Meet Nicola  — Yoga at the Reach founder

Meet Nicola — Yoga at the Reach founder

BIO: Nicola has practised yoga for over 20 years and has trained in various styles, including Sivananda, Ashtanga, Hatha, and Iyengar yoga. She has undergone training with several teachers and institutes, including the British Wheel of Yoga and Kino MacGregor and Tim Feldmann at The Miami Life Centre. Nicola is Sheffield's only KPJAYI-authorised teacher and a teacher of women's yoga. She has additional qualifications in pregnancy, baby, postnatal, toddler, and children's yoga, as well as baby massage, Thai Massage and Shiatsu-based pregnancy massage. Nicola is also a birth doula and a qualified mindfulness and compassion teacher. She previously taught in London and has been teaching in Sheffield for several years.

Follow Nicola:

Instagram: @yogaatthereach

Facebook: Yoga at the Reach

Website: Yoga at the Reach

"One of the great things about yoga is it doesn't judge you or what you can do. The key requisite is to get on your mat and do what you can and what feels good".

Were there any significant life events that set you on your path to becoming a yoga teacher?

I wanted to teach and pass on my love of yoga. I had wanted to become a school teacher, but fate had other ideas! My Mum and I went to a Spiritualist church, and they told me I should be passing on the knowledge of what I love, so I enrolled in a Yoga Teacher Training course, and the rest is history!

What inspired you to start Yoga at the Reach?

The beautiful space I rented was being made into a haberdashery! I was devastated! I knew I didn't want to ferry bolsters and yoga equipment around nor share a space that was used as something not akin to yoga and the environment that makes a yoga space, so I decided to find my own soulful studio!

What style of yoga do you teach, and is this suitable for everyone?

I teach the Ashtanga/Mysore style, which can be adapted to anyone. I also teach pregnancy and mum and baby yoga classes, which are always adapted to the needs of the mums and babies. I have been doing both for about 20 years, so I am experienced and adept at modifying no matter what the challenge a person may bring.

Do you offer yoga retreats, workshops, or other events to encourage students to dive deeper into yoga?

Yes, but I would rather students learn how to practice themselves so that yoga becomes embedded in their lives rather than being a one-off special event.  

Many individuals turn to yoga after experiencing some form of adversity. Initially, people are attracted to it as a means to reduce stress, but they soon realise that yoga encompasses much more than just a sequence of postures. Does this resonate with you?

Goodness, yes, and I think it's important to recognise that yoga is a life saver. It's a long story, but after a serious relationship breakup in my twenties, I recognised the options for me as going to the pub and drowning my sorrows or meeting my sorrows head-on and embracing them. Yoga helped me face my sorrows, and I am so glad I found it. Today, yoga is like brushing my teeth—I do both daily for health reasons!

Many people begrudgingly attend the gym regularly to maintain their strength. Would you say that yoga is as good or even more effective than pumping weights at the gym to maintain muscle strength?

I think there is space for both depending on your body type. If you are very mobile (i.e. hyper-mobile), for example, strength work is going to really help you not get injured in your yoga class, and, for those of us menopausal, it's great to retain muscle and bone density. I do believe that the right style of yoga (once you find it), can be as good as the gym, if not better due to the holistic health benefits of yoga. If we look at the different aspects of Ashtanga specifically, the combination of breathwork, mindfulness, and bandha (use of internal muscles) offers the yogi a mind/body and soul experience in one practice.

What advice would you give someone who has never taken a yoga class because they feel they are not flexible enough or are intimidated by the thought of walking into a class?

Well, come watch me play tennis!! One of the great things about yoga is it doesn't judge you or what you can do. The key requisite is to get on your mat and do what you can and what feels good. I have been practising for over 25 years and have improved because I have always turned up and had a go! Sadly, much as I love tennis and always have a go, that has not improved!

Can you give us some insight into your daily practice?

I think it's important here to say that I practice yoga like anyone doing a job. Part of my job role, and because I know how good it is for me, is to embody yoga so I do 90 - 120 minutes, 5-6 days a week of asana and breathwork and 30 minutes daily of mindfulness practice. I practice yoga first thing and mindfulness last thing. It's been hard over the years having to manage childcare but my husband, who is also a yoga teacher, has always helped with the children to allow me to look after myself physically, emotionally and mentally.

What is your one go-to yoga posture when you don't have the time to practice but feel that you need to connect with the mat?

Lotus and breathwork.

Who has been the most significant influence in your life so far?

In a yoga context I one of my first teachers, Lesley Denny. She is the most unpretentious yoga teacher. She always had a smile for everyone in the class and taught me that being a yoga teacher wasn't about being bendy, rich or famous but about teaching from the heart with integrity.

Not only are you a yoga teacher, but also a mindfulness and compassion teacher and regular meditator. How do mindfulness and meditation help you in your daily life?  

It's a bit more that just daily life to be honest. Mindfulness more than meditation has changed my life. It's very obvious to those who have known me for a long time that I have changed as a person, not so obvious if you have just met me! I used to be a very different, confused and fragmented soul due to a challenging childhood which meant I entered adult life with a distorted view of what life was and how I should expect to be treated by others. I really made my own life scripts up as I went along and, luckily, managed to get by relatively OK. I did, however, have some unconscious ways of being that were not suited to my adult life. I was very fiery and triggered easily, and I recognized things I did not like about myself. Mindfulness practice allowed me to start to reconcile those things and start taking responsibility for changing myself to become the person I wanted to be.  

What's one important life lesson you try to share as a yoga teacher?

Be kind and understanding to all who cross your path.

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