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Nikki Shilling

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Life & Yoga Stuff 

Hey, health-seeker, thank you so much for visiting my website. I’m pretty stoked that you’re here!

It was more than 30 years ago now, as an active, but anxious teenager, that I became conscious and interested in health. Why? Because like most other people who begin these types of quests, I never really felt 100% and I wanted to feel better.

Little did I know back then that my quest was actually about self-acceptance. This, my friend, I have come to realise, is the magic (and, free) elixir.

Aside from being a regular over-exerciser at local gyms, cycling, swimming, jogging and having a love/hate relationship with food as well as myself, I attended  yoga classes on and off for many years.  Finally, in 1997, I settled in Sydney’s Inner West after a few moves around the Eastern Suburbs.

With this move  came a new resolve; to become a “proper” Yoga student.

Finding the “guru”

There is a wonderful saying; “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” and it really does now seem like an amazing stroke of luck that, after a quick search through the Yellow Pages (no real Google back then..!), I happened to chance upon Simon Borg-Olivier’s Yoga Synergy class in Australia Street, Newtown. I walked backed home to Enmore on a high. I was hooked on that feeling. The class, the teacher… it was a perfect fit for me.

In 2001, after a few years packed full of tragic, personal and life-changing events as well as wonderful classes, Anatomy and Physiology workshops, and personal invitations to join Synergy’s very own highly regarded teacher training programs, I took myself off to Bali for two months to complete a short, yet intensive 200 hr teacher training course. It was time out for reflection as much as anything else.

The course began directly after 9/11 so the whole group was still in shock and we connected quickly.  I came home feeling very different. A year or so after this, stronger still, and yet with yet more life changes than I could ever have imagined in such a short time, I enrolled in the year-long, full-time Advanced Diploma of Health (Yoga Teaching) course at Nature Care in Sydney.

Having been fortunate enough to chance upon such incredible mentors – mentors I was in awe of – it was only once I had completed this, I finally started to feel comfortable enough to describe myself as a beginning yoga teacher (of sorts!).

My partner and I decided to relocate to Port Stephens with our baby boy in 2003 and I began teaching yoga as a profession. 

To sum it up, I’ve accumulated a lot more anatomical, nutritional, physiological and psychological knowledge  since my health journey began as a naive and not-so-happy 17 year old, but I have no intention of stopping since there is sooo much to learn! One thing I can tell you for an absolute fact, is that apart from a few exceptions, there is really NOTHING to distinguish our emotional and physical health.

Acceptance of  life, knowing who we are – this is where contentment, happiness and wellbeing is at. This much I know from experience (oh, and it’s kind of normal to feel unsettled and overly self-conscious as a teenager, so to my 17-year-old self I might suggest trying to “be with” rather than fight those feelings. Nothing lasts forever. x)

Related Qualifications and Study

  • Level 3 (Senior) Teacher in accordance with the specifications of Yoga Australia
  • RYT 200 (Yoga Arts) 2001
  • Advanced Diploma Health (Yoga), Nature Care 2003 (1000 hours) which incorporated:
    Yoga philosophy, physiology and teaching specifics
    – Holistic Counselling
    – Anatomy & Physiology
    – Yogic Nutrition & cleansing practises
    – Yoga for Special Needs (children, pre/post natal etc)
    Yoga Chikitsa (yoga therapy)
    – Ayurvedic Lifestyle studies
  • Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training – 2005
  • 7 x 50 hour face to face Anatomy & Physiology intensives with Simon Borg Olivier (Yoga Synergy) over the years (ongoing)*
  • 1 x 50 hour face to face Yoga Therapy with Donna Farhi – 2008
  • 3 x 14 hr wkd intensives with Master Zhenua Yang 
  • 1 x 50 hour face to face Yoga Therapy with Simon Borg Olivier – 2015

*All up, I have accumulated more than 750 hours of practical and applied anatomy and physiology training when my Teacher Training courses are included.

So…Experience & Knowledge..What can I Offer You?

My own incredible yoga teacher, genetic scientist and physiotherapist, Simon Borg-Olivier, is highly respected and considered to be one of the most knowledgeable teachers (“brains”) on the planet. As well as lecturing other physiotherapists, he is a contributing writer and lecturer of  The Masters of Wellness program for the Health Faculty of RMIT.  Thanks to Simon’s regular intensives, I have covered much of the same material as is incorporated in the Uni course.

This means that along with many hours of teaching and practise, I have accumulated more than 750 hours of practical and applied anatomy and physiology. This knowledge, applied in my own practise and teaching, has evolved into a deeply practical and intuitive understanding of how posture, breathing and movement pattern impact our physical and emotional body (and indeed the other way round).

Thanks to life, its occasional lemons, parenting and lots of self-practise, I do hope I’ve also accumulated some general wisdom and a deeper understanding of the human condition along the way!

