As a Registered Yoga Teacher based in Shelburne, Vermont, Nicci Micco knows firsthand how yoga can be an anchor in a busy life. In addition to her yoga practice, she’s VP of Marketing for Mamava, the creator of freestanding lactation pods.
She describes yoga as “a whole bunch of different techniques—moving, breathing, meditation—that help you to tune in, notice, and respond in ways that help you to connect with yourself and others more skillfully.”
“Yoga is for everyone!” she adds.
Here, Nicci shares her insights on keeping grounded, whatever life (and pandemics) bring.
Q. You have a background in journalism and marketing. What brought you to adding “yoga teacher” to your resume?
I came to yoga through the physical practice, as movement was—and still largely is—what forces me out of my head into my body, out of thinking about “what ifs” and “should have dones,” to focus in the present moment.
“Movement is what forces me out of my head into my body, out of thinking about ‘what ifs’ and ‘should have dones,’ to focus in the present moment.”
I’ve been a runner for about two decades and a dancer most of my life. Those activities instilled the power of connecting breath and movement. Plus, as a dancer, I’ve spent a lot of my life in bare feet moving on hardwood floors, so showing up to a class felt familiar and easy. (Taking my first spin class was way more intimidating!) I took my first yoga class in college in the late 90s; it was actually taught by one of my modern dance instructors.
Q. I think everybody expects yoga teachers to be completely serene and balanced. In your blog and Instagram, you do a lot of work to refute that myth–stuff happens to you too, and you don't always handle it with perfect equanimity. Why do you think it's important not to expect perfection?
I’m a passionate person by nature and practicing yoga helps me channel my energy in helpful ways so that I’m responding more often than I’m reacting. I’m still quite reactive sometimes—just ask my family! I have two boys, two years apart, and sometimes I feel like I live in a chaotic frat house, a space that’s the opposite of serene.
I lose it more often than I’d like, but I know that the more I practice tuning in and responding on the mat in physical yoga practice (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation, and connecting with yoga philosophy, the more likely it is that I will respond in calm skillful ways rather than exploding when the going gets tough.
I like to remind people—and myself—that it’s called yoga practice because the techniques are designed to help us to show up more skillfully in the world, again and again, in ways that help us to find more compassion and kindness and joy and to spread that all around. Perfection isn’t the goal.
“...it’s called yoga practice because the techniques are designed to help us to show up more skillfully in the world, again and again.…Perfection isn’t the goal.”
Q. How do you encourage your students to ease into a yoga routine?
Set yourself for success by taking the step that feels most comfortable—even if you still feel a little uncomfortable. Go to a class with a trusted friend, take a beginner-level series, practice online. I’ve had a number of people tell me that they started taking yoga classes during this Covid era because they could do it at home, livestream, and felt more confident than they might in a room with others. You can keep your camera off and even peace out if the instructor isn’t your jam. I also highly recommend free online offerings like Yoga with Adriene.
Q. What do you do to motivate yourself to get on the mat when you're having an exhausting/bad day?
Often I will stop, drop and do a yoga flow in my kitchen in jeans while I’m baking something or the kids are showering and brushing their teeth. I put on music and just move in ways that feel good. If I want someone to guide me, I will pop on to do a recorded video. Many studios have monthly subscriptions that include a constantly updated video library.
Fitness subscriptions like Peloton have great offerings too—Ross Rayburn does a great job of incorporating yoga philosophy into his Peloton classes—and many are just 10 minutes. (You can get a monthly subscription without having a bike or treadmill.) It’s often motivating to say “I’m just going to practice for 10 minutes.” You might find you want to stay longer.
“It’s often motivating to say ‘I’m just going to practice for 10 minutes.’ You might find you want to stay longer.”