• Finding our way

    Practices for opening our heart and finding our way forward


  • Credentials


    *Certified by Duke University Integrative Medicine as a professional health coach
    *Certified Teacher in mindfulness meditation through UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center--began mindfulness training in one year of private study with Marjo Oosterhof in her western Ireland meditation center, Passadhi.
    *Certified Yoga Therapist by International Association of Yoga Therapists, training including onsite work in hospitals, and twenty years of one-on-one training through respected senior teachers in the Desikachar tradition of viniyoga, designed for clinical applications. [1500 hours in traditional-style, closely supervised yoga teacher training].
    *Level I Somatic Experiencing credential for trauma-resilience and embodied awareness.
    *Certificate, Integrative Sound and Music Program, Open Center NYC.
    * Religious Studies Dept., University of Virginia Graduate School, where I studied yoga texts, included the Patanjali Yoga Sutra and its many commentaries and philosophical traditions. I have studied japam (mantra practice) with master teachers for over 20 years and have taught mantra to support healing, also.

    Current experience and past highlights


    During this period of COVID-19,  and with further training in approaching Long Covid with yoga therapy, I have supported clients' resilience and their engagement in positive change.  Most recently, I've been teaching my small Friday group and with students at UC Davis and at Mindful Living Space, a private psychotherapy center in Kingston, NY.  Group yoga teaching with students continues online, but in-person instruction is available, one to one.  In 2018-2020 I also taught meditation teaching at Tibet House in NYC.
    With the support of Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, I opened the first independent meditation/yoga center inside a Virginia medical center, serving physical therapy, GI, oncology and cardiology patients, as well as physicians and therapists, at every income level, both in-hospital and in community centers.  I've led yoga therapy workshops here in the USA, and in Europe and Asia.
    And, with a team of clinicians, I also designed and taught the hospital's meditation/yoga program for women's health, in their cardiac and cancer care departments, where I was also a partner in hospital based research on yoga for breast cancer.
  • What to expect: your yoga experience in my classes

    Yoga is originally a system to diminish all the causes of pain (dukkha) ... from back pain to anxiety.


    But that's just for starters!


    Ancient contemplative methods empower us to choose our responses in a way that develops our capacity to meet life as it is, and to live closer to our highest values and our intention (samkalpa, in yoga tradition).


    Through offering personalized contemplative practices for over 20 years, I've witnessed growth, healing, and confidence in hundreds of clients. For over twenty years I've been based at hospitals and clinics working collaboratively with clinicians. I help patients at a crossroads to find their "true North" an individualized path to empowerment and healing. The approach is based on contemplative self-inquiry, and embodied contemplative practices, sometimes with health coaching.


    My counseling training is informed by an emphasis on cultural sensitivity and trauma-sensitive approaches. Every client is fully supported by individually-adapted breath practices and embodied awareness. I'm certified in Somatic Experiencing Level I, Compassion Practices from the Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Psychotherapy, Integrative Sound Healing (Open Center), Mindful of Race workshops with Ruth King, Qigong and full IAYT Yoga Therapy certification.


    With the support of a personal practice ... and other self-reflective practices ... clients find they can draw together intuitions of where their "best self" is headed, and map their own path forward. As a result my students and clients have improved their quality of life, and refined their choices in work and life. They move forward with confidence based on their own inner work.


    [Updated CV here]


    Fees Contact susannanicholson@gmail.com for an affordable individual package, and current group teaching schedule. I follow income-based pricing, so let's talk.


    Recent testimonials (ZOOM teaching and coaching)

    Thank you so much that was a phenomenal and empowering session. -- A.S.
    Today was so insightful and validating and encouraging to me. I feel a lot more clarity. AHHH! I appreciate it all so much! -- C.G.
    The conversation was both important and insightful. I learned more about my assumptions and was delighted that you provided the space for my honesty.  Thanks for creating this possibility. -- A.Z.
  • How does lasting change begin?

    (hint: deep listening)

    A famous (and somewhat frustrating) answer to this question of where to start is, 'we begin from where we are.' With present moment awareness. And then the answer really is down to listening deeply, and responding to the heart and mind.


    In cases where wellness has been very hard to achieve, I often suggest a formal coaching plan, based on the Duke University Wheel of Integrative Health (see below). But many times, the schema is unnecessary. A student and I listen to how life is going; then we open the Yoga toolbox and see what is needed, just for today. The results can be astonishing. It has been incredible to see students thriving in relationships, and empowered to meet life challenges with greater health, joy, kindness, and confidence.


    I began practicing in 1970, and started teaching in hospitals before there was the incredible phenomenon of wellness marketing. To become acquainted, I still offer a very old-school, 30-minute free consult to new students and coaching clients. Alternatively you can contact me directly for a Zoom link to my breath meditation classes on Friday. Then, we'll meet, we'll be present together, and you'll know if it's a fit.



    Sample home practice

    Here's an excerpted page from a recent personal practice for a long-time student, shared via laptop and phone support.

    It is designed for a student who might have a challenge in going directly to a seated-only breath awareness practice (in this case, because the student in question already spends all day seated). A change in the relationship to the breath and spine is needed. Although the practice specifies ratios of inhale to exhale, noted in seconds, her formal breathing practice (pranayama) is not shown here.

  • Another starting point, a self-assessment tool from Duke Integrative Medicine, the Wheel of Health:




















































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