Every interview from the 'Learn It From The Best' series is special. Yet, this one is rather exceptional. I am interviewing Nick Heng: my first master; the person who showed me what the essence of yoga really is; the teacher who helped me become a teacher myself.
Nick Heng is the epitome of the cool modern yogin: a young, free, open-minded nomad, seeking the beauty of life, breathing into love, good vibes and adventures. He is not a vegan, he adores coffee and OMG!: he eats refined sugar in abundance! He is not a new-age wannabe. He is a new-age yogin. An inspiration.
Nick is the Asia Yoga trainer for the largest privately owned health club group in the entire world: Fitness First. He is also the co-founder of AIM Yoga: a company that organises inspirational yoga-related experiences for people all around the world.
In this interview Nick and I talk about AIM Yoga; his partner in life, business and 'crime': Chester Tan; the magic of Bali; and Nick and Chester's love for people, yoga and travel. Dig in and get inspired:
2HB: What is AIM Yoga?
N: AIM yoga is a company that Chester and I founded in 2015. It stands for "alignment integration movement". After years of practice we felt the growth from our passion and love for expanding our community across Asia, and sharing some uplifting ceremony, yoga, and bodywork, raising positive vibrations for each individual.
2HB: How is AIM changing lives?
N: We change lives from each intention, breathing into each moments and moving from the core. Here is the base on our simple philosophy:
Set intention(s) that are unique to each individual/group. We do this in the beginning of each practice as a form of ceremony, inviting our spirits and hearts to serve as a support and be present with us.
B) Integrate breath into the intention
Practice yoga breathing techniques (pranayama) to bring our minds into our bodies. As the breath deepens, shifting from the automatic into the awareness, magic and transformation happens.
Since 2012 we've been creating a strong community of practitioners, both new and regular clients, to participate in our AIM YOGA Retreats across Asia: from spiritual retreat centers in Bali and Chiang Mai to more urban type of events in big metropolis such as Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. We have been organising and hosting retreats and yoga workshops with international teachers such as Erica Mather (NYC), Sinhee McCabe (Korea) and Jambo Truong (London). Our upcoming workshop is by Amy Ippoliti in March, followed by our signature retreat in Ubud, Bali. We are also planing to organise a yoga teacher training in Bali. Yet, our main goal is to grow AIM's community worldwide.
2HB: Tell us a little bit more about the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ type of retreats in Bali that you are organising?
N: AIM YOGA retreats by Nick and Chester is our signature program. It connects the participants to their body, mind, heart and spirit.
We begin each day with ceremonies of singing,dancing and breathing that celebrates our spirits and set clear intentions to our practices. Then we do a challenging and quite sweaty yoga practice, and finish with a fantastic healthy food feast. The participants are also being pampered with balinese massages, and have the chance to indulge into a rich and beautiful cultural experience that harmonises their senses as well as their inner being. The day finishes with kirtan / night ceremonies, yoga nidra / meditation practices and a beautiful practice of gratitude.
2HB: What is it that’s so special and powerful about Bali and why do you think that Bali is such an attractive force for yogis around the world?
N: The magic of the island of Gods! Ever since the movie EAT PRAY LOVE, starring Julia Roberts, Bali has been attracting millions of tourists, visitors and spiritual seekers. It is indeed one of the most powerful centres of spiritual practices in the world.
Chester and I went to Bali for the first time in 2009 and immediately fell in love with its slow pace. The Balinese people live with high levels of vibration and mindfulness. They also pay the highest respect to nature and all the people around them. We loved it so much that we went back three times on that same year.
In 2012 we went again, this time for the BALI SPIRIT FESTIVAL. This event drew us even deeper into the rich cultural experiences, giving us the chance to meet with so many inspirational practitioners and world class teachers who shared their transformative knowledge and skills. Being able to connect with myself, authentically, was a real magic. I realised that we feel LOVE and we are the force of LOVE.
2HB: How did Chester and you start with yoga?
N: We discovered yoga in our teenage years. We were privileged to study from our families, from our parents.
The Yoga we studied wasn’t as asana-driven or as commercialised as it is these days, but humble Karma Yoga of Service and Bhakti Yoga of Devotion.
In 2004, I started practicing with the late teacher, Vincent Tam, the founder of Flow Yoga in Fitness First Asia. In 2007 I became one of the first certified teachers by the Yoga Alliance in Asia. Later, in 2011, I took up the role of Asia Yoga trainer for Fitness First.
Chester began teaching yoga in 2012 in Fitness First. His key influences were Anusara Yoga’s former teachers Amy Ippoliti, Sianna Sherman, Noah Maze, Christina Sell and Tripsichore’s founder Edward Clark. Chester is currently continuing studying under Ana Forrest and her guardians Erica Mather, Brian Campbell, Sinhee McCabe and Jambo Truong.
2HB: What are your objectives as a teacher? What are the things that you want to teach your students?
N: My objectives are :
1) To create yogic experience through setting clear intentions, intelligent class sequencing, precise coaching and transformative assists.
2) To create space for the participants to go into their bodies, minds and emotions, so they can truly connect to their highest aspirations / dharma / life purpose, or to simply teach them to just breath deeply.
3) Empower the students to own and love their bodies, re-wire the brain and take actions towards their best self.
2HB: What’s the one misconception people have about yoga?
N: That would be that yoga is only for skinny, flexible, vegan, religious, new age wannabes. This misconception is what takes us away from the yoga practice and its essence. Yoga has been over-stereotyped. The truth is that everyone can practice yoga. It challenges, questions and often brings the worst and the best in people. It unites the extremes and even the darkest parts of ourselves, which makes us WHOLE.
If you have enjoyed this interview from our special series check out also our talk with the beautiful Feather Polo, a.k.a. Peruvian Lily: a dancer, a yogini, a mother of three and a strong contemporary woman who knows how to be provocative and graceful at the same time.
Welcome to ‘Learn It From The Best: True Inspirational Health Stories’: our new series where we will be interviewing inspirational health and wellness coaches and motivators from all around the world and will be sharing with you their secrets, health tips and personal stories. For more health, wellness and yoga inspiration download 2 Health App now!