By Benjamin Cohn
Weaverville – Walk through one of the many entrances into Weaverville’s We Yoga Warehouse and you’ll likely encounter proprietor Nikki Flood, a woman whose business she described as a different kind of yoga studio.
Flood tested her yoga abilities in India, she told The Tribune, in an ashram whose tone she characterized as strict and disciplinarian. Upon returning to the States, she experienced a sense of great ennui and disillusionment in the way Westerners treated the discipline of yoga.
“I think we associate yoga here in the Western culture [as being] warm and fuzzy. It’s trendy and like, ‘we love everybody’. You go to India, that’s where I’ve trained. My training is from India. They don’t teach you how to create a playlist for your class. They don’t teach you any of that…,” she said, laughing.
“It is rigorous [in India]. You are not, they are not, you don’t show up and go, ‘what are you going to teach me and what are you going to do for me?’ which is kind of our mentality [in the West].”
“Over there, it is… ‘what do you want me to do? You’re the teacher, so I am here to learn. It’s strict and it’s hardcore. It’s a lot of discipline. It’s a different model. Very structured. Very disciplined.”
Flood recalled that, “Some of this [business] actually started from going, ‘Oh my goodness, like how many times in life do we repeat old habits and behaviors?’ People get awkward. I started hiring teachers after a while and I stopped saying, ‘I need a Yin [style of yoga] teacher, I need a ‘this’ teacher, I need…’”
“I stopped because what I was getting was people filling a space.” Instead, Flood now asks applicants questions like, “’What do you do? What do you love? What’s your favorite thing? What do you love to teach? What’s your story?
“Anyone can learn how to put together a sequence of, ‘you do this, then we need you to do a forward fold and then we do a twist. And then we do this, and this is how you complete a good yoga sequence.’ It’s meaningless. That means you’re not living from yourself. You’re not living from your story, your inspiration, the thing that a teacher wants to share. We have, we all have those pivotal moments where we learn things in life. We’re all teachers. It’s interesting.”
She related her difficulties in vetting potential new teachers at her studio. “When I started doing [job] interviews, people didn’t know [what to say]. They always want to come back and go, ‘Well, so how would you like me to create this?’ and I go, ‘But that’s yours.’
“They’re used to people giving them a realm to create in, or to say, ‘I need you to do it this way, this way, this way,’ and I go, ‘But I’m not that kind of teacher. That’s not my realm. I’m going to put a box on you if I tell you how to make it. I know some about it, but you’re the one who loves it, which means you’ve explored it and felt it. You’ve done all those things. So why don’t you create it? Why don’t you tell me what it is that you want to do?’”
Her new method of screening candidates involved sitting back and letting the applicant pitch to her what sort of class they’d like to teach. She reported that potential hires would innovate much more creative class ideas than she could do herself.
“Man, the stuff that they come up with is ten times more amazing than anything that I could have ever thought of, for them to create for a class. I kind of let them run. I just say run with it. Bring me stuff. What is the highest creative, most amazing that you could, heartfelt, put out in front of people?”
The studio is currently offering a ‘30 Days for 30 Dollars’ promotion, and walk-ins can expect to pay less than $20 for a given class. Those interested in a well-staffed yoga studio with strong ethics and different ideas should look into We Yoga Warehouse on Reems Creek Road.