Category Archives: Reflections

True Belonging

 

A few weeks ago, I started to read the brilliant and powerful book from Brené Brown: “Braving the Wilderness: the quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone”. If you haven’t read it, go and buy it today. It is such an important and precious read for everyone who wants to grow up/old in a meaningful and mindful way and take charge of their life with courage. I feel it is especially important in a world that feels more and more divided every day. That book is a pure gem and talks to me and inspires me so much. Some parts gave me goosebumps and were received deep in my heart.

Here is her definition of true belonging: “it is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are”.

Before writing on a subject, Brené Brown always spends years studying the topic, doing research and collecting data. So in her definition I feel she has extremely carefully chosen her words and I think this is why they are so powerful.

 

Growing up, I never felt that I was belonging to anything or anyone let alone to myself. I definitely felt a little lost, lacking directions and instructions on how to grow up and deal with that big thing that life is. So instead, I became very good at fitting in. Fitting in at school, at the university, with my friends, with my boyfriends, with my family… So many times, I felt out of place but I was still trying to fit in hard. You know, so I can be accepted and be liked.
I became so good at fitting in and pleasing others that I wasn’t listening or even trying to understand what was really important to me and what I needed to blossom.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think the day my husband and I started to go on a date was the first time I made a step towards what I really needed and wanted. I was 21 years old. It was the first time I asked someone out. To that day, It’s hard for me to believe that I did it because it was so unlike me. But I guess my heart, my gut and my intuition spoke a bit louder than my brain that day. And I’m so glad they did because this relationship allowed me and is still allowing me slowly but surely to become more and more who I am. And this thanks to my husband’s support and encouragement.

“True belonging requires you to be who you are”. Such a simple statement and yet how many of us know who we are and if we know, how many of us have the courage to live by that? It does take a lot of courage and may feel like a very lonely and overwhelming path sometimes but when we finally allow ourselves to shine and to be true to ourselves; the feeling of peace, ease, satisfaction and strength is tremendous. I had/have some glimpses of that feeling in my life and those are so powerful. But doubts and fears keep coming back knocking on my door and it requires a lot of strength to not let them in. Often I fail, but I always get back on my feet and find the strength within to stay on my path. The practice of yoga and my introspective work are giving me extremely precious tools to observe, feel, reflect, digest. Trust and faith are also my allied; they guide me to become a better version of myself and speak my truth.

Brené Brown was able to express so clearly what I felt for a long time but I didn’t have the words to articulate it. I want to thank her for all the important work she does and being such an inspiration.

Namaste,

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How to navigate life with more ease

As I hear a lot of people around me having some hard times and going thru challenges, I’ve been thinking about how to navigate things with more ease. I also had my share of disappointments and heart breaking events in my life. As much as when we go thru them, it feels very heavy and challenging; we have to remind ourselves it is also an intrinsic part of life.
There are ups and downs, there is the inhale and the exhale, the receiving and the giving, the wave coming in and going away. It’s just how nature works. That is why I chose the above picture with this quote to illustrate my thought: “everybody wants happiness, no one wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain”.

We can’t control the rhythms of life, that is actually when we try that suffering is more likely to happen. They will always be stronger than our resistance to go with the flow. Instead of trying to control life’s events, what we can control is our reaction to these.
What has helped me and is still helping me a lot and perhaps is becoming more and more helpful as I’m becoming better at using this tool is: when I go thru a bad moment I apply a feeling of gratitude.
Not a feeling of gratitude for the tough time I have but for everything else that goes so well in my life.
Some of you will say easier said than done. And you are right! But the more we practice something, the more it becomes a part of our life, the more it permeates who we are. The first time you practiced the Sun Salutations, it was most likely challenging to remember the sequence and coordinate the breath and the movement and after practicing them hundreds, thousands of times; the breath is initiating the movement, it becomes fluid and spacious.
The same way we get better at what we practice regularly on a physical level, we also get better at retraining and rewiring our brain with what we practice on a mental level.

