New York based Jillian Turecki is a certified coach who studied under none other than Tony Robbins and Cloe Madanes. Her primary focus is on relationships “starting with the one we have with ourselves.”
Most recently, Jillian has begun specializing in helping women who are navigating breaks ups and broken hearts by using personal experience to help others change the way they view themselves and the way that they love. Add to that a 15 year strong yoga teaching practice through which she teaches the radical impact our physiology has on their psychology.
Read on for an in depth look at how this relentless learner developed her unique modality, where she is headed and what it can do for you.
INSIDE/OUT: How would you describe your genesis story?
JILLIAN TURECKI: I am a native New Yorker raised by immigrant parents. I started practicing yoga 18 years ago, and have been teaching it for 15 years. Almost 5 years ago I suffered from two major losses - my husband, through divorce, and the death of my mother. This was after two years of an extremely painful marriage, 2 miscarriages and the death of my stepfather. With this trauma, I had decided to completely change my life, which lead me down a long path of discovery. Who I was as a woman, how I had been operating in relationships and who I was going to be as a human being and contributor to the world. I began coaching others in all areas of life, but am focused on relationships. Romantic as well as familial. Ultimately it boils down to how you relate to yourself.
Tell us more about your coaching.
For almost 5 years now, I’ve been coaching individuals and couples on how to show up for themselves and for the key person (or people) in their lives. I believe if you’re not happy in your romantic relationship, you’re not happy. My approach is emotional fitness. This means that we are totally responsible for and capable of strengthening our psychology. This directly leads to strong, healthy relationships; and relationships are what make the world go around. More recently, I began directing my work and services towards women, most specifically women who are recently single after a breakup or divorce, who need an internal revolution. Break ups are traumatic. They also provide a huge opportunity for major growth. That’s where I come in. To help women feel like women, not girls. To help them become accountable in a way that gives them power. To change the way they operate in relationships and with themselves.
My yoga study is also a huge part of my coaching. Nothing changes in our minds without first addressing our physiology. I am really good at seeing very subtle patterns in the body and nervous system and knowing how that is impacting a person’s life. Then I give them changes they can make immediately.
How did you become a coach?
I was trained by Tony Robbins, and by one of his mentors and biz partners, Cloe Madanes - a world renowned strategic family therapist and coach. I did a two year mastery program with them. But honestly, I train every single day through courses, live events, books and podcasts. As well as my 18+ years of yoga study and meditation. Daily. I am never not training.
How do you define relationship? What types of people do you work? Why do people come to you?
Relationship is the physical, mental and emotional dance between two or more people. It’s the dynamic that is the sum total of the physiology, emotions and minds of the people involved. I’ve worked with individuals, couples, and entire families. These days, I am focusing on teaching people how to become more emotionally fit through my Emotional Fitness Membership (EFM) subscription plan, and helping recover from past relationships and change the way they see themselves with an online course. People come to me for all reasons, but most specifically to strengthen their relationships that are very painful for them, as well as how to build fantastic self-esteem.
What about yoga? In addition to the physiological connection, how does this practice influence you personally and professionally?
Aside from the relationship with myself and my immediate family, yoga is the longest relationship I have ever had. And just like any long term relationship, it has seen many ebbs and flows, evolutions and changes. But, it has remained through it all. My relationship to yoga is a wonderful metaphor for how a romantic relationship needs to be, and (how I hope mine to be) in order to thrive for the long term: flexible and adaptable to change, investigative and curious, and most of all, completely committed and full of love. I have never questioned my love, desire, and primal need for yoga asana. But I have, for various reasons, changed the way I relate to it and practice it. It’s a powerfully committed journey of discovery.
Current plans and future projects?
This month I am launching my online course for women coming out of a painful breakup and/or divorce. I also have a monthly subscription based membership called The Emotional Fitness Membership for which I get on a live webinar call with members and help them with some of the most pervasive problems we all have such as how to get unstuck and deal with fear, how to forgive a parent, how to stop over-thinking and how to develop healthy boundaries. It’s powerful coaching these people on the spot and providing them with actual tools to implement throughout the month. I also plan to write my first book this year.
What are your thoughts on feminism and empowerment? Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I believe that feminism and women’s empowerment is a very personal thing. I think it means something different for every single woman out there, depending on each individual’s history. I am a feminist in that I believe women are as important to our ecosystem as men are. Period. I feel empowered when I accept myself for who I am. And while I work on the things that are not my best qualities, I remain (or try to be) accepting. I feel empowered when I am proactive and stand up for what I value - not by screaming my beliefs from a mountaintop, but through the small day to day ways in which I could potentially feel small. I think empowerment is when a woman is very conscious about who she dates and falls in love with, and then is able to take full responsibility for her choices. Accountability = empowerment.
