March Yogi: Betsy Nickle


I am honored to be a Tranquil Space yogi of the month. Tranquil Space helped me understand how the practice of asana and a supportive community can help us to overcome emotional barriers that we create when our mind-body connection is unbalanced.

My almost daily yoga practice has helped to transform me.  For a long time, I was a person who only aimed for perfect and wallowed in my own self-pity if things were not crossed off the list or I fell short of a goal. This mindset resulted in many “perceived” failures and lots of unnecessary anxiety.  The emotional ups and downs from these expectations hindered my ability to live my life to my full potential.

Getting into headstand is a great example of how the transformation process worked for me.  This pose helped me shift my mindset from perfectionism to mere acceptance of myself.  One of my gifts is athleticism.  Therefore, my initial approach to headstand was to build muscles, which would allow me to power through headstand.  How does a reforming perfectionist like me do that?  Go to the pool before yoga, lift heavy items over my head, and hold dolphin pose for long periods of times.  That approach only resulted in many thuds, falls, and flying across my mat more times than I can count.

The Tranquil Space community (i.e. great teachers with solid assists and wise words of encouragement, chats with people in classes who could do the pose, & guest teacher Kristin Leal) helped me recognize that my ability to hold a headstand was a result of an emotional block not physical.  The resolution was to evaluate my fears.  Once I realized that ungrounded fears prevented me from getting into this pose.  I changed my strategy.  For the next couple of months, I worked through my fears by identifying them, journaling about them, & discussing them with supportive friends.  These strategies helped me realize that many of my fears were like paper tigers (i.e. not real).

Fast forward several months, I am able to hold a pose that I never thought I could do.  Every time I go into the pose, there is a brief encounter with a fear or two.  However, I have developed ways to re-center myself, so they don’t take over.  A wise person shared a mantra that helps to ground me when self-critical thoughts arise. Perhaps it can help you or a struggling perfectionist that you care deeply about – “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

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