I have always taken tremendous pride in being fit, strong, and healthy. As an avid athlete, my interests were diverse and included hiking, cycling, jogging, snowshoeing and down hill skiing. My identity and self-worth was in great part defined by my athleticism and strength. Continually pushing my body was the only way that I knew to achieve my desired level of fitness. Therefore, it was shocking and devastating when I was unexpectedly diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition. Ironically, this unfortunate diagnosis led me to the practice of hatha yoga.
It was with great trepidation that I attended my first Kripalu yoga class yet this experience unexpectedly changed the course of my life forever. As I was practicing yoga my body was delighting in the new and undiscovered experience of self-nurturance. For what felt like the first time, I was being gentle with my body. I was not putting great physical demands on myself in the same way that I had been. I was present with my body in a completely new and different way. I was unexpectedly experiencing a complete, full body conditioning experience, yet in a way that was gentle and compassionate. This was long over-due and I loved every minute of it! In this moment, I experienced what I would consider a "spiritual awakening" and realized that I was being called to teach and share the power and potential of this sacred practice.
Now, in retrospect, I realize that I learned a tremendous lesson... because I remained open and receptive, I discovered that the greatest challenge and setback in my life had opened my eyes to unexpected pathways and opportunities.
I became a certified Kripalu yoga instructor in 1996. Kripalu's teachings laid a beautiful foundation for me to begin to share the practice of yoga. Creating a gentle and safe environment for my students to learn to listen to and to honor the wisdom of their bodies is a powerful and deeply fulfilling experience for me.
Since that time, Kripalu has remained the foundation of my teachings. I have expanded my understanding of different styles of hatha yoga. I currently teach Vinyasa style flow classes and integrate principles from the Iyengar, Anusara, and Ashtanga lineages. I regularly attend various workshops and conferences at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and visit various yoga studios to enhance my skills. Studying with master yoga instructors including Shiva Rea, Ann Greene, Todd Norian, and Tom Gillette are some of the ways that I expand and deepen my training in order to remain current and confident in my teaching.
My personal yoga practice has improved the quality of my life immeasurably. I feel stronger than ever before. The cycling and running and all the intense physical activity that I had once engaged in never gave me the complete full body fitness benefits that I have gained from my years practicing yoga. I have become more flexible and have a greater range of motion in my body, which makes everyday living more comfortable simply because I am able to move with ease. I have more energy. I do not suffer from the aches and pains common to most middle-aged adults. My neurological symptoms have been managed through my yoga practice. In particular, deep, conscious breathing and the more meditative aspects of yoga have proved to be particularly powerful healing tools. I would not want to imagine my life without yoga. It feels too good to feel good!
It is a gift to be able to share the benefits of this practice. Teaching yoga is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Safety and respect for my students is the foundation from which I instruct. I consider the format of my yoga classes to be a "meditation in motion" challenging my students to discover and unleash the potential of their physical bodies with a mindfulness that has far reaching benefits.
Join me for classes along the exquisitely beautiful and peaceful coastline of southern Maine, where you will experience a safe, warm and lighthearted atmosphere. I hope to have the opportunity to welcome you!
Nancy Friedman, Yoga Instructor ~ (207) 251-3113