It’s interesting, I think that feeling empowered is a confidence thing, and part of that just comes with getting older. This is for everyone. When we’re young, we get to enjoy the joys of having young skin and big energy and blissful unawareness. We get to go out all night and feel ok the next day. We get to have that burger and fries and not get indigestion. We get a pass on our stupid choices. When we get older, especially into mid-life, we don’t get to enjoy those same things. We have to work hard on our bodies to look and feel strong. We have to make wise choices about what we eat. We have to go to bed earlier. Then when we make a mistake, we feel like a failure... I think nature wisely and kindly made it so that we have to benefit from aging. That benefit is not giving a damn about what others think, and finally feeling comfortable in our skin. The more worn the jeans, the better we feel in them.
What percentage of your coaching clients are women?
It varies but about 85%. Though there have been times when it was 60%. My focus is leaning more towards women.
Has your business and the way you work with people been impacted by recent events such as the #metoo movement, Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony and, really, the presence of #45 in general?
I think there is a general movement towards women wanting to heal their relationship issues more than ever. Women want to be able to stand on their own two feet. While I don’t think there is a direct correlation to #metoo, I think it is influenced it.
Do you work with people who suffer from trauma? How do you work with them? If not, where would you advise them to seek help or what would you advise them to do?
Trauma is a really broad term that I think should be clarified as it’s thrown around a lot. One of the leading experts on trauma, Gabor Maté said it best: ‘Trauma is not what happened to you, it’s what lives inside of you.’ In other words, what is traumatic for one person is not necessarily traumatic for another. Stuffed, internalized emotions can become trauma that stores in our subconscious and bodies very quickly. Anyone’s trauma response has to be looked at with a giant light in order to heal. And I believe trauma can be healed 100 percent with the right help. I have been trained to work with certain traumas, and Tony Robbins has seen the worst of it and has helped thousands completely overcome it within a session. That being said, I do not feel comfortable working with someone with severe trauma where they’ve become dissociated or are having psychotic breaks. For that I would seek out a trauma specialist with a background in somatic healing.
What challenges or obstacles have you faced or are you facing now?
The last 9 years of my life have been filled with challenges: death, divorce, health issues. But most of the obstacles I currently face are ones created by my mind, and are not rooted in reality. I face the common anxieties of not being enough or having enough. I’ve had some digestive ailments so I face having lower physical energy than I should. But I’m working on that. Since childhood, I have had trouble with worrying too much. I practice combatting that every day, but with practice, everything improves. Always. I grieve my mom, and that is a daily challenge - I totally function but it lives in you at all times.
And what particular challenges do you find women are facing these days and how can that be improved?
I think the biggest challenge all people face is how to have healthy relationships, especially romantic ones. I find that the main challenge women - namely my clients and students - face is exactly the same challenge men face: Self -Worth. Feeling enough. The only difference is in how it is manifested. But it all boils down to that. It’s most profound for both in romantic relationships, and it is more intense for women around work. If they’re mothers, it adds a whole other layer.
I think the fear of not being enough or loved is absolutely global - no one is immune. But no doubt, there are cultural differences. In Italy, for example, middle aged women are not looked down upon for being single; while here in the US, there are all these connotations. Let me speak to what I know best, which is the US: Women face the challenge of wanting to be a force creatively and wanting to achieve more. But, that is very hard to balance with being a mother, for example, and all that drive to be more, do more, achieve more can be taxing on female hormones. In short, the women I work with are just trying to feel confident to make the right choices for them, and to not do what they think they ‘should’ do. They want to feel competent enough. They want to operate better in their romantic relationships and they want to choose potential partners more wisely. All boils down to two things: better communication and self-esteem.
What does your community consist of? Do you feel part of a tribe or more of a leader?
I’m very lucky that community has always been something I have been able to find throughout my life. At the same time, I feel like a free agent who is part of a few tribes. I have operated this way since I was a kid. I always refused to be part of a clique, but I was accepted by certain tribes/cliques anyway. I feel very rich when it comes to community. Very. But I don’t limit myself to just one, because I can connect with various types of people, and always wanted to be independent that way. I do like to lead, and I am good at it. But I don’t regard myself as ‘the’ leader of my community, no. I am comfortable rising to the occasion when necessary, and I can definitely hold space for groups of people. I love doing that.
What experts do you admire? Who are your teachers? Who or what helped you get where you are today?
Tony Robbins has been the most profound teacher in this stage of my life. He, Cloe Madanes and my coach have been my primary mentors. But honestly, anyone who has ever influenced the way I think, feel, teach, learn I consider to be my teacher.
Outside of yoga: My mom, my stepfather, my sisters, my students, my clients, Matthew Hussey, Brendon Bruchard, Delaine Erickson, coach Anna Goldstein, Seth Godin, David Deida. I could go on and on and on and on.
