Why I love yoga.

7 Mar

laosmain “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” Iyengar

 

People sometimes ask me what is most difficult when you have MS. For me, there are three main  challenges.

First, living with uncertainties all the time. Not knowing what will come next. Of course, none of us knows what’s going to happen next but when you live with MS, this uncertainty is present all the time and can have immediate and devastating effects on your daily life. Everything is possible. Nothing is certain. I learned to accept this, without thinking the worse will happen!

Second challenge – a huge one- is to feel good in my body despite MS. I had always thought that to be happy and feel good in my mind, I had to feel good in my body. That’s why I loved the gym. Feeling my muscles get stronger, more flexible gave me real pleasure and appeased my mind. Suddenly, my body was destroying itself. How not to be angry? An MS nurse once told me to consider MS as a friend, not as an enemy. This was a great piece of advice but easier said than done!

The third challenge is to leave “space” for MS in my life without letting it take over. MS needs space in terms of energy. I try, as best as I can, to keep 20% of my energy just to manage MS. If I don’t respect this limit, it backfires. MS is a very demanding friend indeed! I must admit that I struggled a lot to find a compromise between the part of me that wants to push back my limits and the part that knows I shouldn’t overdo it!

Yoga has helped me deal with these three challenges and I am absolutely convinced that without yoga, I wouldn’t be as healthy and happy as I am now.

Thanks to yoga, I learned to use the breath to quieten my mind, improve my balance and strengthen my body. I also became aware of the poses that alleviate MS symptoms. I got to know which poses not to do when I feel vulnerable and which ones give me comfort. My personal experience motivated me to become a Yoga Teacher. I first did a 200-hour Teacher training with FLY and started to teach Vinyasa flow classes. However, I felt more and more drawn towards Yoga Therapy and decided to further my training in India. I completed a 500-hour advanced training in the Paramanand Institute of Yoga Sciences & Research.

Thanks to this training I understand why the poses I intuitively found useful are good and how to use yoga to address specific issues. I discovered new “ways” to balance energy based on yoga and ayurveda teachings. The range of yogic tools available is amazing: from breathing to asanas (postures), mudras (hand yoga) or meditation.

The Yoga therapy retreats I organise are based on this experiential learning. Each day focuses on what particularly issue: coping with fatigue, stress, spasticity etc. The aim is to give the participants various “tools” to manage their symptoms. I keep learning, exploring and sharing. I hope to encourage people with MS to give yoga a try, even if they believe it is too easy or too hard. You have nothing to lose and so much to win. And remember that everybody can find something that helps! As long as you can breathe, you can do yoga!

2013: A Yogic Year in Review

28 Dec

OM

“Change is not something that we should fear.
Rather, it is something that we should welcome.
For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom,
and no one in this world would ever move forward
to become the person they’re meant to be.” Unknown.

The New Year is approaching. Time for the Year in Review!
As Miss Sophie in “Dinner For One”, I always follow the same procedure, except mine is different 😉 and includes: reviewing – assessing – setting new goals, which are key steps for autonomous life long learning!
Let’s rewind back to December 2012. I had been in Spain for six months, in Seville. Since I was afraid not to have a job, I had two full time jobs (I know I know!!!): as a Learning Designer for a big publisher and as a Chief editor of a magazine. Plus I was also squeezing in yoga classes too! Luckily for me, my partner was even busier, so at least my “reduced availability” wasn’t too much of a problem for our young relationship.
Back to the present, December 2013. I changed from 5th to 2nd gear! I moved from Seville to the middle of the countryside and I spend my day either working for a small publisher or developing yoga therapy for multiple sclerosis. And I even occasionally do NOTHING!
So what is the verdict? How did 2013 go?
On the whole, I would say that it went pretty well although I often miss being in a city and still worry a bit about financial stability. Looking back however, I realise how dramatically things changed for me and how I learned to let go – albeit reluctantly. So it is possible to change after all!
One key event in 2013 was that I graduated in Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with the Paramanand Yoga Research Institute in India and realised how much I want to help people with MS. It is in my guts, in my heart, in my head.
I had taught yoga for MS before, based on my own experience and brilliant book and DVDs, but the Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda training in Paramanand helped me put the pieces together. I learned to view MS from a different perspective, which offers so much more possibilities and makes far more sense!
Yoga Therapy has so much to offer for people with MS to make their life easier. And although it is still at its infancy in Europe, I have no doubt it will flourish here too.
Something else happened in India. Something i still haven’t fully worked out. Maybe it is the magic of India… In any case, I let go of some very deep rooted fears too. Is that why my teacher gave me the name Maa Mukta, which means Liberated?
Thanks to my amazing partner’s ecouragements, I decided to give Yoga Therapy for MS more time and energy. I published an article in a French yoga magazine, I created a website. I recorded a series of yoga videos for ekhartyoga.com, I have a yoga therapy retreat planned for March and a few more projects in the making…
So what about December 2014? Where will I be? What will I do? Will I move away again? Will I help people with MS? Who knows?
What about my new goals? For the first time in years, I don’t really feel like setting goals for the future. I want to focus on NOW but I will try to follow my teacher’s advice, that is to develop yoga therapy for MS to help others and not for my own sake to feel better about myself or for the sake of knowledge. And que sera, sera!
I wish you all a very happy NOW time (forever)!

