The Art Of Mastering Thoughts, Sensations And Emotions With Kathryn Nicolai Of Ethos Yoga

The Art Of Mastering Thoughts, Sensations And Emotions With Kathryn Nicolai Of Ethos Yoga

OYM Kathryn | Ethos Yoga

 

Everybody deals with stress, anxiety, and a myriad of other issues that turn us against our own minds and bodies. Kathryn Nicolai gives people the weapons to defeat these inner monsters every day at Ethos Yoga in Holly, Michigan, where she works to help students connect sensation and emotion in an empowering and productive way. Using yoga and other mindfulness-based techniques, Kathryn prides herself on being able to help people find peace and equanimity by being present and aware of their thoughts, sensations, and emotions. In this conversation with Timothy J. Hayes, partake of Kathryn’s immense wisdom on the way our minds work and how you can control your thoughts and sensations instead of being reactive to them. Grab this opportunity to start improving your self-image and making peace with your own mind and body.

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The Art Of Mastering Thoughts, Sensations And Emotions With Kathryn Nicolai Of Ethos Yoga

Kathryn Nicolai is the Owner of Ethos Yoga in Holly, Michigan. She works to help students connect sensation and emotion in an empowering and productive way. She is also the Creator of the podcast, Nothing Much Happens: Bedtime Stories for Grownups. Her book of the same name is coming out worldwide in the fall of 2020.

Kathryn, welcome. Thank you for joining us here.

Thanks for having me.

I usually like to start these interviews by asking people how did you get into the work you’re doing and what feeds your passion for this work?

The work I do is mostly around yoga. I got into yoga because I had a serious eating disorder that began in my teens and it made me sick. I used to work out so intensely that I was harming myself quite a bit. I remember that I was at the gym. This would be maybe in my freshman year of college. I couldn’t take one more kickboxing class. My body wouldn’t do it, but there was a yoga class in the basement of the gym and I thought, “What’s that? Like stretching? I can’t do nothing, so I’ll do that.” My first experience with yoga was that naturally because of the shape of my bones, I have a ton of mobility in my body.

From my first experience, I was easily able to move into lots of crazy postures and it became a new addiction. It was another way for me to try to perfect myself and that carried on for a while until luckily, I found a teacher who started to implant some ideas in my head about caring for myself and loving myself. That started to lead me onto the road of recovery. That makes me passionate about helping people to have a joyful way to move their bodies that isn’t based on punishing them and lots of practices around self-compassion, mindfulness and self-soothing that aren’t destructive. That still keeps me going years later to want to spread yoga. I find that even if people don’t have the same background as I do, we all come with ideas about our bodies and the way that they should and shouldn’t be. Everybody’s got issues around that stuff. Everybody deals with stress. Everybody deals with anxiety. I feel like my greatest joy is to be able to help people find peace and equanimity there.

I have to agree to that especially in the culture we have, we’re inundated. We’re bombarded with thoughts and images and systems of thought that have us compare ourselves to the ideal and compare ourselves to other people. As was one of my favorite teachers like to say, “The vast majority of your negative emotional states are the bitter fruit of a comparative life.” If you compare yourself to an ideal, you’re going to be unhappy with the results. You compare yourself to other people and you’ll bounce back and forth between thinking you’re better than them and thinking you’re worse than them. It’s an endless cycle.

It never makes space for you to authentically be yourself or figure out who you are because you’re always in comparison to someone else and that’s a life wasted. You get a lot of pain from figuring out who we are.

OYM Kathryn | Ethos Yoga
Ethos Yoga: We all come with ideas about our bodies and the way that they should and shouldn’t be.

 

You can’t then enjoy who you are, which is most people are shocked to find out that that’s possible basically for everyone. We’re talking because you were referred to me because you’ve got some of the specialty work that you do that comes from this. Your own eating disorder, self-image issues, mental, and emotional issues. What have you done with that? How have you taken what a lot of people think of is body exercise and played up the mind-body connection in yoga?

