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Interview: Nick Elisseos

by Amy Collins

These days, most people find yoga and then slowly find their way to meditation. For our Nick, the story was the other way around. And while this gives him so much more to draw on when he’s teaching, it also puts things like his recent 60 day silent retreat into context. Yoga is now a part of his every day. In many different ways, depending on where he finds himself in the world. Luckily for us, right now that’s Melbourne.

We chat to Nick about how he found yoga, how a 60 day silent retreat changed him, and what we can expect from his upcoming arm balance workshop at Yoga 213. 

Tell us how yoga became a part of your life?
Yoga became a part of my life by accident. Initially, I got into meditation, then moved into a meditation center in down town San Diego, California. Soon after I discovered yoga and a Master teacher to guide me through the beginning of my inward journey. Yoga was more fitness at first, then it became a way for me to travel the world, now it’s the air I breathe.

And how that led to teaching?
I started teaching yoga to children at first, to pay for my travels around the world. I decided that teaching my own workshops and at festivals would be a great way to share something I was learning and discovering with the world.

What does your ‘practice’ look like day to day? And how do you use that to inspire your teaching?
My day-to-day practice is different each and every day and with that so is my teaching. As awareness in my body/mind develops I focus on the areas that need more attention in order to bring balance. With an understanding of my own experiences, I can communicate and help guide others accurately along the path of self-realisation.

You’ve recently completed a 60 day silent retreat. What were your expectations going in? And how was the experience in reality?
This is a big one. My expectations going in were none. I didn’t have a clue what to think of 60 days of silence. So, I focused on the present, which was, enjoying my life in Melbourne. The experience of 60 days, in reality, was very intense and unimaginably difficult. Each day a new struggle arose. There where many times I wanted to quit yet I learned and gained insights, wisdom, tools for a wholesome living and emotional intelligence to navigate through life’s array of dynamic experiences. Each day I am grateful to have had such a life-changing opportunity.

What do you think has changed for you since the retreat?
What has changed for me since that retreat is a sense of feeling ok in the face of stress, change, and uncertainty. To be less worried about the future and non-attached to the past. The biggest impact it has made on my life is keeping a promise of wholesome values. The five precepts – no drinking, no stealing, no killing, no lying, and no sexual misconduct.

Would you recommend a retreat like this for everyone/anyone?
I wouldn’t recommend 60 days of silence for anyone. I think that’s something an individual has to prepare and feel a deep interest for. I would highly suggest taking 10 days of silence at least once in your life to get a good glimpse into the nature of mind. I strongly believe an extended meditation retreat is one of the greatest gifts each human can provide to their lives. May all beings be happy and free.

You’ve traveled a lot over the years, how do you manage to incorporate your yoga into these travels?
With five years of consistent travels, keeping a daily yoga practice is not easy and so when I’m in a grand adventure I accept that my playful spirit of exploring is the yoga I need, until my body tells me otherwise. A little movement daily is medicine for the body, however it looks.

You’re running an arm balance workshop with us in July, what can students expect?
My arm balance workshop is going to be filled with insightful tips and tricks that I’ve learned from self-practice and amazing international teachers. Call it a yoga hack.

What draws you to arm balances?
I’m excited to teach arm balances because it is a practice of kindness, patience, consistency, and a humble ego. A prime story I share in inversion workshops is, students or teachers saying, “you’re a show off “when floating up into an inversion yet arm balances and handstands require full presence. It has very little to do with a boosted ego and more to do with an acceptance of challenge that will transform into stable presence with positive effort. This is what I want to share with you.

If you want to dive deeper into your arm balances join Nick for his workshop at our Richmond studio:

Fundamentals to Arm Balances
Saturday July 7th

For more info check out our events page here.