Today, there are so many yoga teachers that it can be difficult to find one who’s ‘the real deal’ - authentic and true to yoga, yet still accessible to his students. Nico Luce is that kind of teacher. No matter if he’s snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, travelling world-wide as a yoga teacher or hanging at home with his wife and kids in Lausanne, Switzerland, Nico lives and breathes yoga. We caught up with him during one of his awesome yoga retreats, and here’s what he had to say:
People often seek out yoga for the physical benefits. What other benefits can yoga offer, particularly for men?
The benefits are endless, but let’s start with the most practical. Due to this idea that men are supposed to be stronger, to be holding it all together for their families or the society, we men tend to have stiffer bodies and a lot of blocked areas. We don’t always acknowledge how we feel because we are too busy keeping things going. So what yoga can do is give us a space where softness, the yin side of things, is actually encouraged and welcomed - where it is okay to ask ourselves how we feel.
It’s not easy at first. I was quite strong when I started practicing yoga, but so stiff! I was working so hard! But then I realized, in yoga, like in life, I could accomplish more if I actually softened… tried softer, not harder. So for me, the best benefit is that yoga gives men a space to practice the idea, less is more. That simple surface attitude can go a long way. Once you realize you can create space in your body through patience and breathing, you can create space elsewhere, like in your mind or your heart.
Can you give some advice for guys who are just starting out in yoga?
My take is, first show them what they are good at. So, for example, many men feel they are too tight to practice yoga. However, a lot of those guys are really strong, which is such a great asset in a yoga practice because a stiff body is a stable one. So they can start with poses that depend on balance and strength first; they can create space in their body by drawing on this strength. After that, they can look at areas where they want to improve flexibility, which for many guys are hips and shoulders.
In general, guys are looking either for a workout or for something physically challenging enough to get them out of their heads, so I generally recommend to start with a dynamic practice… a flow class, a heated class. Later on, they may have more patience to sit through a quieter or more static practice like a Hatha or Yin class.
You’re a busy guy. You have a family, you are constantly traveling and teaching. How do you manage to stay balanced?
I don’t always. But what helps me is my practice. When I am in transit or at a teacher training all day, my practice might just be legs up the wall for ten minutes. Otherwise, if I am home, I make breakfast for my family, and when my kids are out of the house, I hit my mat for at least an hour and a half. And that’s it. One of the greatest things that I have gained in my life is that I can just roll out my mat and get lost in my practice. I am very thankful for that.
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If you could spend an afternoon with one mythical god or guru (living or dead) who would it be and why?
I have met so many radical people that have walked this earth but at the end of the day, I would love to be able to sit with a Buddha. Of all the things I could do… can I just share silence with a man who made us look at silence in a different way. That would be special.
Finally, if you couldn’t be a yoga instructor, what would you be doing with your life?
I think I would grow vegetables; I would be working with the ground; I am good at it… I have green fingers!