Today I am sharing this month's Featured Teacher, Nikki Stern. She is a holistic health coach who works to help people see how the food they eat contributes to their mood. On a personal note, working with Nikki helped me see how my daughter's two year old temper tantrums usually tasted a lot like potato chips. Now they are what they are. In other words, her work is life-changing.
This interview is one in a series on my blog with teachers who inspire my life.
I would love to hear about who inspires your life and practice. Please send me a message.
With lots of self-kindness and love,
PS- At the end of the interview there is a special invitation for you.
Don't you just love them?
I know I do.
There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.
I'd like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.
Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my series of teacher interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.
I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!
Have you met Nikki yet? We met a gazillion years ago practicing next to each other at Itâ€™s All Yoga, reconnected after she returned to Sacramento after a brief stint in the Pacific Northwest and now she helps women all over connect how they eat with how they feel - in other words, sheâ€™s changing lives every day!
Here's my interview.
When did you start practicing?
Hmmm, probably back in 2006
Why did you start?
Because I wanted a 'yoga body' What is that? I was in my early 20s and I believed that in order to be accepted I needed to look a very specific, skinny way. A way that a girl with hips really canâ€™t look.
Where did you practice?
Studios. Briefly at Healthy Habits and then I moved to Itâ€™s All Yoga â€“ thatâ€™s when it â€œclickedâ€ and I was hooked.
How has your practice evolved over time?
So much. Iâ€™m no longer searching for a body type. I let go of lots of comparisons, judgments and expectations! They creep back in but Iâ€™m better at recognizing them. I still show up, learn and let go every time I get on the mat.
How long have you been a â€˜food and moodâ€™ teacher?
Iâ€™ve been teaching women how to connect with their bodies and discover how food and mood are connected for a little over a year now as a Holistic Health + Lifestyle Coach.
Why did you start blogging?
I decided to blog to weed through the massive amounts of often conflicting information about diets and what it means to be healthy. I wanted people to understand that educating themselves about their bodies and how food affects them is important but that it is a small piece of the puzzle. How we live our lives and whether we act with love or punishment â€“ through careers, in relationships, in how we connect to the world and to ourselves - is where ultimate health is achieved.
What are your classes like?
I have just launched a group cleanse, MindBodyBliss (click here to see if you need this cleanse)and itâ€™s all about cleansing what is not serving us and taking a few weeks to be with ourselves and discover balance and clarity. Cleaning up our diet makes room for more nourishing foods, positive thoughts and allows old emotions to dislodge and take a hike.
This came from my own experience with cleansing, which was always more about food and losing weight and less about building up the good things in my life and addressing the emotions that came up when I wasnâ€™t dousing them with sugar. I wanted something more loving, less punishing for myself and my clients. I hope some of our perceptions of ourselves and our bodies will shift during our 2 weeks and we can create a ripple effect of understanding true health and happiness, which has nothing to do with numbers.
Do you have a home yoga practice? What is it like? How often? Where?
My home practice is very loose. Iâ€™ve accepted it for where itâ€™s at instead of getting too judg-y with myself. Honestly, a lot of it lives around a kidâ€™s yoga book. In the morning and evening my 3 year old flips through it and chooses 3 poses and we do them together. It was mostly his idea and building it into our routine has helped tremendously with 3 1/2 year old drama (tantrums).
Howâ€™d you start and how do you keep at it?
I started long before I even did yoga, really. Iâ€™ve always felt compelled to get down on the floor in the evenings while watching TV and stretch. I used to be a personal trainer so I was tight and sore all of the time and it felt so great to stretch at the end of the day. Now Iâ€™m not into that (less punishment, remember!) but still love to get down and mess around. By doing that most of the time and not having too many expectations or parameters around it I feel more inclined to keep it up.
Whatâ€™s your favorite pose? Why?
All of the pigeons. Half, full, left, right. My first experiences were all about escaping, but there was also something l loved about it. I get such a deep release and feel so much tension leave my body when I hold those deep hip openers for a longtime. Iâ€™m not a hoarder, I like letting things go.
Whatâ€™s your least favorite pose?
Camel. I took a yoga class in college and I would get nauseous and almost pass out every time we did camel pose. For years I didnâ€™t do it and thought there was some strange issue with camels and me. Knowing more now, it probably had more to do with the vulnerability of it, of opening my heart and throat â€“ or Iâ€™m just not cool with camels. I can do it without all the drama now, but Iâ€™m traumatized and would rather not.
Do you have a meditation practice?
Yes! I used to be a crisis meditator. I only did it when things were really about to tank, a last ditch effort to keep my feet on the ground. I constantly said, â€œI should do this more.â€ Finally I did. It was this year. Iâ€™ve been at it for about 4 months straight. I sometimes do it multiple times a day and that feels amazing. I finally got past the â€œam I doing it rightâ€ obsession and eased into it, whatever it looks like. Iâ€™m still struggling with how to get it done in the morning because my son will only leave me alone for about 5 minutes. I might have to wake up earlier â€“ if you have tips send them my way, please!
What is your blog about? When did you start? Why did you start? What is your purpose?
My blog is about connecting food and mood. Itâ€™s about listening to your body, learning about the body, about how we treat it, what we feed it, what we say to it. I started it when I started my coaching practice because I had information and experiences to share. I lived a good part of my life feeling not enough (sound familiar?), hating my body, abusing my body and saw everything around me suffering. All of my relationships, school, jobs, direction, it was crappy. My purpose is to show women that there is another way. We can simply shift our perspective, see who we are and not apologize, love our bodies and enjoy love, success and community.
What is your favorite post? Why?
Well, itâ€™s probably the one I wrote VERY last minute about my husband and why I donâ€™t want to forget how important the little things are. Appreciation is one thing, vocalizing it can be another and when we do it can transform relationships and connections.
What other blogs do your read? Why?
TGBTS because itâ€™s wise and funny and I am so inspired by your vulnerability and also that you tell people to lay the f*** down. I love a good sailor mouth.
Honestly, my business is still a baby so Iâ€™m bummed to say I donâ€™t read more blogs because there are some awesome ones.
Who and what inspires you?
Women inspire me. Those that came before us and those among us. There is so much wisdom, courage, compassion, fire, devotion, unity, resiliency. I could go on, but my point is that I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve met a woman that doesnâ€™t inspire me with what she is doing whether itâ€™s staying at home to raise babies or build a business or volunteer her time to something she loves or going to school or starting a blog. We are so hungry for purpose and wired for connection, Iâ€™m inspired when I see all of the ways we go after it. Getting shit done. I think weâ€™re ready for a female president, donâ€™t you?
Are you interested in the MindBodyBliss cleanse and want to learn more? Click here to see Nikki's video about how the body already does a lot of the detox work.
If you want to join me and a bunch of other awesome women for the MindBodyBliss group cleanse (that involves NO/ZIP/ZERO fasting) - click here and enter FRIEND for the discounted early bird pricing. Offer ends 3/31/14.
Links To Love:
Featured Teacher Interviews
Who I Am
Meet the Teacher: An Interview with The Teacher