Making Room For Benevolence, Or Cultivating A Softer Heart.  

Today, I met with Danielle Nicholls for coffee and conversation.  Danielle is that special someone that I was grateful to find… a Yoga Teacher whose classes are, for me, perfectly balanced between exploring our spirituality and the nurturing of self discipline on the mat.  And, there is always time for laughter too.

I was interested to hear and learn from Danielle’s thoughts with regard to the relationship we sometimes have with ourselves as we practise.

What follows is guidance to assist the way in which we can approach our practice with more self compassion, whether it be Yoga or Pilates.


Give Yourself Time

Our bodies feel different, everyday… every moment.  We crumple under the forces of gravity, feel apathetic due to illness or just feel lack lustre, not desiring to practise at all.  We may be a beginner and feel apprehensive about moving our body in ways that are new.

Whatever the situation, we can choose to remind ourselves that the virtue of patience is an integral part of the process.  To illustrate, Danielle observes that we would not expect to run a marathon straight away if we had never run one before, so why would we expect the same of ourselves in a Yoga class?

If we bring ourselves to our mats regularly, with commitment, warts and all – and we infuse the practise with patience, attending on ourselves & listening to meet any needs in the moment, then we can come away knowing that we have done our best, trusting in the process.

Don’t Compare Yourself With Others

Danielle explains that we can seek to free ourselves from peer pressure.

Claire:  So, what would be a helpful approach in a class situation?

Danielle:  Never be afraid to take the modifications offered by the Teacher.  It does not mean that we have failed in any way when we do. There needs to be an acceptance of our own possibilities and limitations.  We can honestly listen out for and respect our body’s responses and refrain from blaming others for our choices when we decide to compete with our neighbour.

Be Gentle In Your Attitude Towards Yourself

Danielle:  Be gentle on your own attitude, don’t allow the inner critic to take over.  We can ask ourselves…’what am I resisting?’

Therefore, notice… where there is criticism, irritation, frustration, annoyance, envy, comparison and observe these emotions.

Claire:  So how can we resolve these emotions within ourselves as we practise?

Danielle:  We focus on the quality of the breath and go with the flow… If you focus on the breath, the mind will be quieter.  When we focus on the breath quality and forget the tension, the movement is more free, more relaxed…

She quotes –

“A moment of self compassion can change your entire day.

A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”


During my Yoga practice and as a Pilates Teacher, all of the above situations come into play. Under Danielle’s sensitive and secure guidance, I feel I am in good hands.  There is a strong sense of exploration and most certainly expansion, both spiritually and physically.

Understanding that patience is akin to equanimity allows our time on the mat, whatever we are experiencing emotionally, to be a place where we progress towards tenderness – for ourselves and for others.

Danielle concluded such a class with this quote from a sacred Buddhist text.  I think it says it all.


When I remember I am nothing

that is wisdom

When I remember I am everything

that is love

And between the two, my life flows.




Gratitude and thanks to Danielle Nicholls and her dog “Jambo” for their time and their good company.  If you are seeking Yoga, please visit Danielle’s website for her class details at: