Just a quick post to share this interview I did for Yoga2Life Radio! It was a wonderful experience and I’m so honored to have been featured on this amazing podcast.
And while you’re there, check out other episodes and share with your friends!
Two Leela Yoga Workshops in June on the majestic island of Alameda
with Nicole Smith
500-hour yoga teacher, certified life coach, and master’s student in Somatic Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies
Come get relief at two workshops, back to back weekends in June, Sundays starting at 2pm: Yoga for Actualizing Goals and Yoga for Stress Reduction.
I also can promise at the end of this post, I’ll give you a little simple taste of what you may receive 🙂
These two topics are truly two of my favorites! They actually feel like the yin and yang fuel of my energetic practices that keep me balanced, neutral, and flowing down the path towards my visions and dreams. I’m really excited to share toolkits of movement practices, postures, breathwork, kriyas, meditations, and journaling prompts that can help anyone who feels stuck in these areas! Doesn’t matter whether or not you have a regular yoga practice right now, enter from where you are, bite off what you can chew — and I’ll be giving lots of take-away resources to come back and visit as time moves on!
As someone who has healed through the above struggles, also speaking as a life coach who also holds endless hours of yoga and psychotherapy training, I can say with confidence that the positive changes we desire in our life can only come from inner work. The outside is a reflection of what’s going on inside. A lifetime of talk therapy, becoming a disciplined follower of a meditation guru, and a daily practice of yoga or spiritual devotion MAY very well take care of those challenges listed previously through long-term study and discipline. I’m certainly not denying that…
AND… in the meantime…
Wouldn’t it be nice to find and design a personal practice (with parts of that same scientific technology of yoga and healing arts) that can support you where you are now, here today?
These workshops will be chock full of bite sized pieces that can be used interchangeably (at home or on the road), to support you when you are working in those struggle areas.
Here’s a piece to try right now:
Close your eyes, put one hand on your belly and one on your heart, breathe slowly (maybe counting the breath in for four and out for four about two minutes), imagine your mind starting to melt down into your heart with every sensation of relaxation, then ask the small, still quiet voice within, “Heart/Soul/Inner Guidance… Is attending these workshops in my highest good and best interest?”
I trust I’ll see you there if we are to meet…
In summary, 2015 was by far, the most transformational year of my life.
When we last checked in, I let you know I had completed my first barre teacher training, and am still so grateful I did! Those small isometric movements done with a quick pace strengthened and kept my back healthy, heart dancing, and all the happiness that goes along with that. After a year of integrating the information and accruing additional trainings in other barre and Pilates methodology, it’s more clear to me how to design my own classes based on the contemporary ballet barre classes I had been used to teaching prior to 2015, with kinesthetic influence from these new fitness trainings!!! Y’all know I love a good fusion — especially with a great playlist. Click to go to my Spotify account.
Ever learning, ever changing, ever developing. Otherwise, there’s a kind of dying happening.
I had the wonderful opportunity last Memorial Day Weekend to teach the Kundalini portion of Kripalu’s Spring Yoga Fusion for the second year in a row, I was joined by several amazing teachers.
I also, after a couple years of setbacks and challenges, finally completed my 200-hour from YogaWorks in alignment-centered hatha/vinyasa yoga!!! Woohoo! It also greatly healed my back, but beyond that… I was reignited with confidence by my teachers Jess and Jodie who lead the training. Since then, teaching asana in addition to the Kundalini practices has been extremely fulfilling and rewarding to someone who has been a student of asana practice for 16 years now. I finally get to preach what I practice! Full circle.
On a personal note, last February on Valentine’s Day (the three-year anniversary of the exchanging of our first “I love yous”), Billy, my beloved, officially proposed. In October, we were wed in the Redwood Grove in Berkeley, with an intimate group of friends and family who traveled cross-country to be at our side. It was one of the most emotional and gratifying days of my life, and I was also just simply relieved after all the months of “planning” that everything went off without a hitch! Magic and faith in motion.