The way that I teach yoga is underpinned by a traditional Buddhist style of meditation called Vipassana. You might have heard about when people go and do a ten-day silent meditation, oftentimes that’s Vipassana. The lineage of yoga that I descend from all leans on the philosophy of the Vipassana. It is all about learning to be in the present moment with whatever’s happening and training yourself to be calm and equanimous, to become less reactive so that you can make better choices instead of knee jerk reactions. When I first started doing yoga teacher training with my teacher and practicing with him a lot, he was teaching from this philosophy, but I didn’t know that. I knew it as the way that I thought all yoga was. After I trained, he encouraged me to go sit for Vipassana and I went and sat.

My first long sat, I was maybe 22. I was still new to yoga more or less. Once I was there, hearing the teachings, sitting through the daily practices, I realized everything I was being taught was how I did yoga. I was suddenly so grateful to have this experience of training myself to be in my body and at the same time, be calm. We can understand the concept intellectually, but until we experience it in our own bodies, it is often doesn’t feel true to us. It’s also usually not applicable to us. We have to put that idea into play and practice again and again. When I teach yoga, we spend a lot of time feeling sensations in our body. We want to know what we feel because we also want to know physiologically, are we hurting ourselves? Are we strengthening ourselves? Where are we in space? Also because of interoception, which can be like the body’s Spidey sense.

For every emotion we experience, there is somewhere in our body, a physical sensation that goes along with it. When you understand those physical sensations and you get good at listening to them, it’s like an early warning system. I know when anxiety is coming. I know when my temper is rising. I know when these moments are happening because I can feel it in my tissues. I can say, “I have a plan for this. I’ve done this before. I was trained in my yoga practice to not run away from it. If it’s a pleasant sensation, not to dig my nails into it. If it’s unpleasant to not push away, but to be with it, to know that it will pass and to use my breath as a tool to stay calm.” To me, that is the heart of yoga. I often say to my students, “It’s not the postures. The postures are how we practice yoga. The yoga is how are you responding to this moment. Calmly, curiously, judgmentally, reactively.” That’s the yoga and the body is a way for us to practice it.

The overlap between the work you do on the work I do in therapy is amazing. We often talk to people about how they’ve been trained to be cut off at the neck and to only think about what’s going on. If you’re in school and you’re not feeling so pleasant, whether you’re itching to get out and go run or your bladder’s full, you’re trained from a very early age to not pay attention to that. It’s not time to go outside. It’s not time to go to the bathroom. They said, “You’re supposed to be sitting here paying attention.” Whether it’s intentional or not, most of our families and cultures train us to tune out awareness of those very physical sensations you were alluding to. If we can’t help people begin to tune into them and then have an experience of them, it’s difficult helping people make progress.

We often describe it, like you were saying, dropping into the body. You can get stuck in your head and lose connection with what’s happening down here. Especially for people like me who struggle with eating disorders, we are often tuned out of our hunger pains and our hunger cues. We’ve lost a lot of our own intuition. That happens to a lot of people. I always say to people, “The first time you were forced to hug somebody that you didn’t feel okay hugging when you were a little kid, you were taught to ignore your intuition. The first time you were told, “In this family, we clean our plates,” you were taught to ignore your intuition. This is whether it’s something that directly comes at you or it’s learned because it’s the air we breathe leaves a lot of us feeling numb. Sometimes going back into that awareness can create a backdraft where it can be quite uncomfortable at first. I always say, “It’s a bit like cleaning out the closet. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, but it is the only way that I know to work toward healing, you have to be embodied.

The only way out is through. The good news is you can get through it. It’s odd to think that the very techniques we’ve been taught to use and the plan that we’ve been given for our lives is one of the most unproductive and long-term health problems inducing patterns you could have. Even the American Medical Association will tell you that more than 90% of all disease is stress-related. That doesn’t mean it’s caused by stress, but it’s going to be aggravated by stress, caused by stress or create other problems. If you learn what you’re proposing and you reconnect the conscious logical to this felt physical/emotional sensation pull, it gives you many early signs and places to intervene.

