Taking care of yourself: Interview with yogi Josée Bouchard

For this month’s article, the Oxilia team spoke with Josée Bouchard, certified yoga teacher and wellness enthusiast, to offer readers an introspective on the yoga lifestyle. Why are we talking about yoga on the Oxilia Blog? Because working in the animal health field can be quite nerve-wracking, and everybody knows that yoga is THE main thing to start doing if you want to relieve that everyday-pressure. And because yoga is for everyone, not just veterinarians. Here’s our article, that we decided to display interview-style.


Oxilia: First thing’s first; how would you define yoga?

J.B.: Yoga is a simple practice that’s been around for 6000 years. Yoga means union. The goal is to unite body and soul in a wellness state. It’s not just sitting down and breathing, it’s more a life philosophy than anything else.

Oxilia: Yoga touches on all aspects of life, basically?

J.B.: Absolutely. We take time to go to the hair salon, to buy clothes, to buy shoes, to go to the theatre, things like that – but we always forget to take care of our mind first. So, it’s really important because it allows you to create space in your own body and mind. And once that is done, you’re more open to welcome tons of other things. The more free you are, the more you can actually receive.

Oxilia: Let’s talk about people with busy professional and personal lives that “don’t have time to take time”. It’s even more important for them to take time to do it, isn’t it?

J.B.: Yes, it is! But, you can’t tell yourself “I have to do yoga today”. It’s not complicated, so don’t make it a chore. You don’t have to do five yoga classes per week. For people that really don’t have time, what they can do—and I do this in businesses often—is to sit down two minutes or less, stretch the spine and slowly do four to five inhale and exhale. Just doing that can appease your mind and body. People often think that—and for lots of things in life too—if they don’t practice something for long periods of time, multiple times per week, they’re not really doing it.

Oxilia: There’s this misconception that leads people into making things more complicated than they need to be. People take the body and mind wellness for granted, maybe?

J.B.: Oh yeah. It’s the last thing that most people think they have to appease. Right now, with the yoga that’s really become a trend more than anything else, there’s a risk of confusion. With the commercial buzz going on with yoga these days, people get confused in all kinds of yoga. What I like to do, is to demystify it. Yoga is simple. Sitting down on a yoga mat is fairly simple. No need to buy tons of equipment. High-end mats, expansive shoes and leggings do not represent what yoga is.

Oxilia: We’d like to know; do you see a certain kind of audience going to your classes? Can you notice certain characteristics?

J.B.: Currently, with the groups I teach today and the people I meet, it’s everyone. From students, businesspersons, veterinarians (yes!), emergency doctors, etc. It’s really interesting because I have people in my classes in their 60s doing triathlons and also students in Cegep that just want to learn how to breathe well and appease their mind. For genders, there’s an equivalent mix of women and men in my Montreal classes. In rural areas, there is a bit more women than men. But the fact that I have such a broad range of clients proves that in general, people take more time for the well-being than they once did.

Oxilia: But again, even if someone goes to the gym and play sports intensively, has great cardio, they can still forget about the wellness of their mind and body, right?

J.B.: Exactly, and it reminds me of a workshop I did once with people doing triathlons. They were all athletes and they all told me the same thing: “We don’t know how to breathe. When we’re jogging or swimming, there comes a moment when we lose our breath. We’re in this place where the adrenaline is so high and our breathing is just blocked”. There’s a lot of oxygen that goes through your body when you exercise. It can happen with yoga as well, when things get intense. It’s a great substitute, in fact, for people who don’t want to do any “mainstream” sporting activity. But the thing with yoga is that it centers on getting to a state of wellness inside and out, and not around performance. What matters is that you take time for yourself.

Oxilia: Is there a time during the day that is better to do yoga?

J.B.: The morning, when you wake up, or at the end of the day before getting to bed. But if you’re having a busy day and at whatever time you take two minutes to inhale and exhale on your own, reaching a place of calm, you’ll still have done something good for yourself.

Oxilia: Is it better to be alone or in groups?

J.B.: It’s more a question of preference. Honestly, the goal is always to take a moment for yourself. Do it with your friends, colleagues, as long as you appease yourself and that you do what’s best for your own well-being.

***

Working in Beauce and its surroundings, Josée Bouchard is a certified yoga and pilates teacher and decorator. She also studied ballet and dance. On top of the training she underwent in yoga, she completed her teacher training with yoga master Nicole Bordeleau. Josée offers meditation workshops and public and private yoga classes in universities, companies and in a number of other places.

The Oxilia Team had so much fun talking about yoga and wellness with Josée Bouchard that we decided to conclude this article with two yoga exercises for beginners that can be done at home or at work. Even if it’s only those movements that you’ll do in your day, you will have appeased your mind and body a little bit more. Namaste!

The Child’s Pose

The Child’s Pose aims for a “return to oneself” and invites you to introspect. This position is meant to bring comfort and relief because it calms the brain and helps to let go of pain, stress and fatigue.

Steps :

#1. Get on your hands and knees, with your knees together or split along the width of your mat. Bring your big toes together.

#2. At exhale, lower the hips towards the heels.

#3. Bend your upper body in order to bring your forehead to the ground or on a support (mat or block).

#4. Place the arms on each side of the body and take time to recenter for a couple of breaths.

#5. At inhale, let your rib cage open itself and at exhale open your heart and anchor your hips on the ground.

#6. After 1 minute, you can come back to a regular sitting position, as long as it’s comfortable.

Meditation on a chair

Take a moment to regain your concentration at work through breath meditation.

Steps:

#1. Simply sit comfortably on your chair, with your spine extended and slightly away from the chair. Feet flat on the ground with the natural opening of your hips.

#2. Place your hands on your thighs.

#3. Be mindful of your breath. Inhale and exhale with your nose.

#4. Slightly lower your chin towards the chest.

#5. Notice the warmth and the freshness inside all parts of your body. Then, feel your breath settling down softly into your body.

#6. In silence, you can tell yourself: at inhale, I meet find myself again and at exhale I let go of my stress.

#7. And there you go, you just meditated with these simple steps. You can repeat the exercise for 5 or 6 breaths.