Simultaneous to all this, my husband and I had taken almost an entire year to muster up the courage to move across the country and settle in the Bay Area while I finish my master’s in Somatic Psychology at an established, reputable, and connected institution. We officially did so in July! My program at California Institute of Integral Studies is the best in the nation, and I’m so proud to be here- challenged and growing, each and every day.
If you didn’t know, for the next 2.5 years we will reside here as I finish the in-depth program and therapist internship requirements. It is definitely not a chore for us to be here as many of you have intuited from our presence on social media! Besides the gorgeousness of California, so many of my passions and aesthetics are the mainstream here, and so I am easily immersed in the conversations and dialogues I want to be a part of daily.
So yes yes, of course, it will be hard to leave for some reasons, but alas… our families and close friends are forever our roots, and I miss my students and teachers on the East Coast. We will return happily when it is time for the next phase of our lives in Summer 2018. I’m sure by that point I will have some anchors in place on the West Coast that will allow me to practice nationally, with grace and ease.
Live your life by DESIGN, not default, I say 🙂
I’m forever grateful to the practices that sustain and support me, the love of my family and friends, and those souls who I am privileged to guide in their own spiritual processes. Hope to speak soon. Please email me at nicole@thepowerwithinhealing — let’s catch up or start a new conversation.
I’m on a mission to get the world to meditate— in one form or another. I started five years ago and to say I would never go back to the way I handled my mind and emotions pre-meditation is not an exaggeration. This will be a part of my morning every day for the rest of my life.
I made my first guided meditation album for all the folks who want to learn to meditate, but maybe were like me when I first started. I couldn’t sit still, I wanted so hard to be moved and go deeper, but everything that brought up feelings about “spirituality” or “new age-ness” made my skin crawl. As a teacher of the mind/body connection for the past ten years, I know it can be more simple than that, and that was my goal while writing and recording.
Meditation is a hot word right now and there are many schools of thought to approach it from. What I feel is most important and crosses all the various modalities, is that meditation is just like when you are trying to become a professional in any field: you’re willing to work daily with discipline and passion. Meditation has been disciplined passionate work for my career in “being my fullest-functioning human self.”
I started practicing yoga in 1999, from the advice of one of my dance teachers who told me my scoliosis would become problematic later in my dance career as it had in hers.
My first class was in a style of yoga that was very focused on the physical body and pushing its limits in complex poses (but always with an attention on the heart and a compassionate self-reflection). Coming from my dance background, I struggled with the need to get all “tricks” done well, and eventually was more interested in watching my”self” — mind and emotions — while attempting these superhuman physical feats, than I was in actually doing them.
I continued in this lineage, and experimented with more yoga schools (you name it, I’ve tried it). I experienced styles like “vinyasa flow,” “slow flow,” all the way down the space/time continuum to “no flow,” with about eight other styles in between, pretty regularly, for about ten more years. I sweated in 105-degree rooms, practiced sun salutations for two hours, and was able to perform “peak poses” like standing on my head, arm balances, deep back ends and more, but I was still searching for some “higher truth.” None of these teachings fulfilled me on every level of my being. There again, just being brutally honest.
In pops something called “Kundalini Yoga.” In these classes, no ones’ eyes are open to applaud my efforts (feed my ego) and also I can’t compare myself to anyone? How do I know I’m doing it “right”!? I’m not sweating, but yet I can’t do any of the postures for as long as they’re telling me to. Lastly, I’m singing and breathing more than I’m moving in and out of big tricky postures. Is this real yoga?
I felt like I had back the peace and love that I had naturally as a child, but had managed to complicate and harden ever since. I found a buzzing of awareness in myself that was different than the “yoga glow” from any other class.
I kept coming back for these strange experiences, and within a year, was in training to become a teacher: not caring about what the future held for me as such. I just knew I needed to do that work, and I need to do it… now.
