Yogi Highlight: An Interview with Nina Camille

This series highlights a yogi that we think is making the yoga community a more positive, uplifting, and empowering place. This month’s yogi is the talented and inspiring Nina Camille.
Take one look at Nina’s Instagram feed and you’ll see that she is not only a highly qualified yoga instructor, but also well-traveled and an ambassador to the GLOW non-profit organization. Nina’s gentle but fiercely loving personality captivated our hearts and is sure to captivate yours as well.

Let’s get to know Nina Camille . . .


YA: What does yoga mean for you in your everyday life?

Nina: My practice has been such an integral part of me for so long it’s difficult to picture my life without it now, or how I functioned before discovering yoga. The daily practice and surrounding community has given me strength, confidence, peace, power, resolve, independence, drive, fun, and has maintained my physique.
Yoga is where I go to nurture my body, to mend my heart, to let my thoughts float by when it feels they are taking over, to connect to myself, and to inspire others.
It has changed the tone with which I speak to myself and how I react to unexpected situations. Yoga is a way of being, not just on your mat but in how you relate to yourself and the world around you.

Yoga is where I go to nurture my body, to mend my heart, to let my thoughts float by when it feels they are taking over, to connect to myself, and to inspire others.


YA: What brought you to yoga initially and what inspired you to make the journey from student to teacher?

Nina: I began practicing yoga when I was 20, just over 10 years ago. I was a gymnast and an athlete growing up, and as I entered adulthood I searched for an outlet for my boundless physical energy. The gym was not for me, I hated running and group classes intimidated me. Yoga always looked interesting, so I mustered up the courage and went to a class at CorePower Yoga in San Diego.
I remember looking around the room thinking, “Crap . . . Should I already know all of this? Everyone else here seems to. I am so confused. Am I even working out? Do I look like a fool?” The challenge and intrigue made me return again and again. Then came the breath, and presence, and it still continues to unfold new magic every day.
Yoga made me feel strong, capable, sexy, powerful, and centered.
One night, after a juicy C2 class with Alyssa Brown, she mentioned yoga teacher training and the lightbulb above my head went on. If this was where I arrive to receive, this was where I wanted to return and give. Two weeks after I finished my teacher training I resigned from my full-time position, moved to St. Thomas, and I’ve been teaching full-time ever since. I have received so much from yoga and my teachers over the years. Being in a position to directly pay that forward to my students is one of the most gratifying things I’ve experienced in my life.

Yoga made me feel strong, capable, sexy, powerful, and centered.


YA: What is an intention/mantra that you live by that helps guide you throughout your days, your teaching, and your life in general?

Nina: My life mantra is “love today.”
When I lost my favorite family member – my Nonny – I was 19 years old. I had lived with her a couple years after high school and we had so many laughs and memories, she was one of my best friends. I remember being so sad that she was gone, but so grateful that life provided a situation (which seemed like a disaster at the time) that caused me to move in with her, and that we were able to enjoy that time together on such a profound level.
“Love today” were two words that just came to me after her death. I got it tattooed on my hip, and I read it several times a day. Often people ask me, “What about tomorrow?” and I respond, “Tomorrow will be today.” Others ask, “What about yesterday?” And I say, “Yesterday was today, and I loved it too.”
Another mantra that stuck with me during yoga teacher training is “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu,” meaning “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and that freedom for all.” Those two mantras guide my life, from the day-to-day to the overarching purpose of my being.

YA: What is something that your yoga community would be surprised to know about you?

Nina: Nearly all my photos (for Instagram) are taken on a whim with an iPhone, mostly by my boyfriend, who helps create the images that people seem to love most. It’s a team effort!
Also, I am a highly social being! I love being around my friends, meeting new ones, and making people laugh. I am a vegetarian and huge creature lover (I have been known to save bugs and escort them outside our island home, or I just name them and share the space).
I also love wine, food, cooking, dessert of any kind, brunching, dancing, being underwater, playing tour guide, hosting parties, and anything that is even remotely adventurous, challenging, or dangerous.

