Jen Aks, Founder of The Power of Gesture
With all of our busy lives, it can feel like there is an increasing disconnection between our mind and body. Jen Aks, a Westchester mom of two, Embodiment Coach, Dancer, and Expert, saw this too well during the pandemic where she created herStories Collection. This series of over 100 short-form videos showcased the resilience of Womxn, leading to the development of her program The Power of Gesture. As a form of moving meditation and gesture, the program inspires individuals to connect with their inner emotions through movement, and, ultimately reconnect to their minds. As we get back to the busy back to school season, these techniques are essential to help you go from chaos to calm. Read on to learn more about Jen and her innovative practice:
Check out more ways to find calm with these Mindfulness Tips for Kids
Westchester Family: How did you develop The Power of Gesture? Is this something everyone can do?
Jen Aks: The Power of Gesture has been an evolving thread throughout my entire life, originating in my childhood. From a very young age, words alone were not enough. I craved a means to express myself, connect with others, and learn about the world around me in a way that was unclear for quite some time which left me feeling disconnected and frustrated. For many years, I carried a sense of shame about how I experienced education, but everything changed when I discovered the concept of Kinesthetic Intelligence. Through this revelation, I found my true language; movement, which became my lifeline and empowered me to find my voice.
During my journey of self-discovery, it became increasingly apparent that I wasn’t alone in longing for a holistic practice that could nurture emotional well-being by bridging the gaps between the mind, body, and soul.
When the 2020 pandemic swept across the world, my purpose became crystal clear. The disconnection between mind and body was palpable. I knew I had the ability to help. Drawing on my understanding and personal experience of the profound power of kinetic learning, coupled with my three decades as a dance educator, I recognized the potential impact of creating an embodiment practice that was accessible, inclusive, and easy for anyone to master.
The birth of The herStories Collection, a series of over 100 short-form videos showcasing the incredible resilience of Womxn, gave rise to The Power of Gesture. As I allowed my passion to lead this work, it became evident that by providing people with an alternative means of expression and an opportunity to be heard through this innovative approach, we could foster profound connections to self and one another. Producing this collection gave me the privilege of witnessing women from all corners of the globe embark on transformative journeys of healing and self-discovery, all while celebrating their shared humanity.
The success and clarity I gained from this experience compelled me to extend invitations to all gender and age groups to participate. Through retreats, workshops, private sessions and experiential keynotes, virtually and in person, The Power of Gesture has become a method I hope to share globally.
Westchester Family: Tell us more about your background before you came to this work.
Jen Aks: For the last 16 years I have been working for the National Dance Institute, whose mission is to empower children to reach a standard of excellence through the arts.
The NDI Methodology teaches children curriculum through an artistic lens while using techniques that are designed to see each child and help them find their personal best. My commitment runs deep with this work because this is exactly what I needed when I was a child. As a result, I mastered this method and became a trainer for the organization. It has become my mission to teach teachers how to empower, inspire, and educate their students in this way.
Westchester Family: Why is this work important to you?
Jen Aks: Emotional intelligence, despite its profound importance, has often been overshadowed. This issue has persisted for decades. Even during my upbringing and the years I hoped to thrive as a child and young adult. Unfortunately, the prevailing emphasis was on book smarts, grades, and SAT scores. The questions that dominated my world were about scores, grades, and rank. These standards permeated my mind and body, causing significant distress and heartache.
For those who didn’t fit neatly into this black-and-white academic box where checkboxes determined your worth, they were marginalized and made to feel inadequate. That was my experience – struggling to stand out and be heard, and feeling like no one was listening.
Discovering that my pathway to education and connection was through Kinesthetic Intelligence was a revelation! Once empowered with this information, my entire story shifted. I soon realized that I am not at all less than; that in fact, I am more than I ever thought. I began to navigate life’s decisions with confidence, knowing that it would always lead me in the right direction. This inner voice became my ultimate guide, steering me towards a life of authenticity and fulfillment, where I embraced my true self and found the path that resonated with my heart and soul.
The Power of Gesture is my soul business. I am here to empower and inspire people to connect to their emotions. I also help people translate their emotions into something tangible. This helps them gain clarity on who they are so they can live with confidence in all aspects of their life. I am SO excited for what lies ahead!
Westchester Family: How can parents tap into themselves and find calm during the busy back to school season?
Jen Aks: As a mother of two, I completely understand the challenges that come with the transition from summer to fall. Finding moments to meditate and soothe our bodies becomes even more essential during this time. The Power of Gesture™ offers a unique form of moving meditation that can be the perfect tool for this season. It serves as an excellent way to center ourselves. Additionally, it helps re-channel our energy, and gain clarity for our next steps in whatever lies ahead.
I recommend starting by closing your eyes and taking a moment to scan your body. Pay attention to areas where you may feel tension or restlessness. Once you’ve identified these areas, gently cradling them with your hands can provide a comforting and calming sensation. Then, by expressing the associated emotion through a hand gesture, you can effectively shift and move the emotional energy away from where it’s residing, altering your relationship with it.
To enhance this practice, consider playing inspiring music in the background. It can further elevate your experience and deepen your connection with your inner self during this moving meditation.
Westchester Family: What are some of your go-to movements as well as how can people master mindfulness?
Jen Aks: For me, The Power of Gesture™ is where the magic is. I practice this method every day and I absolutely love it! It brings me into deep mindfulness about where I am emotionally. It also help with what I need to shift so that energy does not get stuck.
When it comes to mastering mindfulness, mediation works! Mindset is key, and manifesting is a real thing! Each morning I wake up and say “thank you.” Thank you for this day. Thank you for my children. Thank you for my health. I surrender to creative possibilities and choose to believe. Throughout the day I repeat mantras with real intention. Whether I am walking my dog, driving, or sitting on my meditation mat during the day, I often hold my heart & belly, go “in” and see what calls me at that time. I’m a believer in surrendering to the universe and trusting that I will arrive where I need to exactly on time. This ability to believe has taken time and it began with meditation and listening to a lot of spiritual books.
Westchester Family: How can people work with you?
Jen Aks: I do 1:1 sessions, Group Workshops and Experiential Keynotes. I also offer a free (30) minute The Power of Gesture virtual class 2x per week.
Tuesdays at 10AM EST and Wednesdays at 12PM EST. Here is the link to register. This offering gives people a sense of the work. In this class, we embody our daily intention with a hand gesture. It’s great to be able to leave a class with something to come back to when focus is lost or distraction takes place. Here is 60 seconds from a Womxn who experienced the workshop a few weeks ago.
Westchester Family: What do you like to do in Westchester when you’re not working?
Jen Aks: I live in one of the Rivertowns so walking down by the water is extremely therapeutic. They have live music on certain nights as well. Outside of that, I take yoga at YogaLove in Irvington, which I absolutely love!