Metaphor for Change

If you know me well you have probably heard me say “yoga could help with that” more than once. You might even be one of the people that has rolled your eyes at me when I’ve said it because I talk about yoga like its magic. I could hear any random issue that someone is looking to change in their life and one of the first 3 things I think of as a solution is yoga; be it physical, emotional, mental – yoga. Why? Because yoga is a walking metaphor for life. It can be utilized in so many different ways, and it yields profound results when practiced consistently.

I realize the reasons I get eye rolls is because a lot of people have not experienced yoga in this way before. Even if you’ve been in one of my classes you may not have had a profound emotional or mental breakthrough. However, if you come to your mat with those things in mind it is incredible the kinds of breakthroughs and clarity that come come though. Yoga can be a huge catalyze for change. It creates space. Clearing out old, stuck places, aches, pains, ways of thinking, and holding patterns, provides room to let in the new.

There’s a Zen saying – you can’t fill a glass that is already full. We often want new things in our life but we are so attached to what we already have or too fearful to let what we have go that we aren’t open or available to new opportunities. This is something you can bring to your yoga mat.

“Before you can create a change, you need a true determination of where you are, what feelings it creates, and what choices you’re making as a consquence.” – Tony Robbins

Something I have been focusing on in my classes over the last year is to become aware of what is unarguably true in your body. Sensations, not the stories that you attach to them. When you can break something down to the truth of the matter, the sensation that arises, you can then look at the feelings that come with them with more discernment, and then you can make a choice of how to move forward from that space. You can dismantle the armor around yourself. It weakens you much like shoes weaken your feet; put in place with the best of intentions, but causing damage that may be hard to see. Breaking that armor is how you create space in your body, mind, practice, and life. You can then fill that space with the new things that you want and you choose.

Naturally this is a challenging process. Creating lasting change takes discipline and deep desire. It takes getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It challenges beliefs and stories that you may have had for years. It takes support. It takes willingness to fall apart so that you can put yourself back together…

So, stay in the pose, breathe, feel, and let the yoga work it’s magic.

in humaness with you,
Nicole

Open the Door to Presence

the door into presence is always open. the goddess breathes her sweet breath from inside this door saying, “come. come closer, come closer.” the door she is opening for you is in the experience you are having right now.

pay close attention.

notice the sensations in your chest, in your pelvis, in your hands. feel the flavor of your emotions, the rhythm of your thoughts, the subtle details of your experience. this is your door in. it’s up to you to enter it – or not.

– chameli devi ardagh

When I read the quote I have shared above I think of my yoga practice. It has been a gift in my life – my door into presence.. I also get flashes of different times that students or potential students have tried to explain to me why they can’t/won’t do yoga. Their words usually form sentences along the lines of, “not flexible enough, not strong enough, no balance, I couldn’t do the pose we tried last week.” However, the feeling behind those words is that they are uncomfortable, and don’t know how to sit within that space. They are choosing to not enter that door… We can tend to seek familiarity in life, in our relationships, in our bodies. Even when that familiar feeling is the opposite of our said desire, or even destructive. Pushing outside of that comfort zone and into new territory can be scary. Especially when you think every other person in the room has their shit together, and knows what to do.

All of this is true even outside of yoga, but as a teacher of yoga there is something that I always hope to get across in my teachings. Which is that your experience of yoga is the right experience. The sensations that you feel in your body during a pose is the truth of the matter; its not that a pose should make you feel certain sensations. When you play in poses with curiosity, verses judgement, you get a chance to learn about a piece of yourself. Yes it might be intense, or challenging – physically or mentally – but your response to that is where the experience lies; that your door to presence. Yoga is not about nailing the pose, or which poses you can or can’t do. It’s about embodiment. It’s about embracing each sacred piece of yourself – because all of your pieces are sacred. It’s called a practice because you get better at it the more you do it. Not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.