It’s empowering in that way because then you get an opportunity to retrain yourself. A lot of times in our early training, we didn’t have any hand in that. We might not have picked the way that we got trained, so it can be quite empowering to then go, “I’m going to unlearn that and I’m going to relearn myself and then I can serve and soothe myself.” To what you were saying about stress contributing, I believe that that is such a big underlying condition for many people. I always point out that stress, we know the ways that physiologically harms the body. All these different ways that it can tear down the immune system and increase your blood pressure and all these things. It also turns us sometimes into jerks, then our relationship struggle, our career doesn’t go the way we want it to go, and we’re not handling our kids well. In this basic way that unless we are finding these methods for establishing more equanimity and less reactivity, every part of the life suffers.

Unless we find methods to establish more equanimity and less reactivity, every part of life suffers. Click To Tweet

Where do you begin when people come to you? Do you have a particular subgroup of people who are most commonly coming to you asking for help with physical, mental, or emotional problems or do they come to you because they want to do yoga? How do people get in touch with you?

It’s all of the above. Sometimes people will have a very specific need. Sometimes what they need is to first see a therapist. I first refer them to a therapist and say, “Let’s work together, but I can’t be your therapist. I’m going to be your yoga teacher.” Other times I have people who have a general desire to do yoga. They know that it’s good for their health. They know that it’s good to reduce their stress. I can help people in all sorts of ways. At my studio, although we’re closed because of COVID, we are still offering Zoom classes. The most common style of yoga that I teach is a slow-flowing style. It’s taught with eyes closed. It’s taught to turn the gaze inside to feel those bodily sensations. It’s for anybody or any level of mobility. I can always figure things out for different people, depending on what their needs are. People sometimes stay with that style of yoga for their whole lives and then add in more intense styles or more restorative styles as needed.

Where do you get most of your referrals? How do people find out about you?

I’ve been established at my studio for years and word gets around. In the community I am in, there’s not a lot of other yoga studios, but I often hear from people who say, “My sister comes here or my neighbor came here. My friend came here and I drove 40 minutes because I heard I have to come to your class.” I’m glad to be making that effect on my students. All of our teachers are trained in house. Even though you’re going to get a different voice and a slightly different approach, the underlying philosophy is consistent. That has gone a long way to us being able to serve people in a more effective way. Sometimes you go to a studio and it’s a collection of different philosophies. Each got their own thing going on and that can be groovy too. I find for my students, they need to have an idea that when they come to class, they’re going to be walked through the process of how to breathe deeply. They’re going to be walked through all this emotional and philosophical ideas in an easy to approach way.

We were talking prior to the interview about the vagus nerve and the vasovagal response. Do you specifically talk to your clients about that and how do you introduce them to that?

I do. My students know that they’re always going to get a strong dose of science whenever they come to yoga. They’re probably going to hear some poetry. They’re probably going to hear a nice story. They’re probably going to have a good dose of science because to me that’s the well-rounded approach. It’s also what interests me. I often find that you’re most authentic when you teach the thing that you want to learn. I do talk a lot about brain science, neuroplasticity, and how moving our bodies is one of the best things we can do to prevent depression and anxiety. One thing I have been teaching a lot is how to fire the vagus nerve because it seems to be so connected to this parasympathetic response of the nervous system. I usually look for a way to explain it to people that they can wrap their heads around.

I’ve been explaining that the vagus nerve is listening to how you breathe and it’s telling your brain what’s going on based on your breath, whether you might need to run for it, fight somebody, it’s time to digest your food, rest or regenerate cells. The class I taught, we did a couple of things to help stimulate the vagus nerve and let people know that these are tools you can put in your toolbox. Later in the night, when you’re struggling to fall asleep, pull one of these tools out or when you’re about to go into a meeting and you’re feeling your blood pressure come up, your vagus nerve is hearing you. It’s going to tell the neurotransmitters how to fire, what’s going to get dumped into your system to correspond with that sensation.

