Category Archives: Reflections

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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HARMONY

 

 

 

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A year full of harmony and understanding

I finally find the time to sit down and write my newsletter…
The holiday season is always such a hectic period and the year started strong. I’ve never really liked this season of the year for as a kid, my brother and I would spend Christmas away from my parents. They used to own a “pâtisserie” in France and my father was making everything from cakes, croissants, chocolates, to ice creams to savory dishes. I can sense what some of you are thinking: what a dream!! And yes, I loved it!! But as much as I was so happy to grow up surrounded by sugar, my brother and I never spent a Christmas with my parents for it was their busiest day of the year along with new year’s day.

But somehow the last few years, I started to get more into the Christmas spirit and I enjoy it a lot. I think what I like the most is the lights and the sense of warmth and coziness that holiday offers. We are so busy all the time that it feels so good to slow down and spend time with people we love.
For New Year’s eve, my husband and I also kept things quiet as we wanted to start the new year with clarity and intention. We went to the New York Insight meditationcenter from 9pm to 12.30am to welcome 2015 with meaning. I believe in the power of thoughts, how they affect our reality. And being able to spend this holiday meditating with like minded people was a blessing.

The week following the New Year, I asked my students to choose a word that would define 2015, that would be their theme for the year. Such a simple exercise but truly powerful. The word I chose is HARMONY. I will make 2015 a harmonious year at every level of my life and for the people who surround me.
Coming back to the power of our thoughts, I believe in setting an intention, in holding it clearly in your heart and mind so it can become a reality. Since January first, every time I felt an argument could arise, or I could be thrown off by a situation, I would remember that word: harmony. Right away I would stop the vicious cycle of my thoughts and my behavior would change.
In the yogic philosophy of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, that is referred to as the technique of “pratipaksha bhavanam” (sutras 2.33 and 2.34). It tells us to invite positive thoughts when negative thinking arises. This helps to eliminate the thoughts in our minds that we do not want and are not healthy for us.
Another way to control unwanted thoughts is to consider the principle of cause and effect. If thoughts are cause and experience is the effect, then we are asked to consider what the effects might be of our actions, thoughts and words. Will they be positive or negative?

Of course, as I chose the word harmony, little did I know that my country would be under attack and that over 2000 innocent people would be killed in Nigeria by Boko Haram. So where do we go from there?
I still believe more than ever that harmony, understanding and love are the answers. We need to understand that we are all the same and it’s only by coming together that we will create harmony. Love is always the answer. Let’s spread it every day even in the tiniest way, for it does make a difference.

“I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.” Somaly Mam

I want to wish you a magical and peaceful year. May you be free from sufferings.
With Love,

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Season and inspiration

 

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SEASON
Autumn has arrived and along with it, wind and colder temperatures. Even though I can only be moved by how romantic and incredibly beautiful the turning colors of the leaves is; it is, by far, not my favorite season.
From my experience and my knowledge in Ayurveda (Indian medicine), Autumn has the power to weaken my being both physically and emotionally: dry skin, cracked lips, fatigue, stress and anxiety more pronounced…
Along the years, I learnt to notice these symptoms and to protect myself. One of the many benefits of practicing Yoga regularly is to be able to listen to ourself better, to be aware of our body and its needs.
Here are a few very simple gestures I do every day to take care of myself, keep me grounded and help me live better this season of transition:

. wearing warm clothes especially around the waist and the neck.

. eating/drinking warm foods and drinks. Hydrating and warming up from the inside is important to boost our metabolism. For example, if you have cereals with milk for breakfast, heat it up. Since I heat up my almond milk, I don’t have a feeling of dryness in my throat anymore when I teach my first class in the morning.

. not drinking any caffeinated drinks; they increase stress and anxiety. Two years ago, I stopped drinking coffee and tea for they were dehydrating me too much.

. drinking plenty of water but never iced or cold, always room temperature.

. keeping my skin hydrated with organic creams.

. going to bed early and sleeping long hours.

. no screen time for about an hour after waking up.

. practicing a lot of standing poses which center and ground oneself. They address the first chakra where our roots are located.

Have an easeful and healthy Autumn. Take good care of yourselves!!!

 

 

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INSPIRATION

I couldn’t agree more with that quote and the urgency seems even more immediate with every day passing by.
Sometimes, I’m scared by how we got our priorities totally wrong. How we value money over kindness and compassion, how we worship some reality TV stars over understanding and supporting our community, how we destroy Mother Earth for the sake of making more money, how the food and pharmaceutical industries decide what we should eat and then feed us medicine instead of promoting a healthy lifestyle where food and movement are the medicine, how people who work everyday with passion and loyalty can barely make a living when others make in one day their yearly income, how we kill for the sake of religion or owning a piece of territory…
What has happened to us?
I think the answer lies in education.
Learning awareness, compassion, kindness, meditation, movement, nutrition, gardening, caring for our family is as important if not more important than any other subject studied in school.
And eventhough a lot has to be changed, I have FAITH for I see these topics being a concern for more and more people. I see parents educating theses values in their children, I see more interest in eastern philosophies and a will to change coming from people. And this gives me hope in a better future, not one where success is based on how much you make but how harmoniously can you live with one another while respecting the Earth.
We need to understand that we are all in this together and even the smallest action can benefit the other; for we are without a doubt, on a larger scale, ONE.

