Tell us a little bit about yourself :)

Hi :) I am 25 years old and live in Sydney, Australia. I was born in Hong Kong but have lived pretty much my whole life in Australia.

When I was a kid, I would always hear the same thing from my parents..."stop bouncing Nicole!". That line from my parents pretty much sums up my childhood hehe. I was always jumping on the bed, swinging off trees and flipping upside down. When I was about 6 years old, my next door neighbour introduced me to gymnastics and that was when my obsession for gymnastics all started!

I lived and breathed gymnastics for many years and was quite a serious competitive gymnast until my teenage years came and I decided that it wasn't for me anymore.

I transitioned from gymnastics pretty quickly into dance which became my new found passion and still continues to be to this day :) I studied ballet, jazz, hip-hop, flamenco and pretty much everything I could possibly do! You could say I was obsessed. The last few years I have been competing in Latin American dancing but I have recently stopped competing and now am just enjoying teaching dance to both adults and children :)

How did you get introduced to yoga?

My mum took me to my very first yoga class when I was a kid and I loved it because a lot of it reminded me of gymnastics. However I didn't start practicing yoga again until I was in high school and thought that it might be a good form of exercise for me outside of dance. So back then yoga was purely just another form of exercise for me.

When did yoga¬†get ‚Äúserious‚ÄĚ?

Last year I made a goal for myself to practice yoga twice a week in order to improve and maintain my flexibility since I hadn't been doing much yoga at all over the last few years. At the time I was training intensely in competitive Latin dancing - dedicating about 2-4 hours a day, 5 days a week.

My goal was only 2 days a week but I found myself very quickly practicing yoga every single day. It just became part of my daily routine. I began to realise that yoga was becoming something far more significant and important to me than just a 'good form of exercise'. Due to so much of my life revolving around competitive dancing, I felt yoga was something that I could just do for myself and that was free from competition. It was refreshing! :) So yoga quickly became very much a spiritual practice for me - however, definitely not free from challenges!

Can you share your biggest challenges ?

I am a highly competitive person when it comes to all things physical and this is my biggest challenge in yoga by far! I am one of those people in class that if the teachers leg is at a certain height, I will work hard to make sure my leg is even higher! It is not that I am competitive with other people but I am very competitive with myself - I always want to be the best I can be, and often I want it straight away!

This is one of the biggest reasons why I prefer to practice yoga at home. It allows me to not be distracted by others and to not trigger my competitive tendencies. It allows me to move away from the physical practice of yoga and concentrate more on the spiritual and internal practice. I have become a lot more patient with myself and don't fixate on the ability to achieve certain poses. I know that with daily practice everything will come and it will happen in it's own time :)

I guess it is bad of me to avoid yoga classes and not face my biggest challenge but then again everyone's practice is different and individual to them and that's what makes yoga so special :)

How do you handle pressure?

That is the beautiful thing about yoga, there is no pressure coming from the outside. Of course, often we put pressure on ourselves but that is something we can control and manage. For example, I put a lot of pressure on my self to stay dedicated to practice and therefore practice every single day. I am a pretty self-motivated and disciplined person but there are days that I just really don't feel like doing yoga and I will often force myself to practice. However, that approach is quite unhealthy and takes away from what yoga is all about - it should release pressure not add pressure! So now I have learnt to just listen to my body and let it rest and just sit and enjoy Netflix! :) hehe

Can you share your thoughts on self consciousness?

I was really quite self conscious when I first started posting photos on Instagram, but then I realised how supportive and loving the yoga community on Instagram is :)

What was your most embarrassing moment (in regards to your yoga of course ;)

Embarrassing moments happen to me all the time in yoga! I often get stuck practicing new poses - most of the time in the most unflattering and awkward positions that I am sure would make anyone laugh!

How did yoga influence your life in other ways?

Yoga has definitely taught me how to be less competitive and to not put so many expectations on myself. It has also helped me to feel confident in my body and to love any changes in my body. As a dancer, you often feel that you have to maintain an 'ideal' body and there is a lot of outside pressure for you to maintain that body. I love that yoga does not have that! <3

What does your daily routine look like ?

Anyone that knows me knows how important it is for me to eat first thing when I wake up! :) I need about 1 hour to myself in the morning to enjoy my breakfast and wake up before I start doing anything. Then I will practice yoga for about 1 hour or so- I know I should practice on an empty stomach but I just can't, I am too hungry in the morning hehe!

After yoga practice I will then move on with my day - whether its work or study.

And what about your flexibility training ? Where does that fit in ?

I add flexibility training into my daily yoga practice but I also try to fit extra training in whenever I can. Often I will stretch while studying or while watching tv :)

What keeps you motivated?

What keeps me motivated are definitely the beautiful effects you feel from yoga - you really feel the difference when you skip a practice. However, I also make sure to take a rest day every week - this stops me from feeling like yoga is a chore or another crazy expectation I put on myself!

What are your future plans/goals/dreams?

I would love to become a yoga teacher in the future. At the moment I am just really enjoying being a student and I have so much more I need to learn about myself and my practice before I move on to teaching.

Any tips for passionate people starting out ?

My main tip would just be to enjoy it and not think too much - don't put expectations on your self or compare yourself to anyone else. Focus on what about the practice makes you happy and makes you feel good :)

Anything you’d like to share?

My instagram account is @nicole.mcp.garcia