I’ll use a small example that happened to me while I was in France. After the training, I was supposed to finalize a yoga project I had in my mind for two years. Everything was scheduled to make it happen: the location, the crew, the dates… Nevertheless 10 days before it was supposed to take place, I received an e-mail stating it would have to be cancelled. Of course, my initial reaction was a huge disappointment. I worked on this for a long time, I booked my flight to stay longer in France, when I don’t teach I don’t make money, this is so unprofessional … the list goes on.
But after the initial raw reaction I could also say to myself: how lucky I was that I was even offered that opportunity, how lucky that people trust me and my practice, how lucky I was that I had 4 days off in my country (I never go to France besides when I teach so that’s a pretty big deal!)…
So I went on a 3-day trip to Paris and let me tell you I had a delicious time seeing a few friends, having a hypnosis session with a therapist I wanted to work with, staying at the hotel and playing tourist in that charming, sensual city.

Applying that feeling of gratitude works for very challenging situations of deep loss or sadness as well as for things less important.
If we have an argument with our life partner; reminding ourselves how lucky we are to have someone by our side. If we have an injury, nonetheless being grateful for all the other body parts that work so well. This can be apply to infinity.
It’s not trying to convince yourself that everything is beautiful around you; gratitude makes us acknowledge the reality and the truth. We can’t deny that we are extremely lucky; at least for us who have a roof above our heads, enough food to eat and some love from our families and friends. It’s just undeniable. That is the truth. Which may be hidden under deep layers of frustration, sadness, lack of confidence, doubts… but at the end of the day, it’s still the truth.

Gratitude helps us put everything into perspective.
Gratitude teaches us how to appreciate the present moment. To come back to that place of grounding.
Gratitude transforms the always wanting more or better into enough.
We have enough.

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The impermanence of things

 

A little more than 10 years ago, I was teaching my very first official group class. Above is a picture of the sequence I wrote for that class.
I was terrified!!
Mainly I was terrified of failing and ultimately terrified of rejection. What if they don’t like me, what if they don’t understand my accent, what if my form is poor, what if I forget some instructions, what if I don’t know how to help the student to deal with her/his limitations or injury… ? The list could go on.
The interesting thing is that all these fears were purely based on me. ME, not being able or not being enough. I remember a great advice my husband gave me: “you are there to make your students feel good and to help them; focus on that and you can’t go wrong”. Of course, at the time, it was easier said than done for someone who has tried to be discreet her whole life but that is such an important piece of advice. For Yoga is all about sharing, about union and integration.
Fast forward 10 years: the terror has gone (thanks God!) even though I still get nervous sometimes, especially when starting a new project, but today I learned to appreciate that feeling because as a friend of mine told me once: “your are nervous because you care about your students”. And that is very true, I care a lot about my teaching and my students. I love what I do.

When I started practicing Yoga in 2002 in NYC, I was immediately attracted by the physical aspect of the practice. Then, my husband and I travelled for 8 months in South-East Asia in 2003/2004 and we stopped for a few weeks in an Ashram in Rishikesh, India. The teachers were amazing!! I totally fell in love with the practice. I understood then that Yoga was so much more than the physical practice. I was blessed to be introduced to meditation, pranayama, kriyas and chanting by the most spiritual person I know. And this totally blew my mind. Such an ancient philosophy and the yogis had already figured out and understood everything about life. In contrast, in our so-called modern societies we seem to drift further away from these crucial teachings; some of us feeling disconnected and burnt out. It was such a revelation for me to find a practice, a discipline, a philosophy that was so holistic.
I didn’t want to teach at the time but I went back there the next year to do a teacher training for I had that profound desire to know more, to understand more.
One teacher training in India and two teacher trainings in NYC later, I still had no desire to teach but my thirst of learning was deeply satisfied.

