Hello, I’m Nicky, thanks for visiting.
I’m a storyteller, teacher and mentor, based in the Hunter Valley, Australia. I currently teach yoga classes in Cessnock , groups visiting the Hunter Valley and online one-to-one voice confidence sessions.
I’m also an actor and poet with a passion for social justice.
I’m originally from the North of England, somewhere in-between Liverpool and Wales. After living and working in various places all over the world I’ve landed amongst the trees in the Aussie bush with my partner, and the amazing wildlife here.
I’ve always got a little notebook with me and tend to process my experiences through writing, movement, and spoken word. I also have a passion for social justice and came to both yoga and the arts (luckily for me) following a tumultuous adolescence and challenging childhood. This has led to my focus on yoga and meditation for good mental health, it’s the main reason why I practice, strength and flexibility are a wonderful side effect!
Yoga, meditation, and various healing modalities initially helped to support me emotionally, mentally and physically as a performing artist, both a professional dancer and an actor working on stage and television. Yoga then evolved into more than a self-practice as I began to deepen my study and teach full-time 14yrs ago in Australia and the UK.
I’ve taught yoga and meditation to professional creatives, entrepreneurs, artists, performers, billionaires, healers, women in rehab/prison, adults with autism, and people working in the education and social support professions both in Australia and the UK.
Yoga literally means to ‘yoke’ and it’s my belief that the practices of yoga, meditation, and the creative arts are hugely beneficial to all people, including those who don’t normally get access. This inclusiveness to me is at the essence of what yoga and creativity are about, cultivating connection, compassion, self-awareness, and expression.
Lizzie Milligan – Coogee, Sydney, NSW.
In addition to my private practice, my passion for social justice and equality have led me to work with Off the Mat in Australia and train more deeply with Suzanne Sterling through her inspiring ‘Voice of Change’ initiative. Suzanne’s teachings and transmission have and continue to be instrumental in my own healing journey around voice & expression. I’m currently mentoring with Suzanne and will be running workshops in Australia from mid-2018.
I’ve taught a yoga, voice & relaxation classes for women at a residential rehab centre in a local Correctional facility, and I continue to teach Jason, an inspiring young man who has Down Syndrome and Sensory Disorders.
My personal yoga practice has been deepening over the past few years along the Yogini path with Chameli Ardagh and The Awakening Women community. Chameli’s presence & teachings offer me a depth of experience & authenticity that continue to enrich my path in yoga, the teachings are rooted in the circle and our unique expression of ‘Shakti’. Since completing the AWI Leadership training and Shakti Dharma Intensives my commitment to exploring the deeper women’s yogini practices continue to strengthen and evolve.
Annie Downes – Bronte, Sydney, NSW.
Ways to work with me:
- Whether you’re local or international we can work one-to-one via Skype/Zoom or in person.
- If you live locally near Cessnock or Wollombi in the Hunter Valley then there might be a class you can make.
- If you’re visiting the Hunter Valley Vineyards with a friend, partner or group. You can book a yoga, voice or meditation session at your guesthouse, retreat or hotel and personalise the session to you.
If you’re curious here’s a bit more of my story – thanks for reading: –
+ Read more here …
My Yoga Story
My journey in yoga began 30 years ago, I was 17 and my friend who’d just passed her driving test whisked us off to ‘Faith House’ the nearest yoga centre. There weren’t many around then in the North of England and yoga wasn’t part of the fitness trend it is today, in fact it belonged more to the esoteric world than the fitness world. My first few classes were a mixture of giggles, highs, embarrassment, and something else, I was curious? Why did it make me feel so calm, happy, clear, focused and light? And, how did I feel high without taking anything?
Up until this point, my inner and outer life both at home and school had been challenging, to say the least, at 16 armed with no qualifications except one basic certificate in English! I needed to earn a living, quickly, and found a job as a trainee welder and then business apprentice at a shipbuilders and ironically having never wanted to go to school began to study in the evening’s everything from acting and dancing to literature and history. Suddenly I was thirsty for knowledge and it was at this time that my yoga practice and study took on a new level.
