The Yoga Podcast

Hi, I'm Claudia Azula Altucher host of The Yoga Podcast. I've been a seeker of yoga for 15 years, and have traveled through India, Thailand and the Americas seeking truth and what works.  I am also a writer and author of three books, including "21 Things To Know Before Starting An Ashtanga Yoga Practice", the co-author of the Wall Street Journal Best Selling book "The Power Of No", and the recently released "Become An Idea Machine".  I've written for The New York Observer, Positively Positive, Mind Body Green, Yoga Mantra and Health and many other popular websites for the past five years. The Yoga Podcast is a sacred space where I talk with long-term, dedicated practitioners about living yoga with all of its eight branches, practicing, making money through it, teaching it with integrity, learning it with audacity and above all, understanding that nobody needs to be put on a pedestal, because the path to our own truth is lonely and personal, and we must choose the teachings that resonate within.
RSS Feed
The Yoga Podcast


All Episodes
Now displaying: April, 2015
Apr 17, 2015

What Is Special About Jessica

It seems to me Yoga choose Jessica rather than the other way around.

She had a great job in Paris in IT, she travelled all the time, and she was making money.

But a workshop with David Swenson and meeting Pattabhi Jois in London between 2000 and 2002 changed everything.

She could not believe how people would show up early in the morning to "sweat together", and practice this dynamic form of hatha yoga. And she liked it.

So she started practicing and traveling to Mysore and meeting people and ...

She  joined Yoga Thailand in its early stages as a teacher and by invitation! and met Tiwari who is one of the most serious and advanced practitioners of pranayama in the world today.

That, meeting Tiwari, is something I envy her for (in a good way of course) because she got to study under direct supervision from him... they still talk on the phone.

What We talked About

  1. Jessica's life in the corporate world, working for IT and traveling most of the time
  2. How she started getting into yoga slowly
  3. Her workshop with David Swenson clarifies things for her
  4. Her visit to London to take Pattabhi Jois's tour classes
  5. India
  6. An Invitation to Teach and "take over for a few months" Yoga Thailand!!! I mean. Wow.
  7. Her yoga sabbatical, and did she fear running out of money?
  8. What is it like to learn directly from Pranayama World Authority Tiwari?
  9. Opening her own studio in 2008 in New Orleans
  10. Getting married and having a baby
  11. The delivery story - It was painful but not as crazy as some videos women get to watch...
  12. How the studio is doing today
  13. What took Jessica a long time to understand.

Books Jessica Recommends on The Podcast

Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution (Your Ayurvedic Constitution Revised Enlarged Second Edition) Paperback - by Dr. Robert Svoboda

Prakriti It means "nature" in Sanskrit. Dr. Svoboda, says Jessica, is a great writer, very entertaining, very clear and practical.  He is a teacher and a yogi.

Ayurveda The Science Of Self Healing by Vasan Lad.  Jessica says this one is for those of us interested in learning more about the pulse, and a good introduction.

Ayurvedic Nutrition - By Atreya Smith, one of Jessica's teacher. This book is  clear on diet and the benefits of it.


The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People by Dan Buettner

(Here is the interview James did with Buettner on living to 100)

About Jessica

Her Studio in New Orleans

Her book: Yoga Thailand's Healthy Lifestyle Cooking  I've tried recipes from this book for the past five years, in between visits to Ko Samui, and they are delicious and packed with nutrition.

A Meal Plan to eat healthy she is offering for free





Samahita Retreat - or Yoga Thailand


Claudia A. Altucher:   Hello and welcome to the Yoga Podcast. Today I have for my guest Jessica Blanchard. She is the founder of Balance Yoga and Wellness in New Orleans. She is a trained yogi for years, authorized by Pattabhi Jois in the Ashtanga yoga tradition. She has also studied at Yoga Thailand under Paul and Jutima Dallaghan, and also Master Tiwari, one of the most authoritative authorities in Pranayama in the world. And Jessica has an interest in Ayurveda. She is a member of NAMA, the national organization which governs and protects Ayurveda here in the United States, and she studied at the European Institute of Vedic Studies and Ayurveda as well. She’s a co-author of Yoga Thailand’s Healthy Lifestyle cookbook, which is in Amazon, and Jessica had the life I think I wish I had when I was in the corporate world. Jessica, welcome to the Yoga Podcast.

