Posts By: Nina

Axiom Three

August 7, 2018

Laughter and play are the keys to the fountain of youth


To play means to surrender, the act of laughing has been shown to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. When laughing the brain also releases endorphins that can relieve some level of physical pain. Laughing heals.


Watch children at play, notice how fully alive they are, unconcerned, uninhibited. It’s a state of pure bliss, it’s something we condition out of them, out of ourselves, out of society. In this way we age ourselves and them prematurely. Recall a time when you were in flow state, immersed in the present moment, no stress, concern or thinking, just total engagement.  Yoga can do this for us, it can help us strip away the layers of concern and stress and get us back to our truest nature.


This pure form of yoga only exists when we disengage from the industry. This type of experience is only accessible when we drop the idea of competition and expectation. Yoga accesses WONDER. Yoga is play in its purest state. See yourself in ecstatic movement, connected to your breath, connected to your body, connected to your soul, bypass the mind entirely and just FEEL.


We were graduating our first class of teacher training students at House of AUM. Melissa Herzog and I are co-creators, we are driven by service and experience. This picture so perfectly captures our purest state. We were at play, chasing through the forest of Glen Helen in Yellow Springs, Ohio. We didn’t outrun the storm we ran WITH the storm, giggling and grinning all the while.


This is the fountain of youth, this is play, this is YOGA.


Do it! Go out there and PLAY, watch a comedy and LAUGH! Put it down, the worry, the concern, the fear, today the practice is to live.

Axiom Two

August 2, 2018

Fear and pain are life’s greatest teachers:


We have all known fear, it’s unavoidable and it comes in many forms. Primal fear, fear for our life is actually quite rare and yet our modern lives have forced us into a constant state of hypervigilance. The stream of hormones required for our body and brain to be on high alert are seemingly constantly flooding us transforms our fear thoughts into fear scenarios. The monsters in our minds are interpreted by our chemistry as monsters in our real world. This is the root of so much of our suffering. Humans cling to the physical world, we suffer because we are afraid of losing what we have and not getting what we want. At the heart of this is expectation, attachment. When I first opened the yoga studio in Columbus I had this naive belief that it would easily succeed. The location on Bethel and 315, in the heart of the Northwest of Columbus was PERFECT, nobody else was there! Fear and pain set in quickly when it became apparent that it would take more than everything I had to really build the community I dreamed of. Fear was in play and I had an option, I could give up or I could dig in. The days of panic and anxiety did absolutely nothing, my yoga tools were more important than ever. I dug into my meditations, I got clear with myself and I cultivated my relationships. First and most paramount was the relationship to myself and what I really wanted, Then to my children, what was it I wanted to show them? Then to my intimate relationships, how am I being of service? Then to my community, what more can I provide? I was planting seeds of intention and through this my fear subsided, my anxiety diminished and I reconnected to the primary purpose of yoga, connection. My fears were unfounded but nonetheless my thoughts gave them life, gave them form and until I reconnected to purpose and community I couldn’t see it. But without this fear experience I never would have been compelled to reach out, to try, to change, to work, to grow; my fear taught me to act and in this fear scenario, it did indeed teach me.


The power of fear and pain is that they push you to GROW, it will either force you to reach out or cause you to withdraw. In order to stop the unrelenting discomfort you must move forward, the only way out is through. Fear will teach you that your mind has little to do but make up stories, our culture has forced us into thinking that responsible people are fearful, that worry is caring, that anxiety means you are problem solving.  Our conditioning has put us in a constant state of hypervigilance. The greatest thing fear can teach us, if we’re open to the lesson is that, it is not a preventative measure. All the fear in the world will not keep “bad” things from happening, what it will cause is a cascade of chemical responses in our bodies, it will cause us to hesitate when we need to act, it will cause us to resist when we need to release. Yoga and meditation guide us into the knowing that our emotions, our thoughts aren’t real and if we allow it, they will keep us from experiencing life in real time, they will block us from our bliss. The work here is to remember the truth.