The nice thing is that there are many ways to fire the vagus nerve and deep breathing does it. A lot of times we when we breathe in yoga, we spend a full 60 minutes with deep breath. This is excellent for the nervous system. There are also simple techniques that you can employ where you’re tapping, humming, or singing. This is why chanting own can trigger it. It creates a vibration in the throat. You’ve got those two vagus nerves that run down either side of the brainstem into the torso. Stuff that vibrates through here and the way that we breathe in yoga creates a vibration in the throat. It’s all going to help that to fire.

OYM Kathryn | Ethos Yoga
Ethos Yoga: For every emotion we experience, there is somewhere in our body, a physical sensation that goes along with it.

 

You mentioned tapping. Do you have them tap on the back of the neck?

Right at the corner of the jawbone. We started with a jaw stretch because a lot of people are gritting their teeth. Since they had already found that spot, we did some tapping right behind the corner of the jaw on both sides. It doesn’t have to be hard for very long.

You do it alternately or at the same time?

One side at the time. It wouldn’t matter though. You could do it either way. Even if you did it on one side, it’s still effective, but we did both sides. We did some tapping on the chest because that also helps it to fire. That’s something you could do quietly in your car and nobody would even know it. I always look for techniques that I can teach people that they could do while they’re in the grocery store. When they’re in public and they feel like, “I need to get centered. I don’t want to make a big deal of it. Here are some breathing techniques my teacher taught me. I can use them right now.”

That’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed teaching the Emotional Freedom Technique tapping for years. There are a few shortcuts that I teach people they can do on they’re in the boardroom. They can do it when they’re at the checkout line at the store. No one’s going to have any idea that they’re giving themselves an acupressure treatment. Some of the places that you’re talking about, the upper chest and parts of the neck are areas that we encourage people to tap on with the Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping. All of that is tied with the breath because as you’re talking about, there’s a reason why practically every major spiritual tradition has breathwork in it. There’s a reason why Wim Hof is as successful as he is with a breathing technique to energize and strengthen the body. After you introduce them to the vagus nerve, do you fly onto something else? Do you expand and tell them different ways that they might be aware that the vagus nerve is being stimulated or shutting down? What do you do with that?

My classes are always going to be blends of different ideas. I brought that up at the beginning of the class and gave them some time to work on it. We shifted into deep breathing and started to breathe. We call it with Jain Pranayama, which is a deep rhythmic breath. We start to move into postures. Usually what I do is I plan to see seed at the beginning and then I’ll come back and revisit it a few more times during the class. If you talk for too long in the same idea, people forget about their bodies and they’re there mostly to feel their bodies. It has opened the door for me to talk about the idea of if your vagus nerve is listening to you breathe, don’t forget that your brain is also listening to everything that you say.

We talk a little bit about this idea of mantras and yoga, which we tend to maybe think of being one word. I always say, “I bet you already have a mantra and it goes like this. ‘I’m tired. I can’t get anything done. I hate the way I look.’ There’s already something that you are saying inside your head 100 times a day. The good news is you already have a mantra practice. Now let’s do something more useful to you.” That opened the door for me to then talk about, “Don’t forget that your body, your brain is listening to you and that you have an opportunity there to redirect yourself a little bit.” Also, to notice, you’re not going anywhere, but you’re rocking on the same idea. This is an opportunity to come to your breath, break that loop, and pick a more useful direction.

It puts me in mind of the first part of Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, where he talks about the ridiculous level of negative thoughts we allow ourselves to beat ourselves up with that we wouldn’t tolerate from another person. We’ve become so acclimated to it that we think it’s normal.

Unless we find methods to establish more equanimity and less reactivity, every part of life suffers. Click To Tweet

It’s funny that you mentioned that because, in class, my mind must’ve followed the same pathway because I remind them that the filter to check, that voice in your head, would you say it to a child? I was watching my students on my screen, I saw somebody fall and I saw them get frustrated. I could use that as a moment to say, “If you’re practicing with a child and they fell out of the posture and they looked at you to help them decide if they should be upset about it or laugh it off, you know what you would do.” Often, we don’t show our self the same compassion that we show to strangers.

