Meet Niki! She one of our newest teacher at ODD. If you haven’t taken class with her already, get on it! Find her on the schedule in Echo Park and Eagle Rock! In the meantime, you can brush up on all your Niki trivia by reading this post and learning more about the teacher, the student, the yogi, the human that is Niki Saccareccia.
Name: Niki Saccareccia
Nickname: The Great Pacifier, Lighthouse, Nikalini, NikNak, Nicolette, Curls
Hometown: Melbourne, FL
Favorite place: Anywhere in kind company with great food, music and fresh air.
What initially inspired you to become an instructor?
I was doing my summer internships at a sleep-away camp in upstate New York for at-risk and special needs youth. My colleagues and I were working 7-10 days straight through for 9 weeks, providing intensive 1:1 care to our campers. I saw how our entire lives/careers were going to hinge on self-sacrifice and burnout, just like every Psychologist and Therapist before us -t he need is always greater than those willing to help and it made me upset to think that the people spending their lives caring for other people’s children were destined for burnout. So, I started leading sunrise yoga classes so we could all get some self-care before our crazy, long days. I wasn’t formally trained yet, but knew I wanted the skills to help give back to my peers and other caregiver-types. I wanted to care for the caregivers.
Why do you continue to teach?
It’s rewarding to see immediate impact on people – I know I’m helping the world by sending people back into it feeling more grounded, cared for, seen and relaxed. It also uses every part of my talent and skill which keeps my spirit and mind sharp. Sometimes I teach 7-8 classes a day, but I always wake up happy because I’m doing what I love for a living, and continuing a lineage of applied philosophy that is more relevant than ever to the betterment of our planet and humanity. Plus, I can talk about poetry, philosophy, anatomy and physics in the same class and still be on topic. It’s so fun!
How do you define yoga?
Big Picture: Radical self-acceptance of what actually is.
Microcosm: The practice of balancing “doing” and “being” in one’s own agency, while being in relationship to all other things.
When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)?
Entrepreneuring ways to bring more yoga to more people, cooking with my friends, petting all the dogs, hiking and traveling/exploring places.
Share a story or anecdote with us – something magical, changing, funny, or adventurous. Something that you love to tell.
When I was in middle school, my parents and I were on a road trip in Florida, traveling on a toll road. As we were pulling up to the toll booth, I saw a small car in the lane next to us, moving but with no driver. I started to freak out, worried that the car would crash into the car ahead of it. Turns out, it was hitched to the tailgate of a giant RV that I couldn’t see because it was in the toll both area, already. My parents will still tease me about this, and it was over 20 years ago.
What is your favorite pose or flow? Why?
As a full time yoga/meditation teacher, I drive A LOT so I need counterbalance. I do Legs Up the Wall Pose everyday, at some point to counteract sitting upright. I also love Side Laying Savasana; it elongates the Psoas which is usually tight from holding my foot over the break pedal.
What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use?
It never gets old how a simple blanket can be used for so much in terms of support, compression and balance training. I have at least 2 in my trunk at all times!
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I’m shy by nature, so I usually get embarrassed easily. Most recently, I learned that I’ve been saying the word “theater” wrong my entire life…if you ever hear me say “theer-ter” please correct me 🙂
What is your most empowering moment?
I’ve always been a clutz. The first time I ever did a vinyasa and it actually felt aligned, I had this surge of empowerment! I had an immediate download about why the vinyasa sequence is so essential and a comprehensive teacher in it’s own right. I suddenly understood what proper physical alignment can do to optimize our energy, how incredible our human architecture is, that I can hold every ounce of myself in a compromising position. It was the first time I ever felt athletic and graceful at the same time.
What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart?
Ramapo for Children is an incredible organization that gives at-risk youth and special-needs children in the greater NY area an opportunity to experience the outdoors in a summer-camp style setting with a counselor for every student. It was my first experience in an intentional-community focused on education, inclusivity and relational learning.
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a non-profit that is changing the conversation, politics, and access around medicines that have been wrongly placed on the FDA’s Schedule 1. MAPS is helping educate the public about the medicinal value of substances that would change the status-quo of western medicine, one controlled study at a time.
Connect with Niki on the social media!