Our b, halfmoon manifesto
Nature is truth. It grounds, inspires, and guides us.
With each day, the rising and setting sun and moon
bring new freedom, growth, and light.
Let nature inspire you to #liveyourtruth.
Jaffer is a yoga teacher and entrepreneur on a mission to serve others in ways that bring more freedom and joy into their lives. Through his classes, he offers a sensorial experience and self-guided approach so his students can elevate their practice, awaken the teacher within, and create a ritual that fits into their lifestyle.
Our founder, Andrea, sat down with Jaffer to connect and discover what his truth is.
Andrea: Hello, Jaffer. Nice to have you here. You're familiar with the b, halfmoon Manifesto, and I'd love to hear from you; if it has meaning to you, what resonates with you, any thoughts?
Jaffer: I find that nature has been a theme that's kind of entered my life, I should say, in the last couple of years. The pandemic kind of moved me towards that, because getting out was such an important part of the journey to move through. So, I started connecting with nature through the cycles of the moon over the pandemic. And that was kind of interesting. It helped me to watch the moon cycles and to understand the new moon to full moon and the signs that they were in. And it actually helped me move through business. It gave me some really cool insights into my personal relationships and things of that nature.
I just love the concept of the manifesto because the rising and setting of the moon reminds us that everything just constantly comes and goes and nothing is permanent. There's always an option to refresh and reset. What goes up must come down. It’s beautiful.
Andrea: How did you get into studying the moon phases during the pandemic?
Jaffer: Through teaching yoga and just supporting students, to be honest. I remember a student was coming to classes and they were going through their teacher training. Part of her journey was to start this astrological newsletter. And, I was like, “Sign me up!” I remember when she started them it had no platform. She was just writing a good old fashioned email and I was happy to support and be a part of it.
She started hosting these like moon circles during new moons or full moons. And I just really enjoyed popping in and hearing her insights. And then a couple of journal prompts later writing some things, I was like “Oh wow, I learned something.”
Then it just transformed into a full fledged business for her and it was cool to see someone who was a student become a teacher. I started taking her classes on astrology and she was taking my classes in yoga. It was natural and organic in that way.
Andrea: Part of our manifesto also speaks to nature never lying, it only speaks its truth. Our mission is to support people in living their truth and finding their truth. Do you find that you have practices or rituals in your day-to-day life that support you and ground you in your truth?
Jaffer: Rituals…does making coffee in the morning count?
Andrea: In my world, yes. It's my number one ritual.
Jaffer: Honestly, it’s something that I just found with having kids. Especially when they’re young and get up really early. If I can get up just a half hour earlier to make my coffee, it gives me the most grounding effect as opposed to waking up when they wake up. And then I'm scrambling to brush my teeth, to wash my face, to make my coffee, make them breakfast, and they're crawling around. So I like taking that extra bit of time. If they sleep in a little bit, then having a meditation and then a coffee helps me to have that time to myself. And then it helps me be a better parent, a better father, and I find I'm a more grounded yoga teacher.
Andrea: Yeah, you need moments for you. You have to fill your cup with coffee.
Andrea: You are definitely an esteemed yoga teacher in Toronto. And I'm curious. What rituals or elements do you like to infuse in what you teach? Do you mix it up or do you have a steady routine within your practice?
Jaffer: When I was thinking about nature, the word “simplicity” came to mind. And when I teach, I use that. I'll use the concept of simplicity a lot because I find we often confuse simplicity with easy. But they're very different.
Simple can also be really hard. And when you spend time in nature, you kind of get the simplicity of it all. It's cyclical, like the rising of the sun and the setting of the moon. But there's a complexity to it. It's not boring. It's not easy. Nature can kick our butts and be difficult to deal with. It's humbling.
You know every January it's going to be cold, but we complain every January about how cold it is. I've gone through some bigger life transitions and the common theme everyone's been giving me is to get out in nature.
I had my first camping trip this year, sleeping in a tent and waking up in nature. It rained. It was by all accounts a terrible experience, but I enjoyed it. It somehow filled up something in me.
I find teaching yoga with simplicity is so rare because there's a pressure to be creative and change things up and have these tricky transitions and all that stuff. Sometimes, I joke that my classes are kind of boring. But I remind myself of the power of simplicity. There is so much power in ritual and doing something over and over again, but our society tells us that's not enough, that you need something new.
Andrea: I know you add a beautiful sensory element to your classes. And because I'm a huge lover of essential oils and believer of the power that they offer from a healing modality and sensory awakening, I'd love to hear how you incorporate that into your life or your practice.
