve taken a pause to redirect my focus and energy into a new career as an occupational therapy assistant.
Can you describe the feeling you have while skydiving?
Liberating. Empowering. Humbling.
I often hear how skydiving is so very different from yoga, but nothing brings you into the present moment quite like a skydive. You aren’t thinking of anything else but right now. And as a teacher of both skydiving and yoga, I get a front row seat to transformation…from fear to elation, sadness to joy, and the manifestation of pure bliss. I get to see people truly shine.
You’re also an avid hiker and photographer. What’s your favorite part about photographing nature?
When I’m in nature, I slow down and take it all in …the colors, details, shapes, patterns, and shifts of light. This experience is like meditation, when you can be in silence and find peace in a blade of grass, or contentment in the passing of clouds in the sky. The images I capture are reminders that there is absolute delight in the everyday and magic in the mundane.
Do you have a favorite location you’ve photographed?
For 6 years, I lived in a cabin in the woods. I was immersed in nature and had a front row seat to the changing of the seasons, the cycles of the moon, and the natural rhythm of nature. Each and every sunrise and sunset were imbued with a bit of magic. All I needed to do was open my front door and be greeted by migrating birds, grazing deer, and misty magical mornings with dew hanging like crystals from spiderwebs in the fields. The pictures took themselves.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Have a love affair with life! ~ John H. White
What’s at the top of your bucket list?
I want to travel to Iceland, photograph the northern lights and soak in their geothermal pools.
Is there anything you’re working on that you’re most excited about right now?
Right now, I’m rebuilding my life after a recent house fire. I lost everything, including all of my camera, yoga and skydiving gear. I’ve since moved into a new apartment, started a new job, and am recently single. I would say the project I am working on is me.
I often tell my students that doing a yoga practice is like buying insurance. The more you invest in yourself, the more of a foundation you will have. This way, when the storms of life come, they won’t break you.
So, this is my storm. I’m grieving a lot of losses right now, but at my core, I know I will be fine. I’m a survivor. I will learn from this. In the end, I will be a better person, friend, sister, healer and teacher because of this.