Student Highlight: An Interview with Nicole Wiseman
by Melody Mayes
When my dear friend, Nicole Wiseman, happened upon the Baptiste Power Yoga studio just down the street from her home she was insistent that the 502PY community was different than other yoga studios. She is the reason I ended up here, sweating it out next to her on my mat. Nicole is always a giver of herself to others. I’m elated that I was able to sit down with her and dig a tad deeper into her yoga practice.
Describe your first experience with yoga: My first experience with yoga was nearly 12 years ago at the University of Louisville. I was looking for something that would motivate me to work out and a grade certainly helped. Prior to that class I wasn’t particularly athletic or really even that active. Sure, I walked to class and moved around but I would never say that I “worked out” and definitely wasn’t what you’d call athletic in high school. That yoga class came at a very challenging time when I was thinking about changing majors and career paths and essentially the trajectory of my life. It was a pretty pivotal moment and yoga happened to be a large part of it.
How do you do it all? : There are way too many important and worthwhile things and I can’t do them all. And it’s ok. I prioritize (and reprioitize) every day. I try to keep the most important people and things first and let the rest go. I schedule my yoga classes using the MindBody app because it keeps me accountable. That 2 hour cancellation window prior to class is coincidentally the same time period when I often would rather take a nap or catch up on Netflix shows. This keeps me honest and helps keep the rest of my life in balance. So far I’ve never regretted showing up on my mat.
Pose that causes you struggle: Crow pose. Freakin’ crow pose. I once asked Sarah if it was lack of arm strength, lack of core strength, fear of falling on my head or all of the above. She agreed that it was probably a little of all of the above. Every day I’m working at all 3 and getting closer. I’m also learning (trying to learn) that I am where I need to be and it will happen when it needs to happen.
What keeps you going when the going gets tough? I love a challenge. That’s one of the things I love about 502PY. They are forever offering challenges, whether they are single verbal cues in class like to breathe through the discomfort, physical cues from the assistants in class or structured ones like the September Sunrise Challenge.
*(That same attitude is how Nicole completed the September Sunrise Challenge AND was one of the winners.)
What pose gives you the greatest peace? Child’s pose. It helps me settle in and refocus on being present.
What does yoga provide on a daily basis? It gives me peace. It helps me focus. And Ujjayi breath. Strangely enough, giving blood is a great opportunity to practice ujjayi breathing. It’s funny because a lot of times they’ll ask me if I’m ok and I assure them that yes, I am and my breath is getting me through. Note: I hate needles so every time I give it can be a struggle. Another side note: my blood pressure has gone down each time I’ve given blood in the past year since starting at 502py!
Who inspires you? It probably sounds trite but truly everyone inspires me. The cancer survivors I work with daily inspire and amaze me because they keep showing up to provide support to those that are beginning a very similar journey as theirs and sometimes the person they support doesn’t survive, but they keep showing up and giving. Other yogis inspire me especially when I see someone that’s been struggling with a certain pose totally nail it. When I see anyone give of themselves in any way; that inspires me. Yoga has taught me to find inspiration and beauty in a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t have noticed before.
You won the Sunrise Challenge, now what?! It’s back to 6PM for me. That was a nice experiment but I’m still not a morning person.
Nicole enjoys spending her time with her husband, Mason, her supportive circle of friends and family, and doing awesome work as Assistant Director at Friend for Life Cancer Support Network (www.friend4life.org) and part-time with the Crisis & Information Center hotline. Say hello to Nicole next time you see her!
She is a wife, doggy-momma, musician, wedding planner, and powerful practitioner at 502 Power Yoga. When asked to describe herself in five words, Baely answered, “First and foremost, Nerdy. Artistic, fun-loving, analytic, and stubborn. My husband definitely wouldn’t let me leave out the word ‘stubborn’…” Baely began her yoga journey back in the fall when Hannah Clore invited her to her first ever yoga class. To set the scene, it is a 6 AM Power Yoga Class with the amazing Mimi Hahn.
502: Tell us about that first class.
