The Empowered Learners is a series of interviews that were originally recorded as Instagram lives.
In this episode, Isabelle talks about how yoga can increase our focus and recharge our energy with Verena Dedekind, founder of @yogamelia_now
They chat about:
the importance to take a break when you work from home
Tips on what to do to recharge when you have only 5-10 minutes before an important meeting or your French lesson
Useful stretches to do feel better after a long day at your computer
Learn more about Yogamelia: https://yogamelia.com/
Isabelle: Bonjour, bonjour tout le monde.J'espère que vous allez très bien en ce beau, en ce bel, en ce beau jeudi. Je cherche mes mots jeudi, très ensoleillé ici, moi je suis à Nyon, il fait très beau, il y a un très beau soleil et je suis en direct de mon home office. Donc je travaille de la maison. Et puis ça fait déjà plusieurs mois, plusieurs années maintenant que nous travaillons de la maison en raison de la pandémie.
Et donc il y a peut être des gens qui, je pense que la plupart d'entre vous avaient travaillé de la maison. Et il y a peut être plusieurs d'entre vous qui êtes fatigués. Ça, c'est la fatigue post covid. On est encore le covid. Dans la pandémie, c'est un peu terminé, voilà. on voit le bout, la lumière au bout du tunnel, surtout en Suisse. Comme nous n'avons pas de mesures sanitaires, nous n'en avons plus ou presque plus.
Et donc aujourd'hui, on va parler de l'importance du bien-être, du bien-être dans son corps, mais aussi, dans son esprit l'importance du bien-être pour pouvoir augmenter notre concentration et notre productivité.
So for those who are joining us and who don't understand French at the right level yet, I can only encourage you to work on improving your French language skills. But today you're in luck because we're going to do the live in English. I just wanna make sure that everybody can get this very important information. So today, we are going to talk with someone very special, someone who really helped me when I needed a break. When we met, that was about two years ago. We were in the middle of this pandemic and it was quite a tough moment for me because as some of you already know, I have two children. They're still quite young. My son is three and a half, and my daughter is two and a half.
Bonjour Miha. Bonjour, je suis très contente que vous nous regardiez.
And so when we met, Verena and I, it was when my daughter had just turned one, I believe. And so we were in a pandemic or a confinement break, and that was so helpful to have a break because what Verena was offering at the time, it was a little break for women. And for, especially for moms who were exhausted, exhausted from the confinement, exhausted from the pandemic, exhausted from taking care of our children 24/7. Not just the children, but everybody and ourselves as well. And so when I had the chance to meet Verena for the first time, that was through a mini retreat that she had organized for women and mothers, and that was in Nyon. At the Yoga Moves Studio, which is a beautiful studio. I really, really love this place.
The energy is really beautiful, very deep. And actually they are renting the location in case you're interested. They're renting two beautiful yoga rooms in case you know someone who's looking for a vicinity to rent from time to time.
So I would love to introduce you to Verena Dedekind, who is the owner of Yogamelia. So let's ask Verena to join us, right? To talk about how to take care of ourselves in order to increase our focus and concentration when we are working from home. Ah bonjour Verena, vous allez bien?
Verena: Bonjour Isabelle, ça va très bien, merci.
Isabelle: C'est un grand grand plaisir de t'avoir avec nous aujourd'hui ce midi Verena, merci d'avoir accepté l'invitation.
Verena: Merci beaucoup à toi Isabelle.
Isabelle: Oh, we have Maria. Hello Maria. Hi, we also have Miha who's with us. So if you want to know. more about Verena and her beautiful business, which is called Yogamelia. You are at the right place. Stay tuned. If you want to ask any questions to Verena or myself, you can ask them, in the little question box below. We'll be really happy to answer them at the end of the live.
But first of all, I was explaining Verena, how we had met and how meeting you was such a huge relief and a huge, such a big solution for me at the time, because probably you were going through a bit something similar because you have a, a daughter of about the same age as my son and you realized that we really needed a break at that time. And then you created the mini retreat.
Isabelle: And so we'll talk about the mini retreats a little bit later. First of all, I would love it if you could introduce yourself and if you could explain why you created Yogamelia.
Verena: Thank you. So for me I'm Verena. I'm originally German, but in the Lake Geneva region, actually for already 20 years. Except for a three year period where I lived in Senegal, French speaking Senegal. So that relates well to your language school topic.
I'm a yoga teacher, but also an employee in public global health, and mother of an almost three year old, my daughter Amelia. I'm a wife, a friend, a daughter, so I'm juggling many balls like all of us. And I really created Yogamelia out of my own experience in pregnancy and motherhood as the usual yoga offerings no longer fit my schedule or my energy level, or also desire or also satisfied my desire to connect with other like-minded women when carving out precious me time from my daily mom life.
