The Man Behind Yoga For Renewal

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Laurent Malterre co-hosted, for years, therapeutic groups in the Bordeaux region with two other French therapists who trained (among other places) at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, in the 80's.

As a yoga therapist, I help my clients speak of their hurt. I work under the supervision of a French, licensed psychologist, Laurent Malterre, who guides me where to go and where to stop in that journey.

Yoga for Renewal is based on what the yogis have been saying for thousands of years—the body and mind are inextricably bound together. That’s how Yoga for Renewal has become a combination of yoga practice and the expression of one’s true feelings through language.

Aline Frati, my yoga master who lives in Paris, inspires the unique style of hatha yoga (yoga of the poses) I teach. In addition to Aline, a man is also part of Yoga for Renewal’s family. Laurent Malterre is a French, licensed psychologist whose practice is niched in one of the oldest streets of Paris, rue des Gravilliers.

Every other week, Laurent and I have a skype session where we share questions, challenges and results that my yoga therapy brings. How does yoga help a person melt their barriers down and, ultimately, share their true feelings? What does a specific symptom--physical, mental or emotional, say of a person, their story and healing path? What does sharing through language, after a yoga practice, bring to the table? How far can I go as a yoga therapist--not a talk therapist— in inviting a person share what they really feel through language?

We’re crafting Yoga for Renewal and what yoga therapy can be.

Laurent is a husband and father to four kids, who loves to spend time in his impressionist-style family countryside home, an hour’s drive from Paris, that he’s transformed into a small retreat center. Professionally, he has a passion for working on issues in intimate relationships and on gender and sexual orientation. He’s also an author and teacher of clinical psychology.

We came into each other’s lives 15 years ago when he helped me through my first breast cancer. Back then, I lived in Paris. Laurent and Aline, who have never met, helped me find my way to health. While Aline guided me to connect deeply with my body, Laurent helped me become aware of the woman I was. Less than two years later, I left Paris for Atlanta--for love.

Fast forward ten years. I knocked on Laurent’s door again, in despair. In the course of one year, I had bought a house in Atlanta with my husband, met a soul who changed the course of my life, walked out of my marriage, and been diagnosed with a second breast cancer a day before my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I felt so confused I thought I was mentally sick.

Rue des Gravilliers, Paris, France.

The ordeal forced me to look deeper at my shadow side. In those past ten years, I had, again, done so much in an attempt to feel loved, that I exhausted myself.

Breast cancer is the disease of too much giving and lack of self-care. Trust me.

Instead of searching for the love of another, this time, I started to turn the gaze to myself, to see the beautiful soul that I am--to see what my life purpose is. I found that inside my soul, there was Yoga for Renewal. With Laurent’s help, I explored, while navigating through treatments, what healing meant for me as a woman, as a yoga therapist, as a patient and survivor--what the yoga practice did for me, how the relationship with others and speaking my truth were also key to my health.

With Laurent’s impulse, Yoga for Renewal emerged as a “wellness protocol” involving a lot of yoga practice, punctuated with self-awareness and self-expression, through language.

The retreat center, outside of Paris, where Laurent Malterre hosts small therapeutic group week-end workshops.

Giving birth to Yoga for Renewal helped heal my body and soul. I physically felt the miracle unfold. Slowly, from being my therapist, Laurent became a mentor. Yoga for Renewal was born. And so was I.

 

Speak Your Truth. And Start Healing.

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Sometimes yoga won't do. How I realized that going into the hurt and speaking my truth is a must for healing.

Sometimes you can practice all the yoga you want but, it doesn’t do the trick emotionally. The poses and the breathing might help you relax and unknot the tension in the moment, but still, if you struggle with an unresolved emotional hurdle, you may need to find help outside of the yoga practice—perhaps by using your voice and speaking your truth—something that many of us dread.

Years ago, I had a personal experience that made me realize, in a powerful way, that there’s nothing like speaking my truth for my wellbeing. I had moved from France to the States only three months before. John, my fiancé at the time, and I had planned to get married six months later, in France, with our families and friends. We suddenly had to change our plans. An immigration lawyer advised us to get married within the next three weeks as I was on a tourist visa and the U.S. Immigration could stop me from re-entering the country the next time I was going to travel overseas. Three weeks later, we got legally married at the city hall of Marietta, GA. The experience turned out to be traumatic. The “ceremony” at the city hall was a group wedding—which neither of us expected. A dozen of other couples, most of them dressed in jeans, repeated their vows, along with us, after the city’s official, in a large dark room with no windows. It felt surreal. The cherry on the cake was that friends who said they would attend, didn’t show up at the “ceremony” nor at the small get together we had organized, without giving us a heads up.

Freshly arrived from my French culture, I was dipped into an ocean of ruthlessness—at least, that was my perception. I came out of the experience physically shell-shocked. And talking about my feelings with my new spouse brought tensions, so I gave up. I had to find a way to come to terms with my first life experience in my new country of adoption, one way or the other.

I naturally turned to the one tool I knew --my home yoga practice that I had learned from my teacher in Paris. I had never stepped into a yoga studio before and wasn’t going to until two years later. So there I was in the early morning, for many days in a row, doing yoga on my mat in our living room. Each day, the practice helped me unknot the tensions. Yet somehow later in the day, the feeling of being physically shell-shocked came back. Something was unresolved and showed up in my body despite the hours spent on the mat.

All of that changed the day a therapist I knew in France asked me over the phone, “How are you?” The question triggered tears and words. I started sharing what had been weighing on my heart for days. His full presence and deep listening changed everything within minutes. Suddenly, I could heal, continue on with my life, and plan our wedding party in France on Bastille Day 2007.

The experience came out to be a great teaching. I realized that, as a yoga teacher, I was going to use yoga to help people connect physically with the issues, and also help them use their voice to speak their truth. There was no way around bringing clients go into and speak about their hurt.

Being present. Listening. Going into the hurt. That’s what my yoga therapy method is about.