Nicole is an International American, born in Beirut, Lebanon, and raised in Surrey, England and Geneva Switzerland. She started teaching fitness in 1988, certified through the American Council on Exercise, studied Biology, Sports Medicine and Art History in College (Wellesley) and went on to pursue her Masters of Science in International Nutrition and Food Policy at Tufts University. A synergistic stream of life events lead Nicole to shift her focus away from her intention to pursue medicine and infectious disease, to studying Eastern philosophies and yoga. We know that the psychosomatic expressions of the body have huge import on our individual and collective wellbeing and happiness so Nicole extends her own brand of therapeutic vinyasa krama yoga (wise sequencing based on the chakras) to cultivating awareness of, opening to, and shifting within us our patterns of physical, emotional and karmic resistances that, it turns out, are both the cause of our suffering and the source of our greatest joy. Ultimately, the personal and universal dimensions of our practice are, respectfully, about honoring and loving what is unique about our Self, and about letting go. And with this at the heart of her teaching, Nicole invites the yoga practitioner to travel the path of yoga beside her, with lighthearted curiosity and a passion for really feeling and being in the body, for being em-bodied is a gift. Her mission is to make the yoga practice accessible to anyone who is willing to be courageous and curious, and to show up and be in their natural perfection!
Nicole is dedicated to the sadhana (practice) of parenting and living fully, without fear. She honors deeply the practices and teachings of Sri K. Patthabi Jois (through her teacher Nancy Gilgoff, of Maui, HI), BKS Iyengar (through Zoe Stewart of Arlington, MA), the traditions and teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the Shambala lineage, and is immensely grateful to the Shambala Sangha at Karme Choling (Barnet, VT), as well as Panditji and The Himalayan Institute with whom Nicole has traveled to the Garwhal Himalayas in India (2006) and Cameroon, West Africa (2010). She founded her yoga studio, Yoga Mandala, in Winchester, MA, in October 2001, and brought Toni Bergins’ Journey Dance to the program in 2012 to offer somatic expressive therapy as a way of expanding both the personal, therapeutic, and universal dimensions of physical practice and honoring and loving what is unique about our very own Self. Nicole is certified as a Yoga Therapist (through the International Association of Yoga Therapists), is a certified Journey Dance Facilitator and a practicing Reiki Master, certified through her teacher Gita Brink Bryant, in the Usui Tradition. Nicole has also been featured in Natural Health Magazine and is trained as a Life Coach through the Life Purpose Institute. You can learn more about Nicole through BostonVoyager.
More about Nicole
My journey began in the Middle East, ironically, halfway between East and West. At eight, living in England at the time, I sought, if not a direct experience of ‘God,’, at least an understanding of ‘higher power’ and ‘spirituality’ that persisted throughout my teenage years in Switzerland with an introverted obsession with the likes of Dale Carnegie, Richard Bach, Adele Davis, and any subject on health and spiritualism. First horses, then dance became the modality through which I discovered kinesthetic awareness of Self and something far more vast, spacious and open-hearted. Failure to gain acceptance to medical school became my greatest opportunity to see the world through a wider lens. This lead me to Senegal, West Africa, as an intern, assessing the health and nutrition programs in local communities, and empowering women to take charge of their health and the well-being of their children; then, back in the United States, to managing the refugee health program and International Clinic at the Boston Medical Center.
My mother’s diagnosis with aggressive T-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1993 became a turning point for me, dumping me straight into the rigorous, yet comforting arms of Astanga Yoga–a structured yet completely textured physical experience that offered me respite from psycho-emotional energies churning within and around me. My yoga mat became my ‘safe space’ where my practice became a portal for feeling, and I discovered a whole language through yoga that provided a framework for understanding and experiencing the substance of my emotions, discomforts and, one major general ‘liability’–my ‘dukkha,’ my suffering.
Twenty plus years later, my mother is alive and well and healthy and beautiful; I have two amazing children who embody Spirit with dedication and cause; and I have not so much a yoga studio, which I co-founded with my friend Sarah Church on the heels of September 11th, as a community of incredibly devoted, dedicated, loving and loyal yogins and friends. And during this time too, I have suffered greatly the loss of my father, whose spirit most inspires what it is I do and who I am, as well as the demise of a seventeen-year marriage around which my life revolved–yet another opportunity to either get trapped inside my misery, grief and anxiety, or discover some freedom right in the middle of it; so I dove; into some deep, dark, sad, lonely and restless places, not always with patience, compassion or understanding, but I did relearn to do so with awareness and curiosity and an intention of rediscovering my own ‘loveliness.’
Family, says Jack Kornfield, is the mirror in which all our wounds, as well as our blind spots, get magnified. Family, it turns out, can mean quite literally The Family; it can also mean our community; our circle of friends; the family of muscles and bones and connective tissues and cellular memories that make up the realm of our very human body. And so too can our yoga mat become a test tube of sorts, a place of experimentation where our practice becomes the research for experiencing whatever it is we are experiencing. Perhaps this research shall reveal to us the very causes of our suffering and in so doing the sources of our happiness too.
So, if you don’t have a yoga mat, I will lend you mine. If you don’t have a place to practice, I invite you to join our sweet community at Yoga Mandala. And if you don’t know much about this practice, I will teach you what little I know. I have found that the healing of emotional wounds and relationships is as much a part of our personal growth and development as cultivating those moments of pure freedom, calm abiding and spiritual awakening. May this experience of synergy with Self flow off your mat and into your life and the world around you, touching all beings with loving kindness, for we are all deserving of the best the world has to offer. In the words of the ancient Indian sage, Patanjali, ‘May we be inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, in which thoughts break their bounds, the mind transcends limitations, and consciousness expands in all directions until we find ourselves in a great new and wonderful world.’
Shantih and Love,