Happy New Year! We’re four days into 2018. How are you feeling about it?
I took the first four to root down and get focused. I’m sure you are now starting to get settled into the flow of things after the festivities of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This time of year, I feel like there’s pressure in the air to set a New Year’s resolution and run with it. I’ve taken a slightly different approach this year. I’ve been evaluating my current choices in terms of food, physical activity, and personal development and seeing whether it will be sustainable as a lifestyle. My focus lately has been on wholeness and health from the inside out.
In this post, I’ve teamed up with one of my favorites, Coola Suncare, to share with you my top wellness goal, how I stay focused, and a few tips for the new year!
What is your top wellness or personal development goal right now? Can I help you on your journey?
Photos by John Hohener of JOI YOGI
Do you know how powerful your mind is? I’ve been discovering the power of mindset and thoughts lately. In this post, I’ll share with you how elevating your belief system can shift your world and prepare you to receive life’s best for you.
This is pretty deep stuff but it’s literally been changing my life so I wanted to share it with you.
This post will resonate with you if you want to live life to the fullest, work towards achieving your potential, break unhealthy patterns, and create the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Before we dive in…
Doing the inner work that I’ll be talking about in this post is not easy but it is so crucial to growth and progress in every area of our lives. During the month of October, I laid low and dove headfirst into exploring these concepts and sitting with myself. It’s now a few weeks into November and I’m discovering how valuable this work is, especially as we move into the new year.
There was a point in time a few years ago when I didn’t “want to go there” with my thoughts and feelings. But what I noticed was I would simply find myself in circular thought patterns and situations. Now I’m realizing in order to change our results and eventually our lives, we have to start in the mind.
How to Elevate Your Mindset
1. Release Limiting Thoughts + Feelings + Actions and Replace with Empowering Thoughts + Feelings + Actions
The first step to this work is taking inventory of our limiting beliefs and ways of living.
Take your journal and divide the page by three, on the top half write down “Limiting” and on the bottom half write down “Empowering”.
Then write down your thoughts, feelings, and actions that shrink you or keep you small.
Here were some of mine:
A limiting thought I had -> I have to do everything alone and I can’t rely or depend on anyone to help me.
A limiting feeling I had -> I feel like I have nothing to offer now that I don’t have my corporate job and am not receiving a large steady paycheck.
A limiting action I used to do -> I would replay past situations and beat myself up for how I handled it.
Now write yours.
Don’t hold back and try to dig really deep.
Then flip those into empowering thoughts, feelings, and actions on the bottom half of the page.
Here are mine, Empowering:
Thought -> Asking for help, letting people in, and depending on others is healthy, natural, and life-giving.
Feeling -> I am enough and my resume qualities do not define my worth.
Action -> I accept and forgive myself for anything in the past and commit to no longer bringing it up.
2. Acknowledge the “You Can’t Have That” Voice and then tell it to Shut Up
Our thoughts are talking to us all day long, at a million miles an hour. I started to listen to my thoughts more and run it through a filter. When you catch the voice that tells you that you can’t, you should give up, it’s a lost cause, things will always be this way, take note of it, say I see you, but NO, YOU’RE WRONG.
You will find that once you start making a habit of taking every thought captive, it will be easier to recognize and stop them earlier.
3. Know What You are not Willing to Accept and Act on it
This is where the mindset starts to apply itself. When we commit to releasing limiting beliefs and training our minds, the next step is to align our actions with it. Start to ask yourself what you want in every area of your life -> career + vocation, family + friends + relationships, impact + legacy, etc. and then at the same time, seek to understand what you don’t want.
I understand this is a lifelong journey and what we want will change as we grow, but doing this has been life changing for me. It takes time and intentionality.
Once you have reflected and written all of that down, it’s time to live by it. It won’t be perfect, of course. But as much as we can, if we make decisions in alignment, I’m finding that we will discover a more peaceful life.
Now, the amazing thing is once we start doing the inner work, things start happening. I think it’s because our beliefs start shifting and we realize how worthy we are to receive good things. For some reason there’s this cloud of “oh you have to feel guilty, dim your light, and live small because of what people will think” but I think we’re called to life more abundantly, we’re blessed to be a blessing, and that it should never stop at us.
How to Receive
1. Stay the Course
Something crazy happens once you’ve released your limiting beliefs and make a commitment to yourself. What is it? Things will come up to distract or test you to see if you’ll stay the course.
This literally happened to me two weeks ago. There were two separate things that happened that would have totally derailed me if I had not been on this path.
Maybe you believe only in coincidence and I totally respect that. But it’s still interesting to see sometimes. How things could be going amazing and smooth sailing then a plot twist or curve ball comes.
2. Choose Love over Fear
A few months ago, I did a post on fear. It’s been powerful seeing the shift in my life since then. Fear has less of a grip in my life compared to two months ago, and I think it will just keep going from there.
Everyday we are faced with options, choices, and decisions. I’m noticing that if we dive head first into the fear, we will conquer it and it will no longer have power over us.
So an example of this is one of my fears is vulnerability. I recently joined a community group at my church and people were given the opportunity to share their life and faith story. My instinct before was to stay surface level and put up walls so people can’t get to know me. So to counteract my fear, I dove straight in and decided to share my story up front. The result of doing that was I experienced freedom, courage, and strength from becoming vulnerable and letting people share in my life experiences, even the sad ones.
It might not be your style to just jump in and run in the direction of your fears, but I wonder if it’s worth exploring for you.
3. Accept Yourself Fully and Feel your Feelings
The last thing that unlocks the freedom to receive is accepting ourselves completely and connecting with our feelings. Again, this is a lifelong journey and we’re always going to grow in acceptance. I’m finding that there is so much freedom in being ourselves. It’s really hard work too, because society tries to put us in boxes and categories.
I’ve realized that who I am is so complex that it would be difficult to fit into a certain mold. You probably feel the same way. It takes a lot of courage but it’s worth it.