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“Le changement n’est pas à craindre,
mais à accueillir les bras ouverts.
Car sans changement, rien ne pousserait ni ne fleurirait dans ce monde.
Personne n’avancerait pour devenir la personne qu’il ou elle est supposé(e) être.

(Inconnu)

FrenchLe Nouvel An approche. C’est l’heure de passer l’année en revue. Comme Miss Sophie dans le « Dinner For One », je suis la même procédure, sauf que la mienne est différente J. Je passe en revue – j’évalue – et je me fixe de nouveaux objectifs, ce qui constitue les étapes clé de l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie !
Retournons à décembre 2012. J’étais alors en Espagne depuis six mois, à Séville. Par peur d’être sans emploi, j’avais deux postes `a plein temps, un comme Learning Designer dans une grande maison d’édition et un comme rédactrice d’un magazine. Et en plus, j’assurais des cours de yoga entre deux ! Heureusement mon partenaire était encore plus occupé et mon manque de disponibilité ne posait pas trop de problèmes dans notre jeune relation.
Retour au présent, décembre 2013. Je suis passée de la 5ème à la 2ème vitesse. J’ai déménagé de Séville et habite en pleine campagne. Je partage mes journées entre un emploi pour une petite maison d’édition et le développement de cours de yoga thérapie pour la SEP. Il m’arrive même de ne RIEN faire !
Alors, quel est le verdict ? Comme s’est passée l’année 2013 ? Dans l’ensemble, je dirais « plutôt bien » même si vivre en ville me manque souvent et même si les questions de stabilité financière me préoccupent toujours. En regardant en arrière, je réalise à quel point les changements de 2013 ont été importants pour moi! Et surtout, j’ai appris – avec réticence certes – à laisser aller. Il est donc possible de changer !
Un facteur clé en 2013 a été la formation niveau avancé de prof de Yoga que j’ai suivie `a l’institut de recherche Paramanand en Inde. Je me suis alors rendue compte à quel point j’ai envie d’aider les personnes qui ont une SEP. Je ressens ce désir dans les tripes, dans le cœur, dans la tête ! J’ai enseigné le yoga pour la SEP avant, en me basant sur ma propre expérience et sur des livres et des DVD formidables mais la formation en yoga thérapie et en Âyurveda à l’Institut Paramanand m’a aidé à finir le puzzle. J’ai appris à appréhender la SEP d’une autre manière, ce qui offre de nombreuses possibilités thérapeutiques. La yoga thérapie a tant à offrir pour rendre la vie des personnes atteintes d’une SEP plus facile ! Bien qu’elle n’en soit qu’à ses débuts en Europe, je suis convaincue que la yoga thérapie est promis à un bel avenir.
Autre chose est arrivé en Inde. Quelque chose que je n’ai pas encore complètement élucidé… mais qui m’a permis de vaincre des peurs très profondément ancrées en moi. Est-ce pour cela que mon professeur de yoga m’a donné comme nom « Maa Mukta » qui signifie « Libérée » ?
Grâce aux encouragements de mon formidable partenaire, j’ai décidé de consacrer plus de temps et d’énergie à la yoga thérapie pour la SEP. J’ai rédigé un article pour un magazine de yoga en France, j’ai créé un site web, j’ai enregistré des vidéos pour le site ekhartyoga.com. J’ai organisé une retraite en Espagne en mars 2014. Et je travaille sur d’autres projets…
Qu’en est-il de décembre 2014 ? Où serai-je ? Aurais-je de nouveau déménagé ? Aiderai-je les personnes atteintes d’une SEP ? Qui sait ? Quels sont mes objectifs ? Pour la première fois depuis des années, je n’ai pas envie de me fixer de nouveaux objectifs. Je veux me concentrer sur le PRÉSENT but je vais essayer de suivre les conseils de mon professeur et développer la yoga thérapie pour la SEP pour les autres, et non pour moi, non pas pour me sentir mieux ou pour l’amour de la connaissance. Et ensuite, que sera, sera !
Je vous souhaite à tous un excellent moment PRÉSENT (toujours) !

