London Yogis: Meet Nicole Heller
Posted on December 19th, 2016
When I was recently home in London, I attended classes at The Life Centre. To broadened my horizons, I took my first Jivamukti yoga class. Founded by David Life and Sharon Gannon in New York City, Jivamukti, meaning ‘liberation while living’, is a school of vinyasa that uses breath to create fluid transitions. The goal is to help achieve more joy and happiness, as well as improve our relationships with others.
As I’m still recovering from my knee surgery, I took it easier than the rest of the class. I was still charged with a wonderful spiritual energy, largely in part due to our amazing teacher, Nicole Heller!
Instantly, I knew I was going to love Nicole’s class. She took time to light incense and candles creating a welcoming vibe. In addition, she takes time to speak with each student regarding injuries and she EXUDES positive radiant energy that left one feeling more peaceful and happy. Let’s be real..we could all use some happy vibes✌️!
I’ll let Nicole take it from here so that you yogis can get a sense of the wonderful mindset she brings into her class. I highly recommend taking one of her classes. You won’t regret it!
What is your story?
I am a certified Jivamukti Yoga™ teacher from Switzerland. I started practicing yoga as a means to strengthen my neck & back after a series of back injuries I had sustained: a snowboarding accident in the Swiss Alps, a boating accident on the Turkish coast, to a motorbike accident in Greece. My back had been severely injured. Numerous therapies followed, but nothing seemed to help.
A series of events then took me to London where I started practicing Jivamukti Yoga™. I then decided to do my Jivamukti teacher training in New York in 2011, with the sole aim to deepen my own practice. Never did I think that I would actually one day be teaching yoga classes. But my teacher and friend in Switzerland, Céline Fraefel, believed in my abilities as a yoga teacher teacher – and took me under her wing after my teacher training & I started teaching in her studio in Berne – I never looked back since.
Today I teach Jivamukti Yoga™ classes in London studios, online yoga classes (including Yin Yoga) and I love to travel and teach classes abroad when I do. I still work as a Marketing & PR consultant on a freelance basis – but I now focus my marketing experience towards the yoga, health & well-being industry.
What is your mantra?
My mantra changes according to current circumstances.
If I feel a little tense, I like to use this very simple yet powerful mantra: ‘Let Go’ – and I very quickly feel my muscles & my mind relaxing. This is a mantra that we use in the Jivamukti yoga method. Inhale: ‘Let’. Exhale: ‘Go’.
When I feel overwhelmed, I like to say: ‘It’s okay, I’m doing the best I can & everything will be fine’.
On other days I like to use: ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ – repeating this mantra I feel almost instantly nurtured, blissful & joyful.
What do you want people to take away from your class?
It’s important to me that the people walking out of my class feel a sense of peace, a renewed gratitude for their bodies, and a sense that ‘everything will be okay’. Ideally that will translate into a smile. Smiling is contagious and we can lift someone else’s day up just by smiling at them when we cross them on the street.
As a little girl I always remember my mother smiling at people on the street, in shops, everywhere she went and I was able to witness the people’s reactions to her smiling. She still does and I aim to do the same every day. Smiling is very powerful, it can lift your own mood as well as someone else’s. This is pure yoga to me.
Your biggest inspiration:
It’s difficult for me to pin down one person or thing as my inspiration. I feel inspired by so many things and people around me on a daily basis. Art & photography inspire me. Nature & animals inspire me. Challenges. Music. My parents, my friends, people who aim to make this world an even better place than it already is. Humour, silly people, kindness, empathy, generosity of mind. Life in general inspires me, it is such an adventure. I aim to live as consciously as possible so I can be present to the beauty that is around at any given time. Sounds really cheesy, but it’s true!
Your favourite form of self-care?
There are a few:
– My yoga practice is a wonderful form of self-care. Since I also started teaching Yin Yoga Classes, I practice Yin Yoga regularly and I feel the benefits of the Yin/feminine Practice to the more Yang/masculine Yoga Practice. It’s all about the balance!
– Whenever I apply body lotion to my body after my shower, I try to do it in a conscious way, feeling gratitude in the process for this strong body that has brought me this far and has overcome a different accidents and illnesses.
– I took up the habit of continuously de-cluttering my life. It feels great and every time I can give something away to friends or charity, I feel lighter and happy in the thought that someone else will be using these items.
– I love learning new things, such as a new language, a new dance, cooking. A couple of years ago, I took acting lessons, which is something I had always wanted to do. I think it’s very humbling to allow yourself to follow your dreams & you never stop learning along the way.
– I consciously create quality time with the people I love, we usually end up talking & laughing a lot, which is very nurturing – and sometimes we crown this quality time with bubbles, I do love Champagne!
What is your health and wellness routine?
When I first wake up in the morning I usually feel gratitude for waking up without neck or back pain – which has been part of my life for over 15 years following the accidents I had. I think gratitude is a really good way to start the day. I then sit down for mediation practice, which can be anywhere between 5-25 minutes, depending on how much time I have available on that day. For meditation practice I like to follow the Jivamukti meditation method which is a mantra form of meditation: Choose your seat, be still, focus. I then repeat the chosen mantra of the day – but not before setting the timer first!
I then drink a lot of water (3-4 glasses) – to support my body’s ability to get rid of toxins in my body. Then I like to enjoy a cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice, especially in the winter time when I feel that I need the extra boost of vitamin C, sometimes I even adds some fresh ginger. This is usually followed by a gluten free Müesli with Almond or Coconut milk. I am vegetarian so I usually add a scoop of protein powder to it to make sure I get enough protein in my diet.
For snacks during the day I usually have a bag of raw almonds in my bag or an apple, though in winter time I love clementines. For lunch I enjoy a warm vegetarian meal with a salad or a bell pepper (great for vitamin C as well!) and in the evening I love a warming vegetable soup with gluten free crackers or another warm meal such as Thai Green Curry with tofu. Following Ayurvedic principles I only eat raw vegetables with warm food for lunchtime, never in the evening so as to facilitate digestion during my sleep.
In the same way that I keep on adapting my practice on the yoga mat, I also allow myself to not be rigid with my daily practices off the mat – and I adapt these routines as I see fit, and – on some special occasions – may even skip them altogether! After all, there are exceptions to every rule & as yogis we learn to be flexible, body & mind!
All photography by Petros Kefalonitis. Nicole is wearing Wellicious & is a Wellicious ambassador
Take Nicole’s classes online: yogaia.com
If you are interested in taking Nicole’s class, please check her Instagram & Facebook page for her teaching schedule! xo