It’s not that we need to learn how to love people, that comes naturally to us. It’s that we need to learn how to remove the things that get in the way of allowing ourselves to love and be loved. It’s learning new thoughts and beliefs about what love leads to. For most of us, love has led to hurt, and so we do everything to prevent that hurt from happening again. The irony being that everything we do to protect ourselves gets in the way of loving and being loved. We prevent the very thing we crave most. So please, I beg you. Learn you. Learn what you do to prevent love from happening. And then consciously begin to stop doing that so you can let love flow. Be fierce. Be courageous. And you’ll see that love is the solvent to your pain, you just have to let it flow.
Photos by Dan Burkovskiy
Thank you for reading!
Let’s keep in touch!
Have you ever wondered what your passion is? Do you find yourself daydreaming about making a living doing what you love? In this post, I’ll share with you an exercise that will help you organize your thoughts about your dream career!
I did this exercise last year when I wanted to find clarity and direction in my work life and it really helped set an internal compass towards a long-term vision.
What You Need
You’ll need a journal if you like to write or the Trello app on your phone. I love Trello! I use it everyday. It’s a virtual board where you can create lists and organize them however you want! Picture electronic post-its that you can move around.
Giftedness – Resources – Dream Job
Know your Gifts
The first step to change is being aware and knowing yourself. Who are you? What are you good at? What are your talents, abilities, and skills? List out all your best qualities.
I knew I had to take inventory of exactly who I was. I’ll share with you a few that I wrote down:
Strong interpersonal skills
Gifted at teaching yoga
Knowing your skillset is so important because this will help you discover what you have to offer to the world and why your contribution matters.
Don’t hold back! Be proud of yourself, your strengths and what makes you unique.
Understand your Resources
We are blessed with so much. It’s easy to forget just how much we have when we are focused on what we don’t have. This list is important because it’s the starting point. With any endeavor in life, you start with what you already have.
Get creative with this list! Include the obvious things but expand from there. Where do you work? Who are you connected to? What activities or organizations do you participate in?
Here were the resources I noted:
Good living location
Network of friends and family
Dream up your Ideal Career
This is the fun part. You get to dream up what you really want! It’s a dream for a reason so don’t worry about being realistic. One day you’ll look back and be excited you wrote everything you really want. Get detailed with it too! What feeling do you want to experience when you do your life’s work? Who do you want next to you? What purpose do you hope to serve?
Here are some things I wrote about my dream job:
Not tied to a desk
Active and physically moving
Inspire and motivate
High interaction with people
Channel my love of fitness, nature, and music
Putting it All Together
Once you’ve written out all three side by side, read them over and observe any common threads. The magic happens when you find alignment in your strengths, your resources, and your vision.
I hope this exercise provides value and helps you on your way to discover your life’s passion and the career of your dreams!
Let’s keep in touch!
Life has a way of getting us to slow down sometimes. Think back to the last time you got sick or experienced an injury. Were you going hard the days leading up to it? This happened to me this week and I’ve been in bed recovering for most of it. I haven’t been able to do anything physical in four days which feels like forever! But the great thing is this time has allowed me to explore the other aspects of yoga besides the physical or asana practice. In this post, I’ll be sharing three ways to take your yoga practice off your mat.
You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Anytime we face a setback or experience discomfort or pain, the natural tendency is for us to want it to go away as quickly as possible so we can go back to living our lives. Lately, I’m learning that our experiences often want to teach us to sit, accept, and feel. So much of physical healing and emotional or mental wholeness comes from resting. It comes from knowing you are enough.
One conscious breath – in and out – is a meditation. – Eckhart Tolle
No matter what happens around us, we always have our breath. When we are healing from an injury or recovering from being sick, we may not be able to exercise our bodies but we can still breathe (even if it’s a little difficult with all the congestion haha). Intentional breathing has been the biggest help when feelings of restlessness or frustration arise.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. – Mindful Magazine
Yoga is so transformative because it teaches us to be mindful, but we can be mindful without the physical practice of yoga. In any moment, we can tune in and choose to be present. This happens in the smallest of ways. It could be noticing the detail of your hands, observing the eye color of the person across from you, or asking yourself how you feel. Something amazing happens when we connect in this way, we realize we are alive and well.
Thank you so much for reading. Let’s keep in touch!
Our fears can often paralyze us from action. We’re afraid of a lot of things. Sometimes, the fear is so deeply rooted in our subconscious that we don’t realize we are making decisions that ultimately shape our lives from a place of fear. Why does it seem to have so much power over us? We’re afraid of rejection, of failure, of not being good enough, of getting hurt. We fear not having enough, that our finances and investments won’t grow, that our loved ones could be affected by tragedy. We’re even afraid to realize our full potential and truly succeed at something. These are very real, concrete, and fair concerns. It comes down to our needs. The need for safety, connection, and fulfillment.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. -2 Tim 1:7
Personal Share: Facing my Fears
The second half of 2017 has been marked by facing my biggest fears and acting in the midst of them. At the end of July, I left my career in accounting to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship. I worked in financial services for six years- three years in audit for a public accounting firm and three years in investment accounting for an insurance company. I started teaching yoga back in 2014 and got involved with Girl Get Outside around that same time. Like many of you, I discovered my passion for yoga and wellness. I often dreamed about leaving the corporate world. It would come up in conversations with people and I always shared that when the time was right, I would feel it.
April 2017 came. I felt like God was asking me- Are you ready to go on an adventure with me? Where you have to trust me every step of the way and rely on me for strength and provision? When I first felt that, I couldn’t believe it at first. I was so used to being self-sufficient and loved my career because of the financial freedom it provided me. Then I really leaned into it. And I realized the only thing stopping me were my fears.
During that season, I spent many nights in stillness, contemplating what this meant for me and my future. I listened to countless sermons and podcasts, read my bible, and prayed. I knew in my heart I needed to take this step to unlock the next level. Almost like there were blessings connected to this one decision. So I took the steps to prepare. I left my job at the end of July 2017.
Personal Share: Learning to Manage my Fears
It’s been a month and a half since I made the leap.
One Sunday, I was so gripped by fear. I hit a wall mentally and couldn’t think about anything else.
I knew I had to get on my yoga mat because that’s where I can quiet my mind enough to really understand what was going on.
Right before class, I wrote down everything I was afraid of in that moment.
It was overwhelming getting it all down but it was powerful. There’s something about writing down your fears because if any of them are irrational, you can quickly see them for what they are and put things into perspective.