There are also people who I do not regard as direct teachers, but whom I admire for all that they have accomplished.
In terms of what has helped me: My relationship with my father has been not great; however, I believe that when we have a limited parent, what we learn from that is very valuable and no doubt it has shaped who I am today, positively. Also, my ex husband. If it weren’t for some of the hell I went through with him, I would not be on the trajectory that I am on now. I hope that anyone reading this can consider how someone they have felt wronged by is actually also responsible for leading them in the right direction. Forgiveness is born there.
Overall, who takes care of you? Who or what makes you stronger?
My sisters take care of me. My dog Sweet Pea who is my daughter takes care of me. My mom and step father have passed, but they used to take care of me. And I take care of me. I have learned what to do, not do, listen to, or read if I need inspiration, emotional nourishment and upliftment. This is what developing emotional fitness is.
A mantra? A motto?
You can do it. When there is a will, there is always a way.
Teacher, movement and ‘response – ability.’
Tell us about your rituals. And how important are they to you?
I believe anything we do ritualistically becomes our religion, so better choose well! Ritual is big for me. My mornings are the most important part of the day. I meditate every morning, then have warm water, then breakfast and coffee in bed. Then I write, read, create. I am most productive in the morning. Yoga is fit in when I can in the day, but before 5pm. Then every night I watch a little TV before bed unless I am out. I love TV. I have zero shame about that. I love a good show, and I have a very busy and overactive mind so watching a little TV (only at night) is very helpful. I would love to B.S. you and say that I take a lavender infused bath with candles every night and pray, but, nope. I take baths when I’m away and in a hotel. Walking my dog is very ritualistic for me. And very meditative. I always listen to podcasts when I walk her, and some of my best ideas come to me then.
What resources or tools do you recommend to our community?
Podcasts: The James Altucher Show, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, The Tim Ferriss Show, Anna Goldstein’s Profit with Purpose, Seth Godin’s Akimbo, The Garyvee Audio Experience, Tony Robbins, The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes and so many more. I am a podcast whore.
Authors: Stephen Covey, Marianne Williamson, Cheryl Strayed, Maya Angelou, playwright Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare (I love plays), Tony Robbins, Mark Nepo, the late poet Mary Oliver, Terry Real. I mostly read non-fiction books on the mind and neuroscience.
What would you recommend for people without the means or geographical access to prestigious materials, products and practitioners?
There is so much free and accessible content now. Between podcasts and YouTube, one doesn’t have to pay a dime. There’s free content on my site as well. As long as you have Wifi or are able to download podcasts, there is so much out there. I study so much without spending any money. If Wifi is a problem, then books, books and more books.
What role does travel play in your life?
I used to travel a lot, and I love it. But I also love home, so a balance of the two is great. I really want to go to New Mexico, Sedona, Washington, Hawaii.
I’m all over the place with music. When I teach yoga, it’s all ambient. I used to be a hardcore club kid, so I love deep house and techno. I’m also a native New Yorker raised in the 80’s so hip-hop was a huge part of my life. Love it. But mostly the hip-hop from the 90’s and early 2000’s. I also love folk music: James Taylor, Carly Simon, Neil Young. I’m also into Billy Joel. And rock from the 80’s like Bon Jovi. Holy shit. ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ friggin kils me (in a good way). And 80’s new wave. Ugh. I think that is my favorite: Depeche Mode and New Order slay me. There was a quote I read (though I’m not sure who said it): ‘The music of your youth is the music of your soul.’ I could not agree with that more.
What makes you happy?
My dog, my work, my students, my friends, feeling healthy and strong, moving my body, Sundays, watching other people be happy, dinners out with friends, good movies, sleeping in, alone time, connecting with others, yoga, community, the beach, nature, good food, chocolate, days off, long walks, not rushing, clean sheets, yummy smelling soaps, people who make me laugh, feeling at home, learning, expanding, maturing, feeling independent… For starters!
What do you do when something makes you unhappy?
It depends. I get in my head, but I try, with much more success lately, to not let it get out of control. I let it go by putting shit into perspective. Sometimes I get sad or anxious. But it all just depends. I’m dedicated to not allowing myself to stay in a negative state more than I need to. This is what I teach, after all. It all depends on the trigger. But, I tend to deal with things on my own. I take time, maybe isolate a little, lick my wounds and get strong again.
What inspires you more than anything else?
Love. And helping someone reach a new perspective. Moving my body. Great conversations with likeminded people. My work. Laughter. A great movie, a great book, a great song.
More love, less stress.
I want to help as many people as possible become more emotionally fit - meaning, more autonomous of their lives through helping them change the stories, patterns and beliefs that are holding them down.
Where can our community find you?
Online, in one of my digital classes or at Kula Yoga Project in Brooklyn.
Reach out, please! I love to hear from people.