One day, I eventually said yes to a teaching opportunity after refusing a few and I never stopped teaching ever since!
My practice has evolved over the years. I’ve never been a competitive person so although the more challenging poses were seducing me and were fun to practice, I was also ok with the fact of not being able to do everything.
In addition, I quickly realized that I had some physical limitations due to my scoliosis and after ignoring the signals my body was sending me for a while (because of a lack of knowledge of my own condition and the teachers I was practicing with not being trained in scoliosis), I ended up making things worst and feeling some pain. Until I found that wonderful yoga studio: Yoga Union which specialized in back care and scoliosis. There, I learned about my condition and how to take care of myself.

Since then, my physical practice is a more respectful practice towards my body. I know my limitations. I’m not doing yoga to impress or to get “likes” on social media, I’m doing yoga because it feeds my body and my soul. I’m interested in turning my awareness inwardly, in listening. Maybe, as I’m getting older, I’m becoming more cautious. Maybe not, but what truly interests me is the connection between the mind and the body. Today my meditation practice is as important or even more sacred to me than my physical practice.

The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because, everything is impermanent in life. Everything. The bad, the good, the painful, the pleasurable…
My practice has changed over the years and it will keep changing.
We have to embrace this impermanence to feel more at ease in our life otherwise we get too attached and pain arises. This is one of the greatest teachings of the philosophy of yoga.
Life flows, death happens, the seasons changes, joys and sorrows come and go…
That is exactly the reason why life is so beautiful and precious because it’s fragile and ephemeral.

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LOVE, LOVE and even more LOVE

 

I have to be very honest, I had a hard time to gather my thoughts for this newsletter. As the world feels more divided than ever and people are suffering, how can I close my eyes to ignore this and pretend everything is okay? Once we know, we can’t say we were not aware. So I’m doing my best to do my part: staying informed by neutral media sources, signing petitions, giving money to organizations…

I am torn. One part of me is thinking I should be doing more and do more tangible actions. I’ve never been an activist but somehow this year I feel the urge to take actions because I know that shutting our eyes and ignoring what is happening aren’t the answers.
And another part of me knows that going, for instance, to Syria to help isn’t the answer either.
So to ease my inner conflict, I come back to what I know and what Yoga has taught me: that everything start with ourselves, that everything starts with a thought.
I always keep those powerful words in mind:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words
Watch your words, for they become actions
Watch your actions, for they become habits
Watch your habits, for they become character
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny”

I’m not citing the author of that quote on purpose for it has been attributed to so many people, it’s hard to know who really said it. However, the essence of that quote is so profound and so essential to how we can change our world and make an impact.
That is why it is so important to pay attention to our thoughts, that is why mindfulness is essential and meditation a necessity. So we can finally understand that one’s suffering affects every one else. And so we can spread even more love, more unity and more understanding than ever. Because, anyway, love is always the answer. Always.

Words have a huge power and do matter. So I choose to pay attention to the way I express myself for words have energy, they create repercussions; everything does.

Do not worry, I won’t leave you on such a serious note before the Holidays.
In my classes lately, we’ve been adding a short meditation to reflect on what is going well in our life. It is interesting to observe that if one bad thing happens to us in our day and two or three good things also take place, we tend to put our focus only on the bad one. That is a bummer!
But we can change this by coming back to the present moment and reminding ourselves all the good things we have and how fortunate we are. Try it! It doesn’t have to be long. Just sit for a few minutes with eyes closed and contemplate all the beautiful things you have around you, all the people that love you and are there for you. It will brighten your day and will make you feel good.
This reminds me of that excellent video that was shared by a dear colleague. It’s worth the watch!!

I wish you the most wonderful Holiday Season!!!
Keep on spreading the love around you and take good care of one another.
Merry merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!
With love,

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Self-reflecting work

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If you know me, you know that summer is my favorite season. I feel myself during the summer more than any other time during the year. And because I feel in a good place, it’s easier for me to reflect and do some introspective work. Even though I teach as many classes during the summer as I do the rest of the year, I tend to feel easily rushed and busy when I’m full time in NYC leaving little time to deeply reflect despite my daily meditation practice.