When I got home that night, I wanted to understand fear better and why it got such a hold on me earlier that day. I came across this video from Tim Ferris. While I don’t personally hold everything he talks about in the video, he introduced a really valuable strategy that opened my eyes completely- fear setting.
The Strategy: Fear Setting
Visualize the worst case scenarios in detail that you fear, preventing you from taking action, so that you can take action to overcome that paralysis. -Tim Ferris
Ask yourself, what if I __________? Fill in the blank with that fear that was gripping you.
Write down all of the worst things you can imagine happening if you take that step.
What could I do to prevent each of these bullets from happening or at the very least decrease the likelihood?
If the worst case scenario happened, what could you do to repair the damage even a little bit, or who could you ask for help?
I rewatched this part of the video more times than I can count because I thought it was so genius. It helped me organize my thoughts so well. When you’re going through moments of fear, your mind is far from calm and steady. So having it broken down like this made so much sense.
The next question Tim Ferris proposed was,
What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success? -Tim Ferris
I loved this question because it encourages hope and optimism but in a reasonable way. It gets to the root of the fear which is the risk factor. It’s an objective way to see why it’s worth taking the step to begin with.
We don’t usually consider the cost of staying the same. Ask yourself, If I avoid this action or decision and similar ones like it, what might my life look like six months, a year, three years down the line?
Sometimes we can no longer continue in the same place.
This part of the exercise is so so key. What is the impact? Is the risk minimal or permanent and life changing?
This fear setting exercise is going to stay with me as I journey through life. If I found about about fear setting back in April, I believe I would have came up with the same decision to take the step of faith.
What are some of your deepest fears? Can fear setting help you get unstuck and back on the path to living your best life?
Thank you so much for reading. Let’s keep in touch!
How long have you been practicing yoga? If you’ve been practicing for some time, I’m sure there have been times where you feel uninspired in your yoga practice, feel like you’ve hit a wall in your progress, or I hate to say it, just bored of yoga altogether.
My first yoga class was in 2012 and my yoga journey hasn’t been linear. There were times where I only made it to my mat once a week or less because of work and life. I remember a stretch where I was pretty bored of yoga and took time off and actually considered no longer teaching.
But I also have been really inspired and eager to learn and further my journey. I would say that is where I am today. In this post, I’ll share with you 5 tips to progressing in your yoga practice. Read on! They may bring back the love you felt when you first got into yoga!
1. Try out a new studio, instructor, or style of yoga
Think back to your first yoga class. Most likely, a friend brought you to his or her yoga studio. That’s how I got started! A friend brought me to try a free week and I got a membership right after. It’s great to find a home studio and a community to grow into. After a while though, when you’ve been going to the same instructors, classes, and studio, it can be a lot of the same thing. Same is good, but sometimes you need to infuse something new in your practice. Try out a new studio, instructor, or style of yoga.
Back in March, I tried my first Ashtanga class and I loved it. A little over two weeks ago, I started practicing Ashtanga regularly through Kino MacGregor’s online yoga platform, OmStars. Also earlier this year, I started practicing at other studio on a regular basis. I currently take classes at YogaWorks, CorePower Yoga, and Equinox and there’s a lot of variety there.
Don’t be afraid to change things up! The best feeling is being a beginner at something and seeing your progress.
2. Be consistent
Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity. -Bruce Lee
I’ve been seeing that the key to progress in anything is consistency. I’ve been noticing this in my new meditation practice (18 days in a row today!) and daily ashtanga practice as well. The great thing about yoga is it is relatively low impact, so you can get on your mat everyday and your body will feel good. Maybe doing yoga everyday seems like a stretch. What if you added one minute of stretching before you go to sleep or one minute right when you wake up? We spend countless of minutes just scrolling among other things, so I know we can carve out time for this.
A little on a consistent basis is better than doing a double one day a week.
The past couple of weeks, I’ve been able to be consistent with it and my body feels so much more open and my hamstrings have become more flexible.
3. Develop a home practice
I love taking instructor-led yoga classes. Going into that room without any distractions, listening to the instructor’s voice and tuning into my breath is my favorite thing. When I can, I try to take a class. But lately, most of my yoga has been out of the studio setting. I mostly practice at home or at the gym on my own. There’s a lot of yoga subscription services online and YouTube has great free content. As an instructor, I have a limited amount of time to take the class through integration to savasana, so we can only work on so much in those 60 minutes. But when you practice at home, you can stay and break down that pose for as long as you’d like. You can really customize what you want to work on and find all the videos and tutorials. You get to be a student of your body. Home practice also teaches you discipline and focus since you have to be more intentional about that time.
4. Challenge yourself
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote says it all. I think we don’t challenge ourselves enough at times. I know I don’t, that’s why I like taking certain instructor’s classes because they really push me past what I think I can do. We’re all at different levels in our yoga practice. But if we only stick with the poses that we’ve mastered and have locked in, our practice won’t grow. I think I have a mental block of falling from inversions so I’m still working on that with headstand and forearm stand. It’s been said that the poses you avoid are the ones you need the most.
Commit to moving beyond the poses you always go to, with safety and alignment in mind of course!
5. Have patience
Lastly and most importantly, have patience with yourself, your body, your journey. Progress takes time. Know and accept exactly where you are. Understand your strengths and areas of improvement. This will keep you from the comparison trap. When you know exactly who you are and the incredible value you have to offer, you will feel fearless, on and off your mat.
Hope this was helpful! I’d love to hear any stories you may have of times you’ve felt uninspired or bored of yoga. What got you out of it? Leave me a note in the comments below.
Thank you Charlotte for these beautiful photos!
Let’s keep in touch!
For a while now, I’ve heard and read about the benefits of meditation. I love to observe and learn from people doing amazing things- CEOs, athletes, artists, and other leaders in various spaces. One thing I noticed was that they maintained certain daily practices. The most common ones were: waking up early, doing physical exercise, and meditating. In my own personal journey, I also noticed the power of thoughts and how they have the ability to change our brain.
I believe our thoughts shape our reality.
Tony Robbins said,
As I started to train my thoughts, I realized that I had more power over them than I previously had. It was amazing to be able to take a step back, observe my thoughts, and filter them through the framework of truth that I live my life on.