Sit quietly and first connect to the nature of your breath, simple and unmanipulated, notice the cadence of it, connect to that simplicity. Find ease with it, see that it sustains and supports you, recognize all that it has already carried you through. Find the rhythm. Now dare to call up your greatest fear. Witness it, see what thoughts and sensations arise, let them wash over you, let it swell, let grow, let it loom as large as you imagine. Stay with it, feel your body respond, what is that like? Witness now your ability to breath right through it, connect to the deeper, more calm, unabiding rhythm that exists underneath. THIS is your true nature.


Pain will teach you about strength and resilience, it shows up in many forms. The physical experience of pain in the form of injury or illness is obvious. Then there are the nuances of pain, the kind of pain that resides deeper than your tissue, this pain is cellular, it’s soul deep. This ineffable pain is so often the source of our deepest addictions, our most damaging habits and cyclical behaviors, beyond our comprehension. Pain along a spectrum leads us to protect ourselves to varying degrees. It’s these mechanisms that block the very path of healing. We protect ourselves from the medicine we need in an effort to resist accessing the source of our struggle. We become so entrenched in this pain we identify ourselves by it, and THIS is soul sickness. When we can no longer see ourselves without the pain, without the fear, it becomes our master status.  This is an epidemic, we are, on a global level, soul sick.


Practice connection, reach out to people loved ones and strangers alike. How we show up in community can change lives, kindness transforms pain into a point of connection and compassion. Today, reach out to those around you and express your love, witness those around you and see, in real time, their pain and yours subside.


The remedy is seeing the path through, taking the lesson but shedding the guilt and shame that would blanket us from the growth. You are NOT your fears or your pain, you are the stronger and wiser energy that emerges from them.


The Seven Axioms

July 31, 2018

                         You are exactly where you are supposed to be:

After the sudden death of my Mother, I struggled to see the value in where I was, how is THIS where I’m supposed to be?! My son was not yet three, my daughter only six months and I hadn’t yet turned thirty. Nothing was right.


My then husband and I were moving, our home was packed up, our whole life was loaded onto a moving truck destined for Columbus, Ohio, life in NY was already history and I was numb.  Years later I still haven’t neatly packaged how this event was “supposed” to happen, but I have found that the course of my life has been powerful, if I try to reflect on “what if it hadn’t happened” I get lost in the “why” and “what if” that is nowhere to build a life. This axiom, this truth has given me the freedom to put down the idea that I am a victim of circumstance, it has emboldened me to live my life with forward momentum, rooted in now, ready for tomorrow.  


As I have expressed, in our worst moments this concept feels offensive. Struggle, tragedy, trauma these things aren’t “supposed” to happen to anyone. It’s easy to look back at our lives with regret or longing. Our history is the wave that we have ridden into now. Now is a place so fleeting it barely seems real. The irony is, it’s the ONLY thing that is real. Our history is part of the fabric that binds us to ourselves, our beliefs and our concept of self but it is not meant to define us, only propel us.


This is a golden opportunity because it means that we are always at the start of something, we are constantly at the beginning of an opportunity, it’s up to us what we decide to do with it.


It is the very circumstances of NOW that launch us into what comes next.


This is the power of the yoga practice, it teaches us to be present. These lessons come through intentional breathing, skillful movement and cultivated awareness. You learn the art of response over reaction, you learn to put down your assumptions and open to possibility. Yoga is the direct connection to now.


You really are exactly where you’re supposed to be.


Take a few moments now and sit. Close your eyes, place your hands gently over them, palms resting on your cheeks, fingers lightly covering your closed eyes and connect to the energy in your hands, let it settle and slow down. Take three breaths like this and then place your hands palms up on top of your knees. Feel the temperature of your face, it’s cooler now, your hands slightly warm and receptive. This witnessing brings you into the moment. Repeat this process.


You are exactly where you are supposed to be, this is now.