Introducing our new blogger Nikki Ralston
Yogi Nikki Ralston is the owner of Urban Ashram in Auckland, a featured teacher at the Wanderlust festival in New Zealand and Australia and a guest teacher at Wellness Retreats NZ. We’re excited that she’s started blogging for us because she has some great insight not just into yoga, but also wellness in general.
We asked Nikki all about her practice, the Ralston Method, how she keeps well, and the big part ecostore products play in her life. Check out Nikki’s first blog about yoga poses that help you de-stress.
There are so many yoga practices on offer these days - what’s the essence of the Ralston Method?
The Ralston Method came about from my 15 years as a massage therapist and my knowledge of the human body, developed from working in depth and one on one with people. My dad, Jack Ralston, was an international running and triathlon coach. He coached the Olympic triathlete Hamish Carter. I watched him coach people not only to their sporting greatest but also to their full potential in life. After my training as a yoga teacher, I always knew there’d be a point where everything would marry together. The Ralston Method is the freedom to teach what I love most about different styles of yoga and bring it together from my place of knowing rather than somebody else’s place of knowing.
This comes from my depth and knowledge within myself and that’s constantly evolving. It’s strong and centred. There’s a dynamic practice that encourages people to move beyond their own limitations for their potential and possibility. Then there’s a grounding and centreing practice that encourages people to go deeper within themselves and release deeply held blockages and tension.
How did you get into yoga?
In my early 20s I started to stretch out my really tight runner’s body. My first class I went to, I said, ‘I like this’, because it was physically challenging for me. I started with Iyengar yoga. I loved the anatomy and physiology side and the depth of alignment. With my massage training I really got that. I dabbled in lots of styles over that time but came back to Iyengar to teacher train.
Beyond yoga, what does wellness look like to you?
As well as yoga it’s meditation and mindfulness. Your yoga you do on the mat, I view that as your training ground and the place you gather your tools. Really it extends beyond your life and living it in balance with yourself and your environment, and asking questions like, How am I eating? Am I eating consciously? Am I interacting with people from the highest space within myself or am I being reactive? Your yoga practice gives you that place to view your reactions and responses from. Wellness extends to how I am living and reacting to myself and others.
After I had my daughter, who’ll be nine soon, my practice took on a different dimension. I had a difficult birth so things that had come naturally until that point I had to really work for and commit to my practice in a whole different way. I had to work for the connection to my core - the strength that was there wasn’t there anymore. Also fitting it into my lifestyle.
The simple things like doing a yoga practice are really challenging, but it becomes more important because having that time and space for yourself is paramount. I quite often say that yoga makes me a better mum. I’m looking after myself and if I get up and do a practice in the morning I’m in my happiest space and I return to that space more easily.
I walk my dog, I stay fit and active with my daughter, at the park flipping handstands. She keeps me really active. I’m always into new things and I just tried stand up paddle boarding. I’m a ‘throw myself at anything’ kind of girl.
What part do eco or natural products play in your lifestyle?
I’ve always been a conscious consumer so when ecostore first came out, I was like, ‘yes!’ My dad was really ill and had to have a bone marrow transplant so his immunity was almost non-existent after that. My mum already used quite a lot of natural products but made the change completely at home to ecostore products and some cleaning products she made herself. That was a big transition for the family. For a lot of people it’s not until something big happens that they say they’ve got to make the change. At the Go Green Expo two years ago my daughter won a colouring competition and a big pack of ecostore products. She wasn’t that excited but I was. I got to try some of the products I wasn’t so familiar with and I think I’ve now pretty much tried everything.
The Foaming Hand Soap is the best. It sounds weird but it makes me so happy, I don’t know if it’s because it looks like clouds or marshmallows - and it smells so good. It’s such a simple thing but I take pleasure in it. And the Body Wash, those two would be my favourites.
Is using these products more about your health or the health of the planet?
It’s both sides. I don’t want unnecessary chemicals around my house or in the environment, for me, my daughter or my family. I did a beach cleanup at Wanderlust in Hawaii and we picked up all the micro-plastics off the beach there and I was just shocked at how much had washed up there because of the currents from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If we look on our beaches here we have those same microplastics getting washed up. So I’m passionate about both of these things.