#30: Nicole Jaquis - “You don’t plan India, India plans you.”

India Nomad

It’s hard to decide how to introduce Nicole Jaquis, today’s podcast guest. Do I start by describing her as a New York City seasoned multimedia producer & educator? Or a humble practicing yogi, regularly living in the India Himalayan mountains for the past 8 years? Or the dazed hippie chick/photography - philosophy major I knew back in our undergraduate days at Lake Forest College? Even after our conversation, I still don’t know, but I do sense that to put a title on her or attempt to fit her into any neat little box would do her wrong.

My desire to interview Nicole came from following her on social media. Rather than the political or “check out how awesome my life is” fluff that dominates Facebook, Nicole’s posts were real to me, or at least encouraging me to be more real. Meditation, Indian culture immersion, and authenticity were her topics of choice.

It’s odd who remains and re-emerges in one’s 40s.

Our conversation begins by recounting a classic nomad missed connection. In 2017, Nicole had returned to the states and was working in the Western Massachusetts Berkshires, at Race Brook Lodge. I was on one of my typical regional walkabouts, and tried to connect with her. It didn’t work out, but we both remained curious about each other’s paths.

The conversation shifts to Nicole’s India experience, starting with her 2015 essay, which describes her unexpected path. Our talk meanders through much of her life there, covering her time producing a documentary, filming the sacred ritual of a woman’s initiation in to the oldest order of dasnami sanyasis, and living in ashrams.

Lastly, we turn our attention to discussing the westernization of Yoga. Though we both see the benefit of the practice spreading into the capitalistic West, is what’s being taught true to its Indian roots? It’s not a clear answer.

Nicole leaves us with some simple guidance on how to bring a more authentic form of yoga into our daily lives. Simple, but not easy. I’ve already deviated from most of her advice. Practice, not perfection.

So settle in for this long conversation with a true nomad, one that left me with more questions than I started with.

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