Nicki Doane: Yogi, supermom, environmentalist

A look at her life and passions

When you get the chance to put Nicki Doane's working-mother-of-two BTW-I'm-a-yoga-star-too life on pause for long enough to share a real conversation with this yoga mom, the first thing you notice is that she's a disarmingly warm woman. Grounded, quick to smile, tuned in to what you're saying, a natural dark-haired beauty.

She wears Cher-worthy gold hoops her husband and teaching partner Eddie Modestini crafts as part of his jewelry making hobby. And she's a huge Michael Frante fan (she and Eddie have created yoga classes around his music; when he's not playing live at their Maui studio, he sometimes joins quietly in their classes).

Once you've taken in all that, you're quickly affected by Nicki's deep love for four things beyond Eddie: Their young daughter and son, yoga, and the planet. When we talked with her this time, she was on an almost month-long tour of workshops and retreats on the mainland (she did jet home for a couple of days mid-trip). She was really missing the kids. But she was jazzed about sharing her message with our online community, and we got to rap about matters seemingly outside the yoga lines — like her message about the environment, why environmentalism is spiritual, her Catholic grandma, and why she's giving compact fluorescent lightbulbs for Christmas this year (even to her parents).

Yet Nicki points out that we really didn't venture beyond her core claim to fame. "It's all about connecting. People are looking for a way to connect deeply to themselves and to those around them. Yoga teaches you to be fully present in each moment and to love life and appreciate the earth. The real yoga is how we react to the rest of our life, when we walk out of the door, off our yoga mat.”

One of the top yoga instructors in the world, Nicki has earned the respect of the yoga community and built a loyal student following. She and her husband, Eddie Modestini, teach hatha yoga classes based in the Ashtanga tradition at their eco-built, solar powered yoga studio in Maui, Hawaii, and created the Gaiam Ashtanga yoga DVD series.

Nicki Doane began studying yoga at age 18 while studying at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She experimented with both hatha and Kundalini yoga before finding Ashtanga  when she was 21. From 1991 to 1997, Nicki embarked on numerous trips to enhance her study of Ashtanga yoga — traveling to Mysore, India, to study with renowned Ashtanga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, completing the primary through advanced series, and to Florence, Italy, to work with Gabriella Giubilaro.

In 1993, Nicki and Eddie moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where Nicki began teaching her first Ashtanga yoga classes. She and Eddie created the Ashtanga program at the Rodney Yee's Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, Calif. They later relocated to Maui, where they opened Maya Yoga in a planet-consciously created studio overlooking the Pacific.

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