January 11 | The Lifestyle | The Practice | The results |
From the very beginning, Nicole Kempka – Solana Beach Studio Manager – went with the flow. In her own words, “I’ve never been comfortable rocking the boat. Even in highschool, I was the girl who went along with the crowd. And, I easily gave into peer pressure.”
Nicole credits her “agreeable” nature to her upbringing as an only child. She explained, “since I was an only child, I wanted a lot of acceptance at school.” At home, she loved the recognition she received from her parents for being an “obedient child” and “a good listener.”
To some extent, the aforementioned qualities served Nicole for a very long time.
In the early 2000s, she worked for Gap Inc. as an Associate Marketing Producer on their website. She referred to it as, “that standard 9-6 job.” Nicole said, “I loved it, but it was stressful.” In spite of the stress, Nicole didn’t complain – as always, she went with the flow. Everyday, she rode the bus to and from her office. Her bus stop was right in front of a yoga studio. Nicole remembers “seeing people dripping in sweat, looking calm. And, there I was trudging to work.” For many years, Nicole floated between kickboxing and pilates. Then, one day, she “decided to give that yoga thing a try.”
The yoga studio at her bus stop was ran by Tony Sanchez. Tony trained in the same lineage as Bikram – the studio also followed a strict, heated, 90 minute regiment. Nicole laughed when she explained her first class… She said, “I thought I was going to to die! I had never been in such extreme heat nor had I ever done any of the postures.”
Even though she struggled through her first class, Nicole left “feeling amazing and rinsed out.”
As time progressed, the class got easier for her. Similar to the Hot sequence at Yoga Six, the sequence at Tony’s studio was the same in every class. Nicole noticed many benefits, “every time I walked out my head felt clear. I started sleeping better. My skin improved. My physical form started to lean out in ways it never had. And, I was even more productive the next day at work!”
Nicole got married in 2002 and moved from San Francisco to San Diego a year later. Having practiced yoga for three years, she knew she immediately needed to find a new yoga “home”. She found a studio right away – it was there she discovered vinyasa yoga. She described it as “a whole new world, [she] had never done down dog or chaturanga before…”
Vinyasa was the perfect compliment to her high stress job. Upon arriving in San Diego, Nicole took on a job as a Senior Level Project Manager at a technology company that specialized in software for nonprofits. At that point, Nicole did not realize how vital her yoga practice would become – she knew she loved yoga, but she did not realize it would transform her life and relationships years later.
In 2005, Nicole gave birth to her daughter. Throughout her pregnancy, she maintained her yoga practice and loved attending prenatal classes. In spite of her regular practice, Nicole struggled to connect to her strength off of her yoga mat. Three years after her daughter was born, she regularly experienced “challenges in her marriage that she was too uncomfortable to address” and like before, she didn’t want to rock the boat. She said, “I became a silent partner – I did not express my needs. And, because of that, my husband was unaware of the changes he needed to make to better support the family.” Nicole divorced her husband when her daughter was three.
From there, Nicole and her daughter moved in with her parents in San Marcos. Nicole said, “by that point in time, I was burnt out, I had been working crazy hours – from 6AM to 9PM… I was a shell of a person, with my crazy work hours and the divorce, I lost my identify.”
Two years after her divorce, Nicole was laid off from her high-stress job. Even though it was a tough blow at the time, in hindsight she realized it was a blessing – “I needed a break. I took the time to be a stay at home mom and practiced yoga almost daily.” A year later, fate and a friend’s wedding led Nicole to Bali for 10-days by herself. That extra long week gave Nicole the opportunity to reconnect with herself.
As soon as she came home from Bali, Nicole signed up for Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Six.
Initially, Nicole thought she was participating in Yoga Teacher Training to deepen own practice. At the time “speaking in front of large crowds” made Nicole uncomfortable. During her first practice teach session, Nicole realized it was “what [she] was meant to do.” From that day forward, she said, “I wanted to share with people the one thing I found to be my constant home base – yoga.”
Teacher Training gave Nicole more than a skill to share with the World, it radically changed how she showed up for herself and for others. The experience taught her “where [she] needed to grow in her life.” She learned how to step into challenging conversations – something she was never able to do before enrolling. Also, for the first time ever, she identified what her personal goals were and she developed the confidence to go after them.
Fast forward to today, five years later, Nicole credits her Yoga Teacher Training for a career she loves and her healthy relationships – she got remarried to an amazing partner, Chuck, in December and she has a strong, active relationship with her daughter!
In her own words, “I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now had I not learned to become a better communicator and most importantly, a better listener in my YTT…Those tools have enabled me to communicate with my preteen – I listen to her and I am also teaching her the skills I have learned so that she doesn’t make the same mistakes. At work, I am able to have conversations with more grace than I ever have before. And, I don’t think I could have gotten married again if I didn’t have these tools.”
Nicole is honest, “communication – speaking my truth – is still an ongoing habit for me. Sometimes, I regress. Yet, I found someone a partner who understands what I am working on and is willing to work on it with me, as well.”
When I asked Nicole what she wanted people to take away from her story, she shared the following, “communication, like yoga, is a practice and not a perfect. It’s something I will constantly work on – the ability to communicate my feelings as they arise. Thankfully, I’m constantly growing and discovering more about myself. And, that has been the everlasting gift of my Yoga Teacher Training experience – growth and self-compassion.”
Do you want what Nicole has? Discover Your Self!
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