I had a lot of expectations in my mind of what it would be like- all of which, of course, were completely inaccurate. I thought it would be very mild and relaxing. I did not expect for it to be as intense as it is. I remember thinking during the sun salutations that this was harder than any workout I’d done with my personal trainer. Somehow, by the grace of some higher power, I made it through the entire class. Completing that first class made me feel so strong and powerful. I started practicing regularly during the 40 Days to a Personal Revolution program in January, and I’ve been obsessed/in love with it ever since.
502: During the 40 Days program, you said the biggest change was how you viewed yourself.
I realized I would look at the mirror, and say, “I don’t like this. I don’t like this. I don’t like this…” During the 40 days program, I didn’t look in the mirror for 2 days, which was more difficult than I initially thought because there are mirrors everywhere begging you to look at yourself. It became really eye opening how much time I waste criticizing myself… Now, I think about the poses I never thought I would be able to do before, and I get really happy when I get into them because I think, “Ha, you couldn’t do this like 2 months ago.”
502: What are your favorite and least favorite poses?
I love poses that make me feel open, like half-moon and fish pose. I have a love/hate relationship with twisting poses and chair pose. I’ve definitely been going through the internal struggle of realizing that some pain is OK. The discomfort I feel in my legs during chair pose is OK, and I don’t have to run from it. (This is a lesson I’m taking with me off the mat as well.) So even my least favorite poses I kind of love, because they teach me something about myself.
What kept you coming back to 502PY after the 40 Days to a Personal Revolution Program?
I love how yoga makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel more present in my body, and it makes me feel like I’m more capable of handling day-to-day life. Yoga has taught me so much about how I view the world and how I view myself. I’ve learned so much about myself since I started practicing, and it’s been a truly invaluable experience for me. In addition to that, I have found that everyone I’ve met at 502PY is so encouraging, warm, and welcoming, that you can’t help but feel like you’re part of a family. Even on days when my body does not want to practice, I come for the people.
What are some of your yoga goals for the next year?
I keep waiting to hear when the next training to be a Studio Class Assistant will be (Hi, Cat and Sarah!) so I can jump on that. Then, in the next few years, I’d love to do the teacher training. In terms of my personal yoga practice, I am determined to get into tripod headstand, and be able to hold crow for more than 2 seconds. I’m also working on wheel pose a lot in my personal practice.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I would love to be working for myself as an event/wedding coordinator. I’m working my way towards that dream right now, but I not ready to give up the day job just yet. I’d also like to be teaching yoga and sharing it with the people around me. And lastly, in 5 years I would love to be a mom.
What does being a YES mean to you?
Being a yes to me means being open to the possibility that anything can happen. Being open to the possibility that my body can do more than I expect of it, being open to the thought that I can reach my goals no matter how impossible they seem, and disregarding the negativity and self-doubt that pop up on and off the mat. Being a yes means that when a teacher says try on tripod headstand, instead of telling myself I’m incapable, I look for what I am capable of doing. I can get my head to the mat and my arms in the correct position. I can work towards getting my hips over my shoulders. I can try every time to pull knees to my triceps. If I fall, so what? Being a yes means being open to the process and the experience.
We love having Baely as a practitioner at 502 PY and see big things for her future in our community. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us through your yoga practice!
Check out Baely’s work at her Wedding Coordinator Facebook page.
Over ten months ago, Paul Bruner invited me to join him for a yoga class at 502 Power Yoga. Even with him consistently inviting me, the best I could agree to for a while was to join Paul for a class when I was “less busy.” It wasn’t until seven months ago that I was free enough to agree to practice next to Paul in my first yoga class. Until my first class with Cat Larimore, I didn’t imagine I’d ever like yoga at all.
5 things I didn’t expect from Yoga:
I am a yogi.
Yogis are simply people who practice Yoga. This may not seem profound, but considering I walked into 502PY believing that in order to qualify as a yogi, I had to be at least 3 of the following: 7% body fat, Vegan, Buddhist, semi-fluent in Sanskrit (with a minimum of 3 Sanskrit tattoos), or a pretzel. According to these expectations, I am 3 tattoos, about 5 pant sizes, some cheese and cultural barriers away from being a yogi. Little did I know, I am a yogi simply because I do Yoga. In 502PY’s diverse community, I practice Yoga with individuals who are different ages, shapes, and sizes and come from different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems – and we are all yogis.
Falling is not failure.
