Attorney and commercial real estate broker
First Bikram Yoga Richmond class: May 2009
“When I come to yoga, I am namaste, but outside you can find me laughing a lot.”
In a nutshell, what is your life story?
Nate grew up in Spotsylvania County. His mother was an assistant school principal, and his father was a computer scientist who worked for the federal government and commuted daily to Washington. Nate’s father grew up on a farm, the son of a sharecropper and one of eight children. He was first person in Nate’s family to go to college. He also instilled the values of hard work and self-discipline. A mischievous kid, Nate found himself in trouble, usually on Sundays. “When that happened, I had to go outside and pick a switch or get the belt,” Nate says.
During his years at Courtland High School, Nate was co-captain of the football team and lettered in basketball. He also played soccer and tennis and studied classical piano growing up. “If there’s one thing I was good at, it was playing the piano. I played from when I was 6 to 18 and practiced at least an hour every day as I got older and more competitive,” Nate says. His grandmother was the original piano player of the family. She played by ear. “If you started singing, she would start playing,” Nate says.
Nate completed four years of undergraduate work at UVA, majoring in English. He then went on to law school at The Appalachian School of Law. Since 2004 he has worked in commercial real estate. He moved from Northern Virginia to Richmond in 2010. He and his wife, Bella, who is originally from Houston, are expecting their first baby in January. Bella just finished her residency program in anesthesiology at MCV.
Nate loves to have a good time and describes himself as honest, perhaps a little too honest. “I say what others wouldn’t say,” he says. “I’m that person!” But mostly he loves to laugh. “I am a joker. I love to play pranks and talk trash with my friends. I’m blessed to have great friends and family who have great senses of humor and know the value of play.”
How did you first learn about Bikram yoga?
“I was reading a book by Russell Simmons called ‘Do You!’ Since rap was the music of my generation, I was fascinated that Russell did yoga and wanted to try it. A friend took me to my first yoga class at Bikram Yoga Falls Church, where I was living.” An avid boxing fan, Nate would often take a yoga class and then go across the street to box. “That was a perfect workout day for me.”
Coincidentally, Karla Stoll was one of Nate’s first Bikram yoga teachers in Falls Church. “I loved Karla’s class because she was really tough and gave helpful tips on how to improve. She would say something simple like, ‘relax your face, Nate,’ but often the little things make the biggest difference.” Nate says he thinks Karla has grown as a teacher and BYR is lucky to have her. He also says she’s mellowed out some and “no longer lets the temperature get past 132 degrees.” “Maybe playing the guitar and singing have given an added dimension to her style.” (Maybe Karla would say that Nate has mellowed and grown as a student.)
What do you do when you’re not doing yoga?
In addition to music, Nate loves playing chess (he and his brother played competitively growing up), reading and being outdoors. “I love to travel, and I am learning to cook,” Nate says. “And I love watching and playing sports, especially boxing, football and basketball.”
How has Bikram yoga changed your life?
“Learning to breathe has changed my life,” Nate says. “I am learning to recognize that often in tough situations, I am holding my breath. My anxiety creeps in, and I feel it. Now I breathe through it, deal with it, and it passes.”
Nate says the yoga has also helped him become more patient with himself and with others. “A lot of the time, I can be quick tempered and peevish,” he says. “I’m still working on my road rage, but yoga has helped me to stay calmer.”