YA: Your Instagram account and the images of your travels are stunning. You have traveled to so many unique and beautiful places. What has been your favorite location?

Nina: The first place that comes to mind is here where I live, in the Virgin Islands. Funny, I happen to be sitting on a boat right now in North Sound at Virgin Gorda, and this is my favorite spot in all the Virgin Islands. I have seen crystal blue water all over the planet, but there is just something about the turquoise shallows, deep blue depths, bright green trees, periwinkle sky, and the calm beautiful energy here that makes me feel so, so yummy.
For vacation, Thailand (Krabi/Railay/Koh Phi Phi, specifically) is my favorite – the people are kind and full of laughter, everything is crazy cheap so you can easily ball like queens and kings, and the topography is out of this world! I recently got back from six weeks of travel where I visited Thailand and the Philippines with a group of my best friends and my boyfriend, and then went on to Hong Kong and India on a solo trip – something I will never forget. That was my favorite trip of all time.

YA: In your travels, you have experienced many different cultures. How have the cultures you’ve visited impacted you as a yoga student and as a yoga teacher?

Nina: I love to travel to experience new places, new people, and new ways of being. I love that we can have particular ways of doing things, treating each other, eating, speaking, transportation, body language, and then we can jump on an airplane and see other human beings who have created completely different systems of interacting with the world around them.
That is what makes seeing the world so beautiful in my eyes – knowing that while we have our individuality, we are all the same, we are all one.
I like to remind myself that there are likely a ton of things that I don’t know I like . . . yet! The only way to find out is to seek new pathways and activities, and since yoga is my biggest passion, I try to absorb as much as I can. My recent trip to India had a huge effect on my teaching style, and upon returning home I have started teaching Iyengar-style yoga in addition to my Vinyasa Flow and Power Yoga classes.

That is what makes seeing the world so beautiful in my eyes – knowing that while we have our individuality, we are all the same, we are all one.

When I arrived to India I fell ill and lost a lot of my strength. Feeling physically weak or injured had fortunately been pretty foreign to my practice thus far, so getting back into my practice and feeling like a total beginner again was one of the most rewarding experiences for me as a yoga teacher. It gave me a window into what some of my students may feel, whether they are new to the practice, recovering from injury, illness, building or rebuilding strength. It rekindled my love of teaching, practicing, and connecting to students.

YA: You are a GLOW Ambassador. Can you tell us a little bit about GLOW and your experience as an ambassador?

Nina: A friend from San Diego, Kayla Nielsen, contacted me last year regarding Karma Yoga Events for her foundation, GLOW – Go Light Our World. She brings solar-powered energy solutions to places in Africa, Indonesia and elsewhere that currently use kerosene lamps for light (she has an incredible story, which you can follow on her instagram).
These events were being held all across the world last summer, with all proceeds going to the foundation, so I was excited for the opportunity to host one on St. Thomas. We raised over $1,000 for GLOW that day and Kayla was in utter shock – not just that we raised so much money for her cause, but that with an island community of less than 40,000 people, we were able to host the biggest Karma yoga event that GLOW had ever seen.
Part of the yogic path is to dedicate our practice to something higher than ourselves, so it felt so natural to unite the island community under a cause that was supporting clean, renewable energy in Africa. It was the largest yoga class ever held on St. Thomas, and so beautiful to see the yoga community arrive together on that scale. It proved to each of us that we have a thriving vibe tribe on the island – one that has since grown exponentially with the help of a lot of incredible yogi souls.
A big thank you to Nina Camille for doing this interview with YouAligned! You can get more of Nina by following her on Instagram and you should also check out her website to learn more.
All images via Nina Camille

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Elisha Thompson

Elisha Thompson is a yogi, an academic, and an author. She is a registered yoga teacher with 400 hours of training. Aside from yoga, Elisha’s greatest passion is writing. Her new book, Yoga for Kink, will be published this year. In her spare time, she loves to travel, spend time with loved ones, eat good food, and cuddle with unicorns.

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