Teacher Feature: Nicola Harpin
We hear from the founder of Yoga at the Reach, Nicola Harpin.
What is your practice style of yoga?
Ashtanga 100 % in its purest form. I dabbled in other forms of yoga when I first started but Ashtanga won every time. I just like the consistency of asana and depth of understanding of yourself and your body that you get from the practice.
How long you have practiced and how many times a week?
I have been trying to work this out. I think it’s 17 years now and I practice as per all dedicated ashtanga yogi’s 5/6 days per week.
I have two children so my practice has had its maintenance phases and development stages and I certainly would say that in previous years there were weeks when I struggled to do the full quota of practices but I did what I could as I am not lazy!
“Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Man who doesn't have strength can practice. Except lazy people; lazy people can't practice Ashtanga yoga.”
K. Pattabhi Jois
Why did you start practicing yoga?
Initially I was given a Barbara Curry DVD and started to do that in my bedroom every day and just really liked the yoga moves.
I was quite sporty as a child (played for the local netball team, did a little gymnastics and loved athletics) but as I hit my mid teens and then went to University I did very little (vaguely remember running once at Uni!) so I had got myself into a pretty poor lifestyle of eating bad foods and doing no exercise!
When my friend gave me the yoga DVD, a light went on in my head and I liked it!
What do you get from practicing yoga?
I have a busy mind, so the practice has really helped to calm me down and (I think) make me a better person today for it. The corporate bunny persona I used to have now seems very false and I don’t think I really liked the person that I became through working in the corporate world. I can recall being young and shy and knowing what I morphed into through the jobs I held took me far away from who I really was. I think yoga helped me find myself again.
I also feel that my yoga has helped my mental health and physical wellbeing. In my lifetime (so far!), I have been through quite a lot of what could be termed as trauma at the hands of others and then, as with many victims, through my own doing because of the need to find control in my life. Yoga has helped me put a lot of my past life in to perspective and helped me move on (the yoga sutras helped).
Yoga also helped and continues to help me cope with the transition to becoming a mama, both mentally and physically. I feel better all round because I practice my yoga.
What do you teach at Yoga at the Reach?
My love is ashtanga, so I feel very lucky to teach that in both the Mysore style and led classes, I do my best to plant the seeds of love for the practice from Sharath so my teachings are very traditional.
I also teach classes suitable for women in their life cycles and I teach baby yoga and massage.
I have undertaken lots of training in the past but can’t teach all that I have learnt due to time!
Who is most suited to yoga, in your opinion?
I refer back to what Guruji said: anyone can practice if they are not lazy! There are particular types who get on better with Ashtanga but anyone can practice!
Best advice for yoga beginners?
Go and find a good teacher – try to go and see one in person.
Who inspires you yogically?
I have great respect for teachers like Alexandra Santos, Jesscia Walden, Harmony Slater and Corrie Anand. They are all mamas with amazing dedication to ashtanga.
I can’t not mention Sharath too. His dedication to the practice inspires me to keep getting on my own mat. I also really enjoy spending time with Hamish Hendry. He knows so much about all this yogic!
I would also say that my family do and my students. My family have stood by me and embraced our fifth (well sixth, if you include the cat) family member and always support me and my students who keep coming!