Rays of the sun

17 Nov

ekhartyoga

“Take up one idea.
Make that one idea your life; 
dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. 
Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves,
every part of your body be full of that idea, 
and just leave every other idea alone.”
Swami Vivekananda

Have you ever met someone and knew, intuitively, that this encounter would make a difference? That’s how I felt when I first met Esther and Bas from Ekhart Yoga. Their generosity and kindness are mighty. And this quote from B.K.S Iyengar comes to my mind: “Healthy plants and trees yield abundant flowers and fruits. Similarly, from a healthy person, smiles and happiness shine forth like the rays of the sun.”

Esther and Bas offered me the opportunity to shoot yoga therapy videos for people with MS and post them on their website, which is fantastic! I always believed that online videos are brilliant for people with MS who have no access to special yoga classes or are too tired to attend one. In the comfort of their home, they can watch and practice at their own rhythm. I hope that the sequences I designed will be helpful. I am so happy and thankful for Esther and Bas’ support and encouragement!

But seeing Esther’s with her students was also a beautiful reminder of what teaching yoga is about. A friend recently told me about what she calls “mirror teachers”: yoga teachers who stand in front of their students to demonstrate how great they can perform the various postures. For them, the class is like a mirror. They expect students to imitate them. Then there are the others, the ones who wish to guide their students on the yogic path. The ones who truly follow the yamas and niyamas. Esther is definitely one of these dedicated teachers. She cares for every single one of her students and it shows. It shows in her smily face and shiny eyes when she talks about her students. She lives Yoga and she is a great source of inspiration!

Mitgefühl

10 Nov

Over the past three weeks, i suffered from severe neck, shoulder and arm pains. I found out it was not MS related at all. I have two trapped nerves in the cervicals, plus the first signs of cervical arthrosis (a bit early!!!) as well as an inversion in the cervicals most likely due to a 15 years old trauma!

Although i am now fine with it and see it as another opportunity to learn more about yoga therapy, my first reaction was quite negative. I just wanted to cry “Why me???? Why do i have to fight again? Why can’t i just have one thing to deal with?”  In this moment,  i just needed someone to give me a hug and tell me how wonderful i am etc etc.

What i needed was what Germans call “Mitgefühl”, to be with someone who “feels with” me. Not someone who makes me feel inadequate by saying “Come on that’s nothing, everybody has problems…” But no pity neither,  no “oh poor you”. Just someone putting himself or herself in my shoes. I needed to share my burden.

Of course MS is not the end of the world and all the persons with MS i have met are beautiful strong persons. But when other stressful events come on top of it, facing them may first seem impossible.

I am very lucky to have amazing friends who know exactly when i need their “Mitgefühl” but i wished they were a bit closer now… To my beautiful friends in Ireland and my wonderful cousins: i miss you.

To those of you who also have MS and sometimes feel like the challenges are just too much, don’t stay on your own, join MS support groups, get in touch…

Jumping or not jumping?

25 Oct

site

Have you ever wondered what your life purpose is? Have you ever looked at the mirror and asked yourself: “Why are you here? What are you meant to do?”

For many years, I thought that our main purpose in life is to keep it going: have children, develop our potentials, always do the best we can without hurting anybody etc. I guess this general all-encompassing aim was good enough. Having MS pushed me to slowly re-assess this vision.  Would I be ready to have children knowing I might not be able to look after them or that they might also get MS? Is doing one’s best always good? What about security?

My parents never cared whether you got an A or a C at school as long as you did your best.  But if you got a A and they thought you could have got an A+, they were disappointed. I started to enjoy going as far as I could.  People sometimes think I am competitive but the truth is I just want to find out how far I can go.

I was told that, to live well with MS, I need to spend only 70 or 80% of my energy and to keep the rest for recuperating.  Gosh, this has been the hardest part of having MS so far and I still fall into the trap. In the first phase after diagnosis,  I still wanted to do my best but my leitmotiv was “security”. I searched for job / financial security because I thought that was the best way to ensure independence. At least, if you have financial security you can have an apartment that is fully equipped no matter what disability you suffer from. You can have a special car. You can afford whatever is available to make living with a disability easier.

I nearly made it.  I finished my PhD, got a permanent job with an educational publisher… for a few months and then it went bankrupt.  I became self-employed. Back to insecurity!

Anyway, isn’t “security” just an illusion? Nobody can ever be secure. Nothing is secure. Do I sound like I am trying to console myself? Maybe I am but I am also trying to motivate myself to take a jump, leave the publishing world behind and fully immerse into yoga therapy. If nothing is secure, why not dedicate my entire time to something I believe in and that make sense? And do my best, unconditionally, whole-heartedly. Nothing more, nothing less.

PS: I am now working on a website: http://www.yogatherapy4ms.com.
The logo was designed by my friend Blanca. Isn’t it great? I know the photo of my dog doesn’t belong there but she’s so cute…

There will be days like this

29 Sep

When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this When you ring out the changes of how everything is Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

I woke up this morning with a sharp pain in my right thigh. It was painful to lay down, even more painful to walk. The big thigh muscle was contracted as hard as a stone. I spent half an hour attempting to loosen it, massaging, stretching and crying.