Personally, I don’t practice yoga to become enlightened. I practice yoga to love my humanness. To realize the strength my humanness gives me. To recognize my weaknesses so that I know when to get support. To become resilient. I practice to be present with what it is.

“[Life’s] about peeling away the prince’s armor and loving the human down below. It’s about wiping off the princess’s make-up and loving her divine humaness. It’s about finding romance in the naked fires of daily life. When our masks and disguises fall away, real love can reveal itself. Forget fair tales – the human tale is much more satisfying. We just have to learn how to get turned on by humanness.” (Unknown)

The door is always open. I made the choice many years ago to enter it. So, now it’s up to you…

In humaness with you,
Nicole

The Hunt for Truth

A couple weeks ago in class I randomly started talking about using my practice for seeking truth. I had no intention whatsoever to theme my class this way, it was just one of those moments where humble brilliance hit me and I ran with it. I went home that night and tried desperately to remember a few of my one liners, but no luck. I have learned that inspiration is fleeting, so this really came to no surprise; however, I couldn’t shake the concept.

So naturally, I started to explore it more at home. I used to have a teacher that talked about truth seeking in class, and I always found those particular classes profound, yet it was an idea that I hadn’t really thought of, at least consciously, in years. I say I haven’t thought of it consciously, because I quickly realized during this exploration just how rooted this concept is in my personal practice. I’ve had at least 3 different teachers drive this home for me in their own ways. It’s become automatic for me to work this way now – which was the goal; at least for me it was. The yoga did (and still does) it’s work on me. It’s lovely.

Asana provides an endless amount of metaphors for life, which is one reason its so powerful in creating change beyond just the physical aspect. Sure, your asana practice can easily be just a workout, a sweat, or a stretch, but it can also be a mirror, a teacher, a tool. It can show you the stories you make up in your head about yourself. It can guide you through the places where your triggers hide. When used effectively, it offers a playground to learn, understand, and even change the way we respond to ourselves, to others, and to life.

I should mention, you have to be willing. Showing up is half the battle, and sometimes the hardest part, however, truth seeking takes more. Truth seeking requires you to acknowledge what is. To hear the story, yes, but then kindly toss it aside because you recognize that it is just a story. There’s no staying power in blaming yourself, or others. No more excuses. Now is the time for forgiveness and personal freedom. Truth seeking asks you to rise up, to let pettiness and fear fall below you. To expand into your vastness, your limitless marrow, your quintessence!

Perhaps I should also mention, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Getting down to the truth of a matter means removing layers, shields, protection. It means there will be times that it gets uncomfortable, and downright scary. It’s a pilgrimage; and on going at that. But if you persist; if you stay the course – what a relief it will be. Because in truth you find love, lightness, tenderness, fondness. It feels like coming home. Like a soft exhale. Like watching a sunset. or a sunrise, if your into that whole early morning thing… My point is truth has a special kind of magic and authenticity to it; so make the choice to seek yours.

Be love and be loved; this is truth at its core. The rest is just a story.

lovingly,
Nicole

An Experiment for Lightness and Space

Lightness. Space. Movement. Ease.

While these concepts sound simple enough, it seems living them can be downright impossible at times. Why is that? I often give an experience of this in class by using my favorite prop – a block. In fact, you can do this with me right now.

Grab a block; if you don’t have a block then just visualize one in your hands. As you hold your block between your hands, close your eyes and breathe deep into your belly. Let your mind bring up challenges you’re facing, or avoiding. When one pops up in your mind, place that thought into the block. Watch yourself move it from your mind and into the block; feel it. Allow each challenge to come up, and then place it in the block. Notice how with each thought, the block gets heavier. Keep going until all of your challenges are held inside of your block. How your body feels as you move them from yourself, to your block? Can you feel the weight in the block that you carry everyday?

The reason the block gets heavier is because our thoughts are energy. Energy likes to move; when it doesn’t move out, it moves deeper in. The degrading self criticisms, the hard conversations you are avoiding, the crap food you ate when you were stressed, the over analyzing of what so-n-so must be thinking of you; imagine what your body, and mind, would feel like without them. Lighter.

