ENCINITAS, Calif. (AP) — Jaysea DeVoe, a popular Southern California yoga instructor who leads a weekly class through the lion, monkey, upward-facing dog and other poses, has three years of experience — and she's only 12 years old.
The Encinitas girl recently completed a five-month, 200-hour certification program with two girlfriends, ages 13 and 15, U-T San Diego reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/1hWA6ap ).
Now she has joined the staff at Bergamot Spa in her hometown, making her one of the nation's youngest certified yoga instructors.
"I love how yoga makes my body feel and my soul," said Jaysea, who discovered the practice at age 9. "It's such a spiritual practice where I can meditate, turn the music on and flow through the poses."
Lindsay Russo, a yogi who helped teach Jaysea, said the 12-year-old is focused and enthusiastic. That passion brings more than a dozen devoted students, from grade-schoolers to adults, to the girl's Tuesday class. She typically earns $100 per class at the donation-only yoga studio.
"Her classes have been completely sold, and the students come in excited and leave happy," Channing Toro, director of Bergamot Spa, told the newspaper. "All the feedback we've gotten is that there's a great energy in her classes."
Since word has gotten out about Jaysea, she has made regular appearances in media, including on the "Good Morning America" and Good Morning Britain" TV shows.
She remains composed — even serene — through all the attention. She said she likes to focus her energy instead on making her class as enjoyable as possible for students. She burns incense and plays songs that reflect her own sunny outlook on life, including Pharrell Williams' "Happy" and Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy."
Jaysea hopes to make a career out of yoga instruction.
"For me, teaching yoga isn't work, it's more like having fun and bringing the community together," she said.
Pursuing a vocation early is not only encouraged but expected in the DeVoe family. Jaysea's twin brother, Fisher, is an NSSA amateur surfer sponsored by the wet suit maker O'Neill, and her brother Ryder, 15, is a free diver sponsored by the apparel-maker Salt Life.
Encinitas, a coastal city of 60,000 people in San Diego County, made headlines last year when a couple sued the school district for teaching yoga as part of the curriculum. They argued it violated their religious freedom and promoted non-Christian religion, citing yoga's roots in Eastern religions. The school district said the program as taught was secular, and a judge threw out the lawsuit.
Information from: U-T San Diego, http://www.utsandiego.com