In fact the whole week has been challenging.  In itself, this is not a real problem. When you’ve had MS for 15 years, you are used to the down phases. However, If I “admit” feeling tired and low, eight out of ten persons’ first reaction is to blame it on me: “You do too much!”

Let me clarify: I am not judging or accusing individual people here. What strikes me is that this is actually the most common reaction! As if driven by an instinct…

Why?

Maybe it is human nature. We simply need an explanation, a cause and effect relation. You are tired because you work too much. How reassuring our world is when everything can be explained! We need things to make sense, don’t we?

But nobody realizes how harsh it is to say that. Not just the blaming but also the underlying assumption that since you have MS, there is only so much you can do. I remember reading somewhere that “Disability resides in the society, not in the person”. By telling me what I can do, and what I cannot do, you “disable” me.

Why is it so difficult for us to accept that sometimes things just are this way? Sometimes you cannot find an explanation. Your vision is blurred today because it is. Full stop. Living with MS teaches us to accept.

But not to give up!

Because we also know that there are good days too. When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch. When you don’t need to worry.

I wish you all one of these days!

Dehli airport: saris and Converse / Arrivée à Dehli: saris et Converse

26 May

April 28th 2011: I am leaving Delhi airport after two months near Rishikesh, the capital of yoga. Two years and two days later, I’m back. As I get on the shuttle bus between terminal 3 and terminal 1D, my Indian memories pop up again. The colours, the faces, the traffic, the buzz, everything blows on my face together with a gust of warm wind.
Beside me is an Indian businessman living in the States who has come to visit his family. Impeccably dressed in his expensive suit, he carries huge plastic bottles. He explains to me they contain holy water.
Looking out of the window, I notice that rickshaws have nearly disappeared among motorcycles and brand new cars. Traffic will never stop to amaze me! How can so many vehicles drive past each other without clashing? They slide like eels, avoiding cows, carts and frantically beeping the horn. If you wish to use the roads in India, learn to surrender!
The traffic is heavy. Two, three or four people fit on one motorcyle. Two years ago, I was impressed by women sitting behind the driver, both legs to one side, in their beautifully colourful saris. So elegant and at ease despite the noise, the turning, speeding, twisting…
But a large number of women are now wearing bright skinny jeans and converse, riding bikes like men. ‘I don’t need anybody when on my Harley Davidson’, as Brigitte Bardot was singing in the 1960s…
My flight to Indore doesn’t leave for another two hours. I am sitting in the Waiting area of Terminal 1D. Like in a movie theatre. Catching a glimpse of Indian life. Here too, traditonal saris and converse blend together. No in-between.
Will it be the same in Indore?

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Arrivée à Dehli: saris et Converse

28 avril 2011, je quitte Dehli après deux mois à Rishikesh, la capitale du yoga. Deux et deux jours plus tard, je suis de retour. Alors que je monte dans la navette qui relie le terminal 3 au terminal 1D, mes souvenirs de l’Inde rejaillissent. Les couleurs, les visages, la circulation, l’énergie, tout m’explose en plein visage en même temps qu’un vent chaud et sec.
À côté de moi, un homme d’affaires est venu rendre visite à sa famille en Inde. Impeccable dans son costume de haute qualité, il transporte de larges bouteilles en plastique. Il m’explique qu’elles contiennent de l’eau bénite.
Par la fenêtre, je vois que les pousse-pousse ont presque disparu parmi les motos et les voitures flambant neuves. La circulation ne cesserz jamais de m’étonner! Comment autant de véhicules peuvent-ils passer côte à côte sans se heurter? Ils glissent comme des anguilles, évitant les vaches, les charrettes en klaxonnant avec frénésie. Si vous voulez prendre la route en Inde, mieux vaut apprendre à vous abandonner complètement!
La circulation est dense. Deux, trois, voire quatre personnes tiennent sur une moto. Il y a deux ans, j’ai vraiment été impresssionnée par les femmes assises à l’arrière de la moto en amazone, portant de magnifiques saris colorés. Si élégantes et à l’aise malgré le bruit, les virages et les accélérations…
Mais un grand nombre de femmes portent désormais des jeans serrés aux couleurs acidulées et des Converses. Elles enfourchent les motos comme les hommes. ‘Je n’ai besoin de personne en Harley Davidson’ chantait Brigitte Bardot dans les années soixante…
Mon vol pour Indore n’est prévu que dans deux heures. Je m’installe dans la salle d’attente du terminal 1D. Comme dans un cinéma. J’entrevois la vie en Inde. Ici aussi, les saris traditionnels cotoient les Converse. Deux extrêmes. Aucun milieu.
Est-ce que ce sera la même chose à Indore?

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