It’s not even that. We are ruthless. I don’t know exactly when it fell, but not too long before or after, when I was reading or rereading the book The Untethered Soul, they posted a video online where they went into a high-level woman’s clothing store and they closed the store and they took all the tags off the clothes, and then they put special tags on them. They opened the store to their patrons and they had video cameras going. Women, one at a time, would be looking at clothes and they’d turn the tag over and they would get violently angry. A store clerk would come over and the patron would be furious about the insult that’s written on this tag. The store clerk would say, “I’m sorry. That’s what I say to myself when I look at that. Who do you think you are wearing something like this? This is for young people, you’re too old. This is going to make you look fat.”

It was dynamic and powerful to watch that video as the women went from raves that someone would say that at them to tears because they recognize that’s exactly their own vicious self-talk. I love the fact that in your work in the yoga studio it’s not just therapists. It’s now yoga instructors helping people break that cycle because it’s important to break that cycle. I liked the idea that you’ve identified that they already have a mantra. You don’t have to teach them how to have a mantra. You have to give them better mantras.

I feel like that’s a moment where you can be empowered, where you go, “I already know how to do this, and now I’m going to do it in a smarter way that helps me.” It’s something I often say in class, “When that voice in your head says terrible things about you, is there a person on the planet that has benefited by it? Is there a soul in the world who is helped by that? If not, you have to start to reroute, let it go. Acknowledge that it’s there. Remember also that you aren’t your thoughts, that you are the presence that watches.

It’s a wonderful thing to be able to recognize that when you choose to be results-oriented. You don’t have to beat yourself up. You can say, “Do I like the results I’m getting when I do this? If I like the results, I can do more of it. If I don’t like the results, I can try something new.” One of the most powerful things is when you imagine saying this to someone outside yourself, especially if it’s someone that you care about who’s innocent that you have great affection for. That’s a wonderful litmus test for whether or not you should allow yourself to feed that same substance, poison, or love to yourself or not. How long are the sessions that you have? Is it an hour session?

It’s usually an hour. Sometimes It goes a little bit longer if we add meditation to the end. People sometimes come every day. Sometimes people come twice a day. Sometimes people come once a week. It all has to do with, “Is it benefiting me? Do I like the results I’m getting? Am I feeling better?” That was a big part of how I was trained in yoga to honestly look and go, “Is this helping me?” Don’t blindly follow something if it isn’t helping. Sometimes in some traditions like yoga, people are discouraged from asking that question. In the tradition I was taught in, it was always a vital question to say, “Is this helping? Am I feeling better? Maybe it’s true for that person. Does it feel like it’s true to me?”

There are many things flying around. I’m recalling some of my favorite teachers. Guy Finley is one of them. He talks about when I resist what’s being revealed if I have something come up in me, it’s good information for me. If I instantly assume that my thoughts about it are true and they’re negative, I’m going to hurt myself. I’m going to be beating myself up. It’s never true when it’s negative. It’s always a lesson for me about that negative filter I have learned from some time in the past and is now become active. I like to tell people that if I have a negative thought about myself or somebody else or a negative emotion going on in my system, I can instantly know three things. The first thing is it’s a lie. It’s based on a falsehood. The second thing is it’s an old tape playing. It’s from the past. It’s not about what’s going on at this moment. Maybe it’s what I heard the bullies told me in school. Maybe it’s what my angry parent would yell at me when I was incapable of meeting their demands. The third thing is if I act from that negative thought or negative emotion, I’m going to make this situation worse. I can’t possibly improve this moment by throwing negative emotions into it.

Being able to have that level of awareness at the moment and not necessarily reject the negative sensation or emotion because they have things to teach us. When you’re not tied into believing them or reacting to them, then it can be a piece of information. It’s something I often say in classes, “This is information. It’s not ammunition. We’re finding out stuff about ourselves. If we can let go of the immediate knee jerk reaction to, “I like good and I don’t like bad,” then we’re going to be able to learn and make better choices in the future. One thing I see happening a lot in yoga culture is people getting on these good vibes only train, which I always think is dangerous. Negative emotions serve a purpose. If we become uncomfortable with discomfort, we’re weakening ourselves.