Intentional living had become a lifestyle that complemented my yoga journey perfectly. The only thing is, I had a hard time sitting still.
It’s kinda funny because you would think yogis would be professionals at meditating but there’s more to it. When you practice yoga, it is a moving meditation. It’s the best. But it’s another thing to sit down and do nothing but breathe.
With everything going on in life, sometimes the only stillness we experience is when our head hits the pillow right before we fall asleep.
After my recent exciting career transition (more about that at a later blog post), I knew it was time to commit to a consistent meditation practice.
Making the Commitment
The strength of your commitment, lies in pre-deciding what you want.
I set out to start off every morning with a seated meditation. On the first day, I told myself I would take 10 long deep breaths and that counted as meditation for me. Honestly, those 10 deep breaths felt really long! As I sat there breathing, I felt at more at ease and grounded.
The next day, I came back and added 10 more breaths to it. It was challenging to sit still so I would count each inhale to stay focused. That week, I added 10 breaths each day and got up to 40. I liked that I finally found a meditation routine but I felt like it was starting to be another thing to check off the list. Like okay, count my breaths, and then get on with my day.
Then someone inspiring told me about Headspace. I’ve heard of it before but haven’t used it! It’s a meditation and mindfulness app that has themed sessions designed for people with busy schedules.
I started with the Basics pack. It consisted of 10 meditations that were 3 minutes each.
I loved how simple the app was. The guided meditations are led by Andy Puddicombe’s and his voice is so relaxing. The app takes you step-by-step and explains mindfulness techniques using the cutest animation videos.
What I noticed the most after two weeks of practicing meditation is how much more calm I have become. My energy is usually pretty grounded but this feels really good. I feel more connected with my emotions. I’ve also noticed I’m able to slow down more throughout the day. I’ve been an observer of my thoughts these days and letting them pass through with more acceptance.
I feel empowered too. If my day ever feels stressful or an issue comes up, I know I can always come back to my breath.
This is the beginning of my meditation journey but I see this becoming a lifelong practice. Today, I tried a ten minute one, and it didn’t feel long at all!
Tips for Meditation Success
Schedule it in your Daily Routine
Include it as part of your set routine, just like showering and brushing your teeth. I meditate right after getting ready in the morning and before leaving for the day. It usually helps to do it in the morning since fewer things tend to come up and you have more control over your time.
Find Your Ideal Place
Choose a quiet space and meet yourself there everyday at the same time. I meditate in my room on the floor. I get up early so the house is quiet and it’s still dark out.
Set the Mood
Find something comfortable to sit on. This helps so you won’t be fidgeting as much! I love my Tushies meditation pillow in Fearless. I bought this one when I embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship last month. It symbolized the intention I wanted for myself, which is to be fearless. I leave the lights off in my room and turn on my Himalayan sea salt lamp that my roommate got me for Christmas. I’m a fan of the scents lavender and tea tree so I have this aromatic oil from Tea Tree Hair Care, an unscented coconut oil which mixes well together, and a lavender lip balm both from Organic to Green. These help set the mood and you can even light candles or have an essential oil diffuser going!
I hope this post sparked your interest in meditation and intentional living. I couldn’t wait to share with you because of how I feel from just 3 minutes of meditation a day for 10 days. I’m looking forward to keeping it going! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you meditate?
Let’s keep in touch!
Hey there! I’ve been wanting to share people’s stories on the blog for sometime now. Nicolette David was the first person that came to mind. Nicolette is a well-loved yoga instructor in Orange County, owner of HB Yoga Collective, Lululemon ambassador, and new mom!
I sat down with Nicolette one Sunday afternoon after taking her class at YogaWorks Newport Beach. I met Nicolette back in February of 2015. At that time, I was looking to practice non-heated yoga. I also wanted to deepen my yoga practice. A good friend took her class and told me how much she learned from it. I was so excited to find a new yoga studio and instructor! After taking Nicolette’s class, I got the sense that she had a deep understanding of the body.
At the end of class, she announced she was leading a yoga retreat in May 2015 to Bali, Indonesia. I remember researching yoga retreats and instructors a few weeks before that class. The stars aligned! I went to Bali with Nicolette and a number of amazing women. I also brought my mom to the retreat! She is a beginner at yoga and has gone through a couple surgeries over the years. I knew I could trust Nicolette to guide my mom safely through yoga twice a day. It was such an adventure and I’ll never forget it.
That’s a little background on how Nicolette and I connected. Now here’s a play-by-play of our conversation. I was in post-savasana relaxation mode after her Level 2/3 Vinyasa Flow class. Nicolette and I sat on the floor on blocks. The sun was shining and a cool breeze flowed in through the studio from the open balcony.
We could start with your yoga journey. I know it’s been a long one. Tell me how you got started with yoga, teaching, and where you are now.
I got started with yoga right when I got back from the Peace Corps. I had a pretty rough transition back to the United States. Generally, language was different and our culture was different, and I’d been away for over two years. I was pretty depressed when I got back, just because of the transition.
I was a high school teacher in the Peace Corps. When I got back, I didn’t know that I wanted to go through the whole credentialing process, or getting that recertified, or renewed.
So, I took a yoga class with a girlfriend. She was like, I think yoga would be good for you. I was like okay, whatever, sure I’ll go. We took a class and it was a hot yoga class.
I hated it so much.
Was it Bikram style or something else?
It was yoga sculpt. I was wearing more like sweatpants- comfy pants, not technical fabric. I just remember being miserable and hating it so much. It was so hard and so loud. But, I do remember savasana was just a really great experience for me. I just remember feeling lighter and not so depressed. Then, I had a free week, so I went to another class. It was way more mellow. The lady had a gong.
She’s like the only person at that studio that would bring a gong. It was just a different tempo and a different energy. I thought, wow, these are both yoga. I had never really taken yoga before. If all these things are yoga, then this is what I want to teach, because I’m sure somewhere in the middle I’ll find what I love.
I loved the way that it made me feel. It just was a little bit lighter. It wasn’t like things were perfect, just a little bit lighter. So, I signed up for teacher training. I think I had only been going for a month maybe, not even. Maybe, two months or something, and I signed up for teacher training immediately.
Was it at CorePower?
