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The Teeny Yogini

Twelve-year-old Jaysea Devoe is the country's youngest yoga teacher

By Ann Wycoff

Family Yoga

5 p.m.–6 p.m.
Bergamot Spa
775 North Vulcan Avenue, Leucadia

A rainbow of yoga mats lines the wooden floor of a studio tucked into the grounds of Bergamot Spa in Leucadia. Ocean-breeze incense burns and the music of Bob Marley fills the air. Students ages four to 45 settle into a quiet seated pose, readying for class to begin. But what sets this family yoga class apart from the rest is its instructor. Jaysea Devoe, age 12, stands at the helm, guiding with a steady confidence and gentle hand.

A blonde-haired, hazel-eyed sprite, Jaysea instructs the group to take three deep breaths and then reads an inspiring quote: “Let us walk softly on earth with all living beings great and small…” asking everyone to set an intention for the Vinyasa flow class. Sun salutations, tree poses, and warrior stances follow. But what is striking about it all, beyond her rhythm and knowledge of the poses, is how fluidly and freely the tween glides around the room, whether demonstrating the next move or adjusting a student’s position. Her enthusiasm is both infectious and endearing as she makes the class her own, by tying her passion for nature into a specific pose or blasting Pharrell’s “Happy” and encouraging the group to dance around the studio to the beat (note that this class is a great intro and not for serious, advanced yogis). “I love to find songs that inspire me and integrate them into class,” she says.

Jaysea’s mother introduced her to the practice of yoga when she was just nine, and it was her instructor at Soul of Yoga in Encinitas who encouraged her to take the next step. Having completed a 200-hour training course and certification, Jaysea is believed to be the youngest yoga instructor in the country.

Skeptics will wonder how a 12-year-old balances school and career. Jaysea attends Carlsbad’s Halstrom Academy, where she receives one-on-one teaching three days a week. “This schedule allows her four days to do P.E. and work on her career-driven goals like yoga, modeling, music, and surfing,” says her dad, Rick. Her mom, Julie, adds: “Yoga is a way of life for her and a stress reliever. She put in many long days training but really loved it. It changed her in so many ways. She came home from training one day and handed me her TV. She said she did not want it in her room anymore.”

Looking ahead, the Encinitas native plans to get certified in stand-up paddleboard yoga, and would like to launch a line of eco-friendly yoga mats. She also currently volunteers at Oasis Organic School in Leucadia, where she teaches yoga to preschoolers.

Despite her busy schedule, Jaysea is still a kid and never misses a chance to have fun. She says, “Me and my friends love doing all the inversions, the headstands!”

The Teeny Yogini

Jayse Devoe

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