Jaffer: Well, it's definitely eliminated the need to purchase cologne and fragrances.
When it comes to the yoga experience, I find the senses are such a key part of it. We talk about pratyahara and sense withdrawal. And so I layer in the senses on multiple levels. So it starts with the way that I teach. When I first started teaching, I had teachers that would never demo. So when I became a teacher that was what I wanted to do.
And the advice I got was just don't ever set up a mat. From the beginning, I was teaching classes without a mat and encouraging students to close their eyes and refining my communication in a way that they could practice without ever having to use their eyesight. When it is taken away they can go further inwards. Then I layer in music and there's always something fun, energetic, acoustic, and sometimes hip hop.
But then when we start to ground or as I move through the class, the other sense they experience is touch. For that, I layer in the essential oils. And so then anytime I go to touch or offer an assist, they get that smell. If it's a morning class, I'll pick something a little bit more energizing. And if it's an evening class, something like maybe lavender based that's like soothing and grounding. I often just use one or two different ones. And it just adds such a nice touch. And I find students feel way more connected to the experience and it's not just like somebody on their mat at the front.
I find it such a beautiful way to get people to experience all those different pieces of a practice. It's not just the poses, but then they're listening, they're hearing, they're smelling. Maybe I should bring some chocolates in and then they can also taste too, who knows?
I found early when I was teaching that I would startle people in Shavasana. They'd be there and I'd go to give them a shoulder press and I would use the oils first to rub my hands together and make that little bit of sound.
And then I would hold my hands over their nose, just over their face, until they took that breath in. And then on their exhale, I could just press down on their shoulders and they would know that I was there because of the scent. And they didn't have to worry about if I had a bunch of garlic before class. Just use the scents to cover it up. Again, a bonus!
Andrea: You don't need gum. You don't need cologne. You just need oils. It sounds like a beautiful, simple yet profound practice. How do you practice? Do you have a self guided practice?
Jaffer: My practice now is more self guided. I feel the evolution of your practice is to, this is going to sound sort of cheesy, awaken the teacher within.
And so I really feel like I want to teach people in a way, and this is why I also keep the sequences really simple. I want the students to walk away with the ability to practice on their own. I want them to have enough of a foundation so they don't need to come to the studio five times a week. Maybe they come once a month or once a year or they come on a retreat to reconnect and build community.
I want them to pull out their mat and do 10 minutes before their kids wake up or 15 minutes before they go to bed and use the practice to really help move through the ebbs and flows of life. Because that's what it means for me.
And so now I've had some incredible teachers in my lifetime. And I've been so lucky to practice with some amazing people and teachers in Toronto. Because I'll go to a class and I'll feel like, “Oh, man. That's what I needed in my body.” And I've been doing it for long enough that I know when I need something more invigorating or something more restful or a bolster and my legs up the wall. And sometimes that's just the practice in itself too, right?
Andrea: Yeah, my most profound experiences have been led by someone else. And maybe that's just where I am on my journey. Mm-hmm. I just get so much out of the inspiration that a teacher imparts on me and probably also the energy.
Jaffer: The energy of a group class cannot be beat. And so I sometimes refer to it in the analogy of like, every so often you still have to take your car to the gas station and fill it up. But then once you fill it up, you can go 500 kilometers and you can go on a journey.
And I kind of look at taking group classes like that. Sometimes I just need to go and I need to be with other people and take that class and fill my cup and get the community and all those really great pieces. And then it inspires my teaching too. Like I love taking classes to get new ideas or new verbiage or any kind of inspiration, so I still go. But I don't have a particular teacher or person that I am following lately.
Andrea: I have some influences in my life, a couple of teachers. Depending on what I needed and since the pandemic, I do not have that person or those people. Maybe we need to all kind of collectively get that back.
Jaffer: Well, I think a lot of the really good ones stopped after the pandemic. A lot of them have shifted careers or moved to something different.
Andrea: All our lives have changed profoundly for sure.
Jaffer: Yeah. I feel like an older teacher now. I'm kind of getting to that place in my classes too where the era of music I'm playing, I realize some of the people weren't born yet. It's vintage. So like, I'll play like an old song and they'll be like “Oh, I thought that was a Drake song,” and I’m like “Let me tell you!”
Andrea: Thank you for being a part of our retreat. Thank you for this conversation and for what you offer to the community.
Jaffer: My pleasure. Yeah, thank you. I appreciate being here. This has been a really, really profound and empowering couple of days.
Follow Jaffer’s journey as he guides his community through yoga, helping them achieve more presence and mindfulness in their day-to-day lives @jafferyoga. We hope you were moved to #liveyourtruth.