But on Shelter island and especially near the ocean, it’s different…
Growing up in a city near the mountains I always wonder why I love the ocean and the beach so much. The environment deeply resonates with me and I believe it’s because all the elements are within reach. They feed my body and soul. I also love the infinity, the immensity of the horizon; that sense of freedom, that everything is possible. It’s my happy place!

I’ve been doing some introspective work for a while now. Having chosen to follow the path of yoga, it is only natural to want to evolve and get closer to the essence of my being. Doing handstand might be fun and I believe I’ll keep loving it but it’s not going to help me nor the world evolve.
This summer, I deepened my self-reflective work. Observing more closely, listening more deeply, feeling with all my senses, sensing with attention, asking myself tough questions, refusing to shy away from whatever is coming up. The latter might be the most challenging one for me.
How easy it is to close our eyes when a situation doesn’t feel right to us and avoid confronting ourselves to it rather than really facing it?

Fears are usually linked to our lack of making the right decisions. For instance, fear of losing something so we prefer staying in a more familiar situation rather than taking a leap. I, myself, have a lot of fears I’m working on. It is not an easy process but one I decided to undertake to keep growing and going in the direction that feels right to me. And during that process, nature is always a big help for me to get more clarity.
Nature has all the answers.
When surrounded by Nature and being able to be there for a while, I feel like my cells are in harmony with the environment. All my senses feel more attentive and acute but in a very gentle, soft way. I feel much more receptive and I’m able to listen to and to observe whatever is happening in my life at that moment. I feel much clearer, less susceptible to listen to my fears.

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I was lucky to spend a few days at the Yoga center Kripalu in Massachusetts this summer. It was another beautiful invitation to keep going a bit deeper with myself in a cooler and woodsy setting.

Another tool that has been very helpful to me is putting things on paper. This sounds so obvious as perhaps spending some time in Nature is, but let me tell you, the simpler the techniques, the better it works. Introspective work is all about listening, being present and this can only be done in a quiet environment, using tools such as writing, meditating or contemplating. It’s only when we find ourselves calm and receptive that the work bears its fruits.
Writing is extremely helpful for it helps letting go of any barrier we may built. We feel free to express ourselves and sometimes we may even surprise ourselves by what is coming out. I know I did, and in a very positive way.

The Dalai Lama was recently in Strasbourg, France and I was listening to one of his talks thanks to Facebook live. Many things he said resonated with me but on the subject I’m writing on today he said one thing that especially attracted my attention. He said that when we have negative emotions or feelings in our mind, it’s usually because we look at the problem from a very narrow angle and we forget to look at the bigger picture. The narrower the angle, the more anxiety or negative emotions it will add to the problem. This stuck with me for it’s true that sometimes we get too focused on a specific issue and we may forget that everything else is actually pretty good. This was a great reminder.
May we keep doing our introspective work but may we not lose sight of the bigger picture.

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The paradox of knowledge

 

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I came back a few weeks ago from teaching a Yogaworks 200H teacher training and a couple of workshops in Strasbourg, France and that thought came to mind: the more I know about yoga, the less I know!

Since 2003, I took many trainings and workshops. Every year that passes I keep learning and deepening my knowledge. That is what keeps me in my practice, what inspires me and grounds me in my teaching, what keeps me interested. I have gathered thousands of hours of training and thousands of hours of teaching over the years and yet, this feeling of knowing less (I guess, little would be more appropriate) is present.
Don’t be alarmed, I’m not writing this with sadness or worries, I think this is actually a very healthy thought to have for it pushes me to keep learning, to get better, to experience more.

I’ve noticed that there are several steps in knowledge. At the beginning, we absolutely want to know the correct and only answer: it should be this way and no other way. I often see it with the students who take the trainings, it has to be black or white. And this is completely normal. Our brain needs to receive tangible, clear, precise information to retain them. We are already learning new information when taking a training so if in addition nothing is precise, it becomes destabilizing. If the feet are together in Tadasana, Mountain pose, then this has to be the rule, the truth for every body. But, is it that simple?
I’m giving you the answer right away: not at all and that is what I care to teach to my students.

