I am a ‘householder’ yoga practitioner, whose dharma is, first and foremost, to be a mother and guide to my two children (or rather, my children have served 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 co-founded 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 in 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 mission now is to extend these teachings as action in all our relationships, in the workplace and in life.
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 place of work; 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 while the yoga mat is 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, we are called now more than ever before to take this awareness and understanding of ourselves and our unique talents and gifts into all our relationships and into action in the world. 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. Let us not limit our yoga to the mat but collectively bring our practice to our family, work and life. The world more than ever before needs each conscious contender to step into the heart of conflict and create conversations that matter and to take actions off the mat that will shift the dynamic from negativity to positivity, from self-preoccupation to self-awareness, from self-absorption to compassion.
So, if you don’t have a yoga mat, I will lend you mine. If you don’t know where to start, I invite you to join Mandala’s mission. And if you don’t know much about yoga and are curious, please reach out; I would be delighted to serve as your guide. 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? She offers a combined 10-month Self-Mastery Program / 200-hour [trauma-informed] Yoga Teacher Training, one-day personal commitment intensives and five, 6-day transformative program modules (60 hours each) that extend the powerful methodologies of yoga into the realms of work, family and life balance, and serve to shift the sociocultural dynamic of self-preoccupation (inherently self-limiting) to one of greater self-awareness, human connection and potentiality. These programs offer meaningful certification and continuing education credit through the Yoga Alliance [ERYT-500]. Nicole is a practicing Reiki Master in the Usui methodology and offers Reiki Level I, Level II and Professional Degree/Mastership training 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. And because it is always a humbling experience to be a novice at something, Nicole is still (after many years in the water) learning to surf (in Massachusetts)!