Yeah, in Huntington Beach. I did my training there. I had met a lot of really great people, two people that I’m still very, very good friends with today. That was in 2010.
I did my first training there. Then, I did all of the subsequent trainings that they offered. I did the vinyasa one, hot power fusion, and sculpt. I was fortunate that I got classes right away.
No one wanted to teach at 6:00 a.m., so I got all the 6:00 a.m. classes. I developed a bit of a following at that time. I just taught a lot. Everything progressed really fast for me too, because I’d always been a teacher, so that always made sense.
Yeah, that totally makes sense, now that I make the connection.
Yeah. But, I didn’t know anything about yoga. I knew what it felt like to be in my body, as much as I knew how it felt to be completely out of it. So, all of the anatomy, even though I didn’t have a lot of background in it, I still kind of understood it kinesthetically.
I was with CorePower for a while. I started leading programs, assisting in teacher training, and then leading teacher training. Then, I got asked if I was interested in management. For me, I was like okay, this is the next thing. I thought there was a ladder to climb. Whereas, now I see that doesn’t exist.
So, I did that. I wasn’t super happy doing that, even though I felt like I did a good job, because I was going to do a good job. It’s in my nature. But the joy of teaching was really always the thing that I loved the most and connecting with people.
I think I managed for a year and a half. In Sherman Oaks, I was assisting in training to manage up there. Then, I opened the Costa Mesa studio as a manager. It was a lot of sales and I wasn’t familiar with sales. That had never been my background, so a lot of things felt foreign, and forced, and challenging.
Not that challenge is a bad thing, but it was very stressful. I couldn’t balance having a life, and I didn’t have much going on at that point. Then, my dad got sick, so it became even harder to manage just my own energy, and my own emotions.
I stopped managing and just started leading trainings and programs there. Then, I started teaching at a bunch of other studios. So, I kind of got out and saw that there were other ways to teach.
Is that when you did yoga tune-up?
I did yoga tune-up training with Jill Miller, which totally changed the way that I saw everything. Particularly, yoga, but just in general teaching. She has a very unique way of helping you find who you are as a teacher. Then, at the same time, I enrolled in the 500-hour program at YogaWorks.
At YogaWorks, I felt so much more creative and I could find more of my own voice. I was teaching at other studios. I was teaching at Equinox and some other local studios. But while doing this, I was studying with Jill Miller doing her intensives. You know, there’s one for the shoulders, hips, and core. But, YogaWorks also had more philosophy and the deeper teachings of yoga. I hadn’t learned anything about pranayama [regulation of the breath through techniques and exercise].
I was going to ask, because I would say your style of teaching and classes are the deepest I’ve taken. Would you say that’s from all of the training you’ve done? Is it an accumulation of all that?
Yeah. I think I love the body and just how remarkable it is. Because I don’t practice as much asana [physical yoga poses] much of my practice is the deeper stuff – I love meditation and pranayama.
I love diving into philosophy. I feel like that is more of my study and the living of my yoga more than the poses. So in the classes, I know what’s happening in the body, what I want to see in the body, and also the habits of the body.
Everybody’s spine is going to want to do the same things pretty much. We generally are stronger in one leg rotation or another. We all have our heads forward over our shoulder and have the same kind of tightness, ailments, or weaknesses. I think that brings a certain sense of commonality. So, I’m like what do we all need? I need it too. So, I know how I’d like to see the body open up and how I want it to affect the students.
I think the deep part is – I’m more of a greater depth than I was before. I think early in my teaching I really wanted to impress and have everyone like me. Now, I don’t so much care if people like me or not. I really want to just connect to whatever’s bigger than me. Then, just kind of open up and be like here you go, here’s my offering.
So, I’m not as afraid as a teacher as I was before. I was afraid before of not being the most popular or needing to have really, really full classes. So, that’s been a shift for me.
I’m sure you’ve become more vulnerable as you’ve grown as a teacher.
Yeah, for sure. My relationships with my students are deeper and I know about their lives.
I definitely have noticed that.
I can add humor very easily. Whereas, before I would be like, oh, my God nobody laughed at my joke. Now, I’m not waiting for that. It seems like there’s more of a connection than anything else.
Whereas before, I felt like I was doing it but now I want the students to feel like they’re doing it. That they’re getting the win, they’re opening themselves up, they’re the ones doing it. I’m just there kind of facilitating.
In the seven years that you’ve been teaching, you’ve probably seen a lot of people come through. With yoga, I feel like people come to themselves. Whereas, they’re probably unaware either on a physical sense, or spiritual, or mental sense. Can you describe why that is and what happens when you start being more aware?
Yeah. Well, I think yoga is unique in that. I know some people look at yoga as just being very physical and it being very connected to fitness. One aspect of yoga is the physical movements and the poses. But, really it’s kind of how we’re doing or how we’re using that pose that I think is much more exciting. Really all of the little instructions that you’re given and the ways of being in the pose, they’re really just to kind of wake you up.
So, maybe you need to wake up your listening skills. Maybe, that’s it, or maybe you need to wake up a particular area of your body that’s really weak, or is not strong, or you don’t even know that you’re doing something in a particular way.
So, the poses increase your awareness. So, then you start noticing like oh, gosh I don’t really like to be around these people, or I’m really not very kind to my mom. You start to notice other things, because your field of noticing is increased.
That just comes from listening better and noticing that oh, this in my body. You just start to become more conscious. Then, I think that’s where the mind body connection comes, is because you start to increase your awareness of things. Then, it comes through the body, doing all these poses. Maybe, all you could do before was point your feet forward. But, now you can point your feet forward and rotate your thighs in one direction. You know how to do that, because you’re so aware of your body. Whereas, before you were just like those are my feet, those are my legs.
Yes! That’s amazing!
I think that increase of awareness is really what the physical stuff is for. It feels good and it moves the body. It does all of those things and can create a release for us. Especially, when there’s breath, really conscious breath included in it.
You really have to be aware of the stressors in your life when you’re breathing. You take a breath in and you feel your emotions or you tap into something that’s really old. Like, grief or whatever it may be. But, you wouldn’t be aware of that if you didn’t go through the physical process of moving the body.