The actions needed to clean up these heavy places requires focus and discipline. You resist. Its easier to deal with what you already feel currently because its familiar; it feels safer to live in the house you’ve built, than it does to tear that house down. But aren’t you tired of dusting the same cobwebs out of the same corners? and honestly how long did it take before those new curtains stopped feeling new again?

It’s time to knock down some walls. Cleaning your mind, body, and spaces is a must for healthy living. It makes room for your creative spark to ignite! & yes, you do have a creative spark; everyone does. Yours might just be buried under the stack of obligations and expectations you chose to live under.

“Deep living is dirty, sweaty, gorgeous work. We will accumulate things, but your soul wants to be mobile – unencumbered – in touch with all the parts of your life.” – Danielle LaPorte

In other words, your soul wants to be free. flowing. light…
When you make room to move and stretch, you grow. When you grow, creative energy keeps flowing. This is where ease comes from. Ease allows you to engage with life; it allows embodiment. I don’t know about you, but embodiment is exactly what I’m after. Real, raw, full, loving, embodiment of my deepest self.

in humanness with you,
Nicole

Sunday Sequence – Legs. Binds. Balance.

For this week’s sequence I have uploaded an audio file, from a live class that I taught, onto SoundCloud.

What I love about this sequence is that it really takes you into all areas of your body. You will feel your legs, utilize your core, and open into your shoulders. Often times when we focus on our upper body we lose the connection in our legs; this class will help guide you through the transitions to maintain the connection through the whole body.  I hope you enjoy it.

90 min class – all levels. For props you will need 2 blocks, or I’ve also used a stack of books at home before, and possibly a strap or towel if you have tighter shoulders.

https://soundcloud.com/nicolenadeauyoga/legs-binds-balance

Sunday Sequence – Twists & Flight

Twists have been feeling really REALLY good to me lately. My spine seems to love them as I search for more space and length in each twist I do. And with the last several months of very grounding practices, I was ready to play around with some different flight options today. I approached this with a very playful attitude, and let the practice just take me to the next pose.  Play!

I hope you enjoy this twisty flying kind of day.  5-8 full breaths per pose. Take the time to find space in each twist and length as you fly.


 

shoelace series
-kapalbhati (1 round of 100 each side)
-forward fold
-twist toward top foot

dolphin prelude on blocks
dolphin
embryo

psoabs (4 each side – alternating)
abs over a block (10 – slow, full breaths)
dolphin on the wall (10 breaths)

suns C (4 rounds)

chair > forward fold > chair w/ twists > forward fold > monkey > plank > cobra > down dog

warrior 1 w/ goddess arms > twisting warrior 1 > warrior 3 > warrior 1 with archer arms > plank > cobra > down dog > other side

inch worm (10 rounds – wear socks or use a blanket under the feet)

from down dog > forward fold > uddiyana (3 rounds – either in forward fold or upright) > malasana > twisting malasana (to both sides – you can bind here if you want) > forward fold

chair > half chair > flying pigeon > other side

forward fold > plank > cobra > down dog > warrior 2 > extended warrior > warrior interlock > easy twisting high lunge > plank > cobra > down dog > other side

from down dog > forward fold > chair > stand > wide legged forward > side crow (both sides)

pigeon > twisting pigeon (both sides)

move to your back
happy baby > half happy baby

savasana


“you always have what you need. not always what you think you need.” – Byron Katie

with so much love…. namaste.

Sunday Sequence – Slowin’ Down for Hips

I had a request this week to share the sequence we did in class on Thursday for candlelight yoga. Hip openers. We moved slow and earnestly. Perfect for a stormy night with candles flickering. You know, if you have control over that sort of thing…

Hips are an interesting playground. There is so much going on in the hip, both physically and energetically. Physically the hip is made up of several different muscles, all working with each other to provide you multifaceted joint! Healthly hips offer support and better functionality to your knee and ankle joints, as well as your low back. These babies do a lot for us! They are also fairly neglected in our sitting society, so its nice to get some blood moving in there. As you work in your poses, stay with feeling and get curious about it! Be inquisitive. Find out if the labels you’ve attached to those feelings are true. Are they absolutely true? Without any doubt? This way, you can start to reveal your truth.