Through my studies since, I have found there is no one answer for everyone on this spiritual path of human existence. Every style of yoga fills its need in a persons life at a particular time, and there are no superior forms to others. Anyone who preaches “my way is the best way,” I politely turn away from and run in the other direction.
What I think I want to affirm is that the point of ALL asana (physical) practice is to be able to sit, hold awareness, watch our breath, and be in meditation! That is (from my experiences) where the mental and emotional transformation exponentially increases.
I had the honor of teaching in a group of remarkable teachers from all lineages at Kripalu’s Yoga Fusion during Memorial Day weekend, and I remembered on cellular level, that true yoga (union of body and mind) can be accessible from any place in life and hopefully with the right guide, in any style of yoga.
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I first heard this quote when going through rough patch in my life when I was 24 and it really changed everything for me.
Growing up, being a super sensitive (perhaps you’d even call me now, an “empath”) who was also an overachieving, perfectionist, honors student, I was a rather tumultuous blend of lots of fiery energy and rushing emotional waters, that created many a perfect storm within my physical system and most definitely, all around me.
When my goals were met and I found successes, there was great victory and celebration, but more often than not, I disappointed myself and those expecting of me, and I suffered serious anxiety and depression from age 12 to 25.
I always felt like I had such great potential, but would never reach it.
I always felt like people loved and believed in me more than I did myself.
Time after time, I shifted from one goal to another hoping that the success would come eventually, or that when it did, THEN I would be happy. That ego driven journey taught me a lot… especially what to make of my failures, how to thrive in transition, and what success actually means, contrary to popular Western thought.
I began to recognize that my life was not a series of mistakes, failures, and “almosts- shoulda- coulda- wouldas” that would hold me down forever, but a perfect breeding ground for continual introspection, lesson learning, and growth. I believe these are the things that make me able to see the greatest potential in everyone… this is what allows me to be a good teacher and coach.
Had I not had so many periods of intense suffering at such a young age, would I be able to hold the space for others who have experienced the same or worse today in my work? I don’t believe so.
And so it makes perfect sense that the little voice inside me asking me to “heal the world through their awareness of their bodies and movement” my entire life, needed me to do the same for me first (read previous post re: surviving burnout).
From the muddy waters rises the lotus flower.
From the ashes rises the fenix.
From the darkness we see the candle flame most illumined…
We know this, yet we wiggle and squirm, we fight discomfort and change and growth SO much. We try to skip from black to white without sensing all shades of grey between.
Transitions probably almost always hurt, at least a little. This isn’t an exaggeration. It’s a literal shedding of everything you no longer need in this stage of your development.
For me, the shedding has been continuous I think ever since I sat in my grandmother’s car in 1998 and wept, begging her not to make me go into NYC for my preprofessional dance classes at the Joffrey Ballet School anymore, and most recently my medical withdrawal from the esteemed NYU MFA Dance program due to my chronic back injury coming to a head.
But more so than that, these periods revolved around my ego’s release on what others thought of me . Sometimes we need things to fall apart so that we LISTEN more deeply to where it is our soul is seeking light.
Every transition I’ve ever made, whether small or large, was instigated by the need for growth and evolution of my spirit.
The wound is the place where the light enters.
So obviously, I’m not alone here. All the great philosophers and poets found this themselves. And I am finally at the place in my life where I embrace all that has gotten me to where I am today— the good, the bad, and the… less than perfect. 🙂 And I want to continue helping others to do the same.
Celebrate your growth, all of it! Stop focusing on what’s wrong, because it’ll just bring in more wrong.
The proven strategies for trusting change and the great things that are sure to follow. I’ll introduce you to the idea of writing a brand new chapter in your life that is in line with your heart’s desires and lead by self-love, and confidence.
RELAX | RENEW | UPLIFT
with these 5 audio tracks
available for purchase now