I am a ‘householder’ yoga practitioner, whose dharma is, first and foremost, to be a mother and guide to my two children (although, I would argue, my children serve very much as my guides). Inspired by Beryl Bender Birch’s first book, Power Yoga (1995), I pursued the study of Astanga Yoga with Beryl, and later with Nancy Gilgoff. I reneged on my intention to pursue medicine when I became pregnant with my first child. So, I started out primarily as an impassioned self-taught yogi, then studied for over a decade under the tutelage of Zoe Stewart (Ma.), herself a devoted student of B.K.S. Iyengar. I opened up a small, community yoga studio in 2001 after the birth of my second child, with the intention of being a more accountable parent. Navigating changing times in general, and shifting tides in the world and industry that yoga has become, I have learned many lessons in determination, perseverance, patience, humility and resilience travelling this remarkable path of yoga. Through my teaching of yoga I extend to you my own dynamic expression of therapeutic vinyasa krama yoga (a methodology based on wise postural sequencing) with the intention of cultivating awareness of, opening to, and shifting within us our patterns of physical, emotional and karmic resistances with gentleness and compassion. From my personal practice, I continue to cultivate this art of self-mastery and gain insights into the incredible intelligence that is yoga; my students have demonstrated what dedication to a practice is and can be, and for that I am both infinitely grateful and continuously inspired; and from their example, I have become fearless in my teaching; from life, I have learned to count my many blessings and to not take a single person or experience for granted.
My father taught me many of life’s important lessons and his spirit infuses every conscious word I say, everything I do, and fundamentally who I am. Many years ago now, I suffered the demise of a seventeen-year marriage around which my life once revolved—yet another ‘growth’ opportunity designed to awaken me to my misery, grief and anxiety, and 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 (tribal) 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 in discernment and discriminating wisdom, where our practice becomes the research for experiencing whatever it is we are experiencing. I know, from personal experiential research, that the yoga practice not only reveals to us the very roots of our suffering, but in so doing, frees up 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. And if you don’t know much about yoga and are curious, I would be delighted to share with you the little but precious I know. Learn more about my personal story through BostonVoyager. Peace and practice, Nicole.
Nicole Grant is a veteran Yoga Instructor of over 20 years, and a Yoga Therapist, certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists [C-IAYT]. She is the author of Yogini’s Dilemma: To Be, Or Not To Be, A Yoga Teacher? And offers a combined Self-Mastery Program / 200-Hour [Trauma-Informed] Yoga Teacher Training, 8-week Self-Mastery Programs based on her book, as well as Self-Mastery Clinics and Sacred-Self Mandala Ventures for certification and continuing education credit through the Yoga Alliance [ERYT-500]. She is a practicing Reiki Master in the Usui methodology and offers Reiki Level I, Level II and Professional Degree/Mastership training programs through the International Association of Reiki Practitioners (IARP). Nicole received her training in Trauma-Informed Yoga with Annie Kiel through Firefly Yoga International and is a Toni Bergins’ certified Journey DanceTM Facilitator.
Nicole co-founded Yoga Mandala studio, in Winchester, MA, in October 2001 with Sarah Church, and, in May 2018, transitioned Yoga Mandala from studio sanctuary to school of yoga as educational resource for self-mastery, offering programs that serve to both preserve (to the best of her abilities) the wisdom and cultural sanctity of the yoga teachings while exploring ways to conscientiously practice and live yoga off-the-mat in 21st-century America. With the stark recognition that, now more than ever, we have an obligation as educators to explore and understand where our own perceptions and practices contribute to the social and cultural injustices perpetuated by positions (inherited or assumed) of privilege, power and supremacy, Nicole and Lara Wilson (the visionary) co-created in 2018 Be Well Be Here, in Concord, MA, to offer mindful practices and integrated wellness to foster community, collaboration, clear-seeing and compassion. And because it is always a powerful learning experience to be a rookie at something, Nicole took up surfing and still (after many years) spends more time in the water than on the surfboard!