This is meant to be practiced very slowly with long holds, and deep, steady breathing. You will need a strap of some kind for this sequence. I would say 8-10 breaths each side for this one. Enjoy.


 

Start in child’s pose. Stay here for about 10 deep breaths, moving your thoughts inward.

Hero’s Pose with an easy twist
Downdog
Cat/Cow/Barrel Rolls/free spinal movementFrom table top (on hands and knees) “thread the needle” shoulder opener.

Come to your back, grab your strap.
Hamstring stretch
Open leg to the side, for inner leg stretch
Keeping hip grounded, cross it over in opposite direction to stretch outer leg/IT band
From there, let the leg come all the way over to the floor for a spinal twist

Active pigeon on the back. AKA figure 4 or back release pose.

Downdog > walk hands toward feet for Forward Fold (hang out, sway, come in and out of the fold with breath, feel it out) > Monkey > Deep Squat (add a twist if you want) > Forward Fold > Downdog

Low lunge (hands on the floor, bring front leg to far edge of mat and turn toes out, eventually working forearms to the floor) > plank > low cobra (hang out for the full count of breaths) > downdog

Frog, belly down (make sure you place enough padding under your knees, and watch the angle of you hips and knees, you want both at 90 degrees, engage your core slightly so your low back doesn’t collapse) – hold for 10 – 15 full, deep breaths, move out of it slowly.

Come to your back.
Knee circles
Spinal Twist

Savasana


Drink lots of water, stay gentle with yourself. Much love to you. Namaste.

Sunday Sequence – Spine Love

In case you haven’t heard, today is Super Bowl Sunday. So, happy American footballing to you! 😉

Another fun fact for you… Don’t tell anyone, but I am notorious for going easy on myself during my home practices the majority of the time. I’ll spare you my reasoning, that will most likely sound more like excuses, and just tell you that this past week was not part of my majority as far as home practices go. I really kicked it up a notch or two this week. Consistently. Needless to say, boy oh boy was I feeling it by the weekend! Almost to the point that I was slightly abashed by the whole thing. I could feel every muscle from my hips to my head, all along my spine, and every single movement that my spine wanted to make was a not so gentle reminder that I had finally challenged myself this week. Don’t get me wrong, I was loving every minute of it. However I knew come tomorrow, if I was still feeling that way, there would be no way that I could sit at my desk for 8 hours. And so this lovely side bendy, spinal twisty, neck relaxy sequence was born…. I can vouch for the fact that it works, because all of my hurt so good sensations have retreated until next time.  Enjoy!

This may be shorter than my usual sequences because I had a football game to get to… 5 to 8 deep breathes on each side.


Quiet your thoughts, and find your breath for about 5 mins. Play with moving your breath deep into your pelvic floor and then stretching it all along your spine into your collar bones and neck.

Legs in Badda Konasana
– 100 rounds of Kapalbhati
– side bend
– side bend with neck release

Dolphin Prelude on Blocks
Dolphin w/ leg lifts
Embryo

Abs over a Block (12 or two sets of 8)
Uddiyana on your back (3 rounds)

Suns C (4 rounds)

Chest opener on the wall – legs in warrior 1 or high lunge
Twisting chair on the wall
Monkey

Cobra Push Ups  (10, or two sets of 6)

Downdog > Warrior 2 > Eagle Arms > Reverse Warrior > Triangle > Twisting Triangle > Plank > Cobra > Downdog

Surfer Stretch

Camel on the Wall – Mini back bend. Ribs don’t leave the wall today.
Child’s pose > add side stretch

Back Release Pose (aka Active Pigeon on the back)
Laying Spinal Twist

Savasana


As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Here’s to a happy spine!

