I was introduced to Nicky Poole through Stephanie Bonas of House of Bonas photography and was very interested to hear of her yoga practice. Nicky really embodies what we think of as a Zen Nomad lifestyle in her unique way so I am delighted to share an interview with her for the Zen Nomad blog.
What started you on the yogic path?
After University in New Zealand, I gave away my belongings and travelled alone to India. This was a wonderful time in my life for immersion into the culture of the Himalayas and the arts of meditation and yoga. A three week ‘holiday’ turned into six months in India, and a further ten years living, studying and working in Asia. All of these diverse experiences deepened my curiosity and connection to this path we call ‘yoga’.
What types of practices and teachings do you feel most connected to, for your personal practice and also for teaching?
I have a rather eclectic background, which is normal for people who have been in the yoga world for as long as I have! It began with meditation practice in the Tibetan Mahayana tradition, and evolved to include serious study in ashtanga yoga, prana flow with my main teacher Shiva Rea, and more recently kalarippayat. The methodology I teach stems from these practices and is constantly evolving as I learn, unlearn and relearn various techniques and dabble in other traditions of mindfulness and movement. I guess the glue that holds it all together is the wisdom I’m gaining in getting older, and the valuable lessons I have learned in eight years of raising my kids and learning to juggle all of it at once!
You are studying an ancient type of marshal art from India, what is it?
What turned you on to it? What does the practice mean to you?
I practice a martial art from South India called Kalarippayat. I’ve been learning it for about six years now. Last year I travelled to Trivandrum to immerse myself in the study of this beautiful art from at CVN Kalari, one of the oldest centres of learning in Kerala. It is my deep wish to return and continue to study, (and I will, one day) but my household responsibilities restrict this dream a little! For now, I humbly practice what I have been taught thus far on my own. There’s no teachers here in Toronto any more so you can usually find me practicing in Trinity Bellwoods Park. This practice means more to me than I can really put into words. It is fierce, feminine and sacred. I hold it very close to my heart.
With Zen Nomad is all about finding connection in the world and being able to find ease and home within it, I see you travel quite a bit, What type of traveling are you inspired by? What places have you felt most connected to and inspired by and why?
I lived in Asia from 1999 to 2009. I was a tour guide in South East Asia for two years, and the rest of the time I was running my small community yoga studio on the banks of the Saigon River in Vietnam. We return to Vietnam regularly to reconnect to the things that are important to us. It’s my second home. My kids were born there, and my husbands family still lives there. I guess it has instilled in me a sense of gratitude for all that I have. Vietnamese people are extremely hard working, and never complain about anything, even when they have very little in terms of material possessions. The loyalty towards their extended family, and respect towards the importance of education and faith, has inspired me and changed my life in many beautiful ways. I’m grateful to be a global citizen and be raising my kids free of the divisions of ‘us’ and ‘them’. I’m a lot more Vietnamese than I look!
Tell us about your yoga offerings, what you teach and where?
My yoga home is 889 Yoga ( www.889yoga.com ) where I teach a handful of regular classes. I’m also the lead teacher in the 889 Living Yoga School and run teacher training workshops and intensives from September to March each year. I guest teach at a few other studios in the GTA, workshops including asana, teaching pedagogy, and philosophy. I also specialise in Pre and Post Natal yoga, and am honoured to be offering this teacher training at Downward Dog studio in Toronto in July. All my events are listed on my website www.nickypoole.com. You can stay connected with my current offerings by following me on twitter or instagram @yoginicky