Ethos Yoga: You’re most authentic when you teach the thing that you want to learn.

 

We’re going to make be more reactive and less able to soothe and calm. When we move through the practice, whether there’s sometimes physical discomfort, muscles tight, we’re weak, we’re shaky, we’re tired, we’re feeling hot or sweaty, or we feel that sudden spike of emotions. Sometimes you don’t know where it comes from. Sometimes you know exactly where it comes from, but being able to sit with it and go, “This is what that feels like. It’s less scary now that I’m not running from it. I know that it will pass because everything does and I can breathe and use it as a tool to calm myself.” That’s empowering and take the reins then.

That’s exactly what I teach people. We talk about it in several other works I do. This thing we call body and mind is an energy system and everything in it is there for a reason. If everything’s there for a reason, it’d be a good idea for me to know what the best use of all these things are. The positive emotions, negative emotions, and negative physical sensations. I do very much what you’re talking about. Encourage people to sit with, breathe into an ask themselves about what they’re experiencing as a negative emotion because there’s good information there. It’s coming from inside me. It’s the byproduct of a mechanism of thought, belief or energies that I’ve accumulated in my life. Pay attention. Guy Finley would say it this way, “When you realize that you can step back and watch the movement of your thoughts without having to be moved by those thoughts, then you’ve got something.”

I feel like that is the big benefit of having a regular mindfulness or meditation practice. You train yourself to observe your thoughts, to be able to see them so that they’re not old programming running in the background that you aren’t aware of, but also that it’s not pulling you around. I always say it’s like pulling yourself onto the banks of a fast-moving river. You’re aware of the river, it’s flowing by but no longer are you being pulled around by it. You can observe it.

Is there a particular type of therapist you refer people to? Are there certain therapists that you find you work better with in conjunction?

We have two therapists on staff at our yoga studio. That was always part of our design from the time we opened. We knew that we wanted to treat as many people in the best way we could under one roof. We felt like that required yoga and that it required therapists. I know a couple of others from the community. Sometimes there are people who I’ve met through yoga, but they usually tend to be interested in the same work that we do in yoga, which sometimes could be called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Sometimes those people will be the people that I refer to. It usually depends on the individual. Sometimes I have people that say, “I’m dealing with a substance abuse problem. I know somebody for that. It’s not ours, but we know somebody and we try to keep this strong web of peers that we can refer people to.

The two therapists that are on staff with you, what training did you want them to have? What kind of background?

I did want them to have a background in mindfulness, meditation and yoga because obviously, I wanted us to all be speaking the same language. There are people I’ve met organically and our first therapist was my mother. As I was going through yoga teacher training, she was getting her degree in Counseling. I remember having books in my bag from teacher training and pulling one out. She said, “I’m reading that for my counseling class.” I said, “We’re on the same path here.” We jokingly said, “If you ever want to open a business together.” Finally I said, “Why are we joking? Let’s do this,” and we did. For so many people, it seemed like such a good fit. We could add other modalities. We had acupuncture. We have other kinds of health coach, massage, and stuff like that that all work out of our facility.

The thing that several of the people we’ve had on the show have in common is the idea of a holistic approach, whether you want to call it holistic, integrative or functional medicine approach. That sounds like what was happening in your training and your mother’s. She wasn’t getting the cognitive training. She was getting a nice well-rounded, “You’re dealing with a person who’s got a mind and a body and an emotional system.” What’s your favorite kind of person to work with? Does that work with personality? Does that work with the kinds of issues they’re struggling with?

