Tell us a little bit about yourself… Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Manchester in the North of England with my parents Pamela and Warren, and older sister, Sharon. Life was a little turbulent at times but we managed. I had a great school life, loved languages and excelled in athletics. I left school at 16 and went straight to work 9-5 jobs in offices around Manchester. In my 20´s I moved South to Essex to live close to my sister, and this was where I met Matthew, my now partner of 14 years, and husband for just 4. We appeared on a UK, TV programme called ‘A Place in the Sun’ and with the programme-makers assistance, we bought an amazing apartment near Denia, in South East Spain. A holiday home briefly, we moved to Spain for good in 2002. We rescued two amazing dogs, Ziggy and Tintin, and we are all living happily after, in a little house on a hill!
You lead wellness weekend retreats in Spain, tell us a little about them.
Yes, my business partner Jess and I manage Yoga and Health Retreats in Spain. I met Jess whilst we were both dancing on the beach a few summer ago! It turned out that we had a lot in common, not just a love of dancing, and even hailed from the same area of Manchester. Jess is beautiful inside and out. She has a degree in Spanish, she has worked in International 5 star Spas, she is a Juice Therapist, a Health and Wellness Coach and is a great baker too. Our talents complement each other so well.
Practising and teaching yoga, there are Five Principles of a Healthy Lifestyle that we work from. Our itineraries focus on these principles – great exercise, proper relaxation, better breathing habits, great nutrition and positive thinking, but each break also has a different emphasis. We run monthly 4 night, all-inclusive retreats from a couple of beautiful venues. One is a 4 star venue a minute walk to the sea and the other rural venue with an amazing view of the sea, is even more luxurious and is a private villa once owned by singer Sarah Brightman. We also have an amazing team of people to support us: – inspirational trainers, nutritionists, speakers, amazing masseuse’s and experienced therapists. We all love what we do and put our guests at the centre of everything we do.
The retreats include a yoga component; do you also teach regular public classes?
Yes, I still teach ten classes a week in various locations around Denia and Vergel. When I arrived in Spain, I taught myself Spanish so that I could teach in both English and Spanish. My groups are often mixed so I speak in both languages. We’ve had lots of fun over the years with my grammatical errors but Spanish people love to help and I have made some great friendships.
How many years have you been helping people with wellness? Who were you mostly influenced by?
Teachers, family, friend, mentors…In all the work roles I have undertaken, I seem to always end up in a management role. I love people and I love helping them. I’m a naturally positive person and always try to be light-hearted. Life has its ups and downs but things usually go well most of the time. And when they’re not, this low period is only temporary and will pass. I guess that outlook comes from my mum’s mum who always got on with things and would remind us that there’s always someone worse off than you! She was a light in all our lives, always jolly and she loved dancing too, plus a drop or two of whisky! My sister is also amazing. She has had to cope with having an ill child and has been so strong. My mum is also my heroine. It seems like it’s been the women in my life who have touched me the most!
How did yoga enter your life?
I had suffered with chronic back pain for nearly twenty years and yoga offered me the relief that hundreds of sessions with osteopaths and chiropractors couldn’t. My first yoga teacher was totally crazy and used to shout at us a lot, but she sparked something in me that I will always be thankful for. I felt something beyond the physical relief; I felt a deep sense of emotional letting go, too. When you practise yoga, you forget who and what you are. It strips you bare and makes you face yourself. I think I had years of stored tension, emotions and stress in my back, which I learned to let go of. Nowadays my back is almost like new.
Many teachers feel comfortable teaching in a yoga studio but it is another endeavor to gather enough people to fill a retreat. How did you get the ‘guts’ to move forward with leading retreats?
I started organising yoga days which gave me the courage to take it beyond 90 minutes in the classroom. It takes lots of planning, lots of patience, determination and faith in what you do. Jess and I both know that this is what we want to do forever. Our guests have given us some amazing feedback and encouragement which just makes us want to do better.
What is the foundation of your yoga? I find that my practice differs from my teaching. Is that the case for you? If so, in what way?
I tend to steal from whatever is going on in my life at the moment. If I have been impatient or have gotten angry, I’ll share that with my students and talk about what happened and discuss what I wished I’d done instead. We philosophise and I try to move yoga from the classroom, beyond the physical, to how we all live our lives and inter-relate. How we are all the same. With regards the physical part of the practice, I don’t plan classes like I used to. I am more spontaneous. I instill the basics – the fundamentals of my teaching style that have developed over the years…. the breath leads the movement, internalisation, firm foundation, soft gaze, soft jaw, use of bandhas, ujjayi and drishti. I focus a lot on correct alignment, but on also encouraging everyone to find their own pose, within the ‘framework’. I love vinyasa-style, flowing sequences, and although my classes have their component parts, i.e. we start with centering and breath work and move through the families of yoga postures, no two classes are ever the same.
What advice do you give your students looking to change themselves through Yoga?
I tell them that everything is possible. To have faith in their own amazingness. Change does not happen overnight. Taking up Yoga is like embarking on anything new – you have to practise, practise and practise some more. I’ve seen lots of amazing changes over the years. I’ve seen people lose weight through yoga; I’ve seen people once unable to stay still for longer than 30 seconds, start to mediate and sit for a half hour; I’ve seen weak wrists and arms get into full wheels; I’ve seen 70 year olds practising full crow; I’ve seen numerous pupils take courses and start to teach. The fact that I can do a job I love is just indescribable. I get asked if I get tired of going out and teaching, day and day out, and I can honestly say NO. I love yoga, I love my job, and I love my family of pupils who become friends, who humble me by stepping out of their houses and coming to practise with me. It´s been amazing and humbling and I am so thankful.
For more information about Nikki’s retreat, check out
- Pure Bliss Luxury Yoga and Well-being Retreat in Spain, June 2013
- Halloween Yoga Weekend in Spain
- Weekend Yoga Boot Camp Spain, Nov 2013
Or if you read this article after Nov 2013, simply go to this link and look for a retreat with Nikki!