I remember my first serious yoga experience. It was in India, in Rishikesh, with my Iyengar teacher: Karyn O’Bannon. She had one of the highest levels of teaching in the Iyengar tradition. She, unfortunately, passed away in 2013. Like many Iyengar teachers, her teaching style was strict and disciplined but at the same time she had a touching and moving humility. She’s the one who gave me the desire to keep practicing yoga in 2003 and to keep learning. I was in awe of her knowledge of the body and I thought at the time; if one can have such an understanding and connection with the body; even knowing what our pinky toe should be doing, it must open incredible gateways to our mind, to its control and allow harmony between the body and the mind. I’m so thankful to her for she had such a huge impact on my path.
I needed this guidance, these precise instructions, this rigor, to give me the wings I needed. And beyond her precision she was such a spiritual person.

So often, at the beginning, we are too rigid in our instructions to eventually realize that it’s not as black or as white as we thought but that there is a world between the two where most of us actually live. Paradoxically, this awareness can only come if we keep on learning, on continuing our education and on practicing. The more we learn, the more we discover the subtleties of yoga. The physical subtleties, the subtleties of energy, the mental subtleties…Yoga is such a vast subject and that is what I love so much about it. It’s like the Russian dolls except that in yoga, there is no end. We unveil new layers thanks to the maturity of practice and teaching we develop. And the more we learn, the more we realize that we are barely understanding all the depth of some concepts. Why? Because in yoga, it is all about feeling, everything is experience, everything is a practice to connect to oneself. And this take time and patience. Each person will have a different path, different levels of awareness, different approaches, different sensibilities in their learning.

In his book: “Outlier: the story of success”, Malcolm Gladwell explains the 10 000 hour rule to master a subject, a skill. Others replied that it’s not necessarily true, some people need more hours and other need less. It all depends on the quality of attention during the learning. If you are interested on the subject, here is the link.
I couldn’t agree more with this concept of quality of practice. The philosophy of yoga actually talks about this. I love when modern situations or discussions are being confirmed by an ancient text. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (compiled about 200BCE- 400CE), there is that concept of Abhyasa which means practice or effort. Patanjali says that our practice should be done with faith or with all our heart to have greater progress. They are saying the same thing!

So I’ll keep learning, I’ll keep practicing for the rest of my life with the same passion and curiosity I’ve been feeling all these years.  And perhaps as long as I’ll feel that I don’t know much, I’ll be on the right path because the day I’ll feel I know a lot, my ego will have taken too much space.

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The little voice in our head

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A few weeks ago, I posted this picture of Virabhadrasana III: warrior III, taken during my vacation in the Caribbean, on Facebook and Instagram with the following caption:
“Me: I like this picture!
The little voice in my head: BUT!! Have you seen the cellulite??!!
Me: yes, I know…
The little voice in my head: you CAN’T post that picture!!
Me: I’ll post it and I accept myself the way I am and this, with my cellulite!!”

I wasn’t expecting such a reaction from the people who are following me on social medias. What a joy to read your comments and positives thoughts!! I was so touched and deeply moved that I decided to write a bit more on that subject.

We all have this little voice in our head which sometimes tells us: you are not enough, you are not perfect, you need this to be better, and that to be loved, you are lacking this to succeed and also that to… (fill in the blank). The list can be extremely long!
This is a subject that is close to my heart for like many others, I’ve been a victim of the little voice in my head when I was younger: too tall, too skinny, too introvert… Today, I know much better how to detach myself from it. Although I’m sure if you ask my husband, he will tell you my insecurities without hesitating! Is it really true or is it again the little voice in my head trying to judge me? Isn’t it interesting to observe how our mind works!

But this subject is especially close to my heart for I see it, I feel it that little voice in my student’s head: I don’t have enough muscles, I need to lose weight, the others have perfect postures except for me, I’m too anxious to meditate, too busy to sit quietly, not flexible enough to do some yoga… Here as well, the list goes on. We place obstacles on our path, we bring ourself down, we judge ourself in a negative way, even before trying!