It’s weird how the breath says so much. I love that you always start your class with breath work. Because when you’re taking short and shallow breaths, there’s a reason for that. It could be a million things. But, you kind of come face to face with it when you’re breathing. You have nowhere to go really.
Well, yeah. So much of our emotions are in our breath. I’ll see people breathe these tiny, little breaths. I’ll watch their body and it’s like a tiny shallow breath. It’s almost like they don’t know that there is so much bigger and so much more for them. Then, it’s scary to go into that so much more and that bigger sense of sensation, or feeling.
That’s why – I think people are moving their bodies, and then they start to become more aware of some more finite things in their bodies. Then, they start to become more aware of their outer world. Like, what’s happening in their hearts, as they’re driving their car, or at work.
So it ends up going off the yoga mat with them.
Yeah there are plenty of people who don’t do any of the physical poses at all. But, they do meditation and that’s their practice. For them, it’s the same thing. It’s like, first you just realize, oh you have a mind, and the mind talks.
And, it has a narration constantly going. Then, you start to realize okay, I can slow this down and I can move away from it.
Like, you’re kind of a separate entity than your thoughts, and your emotions, which is really hard to get to, I think.
Yeah. But, I mean for some people that is so far out there that they’re just like “I know, I know, I’m crazy. I could never meditate.” It’s like, well, actually, if you wanted to get more space or more stretch in your hamstrings, you would have to do some things in order to do so. If you want to get more space and more quiet in your mind, then you have to do some exercises.
I read up a lot on inner work. From what I’m learning, we all have certain coping mechanisms. Whether it’s food or other substances. I think having mastery over those areas comes with your thoughts. To me, it’s all very connected.
Well that mastery has to also include the willingness or the courage to actually feel what’s going on. To really get to the source of it.
But, I think that in order to actually feel it all, the good, the bad, the middle– in order to do that it just takes a lot of courage. It takes the “I’m not right, they’re not right”. There is the “what is right for me right now”. Really, a sense of forgiveness.
That’s so good.
Maybe we could shift gears and talk more about what you’re doing now with your yoga studio.
So, we opened HB Yoga Collective at the end of November 2016.
To be honest, I don’t know that I really saw myself as a studio owner. But, my partner, who I love dearly presented the idea to me, and I was like, okay. Let’s do this. Let’s see. It is definitely a tight knit community studio. It’s not hot yoga. There’s not a lot of fitness focus. It’s a lot of softer notions.
We have an older demographic. No one is really there to do tricky stuff. We still have level 2 classes and that sort of thing. But, we have a wider range of classes. It’s more wellness than it is fitness. In doing that, it’s hard in the industry- Orange County, especially, runs on fitness.
So, bringing things in like Tai Chi and restorative sound, a spine therapy class and plenty of options for gentle yoga and meditation. Even the workshops we’ve chosen promote wellness instead of fitness.
So, there are three of us in the studio. It’s myself, my partner, who’s also a yoga teacher. She was my mentor for the YogaWorks 500-hour training. Then, our friend who does graphics, she’s an Ayurvedic chef, so she brings a different kind of energy and a different base of knowledge into the studio.
But, everything that we’ve done has been very, very conscious.
A lot of people bike to our studio. We offer philosophy once a month. We do a downtown street cleanup once a month, so we have other things that are inherently built in the studio that are more than just doing yoga.
That’s great! It seems like you are cultivating a community.
I think we just feel like there’s a need for people to have a place to go and to feel like they’re loved on. I don’t know that everyone gets that.
That’s really special.
Nicolette and I wrapped up our conversation talking about her partner Jason, her baby on the way (baby girl Billie was born May 12th), and future plans. She has a passion for working with yoga teachers and hopes to build a series of workshops from everything she’s learned. Nicolette mentioned hosting family friendly retreats in the U.S, at places like Wyoming or Montana. She’s been looking towards the future and is trying to focus more on the things she really loves and excels at.
Nicolette was a long-time vegetarian but now eats a conscious diet including fish and meat. On her free time, she loves going to concerts. Her last concert was Common and shares that she appreciates well-written lyrics. I’ve heard her sing in savasana and I must say, she has a beautiful singing voice. Her next trip with Jason and Billie will be for a wedding in Marseille, France in July.
Thank you Nicolette for sharing your story. You inspire me so much.
And for you, reading this, thank you for being here. I would love to hear from you in the comments below! Until next time.
Let’s keep in touch!
Hi Everyone! It’s been a while! I’ve been getting settled and finding my rhythm from jetlag after my ten day vacation in the United Kingdom. A friend of mine was going to London for work. She invited me along and I found an amazing deal on a flight so off I went. That was my first time in Europe! We stayed in the city for a week. During our last couple days in the U.K., we flew to Glasgow, drove a car through the beautiful roads of Scotland and made our way to Oban, a little town known for their whisky. This vacation was the perfect balance of fast-paced city life and relaxing times in nature.
If you’re reading this, I’m sure staying active is a big part of your life. You probably take your healthy habits with you on vacation. I totally do the same! I found my home away from home at a few of the places I’ll be sharing here. If you’re visiting London in the near future and love yoga, then this post is for you. In this post, I’ll share with you my guide to yoga in London via a three-day yoga itinerary you can add on along with your sightseeing and other adventures. It’s like your own makeshift yoga retreat in the city!
Day 1- Yoga and Juice in Chelsea
After being on the 13 hour flight from LAX to Heathrow, my body was craving some movement. So, after a day of exploring London and seeing more of the touristy sights, I found Tri Yoga UK and decided to buy a five class package (highly recommend if you’ll be in the city for a week or longer). Tri Yoga has multiple studios in London and the first one I visited was their Chelsea location pictured here.
The first class I tried at Tri Yoga was an Ashtanga led class with Chris Patmore. I had been wanting to try Ashtanga yoga for a while now. Chris led the class through half of the ashtanga primary series (this link is a video of Kino MacGregor leading the same class at Tri Yoga!).
