Do you make new year's resolutions? Better yet do you keep them? Ringing in the new year can be exciting - full of possibility and adventure. Many of us feel invigorated to make commitments or expand on existing ones in the coming year. But staying the course is often the real challenge when our busy lives seem to be ever expanding, our time appears to be shrinking away and our attention span is basically non-existent.
For the past 19-ish years, I have been practicing yoga with my neighbor, friend, and guru, Nicki Doane of Maya Yoga. This globe-trotting, badass yogi, a mother of 2, has been studying and teaching yoga all over the world for more than 2 decades. A student of both Pattabhi Joyce and BKS Iyengar, - studier of Sanskrit and Sutra, Nicki's teaching offers an amazingly rooted experience in the fast-paced world of modern yoga.
Nicki is always reminding her students that while it's great to have the ability to fold like a pretzel, the body is simply a channel to open the heart and expand the mind. I catch up with Nicki at her home studio in Huelo, Maui to ask this yogi how she tunes out to tune in.
Carrie - Nicki, people often start a new practice or regimen with gusto only to lose steam a short while later. How do you stay inspired to keep your practice growing?
Nicki - In the past, I have made resolutions and can definitely find them hard to keep. This year my resolution is to be less angry and less reactive, two things are part of the yogic philosophy. They give me something to focus on daily.
Carrie - Life is such a busy place full of distractions. How do you maintain focus when the world is screaming noisily all around you?
Nicki - The way I stay inspired is by having made yoga a lifestyle choice for myself and not simply a physical practice. I do practice daily and by that, I mean getting on my mat. Sometimes it's for 10 minutes and sometimes its two or three hours. I have found that when I have tried to stick to a longer timing for the mat practice it can be difficult to maintain and then I end up feeling bad about myself. When I realized that even 10 minutes a day can have a profound impact on my mood it was extremely liberating! And many times when I think I will only stay for 10 minutes, it almost always turns into longer. Time is a funny construct of the mind; we think we don’t have enough but when we flip that perspective and behave as though we do have enough time, then it seems to miraculously occur!
Carrie - One thing I love the most about coming to class with you is the poetry reading during Savasana. What are some of your favorites reads that advise your practice/life?
Nicki - Some of my favorite readings are from the Sufi poet and master, Rumi. He lived in the 13th century and wrote so beautifully about the human spirit and I find it fascinating how his words still ring true today in the 21st century...I also love the book “Loving Kindness; The Revolutionary Art of Happiness” by Sharon Salzberg. I have been reading that book for 20 years and I always find something new...Mary Oliver, a contemporary American poet is another personal favorite. She writes about spirituality and our relationship with nature.
Carrie - People often have guilt over not exceeding expectations they have set out for themselves. What is your advice for letting go of letting ourselves down?
Nicki - Guilt is one of the most toxic emotions that human beings can feel. I have wrestled with it for many years and have come to realize that expectations are the root of all suffering. I try really hard to set much lower ones for myself now and I practice yoga so that I can love myself more every day and not be so hard on myself. We should be our own best friend, not our own worst enemy. Love is the answer...simple and true...love yourself and love others.
Carrie - What do you do off the yoga mat that fuels your soul?
Nicki - What truly fuels my soul off the mat is being in nature, whether it's waking up and going outside right away barefoot in my backyard to walking on the beach or in the forest or in the mountains. I also love to go see live music and dance; feels good for the soul and gardening, I truly love getting my hands in the dirt.