And there is also this little voice which sometimes, in lieu of making us give up before we even start, pushes us too far.
If others can take these postures then I must too, no matter what, even risking to injure myself more. I remember one of my private students telling me she suffers from arthritis in all her joints. Despite the intense pain, she was brave enough to tell me that she was pushing herself when she was taking group classes. If the other students could take these poses, then she must too. But at what cost? And why?
Let us not forget that one of the core principles upon which yoga is based is “Ahimsa” which means absence of violence. Absence of violence towards others but also towards oneself. And yet, and perhaps even more in NYC where society is very competitive, many students keep themselves in a competitive mode.
I also believe that not being able to accept that our body can’t perform the same things it used to do in the past is another fertile ground for the little voice in our head.

And that’s not all! There is also the little voice in our head which judges others. How present it is as well! By the way, I appreciated a lot that comment that someone made about my photo:

“The little voice in my head reacted exactly like yours! Oh she has some cellulite and I went: ah thank you for showing the Truth, concept so important in Yoga! Namaste and THANK YOU again!”

I love this comment full of honesty for it shows exactly how our mind works. This little voice, eagerly awaiting to jump and start its nattering. For it’s only nattering. Nattering without any depth, one that is, most of the time, influenced by society.

So my advice to stop this little voice in our head, is to first observe it, be aware of it. Then, gently, without frustration and with patience, tame it so it doesn’t control us anymore. To understand that it is simply a thought, that it doesn’t define us, that we are much more than this. And the more we observe it and tame it, and the more it becomes ludicrous and futile. The more we detach ourself from it, the more we give ourself the permission to be authentic, vulnerable and sincere.

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and your incredible reactions!!!
Since we all need one another to feel supported, may we be as understanding and inspiring with our words and actions in the real world.

“Life doesn’t need to be justified or judged”  Don Miguel Ruiz

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A new page is turned…

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…but is it that new? I’ve always been fascinated by the enthusiasm given to the transition to the New Year. I love the tradition of celebrating and gathering to welcome the new year. What makes me think are the resolutions. How would, the passage from December 31st to January 1st, have the power to transform people and their daily life?
Of course, I understand that changing year is a big enough event to decide to start something new and fresh. In fact, I have a lot of respect for people who decide to change and make resolutions. This decision is much more difficult than it seems. It requires a lot of awareness and demands to pay attention to one’s body and mind to be able to detect what prevents us from becoming a better version of ourselves. But why take this initiative only on January 1st?
According to me, the problem with the resolutions is the same as the one with the diets. Most of us are making too drastic changes and most of the time too many of them. Hence, it becomes extremely challenging to keep up with these for we feel forced and somewhat punished.

Rather, what is close to my heart is a process of reflection and intention. Taking the time to reflect in an objective way on the year that has passed. The joyful moments as much as the challenging ones; observe them the same way. In our frenzy lives, most of us let things go without really digesting or analyzing them. And yet, this introspective process is fundamental if we want to move on.
My meditation practice is helping me a lot with this work. I also find putting things into perspective, by taking a trip for instance, another efficient tool.
Once the step of reflection is done, then set an intention for this new year thanks to visualization. This could be mental, or written or by creating a vision board with pictures and words we find inspiring. What are the things, people, feelings…we’d like to attract in our life?
My advice is to stay very simple in our intention and very clear. The clearer our intention, the greater the potential to manifest itself.

2015 brought me many joys and successes but also a good amount of sad and challenging situations. But before everything, it kept showing me what I aspire to do in my life. And for that, I say thank you to this past year.

The feeling of gratitude is another very powerful tool to stay concentrated on our intention. I realize it more and more everyday. Our mind has this unfortunate tendency to focus on the negative or at least, to highlight the negative much more than the positive. It is fascinating to observe that during a day in which a dozen of things go very smoothly and nicely, we’ll only remember the thing or the situation that made us upset. I’m guilty of being a victim of this tendency and I become more and more aware that it is up to me to change my perspective. It’s in my hands. I have this power. I’ve been knowing this on an intellectual level for years but applying it in my daily life has been a gradual process. It’s been now a few years that I put this into practice (some days are easier than others). By noticing, by taking note of the positive things in our life and by feeling some gratitude for them, we become more at peace and more content. In other words, happier.

