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.

 


6 Beginner Yogi Tips for Working With Healing Stones

Gemstones aren’t just neat to look at. For centuries, they’ve been used for healing purposes and even today they can help to enhance the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of your yoga practice.

When it comes to working with stones, everything from color to chemical makeup influences their healing properties. By choosing ones with healing properties that suit your personal needs or desires and using them properly in your yoga practice, you can connect to them and harness their energies to benefit your performance and overall well-being.

If you’re new to working with stones, here are a few tips to get you started with integrating the healing properties of crystals into your yoga practice.

 

1. Know Your Stones’ Healing Properties

First things first: do your research on the stones you have or want to acquire. You don’t need to become an expert in stone healing, but you should at least known their main uses. For example, rose quartz is ideal for cultivating self-love and compassion while hematite can promote concentration and grounding.

 

2. Sit in Meditation With a Stone in Each Hand

If you start or finish your practice in seated meditation, you can take two stones or clusters of small stones in each of your hands to allow the energy to flow through your body. You can even get specific stones made to fit in your hands (called palm stones) that are slightly larger, flatter, and smoother so you can hold them easily.

 

3. Place Stones at the Top or Around Your Mat

You can place stones around your mat, at the corners of your mat, at specific points along the perimeter of your mat, or even just at the very top of your mat (which might be ideal if you’re only using a single stone). Just be sure to place them far away enough that you won’t step or land on your stones in poses that involve moving slightly off the mat—like wild thing or rock star..

 

4. Wear Your Stones

One of the biggest benefits of wearing your stones is that they’ll be physically touching your body and staying within your aura through your practice, which promotes stronger energy healing. Of course, the downside is that jewelry pieces like dangling necklaces and malas can be distracting as you try to move around your mat. If you want to wear your stones during your practice, a loosely fitted bracelet might be your best option.

 

5. Place Stones on the Chakras While Lying in Savasana

If you want to do some chakra work and promote healing on a specific chakra, you could place a particular stone on your chakra of choice when you take rest in savasana. So if you’d like to balance your root chakra, you could place a red tiger’s eye stone on your lower abdomen for grounding and protection. Alternatively, you could place an amethyst stone on your third eye for a clear and peaceful mind.

 

6. No Crystals? No Problem! Do This Instead…

Believe it or not, you don’t necessarily need to own every kind of stone to tap into their healing properties. If there’s a particular stone that you like but don’t have access to, you can simply meditate on the stone and its properties as you sit on your mat or hold a particular yoga pose. Simply calling upon the stone's power can be enough to harness some of its energy.


4 Ways to Heal Your Crown Chakra by Spending Time in Nature

4 Ways to Heal Your Crown Chakra by Spending Time in Nature

The crown chakra is your gateway to the spiritual realm and your state of oneness with the Universe.

Letting go of your ego is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a balanced and open crown chakra, and what better way to do that than by spending more time in nature?

Nature grounds us when we've become a little too lost in our egos—and this is exactly what we need to be able to move beyond low-consciousness thought and into a higher state of love and purpose.

Here are are five ways to put yourself deeper in touch with nature so that you can regain your footing on the path you need to take toward greater spiritual growth.

 

1. Trade sitting meditation for a meditative walk through a green or wooded area.

Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sit still. Taking your meditation outdoors—even in the winter—is a wonderful way to combine the benefits of physical activity with the therapeutic effects of nature.

As you walk down your chosen path, trail, or sidewalk, focus on your senses like your feet hitting the ground with each step, the coolness of your breath as you breathe in the dry and cold air, the sounds you hear around you, and the sights that you see. Here’s a more detailed step-by-step process on how to do a walking meditation.

 

2. Find ways to immerse yourself in sunlight.

Thought and light are the two main elements associated with the crown chakra, so getting outside when the sun is shining at its brightest—such as around noon or on clear days—is definitely ideal. Bonus points if you do your walking meditation on a sunny day!

If getting outside isn’t an option because the weather is too cold, you could stay warm inside and try gazing out from a window while letting the sunlight reach your skin.

 

3. Appreciate the little things that Mother Nature does.

As you walk outside or gaze outside your window, ask yourself, what do I genuinely love about the work of Mother Nature? You might appreciate the way that the snow falls, the way the frost paints unique designs on your windows, or the incredible polar opposites of the seasons—such as the frozen stillness of winter versus the lively activity of summer.

Loving nature exactly how it is can help you connect to deeper parts of yourself, opening the doors to greater self-knowledge and understanding that you are so much more than what you think you might be on the surface.

 

4. Nurture the plant and animal life around you.

Let your appreciation for nature inspire great actions of love. Whether you choose to hang a bird feeder in your yard, tend to your indoor or outdoor plants, or start preparing a small herb garden for spring, the love you show the environment and wildlife around you will come back to you.

Above all, make sure to perform these actions out of unconditional love rather than by obligation or expectation that it will benefit you in some way. It’s those selfless acts of pure love that will lead you to balance and open your crown chakra—not the beliefs or rules you’ve been taught to follow just so you can get something out of it.