Elevate Yourself: An Interview with Jill Knouse

In this month’s NOW Blog post we sat down with the lovely Jill Knouse to learn more about her yoga journey, what inspires her and her very own Elevate Yoga Teacher Training program. Scroll down below to learn more about one of our favorite teachers, Jill Knouse!

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By Augusta Fishman, Founder of Namaste on Williams and Jill Knouse , Portland, OR based Yoga Instructor

Augusta: Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up and how did you wind up in Portland?

Jill: I spent most of my childhood in coastal towns of California.  My family was clearly NOT afraid of change, so we moved a LOT.  I’ve lived in San Diego, Hermosa Beach, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, Saratoga, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and then 13 years ago, I moved to Portland.  

I ended up in Portland after living in the Bay Area for a long time.  In San Francisco I was, in many ways, following someone else’s professional dreams and living a life that began to seriously deplete me.  I was working way too much in a job that I may have loved in the beginning, but I later came to realize how much I actually loathed it!  The life I had built for myself left me unhealthy in mind, body and soul.  There was a growing feeling inside of me  that if I didn’t make a change in my life, I would somehow disintegrate.  

One of my best childhood friends moved to Portland from San Francisco and I visited her on a regular basis.  Every time the wheels touched down here, I exhaled so deeply.  It was always such a welcomed relief to arrive.  I fell in love with the vibe, the people, the comparative simplicity and space I felt here...and, the cost of living at that time was dramatically less than in The Bay Area.   After visiting many times over several years, I decided to buy a little bungalow and say goodbye to that life in SF.  Best.  Decision.  Ever.

I assumed I’d relocate and find work in the same industry since it was what I knew but The Universe had other plans for me.  Thankyouverymuch!

Augusta: Tell us about the first time you practiced yoga.

Jill: I’d dabbled in yoga while living in the Bay Area, but the practice really seeped into my soul when I met and began practicing with Jeanette D’Antonio in 2005.  She had me focusing on the breath and bringing down my obviously HIGH anxiety before really diving into asana.  Jeanette helped me unravel 13+ years of stress that was the result of going against the grain of my being for WAY TOO LONG!  I was pretty wound up.  She also introduced me to Ana Forrest who was teaching a workshop at CorePower Yoga. It was there that I met so many lovely teachers, made incredible friends, was encouraged to do my first teacher training and I taught there for about 7 years.

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Augusta: What kept you coming back to your mat?

Jill: Really, it was a deep knowing that things could look and feel differently than they did.  I had hope.  I wanted a deeper connection to who I really was, I craved balance, greater harmony and I felt all of these things whenever I was in the practice of breath, mindfulness, asana.  I remember acknowledging that it was changing everything one simple inhale and one simple exhale at a time.  I’d leave sessions feeling euphoric and charged with even more hope.  

Augusta: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?

Jill: I couldn’t dream of anything better than sharing what I was being given.  These tools.  It was immediately so clear to me.  I just couldn’t NOT do it.

Augusta: Tell us about Elevate Yoga. How was it born and what’s It all about?

Jill: Elevate was originally born from something I wished I’d had as a newer yoga teacher.  About six years into teaching, I found myself having regular conversations with other teachers sharing how vulnerable and aimless we felt just after graduation!  For me personally, I had NOT immediately gotten the internship I wanted (I was embarrassed and sad about THAT!)…I wanted so badly to have a place to go to continue learning, teaching, sharing.  I could see the value of having a place to go, a place to share that felt like neutral ground — not your "bosses place" but your PEERS’ place.  I began to visualize a safe haven where new teachers could go to connect with other teachers, to refine their skills, to have relevant conversation, to access to cutting edge ideas and be taught by other passionate, heart-felt teachers.  I visualized a non-dogmatic, creative space and then I decided to bring that vision to life.  The first Elevate launched in late 2012/early 2013.  

Elevate 2015 Graduates

Elevate 2015 Graduates

Initially, the training was geared toward existing yoga teachers as a next step.  After running the program in that format for a couple of years, interested yogis continued to ask the same question of me, “What if you’re not already a certified yoga instructor?”  So in 2015, we gave life to our 200-Hour Teacher Training program, available to those wishing to deepen their yoga practice, as well as, aspiring yoga teachers.  It has all of the same core tenets: a safe place to learn, share and connect, a place to develop teaching and life skills, a place to have relevant conversation, access to cutting edge ideas and a place to learn from other passionate, experienced, heart-felt teachers.  I bring in experts from Portland and around the country to present and share their knowledge + experience.  

Elevate 2015 Graduates

Elevate 2015 Graduates

Elevate 200-Hour YTT is a place where we dive deeply into the core of this practice: History, Philosophy, Anatomy, The Art of Teaching, The Business of Yoga (which my husband, Michael Knouse -who is an incredible business coach! - joins us for!), The Subtle Body, Sequencing, The Art of Intuitive Assisting…we don’t leave any stones unturned!  Elevate is a place to practice life, a place to practice yoga, a place to remember who you are so that you KNOW where you teach from.  It is imperative to us that you teach from a place that is true, authentic, from the depths of you, and in-service.

Augusta: What do you love most about teaching yoga?

Jill: Every.  Single.  Thing.  Honestly, BECAUSE it's not easy for me.  Teaching inspires me.  It challenges me.  It enlightens me.  It scares me.  It connects me with truth.  It connects me with others in a unique and powerful way.  It reminds me of my imperfections and how to be better about embracing them.  It reminds me of the importance of having FUN, not taking myself too seriously and also how “the same” we are even in our perceived differences.  Teaching encourages me to remember the importance of all the things: strength, flexibility, going with the flow, sequencing, balancing, surrendering and alignment. And, I’m not talking about the postures or a flow class here rather in every aspect of how I move through my life.  How do I use these tools to travel more harmoniously?

Augusta: Shifting gears a bit.. What are some of your favorite songs on your current yoga playlist?

Jill: I love music!  Lots of different genres and artists.  Right now these are on my playlist and I’m lovin’ them but my playlist is changing all the time!  

  • Spirit Bird, Xavier Rudd
  • River, Leon Bridges
  • Anything by Michael Kiwanuka

Augusta: Alright Jill, let’s wrap this up with a rapid fire Q&A:

  • Favorite local hangout: Anywhere we can go with our pup, Addie. Grant Park and Forest Park are a couple favorites
  • Favorite coffee shop: St Simon
  • Favorite brunch spot: Tasty and Alder (though we don’t often go out for brunch!)
  • Favorite park: Thousand Acres - more dog time!
  • Favorite hiking spot: Far end of Wildwood
  • Morning Person or Night Owl: Morning person
  • Favorite season: Fall  
  • Favorite Snack: Chips & salsa
  • Favorite Drink: Can I say wine? Heh.  Maybe Chai or kombucha is more appropriate. Haha   

Augusta: How about Kombucha and then wine… lol.  Thanks so much for your time! It was so fun learning more about you. We are blessed to have you in our yoga community/family/kula/crew!

Jill Knouse teaches at Namaste on Williams on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm. She also teaches at other places around town and offers private and group yoga sessions. Stay current with her schedule, private offerings, retreats, and Elevate Yoga Teacher Training at www.jillknouseyoga.com