Meet Your Kula: Nina Monobe

Meet Your Kula: Nina Monobe

Part of what makes us so unique are the amazing members of our Yogi community, our kula. Each month, we’ll feature one member of our yogi community, chat with them about their practice, learn more about what draws them to yoga, and get to know each other a little more.

Meet our Maitrī Yogi, Nina Monobe.

Hi Nina! Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I’m Nina (Marina) Monobe and I love to help others through my veterinary and yoga practice. I’m a Veterinary Doctor who moved to USA to work as a PhD researcher and teacher assistant. During my cultural transition time, I found myself practicing yoga as a therapeutic exercise to fight anxiety and depression. Nowadays, I’m an Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor and AFAA Fitness Instructor. I consider myself living between two different worlds, veterinary & fitness, which I love equally.

How did you begin your yoga journey?

As an immigrant in USA, who left family & friends back in Brazil, I had a difficult time trying to adapt to the new American culture. I always felt overwhelmed trying to prove my skills as good as or better than my co-workers. Subsequently diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I considered a variety of therapies that could potentially help me, including yoga. Soon enough I realized yoga as a life changing experience and I can definitively say it saved my life.

When did you decide to become a yoga instructor?

In 2018, I decided to take my practice to the next level. I wanted to deeply understand the alignment, benefits and history behind it. Since then, I found myself always enrolled in a different training. At this moment, I’m working on finishing a 500-Hour Orthopedic Yoga Therapy Training Course.

What type of yoga do you teach? What lead you to this particular style?

I teach a wide variety of yoga styles, from traditional Vinyasa Ashtanga and Restorative Yin Yoga with mediation music, to Power Yoga and yoga with weights, with pop music. My mission is to bring awareness to people that yoga can be fun and make you flexible, balanced and strong from the inside out and there is always a style out there waiting for you to fall in love!

How has the practice of yoga affected your life? Spiritually? Mentally?

Yoga is body-mind work. It makes me more flexible and stronger from the inside out. Physically I now have better flexibility, range of motion, endurance and muscle strength. I’m more aware of my body limitations and how to mindfully progress my practice. From practicing Pranayama, I’m more centered and present. I’m more grateful and appreciative towards everything in my life. I feel more complete and accomplished. I’m more understanding about situations and patient with people and myself. All of those feelings developed through yoga decreased my anxiety and stress levels.

How do you find compassion for yourself in your journey?

Yoga is a constant learning process. It was through injuring myself (on and off the mat) and not being patient with my body that I learned how to better listen to it. At some point you not only become aware of your limitations but you start loving yourself. As you recognize yourself as a human with ups and downs but in constant progress, you find compassion.

How do you incorporate what you've learned from your practice both on and off the mat?

By becoming more aware and learning how to love myself, I learned to always make adjustments to improve my physical and mental experience on the mat. Sometimes taking easy modifications or taking a slow and gentle flow. This allowed me to see that those small adjustments could always be applied off the mat. Situations I cannot control or plans gone wrong, I always find a way to adjust. Not blaming myself and likewise, taking it easy. Treatment myself with love, sometimes a relaxing bath or playing my favorite playlist to boost my mood. Also, yoga taught me to always take a minute for gratitude, during Shavasana or Pranayama. This is a practice I take everyday even when I don’t step on my mat. Allows me to find peace even on a chaotic day. Finally, by exploring the eight limbs of yoga on the mat, practicing it daily off the mat improved my relationships with family, friends and strangers. Being more patient and compassionate to others and not only with myself.

What would you share with a beginner?

First of all, I always had this misconception that yoga would be a stretching routine, mostly performed by seniors, or people with injuries. I remember being afraid of trying a class and it being super boring, with long meditations. I was totally wrong and I immediately discovered Yoga has many different styles and most of them aim to improve strength, flexibility and endurance. My first yoga class was Power Yoga. I remember taking breaks and feeling ashamed for not being able to touch my toes in a “simple” fold, while people twice my age were so much more flexible and stronger. The shame, combined with the physical challenge made me a regular in Power Yoga. However, I know many people never come back for the same reason. My greatest tip would be to never compare yourself with another person. Yoga is a journey and we all start somewhere. Our bodies are different, therefore, they perform differently and progress happens with practice. Knowing that, let go from frustrations. Focus on where you are and what you want to achieve. Sometimes, record your movements or poses and later on your path come back to see how far you’ve come!