Balancing my body weight on one foot or two palms allows me to experience my body in a new way – even if it is just for the moment before I fall on my face. In those moments, I am able to challenge myself to grow and push past my limits. I am often reminded by 502PY teachers that when I lose balance and G(g)race, it is not a failure, but the opportunity to begin again. My most glorious falls on and off the mat have led to my most powerful breakthroughs.
Deep breaths to deep rest.
If you go to a 502PY class, you are going to be asked to “turn on your ujjayi breath,” “turn up the corners of your mouth,” and “turn off your mind.” These simple requests proved to be the most challenging cues of all. Sure, I can physically hold boat pose even if it makes my abs and thighs burn – but can I hold boat pose while continuing to breathe? I intended for yoga to be a physical practice, and never expected the opportunity to smile and practice focus, acceptance, and clarity in every pose.
As I struggled to maneuver into my first half-pigeon pose, I experienced “sensation” in my hip. With that sensation came a flood of emotions. At 502PY, the teachers like to say, “The issues are in your tissues,” and man, they aren’t lying. Through practicing, I have released ancient emotions and frustrations that I have carried in my hips over the past 24 years. I have cried, grunted, laughed all in the course of one frog pose. I never expected to develop insight to how my emotions and experiences are connected to my physical body. Yoga has helped me become aware of how diet and exercise effect my mental health, and how my stress affects my body.
Nah-I’m-a-stay & say, “Namaste.”
From day 1, 502PY has been a place where I am really seen. Eye contact, hugs, high fives, kicks, and clasped hands–human connection is vital to this community. To be honest, I never expected to be a part of a yogi community, or to embrace the tradition of saying, “Namaste.” In this busy world, obsessed with screens and social media, we so rarely get the opportunity to wholeheartedly acknowledge each other. So when class ends, I genuinely say, “Namaste” because I see and am seen.
There are many things I didn’t think would ever come from that first class with Cat, but in the past 7 months, I completed 40 Days to a Personal Revolution, joined the 502PY Assisting Team, graduated Teacher Training and now lead classes of my own. I definitely didn’t expect to grow with a community of yogis. I have uncovered my true potential and power to transform, all through the practice of yoga – the practice of breaking expectations.
[blockquote author=”Jim Valvano”]A person does not become whole until he or she becomes a part of something bigger than himself or herself. [/blockquote]
Ten years as a Volunteer Manager, along with spending time volunteering abroad and locally, has shown me how much volunteers are needed and appreciated. Volunteering is clearly beneficial for the organization in which you provide your time, but it is also beneficial for the person donating their time.
3 Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteerism and community involvement are an integral part to growth in a person. A great way to find a volunteering or personal development opportunity is to follow your passion. If you aren’t sure what you are passionate about when it comes to volunteerism seek out short term opportunities through various non-profits or use connection opportunities through United Way or VolunteerMatch.org. After the mentorship program with 502PY, my interest and involvement has grown even more.
The Community Grows
When you volunteer for a community, that community becomes stronger, more empowered, and healthier. The Independent Sector organization set a rate in 2012 for volunteers that their value is $22.14/hour for a typical volunteer. Not only are you saving an agency money, but you are having a large return on investment within your own life.
Ask any volunteer what they get out of volunteering and they most likely will say it’s the good feeling they get for helping others. Experiencing a service opportunity in South Africa stretched me personally very far out of my comfort zone by holding a baby in an orphanage, digging gardens, and organizing a school library. The largest emotional impact of that specific volunteer opportunity happened in a platinum mine in the city of Marikina. The city had seen great conflict and tragedy through violence. The homes where we visited were home to sometimes six adults and two children with only one room for all activities. The experience opened my heart so far that it has yet to fully comprehend that experience.
The author during her time volunteering in South Africa
No matter where you feel called to volunteer, whether it is through your church, the YMCA, a youth sports team, or periodic events, the give and take of volunteering is worth investing time in. If you have any interest in volunteering with 502 Power Yoga there are opportunities such as Energy Exchange, Assisting, and Karma classes that provide donations to non-profits in town, accessible yoga to those that may not be able to afford it otherwise, and community outreach throughout the city. Talk to someone that is in the Energy Exchange program or an Assistant to learn what they do and what they enjoy about that opportunity. It very well may be an opportunity you can pursue!