You aren't your thoughts. You are the presence that watches. Click To Tweet

I always resonate on a personal level with people who’ve been through some of the same traumas that I’ve been through in my disorder. I always feel lucky to be able to work with people who might have eating disorders or body image issues to help find some neutrality in their body and see their body as a wonderful, useful, loving machine. I like working with older people. I like helping people find mobility and realizing that you don’t have to put your foot behind your head to be able to have yoga that’s useful to you. In fact, that’s such a tiny percentage. I used to sometimes say in class, “There aren’t that many problems that you could solve by getting your foot behind your head.” You’re not often going, “If I could stand on my hands right now.” That’s not that useful. I like working with people who might have limited mobility and finding a way for their bodies to move with a little bit more ease.

I usually find the only people I can’t work with are people who did not choose it for themselves. Frequently, a teacher or a student will contact me and say, “My partner would benefit so much from yoga, but they’re probably intimidated to come to class. Can you do a private class with them?” No, I cannot. I did that for a couple of years. It took me a while to figure it out. If they don’t choose it for themselves, they might do it for you for a little while, but they’re not doing it for themselves and it’s not going to stick. That’s usually the only people I feel like I can’t work with. I’m always excited to learn something from a different age or different background, different levels of mobility. I’m always excited about that.

What’s an aspect of your work or what you do at your studio that we haven’t even touched on yet?

A big aspect of it is the community. This is something I feel like my community is missing, which is a feeling of interconnectedness with other people, of having this shared experience. It’s something that we’re known for. We have a strong, friendly community at Ethos. It’s not cliquey, which is strange that you would think yoga would be, but it can be sometimes a club for rich people. We have this strong position that our yoga is going to be the most affordable that we can possibly make it. Everybody’s welcome. Once you come in, we’re your friends. Even if you don’t know our name and we don’t speak, I’m supporting you and I’m in your corner. That’s probably something that I know I feel I miss, being in the room with many people who are working on the same stuff as me and breathing deeply and feeling connected and not alone. It’s tricky through the screen. I know that this will pass.

Are you doing any of it through platforms like Zoom or Google Hangout?

I teach every day through Zoom and that’s useful. We’re also looking for things that we can do together, like book clubs and talent shows and stuff where we can see each other’s faces. It’s something that we’re missing. The big beating heart of my yoga studio is taking care of each other.

I see a lot of that with people. We have a support group that’s been running for a lot of years and I went for the first sixteen, it was in person on Tuesday nights. Now with the Coronavirus restrictions, it’s gone to the Zoom platform and it’s different. There are people who still appreciate the fact that we’re willing to meet every Tuesday and have the platform, but people are aching to get back in the same room with each other.

I miss that. I saw a picture posted in the studio and it was full of people closer together than we would ever be allowed to be now. It made me so heartsick for it, but I recognize that this will pass, as all things do. We’re learning the lessons from it that we can learn.

OYM Kathryn | Ethos Yoga
Ethos Yoga: Negative emotions serve a purpose. If we become so uncomfortable with discomfort, we’re weakening ourselves.

 

As we were talking about, when it stirs up a negative response in me, there’s something for me to learn from that. There’s a feedback mechanism that if I approach it from a questioning perspective, there are all kinds of good stuff I can learn.

That’s why when I said earlier are you coming at this with curiosity, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. Are you interested, curiously asking questions? What’s this trying to tell me? What’s that attached to? If I follow that line further down, what’s at the bottom of it?

How do people reach you most? Is it just Ethos.yoga?

People do get in touch with us there. We’re on all the social media platforms. I invite anybody who’s reading this, if you’re interested in taking a class with me, you can go to Ethos.yoga and see how to do it. We have a yoga podcast as well with recorded classes. There are lots of ways to get in touch.

I greatly appreciate your taking the time to be with us. I hope that soon you’re back in your studio, warm body to warm body, and able to enjoy that. Thank you for talking to us. I’m sure because we have some mutual friends, we’ll stay in touch.

Thanks Tim. This was a great conversation.

Thanks. I appreciate it.

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About Kathryn Nicolai

Kathryn Nicolai is the owner of Ethos Yoga in Holly Michigan. She works to help students connect sensation and emotion in an empowering and productive way.

She is also the creator of the podcast Nothing Much Happens; Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups and her book of the same name is coming out worldwide in the Fall of 2020.

 

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