Jessica Blanchard:      [Laughter] Thank you, Claudia.

Claudia A. Altucher:   It’s great to have you. So I want to ask you – I’m insanely curious. You started practicing around ’99, 2000 – is that so?

Jessica Blanchard:      That’s right, yeah.

Claudia A. Altucher:   And you had a job.

Jessica Blanchard:      Oh, yeah, yeah. I worked at Accenture, which is a big consulting firm, multinational. And at that time I was based in Europe

Claudia A. Altucher:   Where in Europe?

Jessica Blanchard:      Well, in southern France. Officially my base was called Sophia Antipolis, which is close to Nice, so – but I was traveling a lot because most of the clients were in other places. It was kind of a pan-European office, so I would travel to, say, Dublin, Ireland – that’s actually where I was when I first started Ashtanga yoga, and…

Claudia A. Altucher:   Uh-huh. So do you speak French?

Jessica Blanchard:      Yes, I do.

Claudia A. Altucher:   So were you born in France, or –

Jessica Blanchard:      No, no, I was born in Louisiana, and there’s a strong connection between South Louisiana and France ’cause it was originally settled by the French. So I always had a fascination with France. My grandmother spoke French; she spoke Cajun French.

Claudia A. Altucher:   Oh.

Jessica Blanchard:      Yeah, but I learned it in school, maybe starting when I was 13, and I did spend some time over in France when I was in university, in eastern France, in Noce, which is a small place not too many people go to, but it was great because I learned to speak really well ’cause there weren’t too many foreigners. I made very good friends there.

Claudia A. Altucher:   That’s great. But let me ask you – so did you live in Paris with your job because you were living there, or did they hire you, or how did that happen?

Jessica Blanchard:      That happened – they hired me in New York, and –

Claudia A. Altucher:   I see, and you spoke French. And your job was IT, right – IT related?

Jessica Blanchard:      Yes, it was. It was very different, and I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I started. I was a sociology and French major, in a small school outside of Philadelphia, an all-women’s college. And I managed to do well in the interviews – I don’t know how – ’cause I didn’t –

Claudia A. Altucher:   That’s great.

Jessica Blanchard:      Yeah, and I –

Claudia A. Altucher:   But you know, the thing is, I also had a job in IT, so I remember reading your bio – it must’ve been 2006 or so – and going, “Oh, my God, she is like what I want to do.” It’s amazing. I mean, I think you were in Dublin one day and you take a workshop with – well, tell us. Who did you take a workshop with?

Jessica Blanchard:      Well, this was actually – first it was just a yoga teacher. I am having trouble remembering her name, ’cause she doesn’t teach Ashtanga anymore. But my first Ashtanga classes were with her – her name was Paula; that’s right – and then soon after that I took a workshop with David Swenson. He was probably one of the first – the first ever yoga workshop I took, and that was in early 2000, I think January of 2000. I still remember it was very cold and dark –

Claudia A. Altucher:   Yeah.

Jessica Blanchard:      ______ Dublin, and it was ______ gym. But there were all these people. I was surprised because it didn’t seem like many people did yoga. There were no yoga studios. All of the classes were in very cold church halls or gyms. We would push the equipment out of the way. The first time I met Paul was at this very funny gym; there was carpet on the floor and he was traveling and teaching there. But –

Claudia A. Altucher:   And David Swenson is like a huge – is like – within the Ashtanga yoga world, probably everyone has seen his book because he teaches both the primary and the intermediate series in that book with modifications. So for those of us who can’t get into the pretzel, he has sort of like side images so that you feel like, okay, yeah, I can do this, and it’s very reassuring.

Jessica Blanchard:      Yes, and he’s a very – yeah, he makes yoga very accessible, so it’s been – yeah – nice.

Claudia A. Altucher:   And something happened to you there, like you caught the Ashtanga bug. You liked it

Jessica Blanchard:      I loved it. I really did. I can’t exactly say why. I think it’s a constellation of factors about it: the moving, the breath, the fact that it does require – because it’s physical, you concentrate. It requires concentration. And there was less talk and fluffiness and I think –

Claudia A. Altucher:   Yes. [Laughter]

Jessica Blanchard:      And it’s interesting ’cause in Europe I feel like yoga was less fluffy than it is in the US since – you know, now I moved back in 2007, but Ashtanga – to me it seems like it’s a little more popular in Europe than it is here in the US.