SHOULDER STANDER . STUDIO OWNER . SKI INSTRUCTOR . YOGI
Where is home? I live in Brixton, a suburb in South East London, but home is my family place is near Newbury, which is north of London a few hours. As soon as I break out of M25 London motorway barrier, everything slows right down and I know I'm nearly home, it's where I go to be rejuvenated.
What's your story? I went to school down in Somerset, hit eighteen and went traveling. I love skiing so got a job as a ski instructor in Switzerland, it was such a cool job but took a toll on my body: too much après ski. It also got pretty claustrophobic in such a small place, there wasn't much room to breathe. I wanted to go and explore elsewhere so I packed up and went and met my buddy Max who was in China at the time and where we ended up traveling for the next 7 months.
I moved to London when I was 22, after graduating from University. I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do, so I dipped my toes in a few roles, from television presenting to school teaching. It was during this time I started practising yoga a lot. I realised how good it made me feel which created a pretty big shift in my life - and I wanted to be able to give others that same experience. In 2011 I set up Hotpod Yoga with Max with the clear vision of making a logical, down-to-earth yoga business focussed on genuine accessibility - logistical and psychological. And here we are today, still living the dream.
How would you describe yourself? Over-thinker, caring, open and hard-working.
How would others describe you? I'm going to dodge this and ask Max! In his words: "sufficiently patient and tolerant to have spent tens of thousands of hours with me. Remarkably hard-working. Worryingly likeable. Terrifyingly impressionable (thankfully, in the case of yoga... Less thankfully when it came to bandanas and a close encounter with the scientologists). Nowhere near as funny as he thinks he is. But a genuinely excellent human".
Whats the worst job you've ever had? Man! I've had so many. I've been a dish-washer, worked in a garden centre for £2.50 an hour, been a granite-polisher, worked as a runner on music videos where you're up all night in the freezing cold, unpaid, for the privilege of "putting the artist name on your cv". The hardest was working with a company who had a stage at music festivals in the UK, being behind the bar and serving hundreds and hundreds of people who are all having far, far too much fun.
And the best? It's corny but I love what I do now.
Favourite drink? Fizzy water - that hit at the back of the throat.
What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you? I'm terrified of space. Outer, not personal.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? Not a lot, it's been a ride so far, but (and I'm sorry I'm so on-script!) I do wish I discovered yoga earlier.
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? I played a lot of sport when I was younger. Poor posture caused aches in my spine and knee joints. I had seen chiropractors and osteopaths but nothing helped. I’d heard yoga was good so went and tried out hot yoga. I came out of my first class feeling incredible. Since then I haven't looked back.
Do you teach? Yes. It's the thing I love the most.
Most embarrassing yoga story? There have been a number of Hotpod-related calamities that have been pretty embarrassing along the way. Rocking up for our first corporate class at Harrods in a 1980s white Volvo with a bunch of storage boxes was not our finest hour. Then there’s the embarrassingly stupid stuff that comes out of my mouth when I’m teaching!
What’s the biggest challenge or issue being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? It still happens sometimes that other guys’ reflex reactions to me telling them what I do is laughter! But it's rarer these days, and it's amazing to see more and more guys trying it out and loving it.
What’s your favourite pose? Shoulder stand - and the feeling afterwards.
What pose do you fucking hate? At the moment it's warrior III. I used to really dig it, but I'm finding it a real challenge at the moment - especially on my left side!
Yoga is... the tool to sooth my body and my mind.
What's your personal quote or mantra? When I was about 8 years old, I was playing a cricket match and feeling overwhelmingly nervous. I asked my dad how to overcome the feeling and he said, "you say to yourself 'I know I can do this, my name is Nicholas Higgins' over and over again". That’s never left me. I'm not sure how knowing my name is Nick Higgins helps me... But the memory of the moment somehow does!
Interviewed: February 27th, 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.