Master of the Month: Jessica Filkins

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJessica Filkins  is a holistic health coach, Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master.  Jessica believes that everyone deserves to be healthy and happy. Her mission is to share her gift for healing and her knowledge of nutrition and yoga with others. Jessica works with clients to transform their lives forever by helping them fill themselves with primary food, the nutrients that don’t come on a plate.  Primary foods include spirituality, relationships, career, and exercise.  Jessica specializes in working with people who suffer from GI disorders such as IBS and IBD. Jessica’s fascinating journey of healing her own digestive track after becoming deathly ill has inspired her to help others on their path to perfect health.

Jessica grew up on Block Island, a tiny island off the coast of Rhode Island. She spent her childhood playing in ponds, swimming at the beach and exploring nature trails.  Jessica graduated from Colorado College in 2011 where she studied a combination of philosophy, anthropology and psychology. After graduating ,she spent a winter in the Bahamas teaching art to Haitian immigrants, The following year she traveled around the world by air, sea, and land studying shamanism, yoga, craniofacial therapy and reflexology. She recently graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is perusing a career in heath coaching and developing her turmeric juice business, Jamu Juice.

1. How and when did you get started with yoga?

My roommate sophomore year of college took me to my first yoga class. I began going to classes regularly because I enjoyed the work out and the way it made my body feel. It was not until I took a Buddhism class junior year that I began to discover the real power of yoga and what it can do for your mind!

2. What has yoga done for you as a person?

Yoga has allowed me to feel more comfortable in my body and more at peace in my mind. Through the practice of yoga I have learned to be more patient, less judgmental, less stressed and more aware. I am very grateful to Laura for introducing me to yoga and to all of my teachers who have shared their wisdom with me and have inspired me to continue to practice.

3. What advice can you provide to beginners who may feel intimidated by the practice?

The best advice I can give is that yoga is for EVERYONE. It doesn’t mater how injured, inflexible, old, fat, or crippled you are there is a type of yoga that you can do. Yoga is not about being flexible or getting into crazy poses, it is about releasing tension in your body and becoming aware of your thoughts. It is a journey, a practice, and a way of life. Try a few different types with a few different teachers and see how it feels!

4. What’s your favorite yoga pose and why?

IMG_1323My favorite poses are inversions because I have found that the more times I am upside down during a day, the better I feel. Handstands against the wall were one of the few poses I could do after tearing my ACL snowboarding. Then I broke my wrist snowboarding and started doing headstands and then I injured my neck surfing and could only do forearm stands. There is a type of inversion for everyone – even just putting your legs up the wall before bed is a great practice!

5. What inspired you to start your juice company, Jamu Juice?

I learned to make Jamu in Indonesia in 2012. Jamu is an Indonesian elixir health drink made from raw turmeric, ginger, raw egg, honey, tea and other spices. Every Indonesian woman seems to have their own unique recipe. Sometimes it tasted really bitter but it always made me feel good. I knew about the health benefits of ginger but I was astonished when I learned about the magic of turmeric.

When I returned to the states I began drinking ginger and turmeric tea every day. I created many different versions using nut milks instead of eggs. I had been suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome for 4 years but after a few months of drinking my turmeric-ginger chai tea my digestive problems completely disappeared! Words cannot describe how liberating it feels to be able to eat anything I want without pain and bloating.

I started making turmeric-ginger chai tea for the Alternative Food Co Op in Wakefield, Rhode Island and to my astonishment people loved it! I decided to sell it at a couple farmers markets this summer and was amazed by the positive feedback I got from customers, many of whom came back week after week claiming it reduced arthritis symptoms, cured hangovers, relieved inflammation, and made them feel younger! My mom’s friend, Gaye, told me she saw an old friend at a party who had been battling cancer for 2 years. Her friend looked better than she had in a long time so Gaye complemented her and asked what she had been doing. The radiant cancer survivor replied, “I had been drinking a turmeric drink which I got from some girl at the farmers market!”

Stories like this are what inspire me to pursue marketing Jamu Juice and to persevere though the many unexpected challenges of starting my business in the food industry. I love making people feel good, which is why I am so excited about expanding my business and sharing Liquid Sunshine with everyone!

6. How is diet and healthy living integrated into yoga practice?

The most challenging aspect for me has actually been integrating yoga into my diet and healthy lifestyle, and not the other way around. Practicing yoga and eating healthy comes easily to me but being fully present and in touch with my body while cooking and eating is harder. I am no master at this yet but I strive to cook with mindfulness and grace and to eat slowly with gratitude. The way we do anything is the way we do everything. Practicing yoga on the mat (or paddle board) helps prepare us to take a yogic approach to the ebb and flow of daily life.

7. Tell me about your favorite dish you enjoy preparing.

IMG_1142This is a very hard question because there are so many dishes I love to prepare. The various extreme diets I have been on to get rid of candida and parasites and to heal my digestive system have allowed me to become very creative in my cooking. I love replacing wheat flower with nut and seed flowers, making my own yogurt, blending salad dressings from scratch, and creating desserts without sugar.IMG_0383

I love eating seafood because I have been fishing and spearfishing since I learned to swim. One of my favorite dishes to make is ceviche. I think the best fish to make ceviche with are sea bass, fluke, trigger fish, hogfish and snapper. When I make ceviche I always make two kinds: a savory one with avocado, tomatoes, yellow peppers, onion, lemon juice, hot pepper and fresh herbs and a sweet one with grated ginger, mango or peaches, red pepper, onion, lemon juice, honey and hot pepper. The more raw fish I eat, the better I feel!

For more of Jessica’s recipes visit her blog: www.mermaidfood.com.

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