I loved my experience at the studio. Everyone was really friendly. Tri Yoga has locker rooms with lockers, showers, and other amenities. They also provide yoga mats, which is so clutch because I didn’t bring mine and I’m sure people commuting on the underground don’t really want to bring their mats everywhere with them. Chris gave me a little background on Ashtanga before class. We went through part of the primary series and I loved it! From the class, I could tell how much deeper one’s yoga practice can get just by doing ashtanga daily because of all the chaturangas, floating forward/back, and deep stretching. I left class feeling so inspired and energized and definitely got the 13 hour flight out of my system.
Before class, I walked around the Chelsea neighborhood, taking my time and just enjoying that I didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything. Those moments are rare back home so it was amaazing. Just around the corner of Tri Yoga Chelsea, I found a cute juice bar called Juice Baby UK just outside the studio. I ordered avocado toast and matcha tea and stayed a while with a book. So relaxing.
Day 2- Sunrise Yoga at the Sky Gardens
This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I had been following Hannah Rose Cluley on Instagram for a while and we would like/comment on each other’s photos and I knew she was from London. A couple weeks before I left, I reached out to Hannah to see if she wanted to meet up and explore or maybe even do some yoga together! She was so sweet and told me about sunrise yoga at the Sky Garden, one of the tallest buildings in the city. I was so excited because events like this are so fun and so we planned to meet there. This was the beautiful space.
It felt like a little oasis in the middle of the city. Hannah and I connected so well. It really amazed me how much we had in common in lifestyle and mindset even though we live miles apart. She even brought a yoga mat for me, which meant she commuted the whole day with two mats. Haha! That’s love.
This is where we practiced yoga.
Class was taught by Issy Scobie. I loved our flow that morning. It was focused on the breath and we moved at a slower pace, which is how I usually teach my classes. Her playlist was calming (love me some Alt-J and ambient tracks). I have to say, this was probably my second favorite savasana moment of all time (the first would have to be in Aruba with Rachel Brathen). Laying on the mat underneath the greenhouse-looking ceiling with the natural light flowing in and knowing I was in London was surreal. You have to go!
So after Sky Garden, I got breakfast with Hannah and we went our separate ways. And then, I tried to find some WiFi. Most cafes and restaurants will have the WiFi password posted somewhere, but if not, you can always ask and they will give you the code!
Day 2.5 – Borough Market
Then I walked over to Borough Market to see what’s there and get a second breakfast/early lunch. It’s a market with food vendors, produce, local products, and a lot more. I must have circled around a couple times before I finally made a lunch choice because there were so many options!
I ended up getting a chicken pesto sandwich. So good. Then as I was walking, I stumbled upon a chocolate shop called Rabot 1745. If you don’t know yet, I’m obsessed with chocolate. Decided on a hot chocolate with 100% chocolate content (and no sugar added). Loved it!
I also had to resist from buying all these!
Day 3- Yoga, Shop, and Dine at Oxford Street
If you’re into shopping, good food, and want to take a yoga class in between, Oxford Street is the place to go. I got off at the Oxford Circus station and walked to Kingly Court to find Tri Yoga Soho. This studio has to be one of my favorites I’ve ever been to. It’s a little tricky to find Kingly Court but I recommend asking around. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you see Carnaby Street.
The Tri Yoga Soho studio is on the third floor of Kingly Court. It had a different feel from the Chelsea location so it was really cool to get to see both. I was able to take a yin class, ashtanga, and a vinyasa yoga class. All the instructors I had the chance to practice with were incredibly experienced. You could just tell they had been teaching for years and knew so much about the body. I learned a lot from what I observed as a student and as a yoga instructor. Sometimes you have to step away from the routine to gain a new sense of wonder and inspiration.
Thank you so much for reading! I will leave you with this quote.
By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity, we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility. – Anonymous
I think traveling and experiencing new places are the best ways to learn about yourself, life, and the world! Hope this inspires to you plan your next trip. What’s next on your list?
This post is dedicated to the people affected by the events at Westminster, London on March 22nd, 2017.
One of my favorite things is sitting down over a cup of coffee to hear people’s stories, wisdoms and dreams. Kelsey and I got to do that last week with yoga instructor, blogger, business owner and great conversationalist, Bianca Bonus. After we got settled and talked about how awkward the heights of our chairs were (short and angled funny), we clicked record and documented one of the best get-to-know-you conversations I’ve had. Here’s the play-by-play:
Tell me how you got into yoga in the first place.
Growing up I did ballet, and I loved it. I got really flexible through it and it involved a lot of discipline. Then I moved here from the Philippines in 2001, and when I moved I couldn’t find a ballet studio that I really liked, so it just kind of fell off. So for a while, from then through college, I didn’t do anything really active. I wasn’t into fitness at all.
My undergrad was in accounting, and when I graduated, I started working for a company with really long, stressful hours. One of my coworkers there invited me to my first yoga class. It was a heated yoga class with weights – they call it “sculpt.” I remember looking around and thinking people were insane – they were amazing. I was on my mat sitting down, because I was going to pass out [LAUGHTER] and I was just like… These people are cool. I’m going to come back, because I want to be that strong one day. I was really inspired by them, since I was so physically out of shape at the time.
So I used the “free week,” the rest of that week and then I signed up for membership.
After two years of practicing, I ended up leaving my first accounting job, and my “quitting present” to myself was to sign up for teacher training. So I did that and got certified at Core Power, and I’ve been teaching for more than two years now.
Wow, so did you start blogging right away or did that come later?
No I didn’t. It was a really organic process. I launched my blog this past October.
Oh that’s so recently!
Yeah it’s super new! The thing is, my fitness journey started with yoga, and then somewhere along the line I came across this fitness movement called BBG. So I started getting into that and I started doing weights too and more circuit training, intensity training… and that led to me hosting meet-ups in Orange County. I would post about the event on Instagram and then people would show up, and we would all do yoga and BBG together.
What gave you the idea to start doing meet ups?
I lived by the beach, so I would bring my weights, my yoga mat, my music… I would have this whole set up, and then I would just workout every day there. Sometimes some friends would drive in to join me just for the day, and I thought, I bet other people would want to do this.
I think fifteen people came to the first one, and it was mostly my friends and my co-workers, and then our biggest one ended up being a hundred people, and we had corporate sponsors. So it was all through Instagram, and through doing those meet-ups I met some fitness bloggers. And then I think just being around what they’re doing made me so inspired: how they would collaborate with brands and use their blogs to inspire people to move .
