Teacher Feature: Nina Rashid

By 23 March 2015News
Nina Rashid, Fierce Grace Brixton teacher

We recently caught up with our amazing teacher, Nina Rashid as she shares her yoga journey with us and tells us about life inside and out of the hot room…

What is yoga about, for you personally?

“My life, my saviour, my passion.”

What drew you to yoga?

“I have always tried to keep fit and healthy, I love the softness in yoga compared to other sports l did when younger, basketball, football.”

Have you always been in the yoga industry?

“I worked in the airline industry for 21 years, 14 of them flying around the world as cabin crew. I was based in the Middle East and absolutely loved it, had so much fun, met friends for life from all over the world.”

Describe your first yoga class

“I was tired, full of cold and had just stepped off a very busy flight, was my first night stop in Trivandrum, Kerala, I decided to try a yoga class as I had books and a video (yes, old fashioned VHS) but had not taken an actual class. I was hooked straight away, 2 hour class with an amazing teacher – a 70 year old gentleman – we practiced on a terrace above the thrashing waves, on a very hard wood floor.

His style was Iyengar influenced, so long postures. I tell my students now about my first time doing pigeon pose, 20 minutes on each side, WOW!  I had an ayurvedic massage afterwards and felt amazing, no cold, no jetlag, I just felt very calm, peaceful and happy.

How long have you been practicing yoga for and when did you become a teacher?
My first class was in 1997, the following year I studied at White Lotus in Santa Barbara, California. A fantastic Vinyasa flow training. I started teaching in Bahrain as I was then working in cabin crew management, taught group classes and privates.

After moving to the UK in 1999 I started Bikram loved it. Trained in Hawaii 2007 and finally left the airline industry to work for myself! Since then I have done several workshops and trainings. Yogabugs, restorative and am creating a yoga sequence for cancer patients, which I hope to teach soon.”

Describe your teaching style

“I adjust my teaching in every class, depending on the style, energy of the students. I try to  push people to their edges but in a compassionate way. I love having a good laugh in class as well, not to serious.”

What’s your favourite thing about being a yoga teacher?

“Helping people to feel good about themselves, I love seeing the “AHA!” in class, when a student has worked hard and at last understood the postures and breathing. I get a real kick and buzz after teaching, as I am so passionate about the health benefits, physically, emotionally and mentally.”

Describe your most memorable yoga class.

“Teaching Bikram to 13 London Wasps rugby players, in a class full of regular students as well. They were moaning, groaning, swearing(!) under their breath right from the start. Fit, strong healthy men but they did struggle in the hot room. It was a very hard class to teach but we had so much fun!”

In what way has yoga changed your life?

“In May 2013, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, which had also spread to my lymhnodes. I had 3 operations, 5 months of chemo, 2 months of radiotherapy and am on hormone meds for the next few years. I have always been a positive person but cancer tested everything I had ever known.

Physically I felt strong, I remember one oncologist telling me continue doing this yoga thing, as I was much stronger than his other patients. I was asked several times if I was an athlete!!?? Due to my strong and slow heart rate. I went back to my old meditation practice, used breathe control when I was in pain. Chemotherapy is very hard on the body and mind, although it did seem to cure my dentist phobia!”

What makes Fierce Grace, in particular, special for you?

“It was created by my mentor, my first teacher the amazing Michele Pernetta, she has created a very balanced yoga system, balancing Yin and Yang, female and male. There is a class for everyone. I have known Nigel and Katie for a good few years, their passion for the studio is amazing, all the staff make Brixton a cool, friendly studio. The members are amazing, keen, eager, willing to learn and they love our yoga.”

What do you do outside of teaching?

“I walk and hike a lot, always with my little Cairn terrier Penny. I recently did a Nordic walking instructors course. I try to get my poles out every day, of course Penny comes with me. This compliments my yoga practice – definitely upper body strength, it is a brilliant cardio workout as well.”

What’s your favourite posture?

“Backbends, mainly because I find them very hard.”

What is your greatest achievement?

“Getting through cancer treatment and learning to live as a survivor, every day is still a challenge as the side effects of cancer treatment are permanent.”

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

“Audrey Hepburn – style, grace, beauty and compassion!”

What’s your favourite quote?

“Whine less, breathe more
Talk less, say more
Hate less, love more”

If you could give people one piece of advice what would it be?

“Live in the NOW. Choosing to accept your practice the way it is now, rather than trying to force your pose to look perfect. Commit to the journey of yoga to help you move from fear to freedom.”