In August 2013, I walked into my very first Power Yoga class. I figured, how hard could this be? This is only yoga and I'm a guy who lifts weights and runs; I’ve got this! HA! I walked into the studio, rented a mat and immediately felt out of place. Around me were people that looked like they belonged, with their mats, blocks and appropriate yoga apparel. And there I was, the guy who did not feel like he belonged.
As the class began and progressed, it became apparent that yoga is HARD, and unlike any other physical workout I had ever experienced. I remember moving and not really caring if I did the poses correctly but recognizing that the combination of movement, my breath and the connection with those around me; it was amazing and a feeling I will never forget. Something clicked for me in that day in class, a deep connection within myself and those all around me – mind, body and soul.
To this day, the memory of the songs played during my first class instantly brings me back to that overwhelming feeling of connection I had experienced with each student practicing alongside of me. Walking out of class that day, I knew there was something bigger in this space for me. As my practice continued 1-2 days per week, the physical and mental benefits of yoga were understood, and started inviting family and friends to join me in classes. It was a few years into practicing that the realization that I needed to share this practice in a larger capacity with others and started seriously looking into becoming a teacher.
In the Summer of 2018, I learned that my local studio was offering the Baptiste 200 HR Expand Your Power teacher training program, and I knew that was my opportunity to begin my journey as a teacher. I completed the Baptiste training program in November 2018 and am certified with the Yoga Alliance as a RYT at the 200hr level.
I am beyond grateful and am so honored to be able to share this practice and be of service to others in this capacity. I plan to continue my Baptiste training with the goal of attending Art of Assisting and Level 1 training programs in 2019.
Yoga was originally a supplement to my running. I sought it out as a way to be nimble and quick. It didn't take long for me to realize that it would completely change my life. I began practicing at a local gym and would look up yoga videos with some challenging poses and my love for the practice continued to grow. Soon I began leading classes at the gym and loved the opportunity to try out new sequences and asanas with the students, but didn't know too much about the origins or philosophies or breathe attached to the practice.
In 2015 I decided to take my teaching to the next level and signed up for my first 200 hour teaching program. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I had to explore myself in a way I was unprepared to. I searched my soul for purpose, for meaning. I searched my body for opening and possibility. There were a lot of tears as I made my way through that journey but a lot of smiles and laughs as well. I would do it again in a heartbeat to learn how much more I can grow! In October 2018 I took my second 200 hour Expand Your Power Baptiste teaching program. Again I learned so much, not only from my teachers but from those along the path with me. Throughout the years I have also taken multiple workshops to continue my growth as, not only a teacher, but a yogi.
I am an open and honest person. My yoga practice has gotten me through 6 miscarriages, two brain surgeries, and the seizures that have followed, but it has also helped with healing and recovery. I believe we all have a path that we are journeying down. Someday we will know why we have faced the challenges and the opportunities that have been in front of us but in those moments, sometimes the only thing that can help us through is remembering to breathe. Hold on to that breath for strength. Hold on to that breath for purpose. Hold on to that breath to continue moving forward.
I so look forward to engaging students and getting an opportunity to be on their path with them, alongside them, as partners of a greater community.
My yoga story began 27 years ago when I walked by a classroom at the BAC and saw a classroom filled with candlelight on my lunch hour. I’m not sure if it was the class or the candles that drew me in, but I grabbed a mat and began my first yoga class. Being a person in constant motion I was amazed at how peaceful and relaxed I felt after that 45-minute class and wanted more. I hired the instructor to come to my home and give me a couple of private classes so that I felt more comfortable with my form as well as the verbiage and I was hooked. I then began to search for classes that fit my schedule until I was taking at least two if not three classes per week. I always felt the stress of life diminishing as I practiced, and I was gaining flexibility as well as balance that I never had as a gym rat.
The irony of yoga is that my mother who is almost 93 years young was an untaught yogi. We used to laugh at how she always started her days in a headstand to “get blood flow to her head” she would say and continued this until she was in her early 80’s. Stretching and balance were just a part of her normal routine. As a young person I guess I never thought of yoga for myself because I was always too active to lay down and breath! The benefits of yoga are clearly seen as my mother continues to live alone in her 2,100 sq. ft house that she maintains herself except for snow plowing and grass cutting. Her brain is sharp, and she is still very active.
As my passion for yoga grew over the years, I knew that someday I would become an instructor and share the healing power of yoga with others. I retired from my full-time job at National Fuel and shortly thereafter became certified and started teaching. Eight months later while walking in to teach my class I fell backwards on black ice and did some serious damage to my neck and spine. Yoga has become my therapy and that is what I bring to all my students. Honor your body, respect your limitations and breath through the tightness and you will be amazed at where you are in no time at all.
Namaste ~The divine light in me honors the divine light in you~ See you on the mat!
Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.
A self-proclaimed “graceful warrior”, Nancy holds teacher certifications in multiple modalities and enjoys many assorted styles. While loving all yoga paths, Ashtanga and Bikram has been her staple studies. Nancy began her formal study of Yoga at Himalayan Institute in 2015 where she obtained her 200RYT and recently achieved E-RYT200. She also holds certifications from SUP (Stand up Paddleboard) Yoga Teacher Certified from JB Yoga (BOGA Yoga), East Hampton, NY, as well as Nikki Meyers Y12SR program. She holds a BA in Communications with a minor in Integrative Marketing from Canisius College, Buffalo, NY. Currently, she is under the study of Marissa Larson at AYB (Ashtanga Yoga of Buffalo), a Mysore lineage Ashtanga school, and will begin her RYT500 studies this summer in NYC’s Yogaworks program. Nancy is currently teaching at Graceful Warrior Yoga in Clarence, NY as well as weekend Vinyasa classes and SUP Yoga during summer months in Machias, NY. To learn more about Nancy and her classes, visit www.gracefulwarrior.net.
In September 2016, I went to Charleston for a month. My sister had moved there with my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, for a year. I went down for the beginning of the journey to help get my mom acclimated to a new environment. My mom's day typically started around 11am but I would drive my sister to work at 8 am so that I could have her car for the day.
Eventually, I started to look for something to do besides sit at the pool (poor me) when I drove by Charleston Power Yoga. My sister was always telling me to go to yoga back in Buffalo, but I always had an excuse as to why yoga was not for me. Suddenly, in Charleston, I had all this free time and fewer excuses. I decided that the least I could do was give it a try. I walked into my first class not knowing what to expect...would everyone know that I had no idea what I was doing? Would I break in half? Could I really put myself in a yoga mindset? I could go on here but that first day, listening to my teacher talk about how she had just gone through the most difficult experience of her life, which was losing her brother, and being able to stand up in front a room speaking to the fact that she could breathe through anything I knew I was coming back to her class the next day.
I took on her philosophy of being able to breathe through anything and have watched myself grow through this practice. I came back to Buffalo after the month of practicing there and knew there was no way I wasn't going to make time for this at home. At that time, I didn't know what I was truly capable of but I knew I could push myself with every breath. Each day I would see people that have been practicing yoga for years thinking that will never be me. Shortly after those thoughts, I found myself holding poses I didn't think I could ever get into and feeling pride. I went to level one in November 2017 and graduated from Expand Your Power November 2018. My favorite part about yoga is seeing what I am capable of and then going beyond that. I like knowing that how no matter how hard the struggle is in life, or a pose, just continuing to show up opens possibilities for anything.