Namaste

Sunday Sequence – feel your strength

Do you ever have one of those days/weeks/months/years that you just don’t feel strong enough? Be it physically, mentally, emotionally… Do you ever notice that it might start with just one of these things and then seems to transfer into the other areas as well? Like maybe you are going through something emotionally, and then you have low energy, and your legs don’t seem to want to climb a flight of stairs, and then the voice in your head starts asking you what the hell is wrong with you that you can’t climb these stairs, there’s only 10 of them, get your shit together. Que the downward spiral for your not so finest moment. Now whether that moment is just an off day or a story we keep retelling ourselves, I feel it is incredibly important to remind ourselves of our strength. It is an easy thing to feel strong when you are at your strongest; it’s not so easy to feel strong when you are shaking. It’s not easy to remember that shaking is your strength being woken up. To remember that even though your legs might be shaking, they are still holding you.  You are so strong. You are so capable. You loved. You are supported. You are enough.

As you are moving through this sequence, let your breath be what steadies you. If you like practicing with a mantra I used “I am powerful” and it sure helped me wake up my strength.  Hold each pose for 5 deep breaths on each side.


 

Sit comfortably and explore your breath for about 5 mins.

Seated spinal twist – straight leg variation
Stay here and lift straight leg off of the floor
Marichyasana A

Dolphin Prelude variation on blocks
Dolphin – to up level add leg lifts
Psoabs (3 on each side)
Abs over a block  (10 or 2 sets of 6)

Suns C (4 rounds – 2 slow, 2 faster

Horse > Twisting Horse > Low Horse (forearms to thighs, lift chest up) > Wind Horse  (videos are coming… bare with me) > Wide Legged Forward Fold

Chair with Goddess Arms > Forward Fold > Monkey > Forward Fold > Plank > Cobra > Downdog

High Lunge > Add Archer Arms > Twisting High Lunge > Plank > Cobra > Downdog

High Lunge with Goddess Arms > Warrior 3 > Standing Splits > Forward Fold > Plank > Cobra > Downdog > Child’s Pose with side stretch

Lunges on the Wall – Stages 1, 2, & 3

Come onto your back.
Laying Spinal Twist

Savasana


If you have any questions about the poses listed here, please feel free to ask me!  In the process of getting things filmed for videos.

The strong, fiery, gleaming lighting inside of me honors and bows to the strong, fiery, gleaming light in you.  Namaste.

 

 

Sunday Sequence – A little hip action

This morning I was drinking my chai tea and watching Ironman save the world from bad guys while I was plotting out how my final day of the weekend. It included painting projects, putting my room back together, naps, and yoga. The seriously awesome painting projects definitely inspired some creative energy for me today. So naturally I gravitated to my hips for practice; one of the 2nd Chakra’s attributes is creativity. When you move through this practice, perhaps notice how you feel about how you use creativity in your life, and maybe this sequence will even get some creativity moving for you.


Hold each pose for 5-7 deep breaths.
Sit comfortably – start ujjayi breath for several mins while you transition to practice space.

shoelace > shoelace forward fold > shoelace twist (toward the top foot)
(repeat other side)

dolpin
pso’abs’ (3 on each side)
abs over a roll (10 or 2 sets of 6)
bada bridge

stand up for suns salutations

low lunge > arrow lunge > twisting low lunge > plank > chaturanga > cobra > downdog (repeat other side)

warrior 1 w/ archer arms > pyramid > twisting pyramid > plank > chaturanga > cobra > downdog (repeat other side)

warrior 2 > extended warrior > interlock warrior (if you have a binding practice) > plank > chaturanga > cobra > downdog (repeat other side)

pigeon > twisting pigeon > plank > chaturanga > cobra > downdog (repeat other side)

lay on your back for spinal twist (both sides)
half happy baby
savasana


 

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments, and let me know how you like it!

Happy Hips!