 

 

 

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Yoga Teacher Training

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I’m filled with joy and enthusiasm as I’m about to go to Strasbourg, France for the 4th year in a row to teach the second session of a Yogaworks teacher training. I’m excited to see my students who chose to follow the wonderful path of Yoga.
I’m fully aware of the huge honor and the important responsibility that come with teaching a training.
Honor yes, for it is a privilege to be able to teach future teachers, to share their joys, their questions, their doubts, their fears. To see them evolve and transform during these 200 hours.
It is also an important responsibility for it is my duty to transmit to them some quality knowledge, to give them a solid base from which they will have the freedom to grow, to refine and to deepen their practice. Hence, continuing my education by taking workshops, trainings and deepening my personal practice is a key point to be able to teach trainings and any classes.
I’ve been teaching teacher trainings for Yogaworks for 6 years. The first level of training is 200 hours. The next level is 300 hours of training for a total of 500 hours. The number of hours has been decided by Yoga Alliance, organization supervising internationally the schools of yoga allowed to train students.
I have sometimes witnessed, from French people, a skepticism regarding these trainings.
How is it possible to become a Yoga teacher in 4 weeks?
Being French and used to long years of training based on theory (I have a master in Social Law. You see, studying law gets you anywhere!), I also have felt in the past this skepticism and questioning. That being said, these disappeared quickly.
Aside the Iyengar teacher trainings which last several years, almost all other trainings offered in the world are given under the 200-hour format. One exception is in France where the “Ecole Française de Yoga” trainings are given in 4 years.
I simply came to the conclusion that there are two different methods and outlooks. In the Sates, for instance, all the trainings are rather short for society focus on the practical, pragmatic aspect and on the experience gathered along the years. It is also implied that the training is the very first step on a beginner teacher’s path and he/she has the obligation to continue his/her education by taking workshops, trainings and, of course, by practicing.
In France, the society values theory and the latter, over many years. This school of thought is deeply anchored in the French mentality. Hence, when an other method is proposed, the judgment and the questions arise.
All I can say is, after having myself being trained in the States ( I’ve been living in New York for 14 years), I’m extremely grateful for the quality and the professionalism of the trainings I received both for the 200H and 300H levels. Since, I never stopped practicing and I’m always continuing my education to refine my skills and knowledge, to better understand this fascinating path of Yoga physically, energetically and spiritually.
Let’s not forget that these trainings are meant to be taken by advanced and disciplined practitioner.
Now being a trainer, I’m lucky to witness incredible transformations. The trainings help some find their calling and a few took a leap of faith and are now making a living out of teaching or opened their own yoga studio, others gained the confidence they needed to start teaching, others wanted to deepen their own practice and don’t want to become a teacher and others took it as another life experience.
Whatever your journey and your desires are, the training will give you a solid foundation to practice safely and better understand who you are physically as well as mentally. And it will show you the way to eventually teach if it is your calling.

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Food for thought: “the sacroiliac joint”

As a yoga practitioner, I’ve experienced some pain, discomfort in my sacroiliac (SI) joints at times. Having a scoliosis (uneven spine and pelvis), I’m at greater risk to feel some sensitivity around this joint.

The SI joints have some mobility, a little give, but they are mainly joints of STABILITY.
For those of you who don’t have any anatomical knowledge, please stay with me, here are some more information.
A joint is where two bones meet. We have two SI joints: one on the right where the ilium (latin name for one side of the pelvis) and the sacrum meet and one one the left.
Around every joint, there are some ligaments. We can stretch them a little during our asana practice but if we overstretch them, they don’t go back to their regular length and the joints are becoming hypermobile. Think of a gum being stretched, once lengthened it won’t return to its original length.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that stretching is bad, I’m saying: it MUST be combined with STABILIZATION.

85% of women suffered or are suffering from SI pain compare to 15% of men. How unfair!
Here are some reasons. First, a woman’s pelvis is wider than a man’s so there is more torquing action happening just by its nature, the joint is also shallower in a woman’s pelvis hence less stable and finally, (as if it wasn’t enough!) the ligaments around the joints respond to the hormones changes (periods, pregnancy, menopause…).
If you are or have been pregnant, you most likely know what I’m talking about.

For a pain free SI joints, the well known yoga instructor, Judith Hanson Lasater, who is also a physical therapist, has a strong opinion on the subject: ALWAYS MOVE YOUR PELVIS AND YOUR SACRUM TOGETHER especially in twists and forward bends.
In other words, she encourages to let the pelvis turn with the spine in a twisting asana instead of keeping it leveled.
It does makes sense to me and my body for it creates the stability my SI joints are lacking. That being said, it may not work for you. I’d be happy to read your comments and feedback.

At the end of the day, I do believe an asana practice is an extremely personal and individual one depending on our structure, musculature, gender, age… What works for me may not work for you and vice versa.
Next time we are on our mat, let’s deeply tune in and listen to the signals our body is sending.
Yoga is the art of paying attention.

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