In December, I participated to an Instagram challenge: “25 days of gratitude” organized by the yoga school where I teach at: Yogaworks. I usually don’t take part of those Instagram yoga challenges for most of them are about physical postures. And I believe that the yoga image is already too oriented towards the physical aspect of the practice. But this challenge caught my attention for more gratitude in our world can only be beneficial and it could, I hope, inspire some to try it.
I’m sharing with you a few pictures I took during this challenge: my husband, a concert at Carnegie Hall, my meditation practice, my favorite bird spotted in Central Park: The Cardinal.
You can find my 25 pictures and comments on Instagram IG: celineantoineyoga

I wish you a wonderful and amazing New Year 2016!!!!
May your intention be clear and may we adopt an attitude of gratitude everyday.

With respect,
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Ease and softness

Summer 2015 was a great millésime!!

So many wonderful moments: my group classes and private sessions every weekend since mid-June on the majestic Shelter island, a trip to the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho to teach, some long walks on the beach, a nature simple but magical at the same time…
I share with you these few pictures I took over the summer.

What I love the most about summer is that everyone seems to be more laid back, more at ease with their daily life. People are still working and myself included, but there is an ease, a fluidity that is so enjoyable.

Which makes me wonder if our environment is crucial for our personal development or is our mind stronger and can adapt whatever the circumstances?

From my experience and my studies of Yoga and meditation, the power of the mind is undeniable. Many people are able to overcome negative circumstances, even tragic situations thanks to their mind. Nevertheless, I come more and more to the conclusion that our physical and emotional environments are essential. They make a huge difference in our ability to blossom, to thrive.
I’m not talking about just feeling good but to be able to fulfill ourselves to the extend of our potential.
It seems obvious, you could reply!
But how many of us find ourselves in situations that don’t satisfy us totally? And because of our habits or fear of change we end up sticking to our immobility.

As Albert Einstein said: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

And how many of us are not even aware of this situation and live on autopilot?

Some soul searching, some introspective work will be necessary to become aware and acknowledge anything that needs to be addressed.
The philosophy of yoga is helping us shining the light on the barriers we have built, the layers we have accumulated in front of our eyes due for instance to our education, our past experiences…

According to the “Yoga Sutras” of Patanjali, this introspective work allows us to connect to our true nature, our true self: “Purusha” which is one of the keys to our happiness.
As Autumn approaches, before going back to a busy and intense rhythm, let us take a moment to ask ourselves the right questions. Let us turn inwardly and listen closely to the signs, the messages our body, mind and gut are sending to us. Let us make the appropriate choices to help us keep the summer ease and lightness but also to get a bit closer every day to our inner self.
And please, let us make sure that we don’t set the bar too high or that we don’t put so much pressure on ourselves that it’s preventing us from taking the first step.
It doesn’t have to be a radical life change, it could be renovating a room in our apartment, seeing our friends more, a healthier communication with the person we share our life with, starting an activity that will nourish our soul…
For me, it will start by not letting my schedule invade too much my social life.
May the transition to Fall be fluid and soft.
Namaste,
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A feeling of gratitude

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A feeling of gratitude

I’m back in New York after having spent 7 weeks in Strasbourg, France, to teach a Yogaworks 300-hour teacher training.

It was a wonderful experience to be able to rediscover the French pace of life and ambiance after 15 years living in NYC.
I wanted to share with you a list, non exhaustive, of some of the differences I’ve noticed between the two cultures during my stay:

. the calm of the streets; even the fire engines and police cars sirens seemed to be a soft music to my ears in comparison to the ones in NYC!

