June Yogi of the Month: Nick Gonzales

nick gonzalesIn the several months since Nick has been coming to CCY, never once have we seen him without a smile on his face. He inspired us all with his 40-day yoga challenge, and the fantastic way in which he infuses a healthy mix of dedication and a sense of fun into his yoga practice. We're delighted to have Nick as our June yogi of the month, and excited for him to get his hands on his free gift from Manduka


1. Name?
Nick Gonzales


2. Occupation?
World History Teacher/Adjunct Professor


3. Fun fact about you?
When behind closed doors or by myself, I randomly do handstands and/or walk on my hands. I like being upside down. :)


4. Favorite yoga pose?
Half Moon Pose (Sabatakananabananapasana?). [Editor’s note: Actually, Nick, it’s Ardha Chandrasana—but close!]


5. When not on your mat, where can you be found?  
Training at my Capoeira academy or reading/researching for my lectures.


6. How long have you been practicing and what's your latest yoga breakthrough?
I have only been doing yoga seriously for the last six months. Prior to that, I did it casually on and off for about thirteen years. My latest breakthrough is gaining the ability to use my abdominal muscles to raise myself into a controlled hand/headstand.


7. A few months ago, you took on a personal yoga challenge. What was that experience like and how did it affect you?
I did a 40-day challenge (no days off, at the studio every day) in January and February and it was a blast. It was tough, but the instructors at CCY really kept me going with kind, helpful words, good advice, and smiles. The experience affected me in numerous ways but the most significant aspect of it has to be the idea of letting go of a fitness timeline when it comes to yoga. This sounds counterintuitive because yes, I did yoga for 40 days straight, however, a particular session comes to mind that might help elucidate this concept. 


One night when I was sweating in Downward Dog pose with my shoulders feeling like volcanos and my wrists shaking like California, I realized that the Western philosophy of fitness with which I was raised often stresses that one needs to reach a fitness goal within a set time period. I believe this particular mindset stems from competitive sporting events and from goals such as "wanting to look good by summer." There is nothing wrong with this. However, to some people, myself included, it often perpetuates an arbitrary system of self-prescribed timelines that are unattainable, unrealistic, and unsustainable. As I breathed deeply and continued in a Down Dog that was clearly becoming painful, it became clear that I cannot approach yoga with time constraints. The only timeline in yoga is the one my body sets for me. If I don't get Crow pose perfectly by August, it’s okay because my body isn’t ready for it. I might get it in November. If I don't get it November, that’s okay too. There is no need to force anything—be patient. I haven't failed anything/anyone nor is anyone judging me, except for maybe myself. With this realization, I consciously made the decision to come out of Down Dog, take the weight off of my aching arms, and kneel into Puppy pose … and smiled.Manduka_Logo_HighRes