Who I Was

I was always anxious and suffered many non-serious, yet frustrating ailments throughout my life such as irritable bowel syndrome, an eating disorder, insomnia, panic attacks, skin conditions and chronic pain (culminating in an inability to do my previous office job). Combine this lot with a few unexpected major life events, and things did start to get a bit messy at one stage!  But I did try – and still do – my absolute best to adhere to a consistent practise on and off the mat as much as  humanly possible.

It wasn’t necessarily as obvious back then, but the practise of yoga is a process that unfolds gently over time offering immeasurable transformations. Most of the above anxiety-related conditions are so far away in the past, it almost seems as if I am describing someone else.

My style

What I do in my classes is blend traditional hatha vinyasa yoga with the principles of science-based, exercise physiology. “Krama” basically means “steps“.

Vinyasa-krama is about creating an intelligent pathway. When developing my sequences, each posture or specific therapeutic exercise will provide some kind of essential framework for the next. Working this way creates amazing results – it works!

We aim to  learn and understand the fundamentals of each particular pose/fluid exercise as it is placed in the sequence. This means, after the first couple of weeks, participants can let go and actually be “in Yoga because the practice  becomes a more fluid – yet dynamic – movement-based meditation.

All the while though, we are continuing to build strength and flexibility – without straining the body or pressurising the nervous system. Over time, we alleviate pain and may help prevent and manage injuries and niggles in the long-term. Most importantly though, we end up calm and relaxed. In other words, the practice helps to “change our mind” for the better. (**nb: we have lots of fun and giggles too!)

Some Yoga Feedback & Testimony…

Never change what you do. Your classes are awesome.” Renee

It’s incredible; your cues are amazing! When I listen, it makes so much sense…! I think, wow, when I do that it feels so much easier…! Why have I not being doing that?” Stef M

“Sometimes, in all honesty I’m not really sure I understand everything, but I totally trust you because when I listen and I do something in the way you are explaining, it always feels right. It makes sense then because it works and my body feels so much better..” Mary

I just wanted to thank you for my year of yoga. We arrived here not knowing anyone. Finding you was a true blessing for me. In the course of the year I learned; to stick my stomach out (the first person to tell me that in my 41 years); to focus on the present, as I do not remember the past as well as I think, nor can I predict the future as accurately as I imagine and, best of all, that even if I cannot totally empty my mind of thoughts, I can still meditate. Thank you for all of this as well as your humour and warmth“. Madeline.

“I initially wanted to try yoga because my back was playing up, but what I wasn’t expecting was what  change it would make to my mind! Oh and my back is better too!” IW

Even after a couple of classes, I feel so different and really look forward to it. My husband even mentioned it the other day..he made a comment about how much happier and relaxed I seemed!”  J

“I really did enjoy your yoga class…it was probably the best class I have ever attended..” Krystal.

Nikki, I would like to thank you! I am absolutely loving having yoga as part of my life now. I have noticed such a difference in my stress levels, my way of thinking and my sleeping. I really enjoy the classes and would like to thank you for being such a great inspiration…I was diagnosed with post natal depression and really did not want to take medication. It wasn’t the answer for me. When I found out about your yoga it felt like it was meant to be, a divine intervention! So thank you for helping me and teaching me to relax, breathe differently and even change my attitude towards exercise and well-being..” K

All in all I want to say thanks for all the yoga classes. I’m so glad that mum convinced me to start just over a year ago now. I have built up so much strength physically and mental. I always look forward to class. Thanks for everything. You are an amazing instructor” CR

I needed to change my training mindset. I played competitive basketball, and even now, when I go to the gym, it’s all about competing and beating the guy next to you! Nikki introduced me to the idea of balance – something between “ effort and surrender”. I like that analogy, it resonates with me. The yoga class is peaceful, neutral and encouraging“. BR

Yoga has helped me manage and prevent lower back injury. It also keeps me flexible, fit and, importantly – for me – keeps me surfing. It is also a great de-stressor. Nikki has a great sense of humour which makes it fun to participate” Ian

But really…

More important than any of the physical “stuff” – is the ability to feel comfortable in our own skin, to feel content and to truly know who we are. This is what will change our lives for the better. I do my utmost in my classes to create a friendly, inclusive environment and fun dynamic whereby we are all able to feel at home very quickly within the group. Humour – laughing at ourselves – and community – “sanga” – is greatly encouraged because life is too short to take too seriously.

We work hard and we also try to laugh lots. So, if you are too cool for (yoga) school, my classes may not be for you.


Blessings & Namastes to My Teachers

Simon Borg-Olivier (who also suffers from a spinal condition – not that you would know!) was my “class” teacher for seven years and his energy, knowledge and dedication to yoga continues to be my main inspiration. I have also been lucky enough to benefit from the teachings of many advanced yoga practitioners including Bianca Machliss (Yoga Synergy), Master Zhen Hua Yang (Calligraphy Health & Yoga), Lance Schuler (Insypa Yoga), Astanga master Matthew Sweeney, Louise Sears from Yoga Arts in Byron Bay and renowned yoga teachers and authors, Donna Farhi and Eve Grzybowski.

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