I began to train to be a yoga teacher, whilst working as a dancer, with the intention to become an actor!?! Life decisions aren’t always logical… although there was some method to the madness…
I didn’t exactly intend to become a yoga teacher, I just loved yoga and wanted to learn more and be able to practice on my own with a deeper understanding of what I was doing, so at that time yoga training was the perfect vehicle to do that and it served me well in so far as I rarely had a regular work/time schedule again and was often on the move, which meant self-practice was my sanctuary and still is. Yoga stayed with me through careers in dance, acting, and the zillions of other jobs I took to keep financially afloat. Yoga was just there for me.
Eventually, after working as an actress for 10 years I completed another teacher training in traditional Hatha yoga at the Sivananda ashram in Northern California. However, it was after moving to Sydney and training at Samadhi Yoga in 2004 (now Jivamukti Yoga Sydney) that I finally began to teach full-time, thanks to Katie Manitsas’ belief, generosity, knowledge, support, and guidance which gave me invaluable opportunities to continue learning to teach yoga on the job.
Since then I’ve continued to teach full time which has taken me on a journey from setting up and running a yoga class for adults with autism and opening a not-for-profit art gallery and yoga space, to teaching yoga back in London for a few years.
Whilst in London, and after teaching at various yoga studio’s and health clubs, mainly Triyoga, The Special Yoga Centre & Body Works West, I ended up working very regularly with Breath yoga agency.
This gave me the experience of working privately with a wide range of students in various locations. One day may have been teaching at The Savoy or The Dorchester Hotel and the next teaching yoga to recovering addicts at an aftercare centre. One week teaching a corporate group in the city ‘yoga de-stress’ workshops, and the next week teaching a private student whilst sailing around the Greek Islands. Balancing is a little trickier on a moving vessel!
Whilst the circumstances were wildly varied, the yoga was the same, adapted to the individual. It became evident that the benefits of yoga went beyond money, status, condition & circumstance, in fact, anything that defines us externally. What yoga can offer us on another level, besides the physical benefit is a way to deepen our understanding of who we are beyond what we appear to be and find peace with this, that’s something that is valuable and accessible to everyone. The journey isn’t static or only in one direction, sometimes we can feel we’re going backwards or round in circles. It’s a practice that is alive to the present moment, with something to offer everyone and is continually there to offer a safe and peaceful space to be whoever we are, wherever we are. Like Pattabhi Jois said “practice, practice and all is coming”
To all the students and teachers along my journey, THANK YOU… I am particularly indebted to my first teachers Pam and Gordon Smith, a quote I always remember from Pam went something along the lines of “there’s no point meditating away and leaving the rubbish to pile up” – she was talking about meditation in action and emphasised presence. They introduced me to the whole realm of yoga and beyond, including Taoist and Buddhist healing and meditation practices, and provided a safe, supportive, non-competitive and nurturing environment in which to practice, explore, learn and question, and I did question them, on everything!
Teachers whom I am deeply indebted to and have also had a significant influence on my practice and teaching include Katie Manitsas (Jivamukti Yoga Sydney), Sarah Powers, Judith Hanson Lasater, Susi Hately, Simon Low, Suzanne Sterling, Sean Corne, Erich Schiffman and Swami Sitaramananda.
Teachers whom I’ve learnt hugely from and have inspired me through either workshops, books, writings or DVD’s include Paul Grilley, Donna Farhi, Sharon Gannon & David Life, Tias Little, Sianna Sherman, Shiva Rea, Angela Farmer, Vanda Scaravelli, Indra Devi, Jack Kornfield, Sri T. Krishnamacharya, T.K.V. Desikachar, B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Paramahansa Yogananda & J Krishnamurthi. Thank you also to John Karran for his support and the photos on this website.