The ah-ha moment came to then full-time brand manager and part-time yoga instructor Jennifer Carter Avgerinos when the company she worked for, which designs and markets home cleaning tools, asked her to speak at a spring 2013 media event about cleaning from the perspective of a yoga teacher; how cleaning is an extension of well-being.
“It was a light-bulb moment,” she recalled, “a way to integrate my passion for yoga with my professional interests — Deepak Chopra meets Martha Stewart! I could bring yoga off the mat and into the home… teach about natural cleaning using microfiber cloths, aroma therapy and essential oils; about using colors that resonate with mind-body in decorating… and it took off from there. “
The result is The Yoga of Cleaning, a 150-page, well-illustrated volume, subtitled Spiritualize Your Cleaning Routine and Create Sacred Space. It includes an introduction to yoga, tips on decluttering and space planning with Vastu, a precursor to the more well-known feng shui, and recipes for chemical-free cleaning using vinegar, baking soda, lemons, rubbing alcohol, oils and essential oils. It was published in February 2014 by Balboa Press, a division of Hay House.
“Our home is an extension of us,” Avgerinos explains. “It it can be supportive or stressful, even make us sick. Clutter, for example, has a profound effect on stress levels, especially for women; it can instantly spike the stress level. Environmentally, indoor pollution can be 10 or a hundred times higher than outdoors, with some of the toxins people commonly use to clean.”
The book is written in a friendly, instructive manner and “the object is to create awareness on how to cultivate our homes to be completely nurturing in all aspects, to be a place you want to be; to be aware of the connections of physical body and our environment.” Rather than using a young model or demonstrating the yoga poses herself, she chose to picture her husband Paul, who started studying yoga when he was a teen. “I wanted to show Paul to make it approachable, to show that real people can do yoga.”
Avgerinos’s own exploration of yoga began less than two decades ago.
“I am a marketing person by profession, but doing brand management in the corporate world is very stressful. I stumbled into a yoga class 16 or 17 years ago. At the time, I had no flexibility, my body was a mess, I was stressed out. But I noticed the stress went away in class, that there was an absence of mental and physical tension, and I wanted more.
“I did yoga sporadically for years,” she continued. “I also noticed the teachers seemed to have knowledge, awareness. I had the tip of the iceberg, and thought ‘one of these days…’ In 2010, I decided to take teacher training to gain a better understanding, to deepen my own practice. I needed and wanted more.
“Like many people, I was introduced to Deepak Chopra by Oprah. Years ago, I started reading his books; he was my gateway to knowledge and understanding. He took Vedic knowledge and translated it to the wider world. He presented yoga and breathing in a way that was detailed and fact-based; he shared a wealth of ancient wisdom at a level we can all grasp and feel grounded. I felt connected to him, and I decided I had to do my training at the Chopra Center in California. I took four trips out there in a year to get certified.” She studied hatha yoga and the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga.
Avgerinos is also a certified teacher of prenatal/postnatal yoga, kids’ yoga and restorative yoga. She teaches classes and workshops and publishes a blog on her website, adore-yoga.com, as well as contributes articles to the Chopra Center’s website, chopra.com, and the website neat-home.com. She regards teaching yoga as “a sacred service, an offering to those you can help and serve.”
And after traveling to schools, recreation centers and workplaces, hauling yoga mats, blocks and paraphernalia needed for restorative yoga for several years, nearly two years ago, with her marriage to Paul Avgerinos, a recording engineer and composer, performer and producer of new-age and other music, she has established a studio in the Redding home they share. Paul has had his recording studio, Studio Unicorn, on the site since 1985, and it was the studio that brought them together.
“I met Paul in the summer of 2012,” she said. “The company I worked for at the time had filmed a video for Bed, Bath & Beyond and needed a place to do the voiceover. I called random studios and Paul either answered the phone or responded first. We had an instant connection and when we came to studio, I saw his CDs — which I had seen and heard in many yoga studios and well-being centers through the years. We stayed in touch, worked on other projects together, and as we got to know each other, we found our lives to be in sync in so many ways. The relationship grew and we married in September 2013.”
Merging two households and converting Paul’s family room into her studio enabled Jen to apply the principles of The Yoga of Cleaning, particularly space planning with Vastu, as she was writing the book. She notes is it important to bring nature indoors, “There should be living plants and crystals in every room.”
She calls the growth of yoga in the United States in recent years “astounding. About 25 million people are practicing in some way; it comes in a variety of styles and shapes.” For those who may want to explore yoga, Avgerinos recommends, “Find a practice or teacher that works for you. Hatha yoga is great starting point for many; it is very gentle, and all other forms are built off of it.”
The Yoga of Cleaning can be purchased through adore-yoga.com and other book retail websites.