. French people don’t look at their phone when walking on the streets or at the restaurant. They actually look at one another in the eyes and the French being the French, they compliment the girls passing by.
What a change from New York where everyone has his/her head glued to their phone and people bump into you or worst in a car while crossing the sidewalks.

. not having to take the local transportation once to go anywhere: what a luxury! The apartment I rented was a 5-minute walk to the yoga studio I was teaching at: Yogamoves.
Being a yoga teacher in New York, taking the subway several times is part of my daily routine to go and teach my group classes and private sessions. Even though I’m grateful to be able to go around so easily in the city, I regret how loud the subway is and the constant delays.

. French people don’t answer their e-mails within a hour or within a day. They can take several days or weeks to reply to you.
Being used to the American efficiency, I found myself destabilized by this habit. But I realized that most French people make the distinction between their professional and private lives. And I value this a lot!
Here, in NYC, the line between professional and private lives has become totally blurry. People replied to their e-mails anytime, anywhere, making themselves more and more available to their work and increasing their stress level in their private life. So stay as you are my people and I’ll wait patiently for your response.

. the French yogis are much less tight in their hip flexors than the Americans! What a difference! One of the reasons is that American people sit for long hours in front of their computer at work which contracts these muscles. There are also lots of runners in NYC who need to engage them while running.

. the 2 or 3 kilos I gained! So so many temptations everywhere…

. it’s challenging to eat at a restaurant in France if you don’t eat dairy. In the country where food is a culture, butter and cream are kings. I stopped eating dairy 18 months ago.
In NYC, I easily find vegan restaurants or regular ones ready to cater to my diet. But in Strasbourg, it’s complicated! Butter is such a key ingredient that the waiters often don’t know that it’s in the dishes. One of them suggested I have the dessert with salted butter caramel as a substitute!

. the lack of juice stores. In NYC, it is hard to walk a few blocks without finding one. That trend has a difficult time to pick up in France.

. the incoherences of the French services such as Air France and the SNCF (the French railroad) just to name a few. I’ll spare you the details but I found myself in the middle of a comical situation due to the lack of professionalism of these two services. I was amazed to see how in France, one tend to make you responsible and feel guilty for a situation their lack of organization and communication created. There is always that underlying assumption that the customer is guilty. What a contrast from America where the client is king and the notion of service is part of the culture. American people will do everything they can to solve the situation in your favor especially if they are responsible of the problem.

. the French style and natural “classe”. What a delight to see people well dressed and paying attention to small details in their outfits.
The yoga pants have not yet invaded the French sidewalks!

There would be so many more things to add but at the end of the day, I like and feel good in both cultures and I’m so grateful to be able to navigate from one to the other with ease.
I’d like to thank all the students who welcomed me with such warmth in France. You were truly incredible. You allowed me to feel at home and this is priceless. Thank you so so much!!!
Both transitions, arriving in France and coming back to NYC, were extremely smooth and fluid and for that I’m also very grateful. Grateful to have yoga in my life that gives me the tools to stay present, centered, anchored where ever I am.
“Hatha Yoga Anushasanma”: the practice of yoga is here and now.

Namaste,

 

 

 

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This summer will be busy for me for I’m honored to be part of twoYogaworks 300-hour teacher trainings. So if you want to take your practice and teaching to the next level, you have two options:
. one in Hazlet, New Jersey
. one in New York City
For more information and to apply, contact Lynn Lisella.

 

 

 

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This is one of the majestic sunset sets I got to see last summer on the ferry on my way to Shelter Island. I’ve been lucky to teach on this Island for the past 9 years. I’ll be going this summer again to teach group classes and private sessions. So if you need a break from the city, come and practice with me every Saturday and Sunday at 9am at Shelter Island Yoga starting on June 20th.

Please check my website in the weeks to come for my updated schedule in the city.

 

 

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My new French “Arrêt sur Asana” video is ready. I take a look at crow pose: Bakasana.
Watch it on Vimeo
or on the Esprit Yoga magazine website.

Don’t forget to ‘like” my Facebook page for updates and inspiration!!

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