How has your understanding of Maitrī grown and changed over the years, both in your practice and in your everyday life?

At first, most of the meditative practice was extremely difficult for me. Dealing with my mind wanders was always challenging. Maitrī meditation through Chanting helped me to channel my energy, center my mind and body and find peace. Over time, I found self-love and gratitude and consequently, I learned to be less judgmental and goal oriented as I used to be. As I became a yoga instructor, I nurtured my mind to become a beacon of light for others to feed off of, in a way that now what was a way I would use to find peace and happiness helps others to find them as well.

You can connect with Nina and follow along with her yoga journey at @ninayoganow.

You can also practice alongside Nina this with with our Maitrī Grounding Flow and our mantra:

May all beings be well, may all beings be happy. May I treat all beings with love and kindness.


Looking Inward As a Daily Mindfulness Practice

Looking Inward As a Daily Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness is the practice of being completely aware of what’s happening in the moment, and doing so without judgment. When you pay attention on purpose and accept everything fully for what it is, you gain a sense of inner peace.

While setting up a daily mindfulness practice for a few minutes to observe something as ordinary as brushing your teeth or getting dressed in the morning can be great for mental wellness, turning your awareness inward to be mindful of your own feelings, behaviors, and reactions can be just as beneficial — if not more, because they’ll help you understand yourself better.

Here are three major things to start noticing about yourself as you go about your everyday life. Don’t try to change them — just observe and experience them as they happen.

Be Mindful of Resistance

Resistance can show itself in the form of thoughts, emotions, or even physical reactions. What makes resistance often so difficult to become aware of is that it can conflict with how we think we want to be, or what we think we want to bring into our lives.

For example, if someone at work gives you a promotion that you you’ve been wanting for a long time, unexpected thoughts of self-doubt may pop into your head. You may even feel afraid, or your heart rate may increase the more you start thinking about actually getting it. These are all signs of resistance, and though your mind might think it knows what’s best for you, resistance is a message from your deepest self asking you to feel or know something first.

Be Mindful of Your Desire for Control

Our minds are very good at tricking us into thinking we can control our lives and many of the things that occur in our external environment. In reality, though, we have absolutely no control over anything. We are merely just influencers.

Your desire to control something (or someone) may present itself as a tendency to overanalyze things, a desire to spend too much time planning ahead, a neurotic habit that requires taking governing action, or an emotion like frustration and anxiety. Notice how behaviors like these rely entirely on your intense craving for control and certainty.

Be Mindful of Inner Growth

Personal growth can be tricky, because sometimes we can mistake it for improving our external circumstances without changing anything within ourselves on an inner level. While a lean body, more money, a perfect relationship, and other easily observable milestones of success may be considered part of personal growth by many in the self help industry, real personal growth occurs on an inner level. It isn’t often seen by anybody else but the individual who’s actually grown, and it certainly isn’t reliant on changing their outer world circumstances.

Become mindful of some of the subtle or major ways your thought patterns, emotional reactions, and behaviors have changed over recent months or years rather than what you've achieved or haven't achieve in the outside world. Noticing that you’re more grateful for what you have or that you feel more self-love are a couple of examples of genuine inner growth that don’t need to be validated by other people or objective measures of success.

Stay Mindful

Don’t worry about banishing resistance, letting go of control, or giving up on the changes you want to make in your external world. Just be mindful as often as you can when you find yourself becoming somewhat consumed by these things, and life will work out the rest.

Mindfulness reveals parts of our lives to us for what they truly are. When that penetrates us deeply enough, making the right changes become nearly effortless.