I am, first and foremost, a ‘householder’ yoga practitioner, whose dharma is to be a mother to my two children. 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 chakra vinyasa krama yoga (a methodology based on wise postural sequencing with a focus towards prana—energy–rather than citta–mind) 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 power of yoga; my students have demonstrated what devotion 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 most 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 [‘f***ing growth’] opportunity to either stay 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 (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 sources of our suffering, but frees up the roots 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. Shanti, Nicole.
Nicole is a senior Yoga Instructor and Yoga Therapist, certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists [C-IAYT], the Yoga Alliance [ERYT-500], Reiki Master in the Usui methodology, and certified Journey DanceTM Facilitator. She founded Yoga Mandala studio, in Winchester, MA, in October 2001 and transitioned to the role of director of Blue Monkey Yoga at Fit Life Boston in 2018. She is also committed to bringing awareness to the financial stresses of cancer through her fundraising efforts for Reach Athletes and the Family Reach Foundation, and mindfulness to teens by running meditation programs at the Winchester High School, MA. And she loves, loves, loves high-quality dark chocolate and surfing (or trying to).