Nikki Ralston fell so in love with yoga that she created her own yoga method, called the Ralston Method. We chatted to her about mindfulness, changing the world, the best yoga pose to perform before an exam and more.
Villainesse: What led you to become interested in yoga?
Nikki: I was drawn to my first yoga class the same way as most people: for the stretch. I was a competitive athlete growing up and I needed to loosen up my tight runner’s legs. I left that very first class surprised by how physically challenging it was; I felt taller, lighter and happier within myself. All of these feelings made me come back for more and I quickly fell in love with all aspects of the practice. I was working as a massage therapist at the time and so I already had a keen interest in anatomy and physiology and helping people in the journey of healing and wholeness.
Villainesse: What inspired you to create your own brand of yoga?
Nikki: I guess fist and foremost I’m a bit of a rebel at heart and I love to have creative freedom. As much as I honour and respect the tradition and different lineages of yoga, I wanted to be able to teach from my place of knowing and understanding and not be under any dogmatic style trying to regurgitate information that I hadn’t experienced myself. So I set out on an exploration of my own body through dedicated practice and that of hundreds of clients that I saw, observed and learnt from, through 15 years as a massage therapist. I wanted to bring together my unique skills and different styles to create modern style of yoga that complements a busy lifestyle.
Villainesse: How can yoga help young women juggling busy lives?
Nikki: As a single mother and businesswoman myself, I credit my yoga practice for keeping me sane through challenging times. It has led me to the most radical self-acceptance I could ever imagine. Your time on the mat can become like the clearest mirror to view yourself through, to observe when your inner critic kicks in, or how you may push yourself and it is through this practice of dedicated self-inquiry that you can start to cultivate more compassion for yourself and others and start to love your beautifully imperfect, perfect self.
Villainesse: Is there a yoga pose that could be helpful to perform before an exam or a similarly stressful situation?
Nikki: If it’s appropriate, get your head below your heart by doing a downward dog or a forward fold. It is a great way to calm your nervous system and get fresh blood to your brain. While in this position focus on taking smooth rhythmic breaths a few minutes like this can really shift your perspective. For concentration, brainpower and memory recall in exams I suggest doing Hakini Mudra.
The Hakini Mudra can be easily practiced anytime and anywhere, by just about anyone, as it is quite easy. Here’s how:
1. Hold your hands up in front of you, so that your palms face each other, but do not touch.
2. Bring the fingertips of your right hand towards the fingertips of your left hand so that they are touching each other.
3. Move your gaze upwards.
4. Inhale while you place your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
5. Exhale while allowing your tongue to relax.
Villainesse: You mention that mindfulness is a part of your method. Could you explain the basic idea behind the practice?
Nikki: This is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment. It is a process of learning to calmly acknowledge and accept your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgment. Accepting pain, shame and those other uncomfortable feelings we experience, and choosing to live the life you want to live and feel the way you want to feel despite of those challenges.
Villainesse: How can we implement mindfulness in our everyday lives?
Nikki: Creating mini rituals that you can use throughout the day to reconnect and ground yourself, these can be as simple as sitting or standing up straight and taking a few mindful breaths and repeating a mantra to yourself (it’s fine to repeat this silently, so people don’t think you’ve gone nuts talking to yourself!) to shift your energy and create a solid intention for yourself.
Villainesse: What was it like opening your own business?
Nikki: I have been self-employed most of my working life; I started my first business at 22 with bold courage and naivety and I learnt along the way. I made mistakes, I took risks and all of those experiences set me up for where I am now. I learnt to ask questions of people I admire; I look at what is happening overseas and in other industries to stay current and fresh. I love the freedom that it creates and I love being wholeheartedly invested in what I do everyday; this is how I live my bliss every damn day.
Villainesse: What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were 18?
Nikki: I wish I knew then how to wholeheartedly love and accept myself.
Villainesse: If you could change the world in one way, what would you do?
Nikki: I would wipe out extreme poverty, reduce inequality and tackle climate change. I class these as one because they are so intrinsically linked. Everyone deserves to have their basic needs of adequate food, water, shelter and education met. Although climate change affects everything we see around us, it is particularly evident in impoverished communities. In particular, these communities experience reductions in safe drinking water as well as food security as a result of climate change. I believe that development in renewable energy sources and policy alteration could adjust the severity of the impact of climate change.
This interview was sponsored by ecostore. Nikki Ralston is an ecostore ambassador.Support Villainesse