I think I have a voice in terms of sharing my love for yoga, and not just that but also the spiritual side of yoga, and making people think and question things a little bit.
So do you post mostly about yoga or also about other healthy-lifestyle things?
Right now, I usually post on three things: yoga-related tutorials or how to’s, entrepreneurial/intentional living type things, and then I did one food related post.
Do you find a big connection between yoga and other healthy-lifestyle choices? Are there any specific things that you find impact you the most?
Yeah, totally. Exercise and food. All those years, I wasn’t doing anything physical at all, so I was very sluggish, I had no energy… I would eat so badly. Every junk food you could possibly find, that’s what I would eat for lunch and dinner. It was so bad! I wasn’t overweight, but I knew that internally I wasn’t in shape.
But when I started doing yoga, I think my body just wanted to eat better. I cut out dairy and fried food. It’s not perfect, but I told myself that’s what I was going to do. And then my skin cleared up, and I wouldn’t get sick as much.
Now I try to stay active 6 days a week, and I usually eat very clean. But today I had doughnuts because you can’t say no to Sidecar! I don’t really eat doughnuts but when they’re Sidecar….?! Today was a bad example [LAUGHTER AND AGREEMENT ABOUT SIDECAR ALL AROUND].
But that’s good, it seems like you’ve found a good balance of living healthily, but not becoming obsessed with every little thing.
Yeah, some of my friends count calories and track macros… That doesn’t work for me – I feel too restricted, I guess.
Do you have any workout tips for someone who can’t afford a gym or just wants to workout at home?
Bodyweight exercises. So burpees, jump lunges, jump squats, pushups… Even just those gets your heart rate going so fast and if you do them really fast, it burns a lot of fat.
Are there certain brands for food or clothes or equipment that you specifically recommend?
For shoes, I like Asics for cross training and running. I did a half marathon and I ran with Asics, and they were really supportive.
Your mom does yoga with you sometimes right?
Yeah, so one time there was a yoga retreat in Bali that I wanted to go to….So, actually let me back track… I was in my office, scrolling through Instagram and Yogagirl posted a picture for a reatreat in Aruba with all this beauuuutiful water, and I was like dude, I should just go! why not! And then I went to Aruba, not even knowing where it was at first, and went to that retreat.
So then when I started talking about this other retreat in Bali, my mom wanted to come with me. So I said, “Okay, well you need to start doing yoga.” And for her birthday I bought her a plane ticket, and we went to Bali together on the yoga retreat. So she got into it because of that retreat. She’s in her 60s.
Do you do videos on your blog?
Yep! I haven’t decided if I want to do more instructional videos yet, where I am actually talking and teaching, but that’s something that could be in the works!
What is your vision for your yoga classes and for your blog?
The kind of yoga I want to do is very athletic, and I always picture it outdoors. Along with Girl Get Outside, which is a company I own with a friend, we want to do yoga retreats.
Wait, so you own a company?!
Yes! So it’s called “Girl Get Outside” and the whole thing is to inspire women to pursue the outdoors. For one, I think the outdoors holds something very special because I feel like that’s where God communicates with me. It’s powerful. You just realize how small you are when you’re out there.
How I got into it is kind of a long story… but the girl that taught my Business of Yoga lecture at Core Power is the one who founded Girl Get Outside with a friend. They hosted these Instagram challenges where for one week, you have to do one specific thing each day and post a photo. So I did it, and I won one of the challenges. After I won the challenge, she asked me if I wanted to be an ambassador for Girl Get Outside, and I said “I’d love to.” Time went on and they both got married, etc. and decided they didn’t have time to do it anymore, so they asked me to manage the social media. So for a while I was the one curating their feed and posting photos which was really fun for me. Eventually we met up and she said, “I was thinking about what kind of company you should start, and it’s Girl Get Outside. Do you want to buy it from me?” and I was just like “WHAT? You’re selling me this?!” I was just floored. I couldn’t believe it at first, and she was selling it for a really good price. I sat on it for a while, but then the door opened up for a good friend to work with me on it, so we split it and now we tag team the work.
So what do you guys do through that?
It’s a blog. But we are currently working on getting a shop up. So we’ll be selling water bottles, stickers, tshirts and tanks, and eventually our main thing is going to be retreats and outdoor adventures.
Looking back, I never would have thought I would be teaching yoga or even blogging… it’s like nothing I ever thought I would do.
Were there any times that were really challenging for you physically or emotionally?
The biggest thing that propelled this path that I’m on was a really really difficult breakup. Two years ago, I was in my lowest point. I am a generally happy person, so when I was in such a low place, I didn’t know what to do. It was very foreign to me. I knew I needed something to get myself into a regular routine, so I found this book called the Slight Edge, and it talked about little disciplines every day that inspired me a lot. I think from just putting things into action and not staying stuck, all of these things started happening.
I went to Life Care Counseling too. I had to face a lot of things I didn’t want to and push through the pain. I look back today and realize I learned so much from all of that. I mean, I would never be here if it weren’t for that… I guess I’m better for it.
Do you have any tips for people who want to workout but can’t stay motivated? And also any tips for other entrepreneurs?
So the first one – tips for trying to stay motivated: I think one thing is just taking it one day at a time, because sometimes we just have these giant goals. We’re like I want to lose 25 pounds or I’m going to cut down to 18% body fat… But I feel like it has to be little by little because it’s easy to get overwhelmed and then you feel like I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m going to quit. So I think just being really kind to yourself, but also pushing yourself harder is important. And commitment too — showing up every day, even when you don’t want to. Because that’s the only way you can change habits.
And your second question for people who want to start something: I never once felt like I was ready. Even with teaching yoga… I didn’t like speaking in front of people before I taught yoga. When you’re up there it’s like oh my gosh these people are here, and they’re just sitting there looking at me. But teacher training got that fear out of me. And with those meet-ups when there were a hundred something people… I just don’t get nervous anymore. So I think it’s just, starting.
With Girl Get Outside, I felt like I didn’t have time and I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I think if you put yourself out there, God sets you up for it basically…. I mean… it’s hard to talk about all of these things without putting my faith into it because I can’t really take credit.
Thank you so much Crea Mag for the space to share my story.