So in my view, like if I take out three precious hours out on the weekend and I get organized, I would ideally like to have a little bit of exercise a nice chat, maybe something nice to eat, and then really some relaxation and I couldn't find anything like this.
So I was like, okay, I'm gonna create it. So I created the very first, what I call the mini retreat. It's three hours. And Yogamelia is named after the two loves of my life, yoga and my now almost three year old daughter Amelia, who was born in 2019.
Isabelle: This is so beautiful. I remember that when we met, this was the very first retreat that you had created, and I think I had heard about it through a friend of mine who was already living in Nyon at that time, and she had told me, you know, Isabelle, you need a break. We've been through so much, especially, you know, with having to take care of the kids while working at the same time, trying to make things work. And we never have a break.
And this lady, she's organizing a retreat for women, but not only for women. For moms, it's three hours. Take the time, do it. Do it for yourself. And when I heard that it would be not only yoga, but a little bit of meditation, stretching, and also there would be some goodies because Verena makes a damn good vegan mousse au chocolat, chocolate mousse and I will not tell you what is inside because it is really special. You need to attend her mini retreat. It's delicious.
So it was so nice and I just, it was hard at the beginning to make the time because it's always hard when you don't take the time. But when you do, you realize how important it is and how beneficial it is for you to book these three hours and just take care of yourself. So thank you so much Verena for creating Yogamelia, and creating these mini retreats. It was so helpful for me.
Can you tell me Verena, who is Yogamelia and your mini retreats, who is this perfect for and, and why?
Verena: I would say really Yogamelia classes and events are perfect for moms and moms to be. Moms at any stage. Because I think as women we always tend to multitask a lot and carry also quite a high mental load or how I call it for moms specifically the mother load.
But then just from the timings I'm offering, it might be in particular interesting for moms with small children, for which the usual timings don't work well. You know, like the usual yoga class that is at 6:30 pm in the week or who don't have the energy then to join a very demanding class or also who, who want a combination of like, yes, a yoga class, but also, meeting other like-minded moms and overall, I actually think Yogamelia events are perfect for anyone who wants to invest in rest and prioritize their own needs and wellbeing.
And then really my offers, and that's maybe what sets them apart as well from all kind of other yoga offerings, is that they're always suitable also for pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. As I'm also trained pre and postnatal yoga teacher.
Isabelle: Yes, cos I remember when I went to your retreat, I had no energy anymore. I just thought if I lie down on the floor, I'm going to fall asleep. And actually it was so good for me to do more than I used to do at the time, to stretch, to meditate, to meet other women, you know, to just have a nice chat. And we all introduced ourselves at the beginning. It was nice to see, to connect with other women who are going through something similar.
Would you say that it's also, this mini retreat is also appropriate for women who are a bit more active and they just need a break as well from the stress of their daily life, who are not moms?
Verena: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I have to say I'm myself. I tend to be this very hyperactive person, juggling many different things, doing many different activities. And then all of a sudden I feel like almost burned out. So it's, it's difficult sometimes for us, especially if we need these very active lives to kind of not get to this, to the stepping point. And the way I found for myself, is because I have difficulties to just really relax for like three hours. I need to schedule it and I need to go somewhere where this is offered.
If I have three hours just like this, I'm gonna do again as I usually do lots of different things. So I really think it's an opportunity, especially for people also who sometimes feel like, no, I'm okay. I do all of these things etc., to help some, to get some help in kind of prioritizing, maybe start listening more to your own needs and to your own body.
And just take this time and space and then also kind of discover what happens because when outside of such an offering, when was the last time you kind of were three hours in the same spot and not working and not reading. So it's a quite a different experience, which we usually don't have in our very busy daily lives unless we make room for it.
Isabelle: That is so true because when we have three hours, we're thinking, oh, I could do this and that, and this and that, and you can fill three hours with so many things. And now the idea, the goal with the mini retreat is to slow down and just to focus on the feelings inside and reconnect with the intuition inside of us and, reconnect with our body and our mind. Right. So true.
How, can you tell me how can regular yoga practice be helpful for busy moms and professional women who are working from home? Does it, how can it make a difference in our life?
Verena: I think, I mean, first of all, a regular yoga practice, I mean, it strengthens the body, relaxes the mind, and in my view also increases resilience. And, and that's something I mean, all of this is very important because especially as we're working from home, we somehow seem to have somewhat increased, what I call self exploitation, is we are taking less breaks.
We somehow end up being glued to the computer, and then each break we take we use it for something else, like washing a lot of laundry, getting some veggies dropped for dinner, et cetera. So I think we actually have even less breaks in a homeworking day than at the time when we would go make ourselves a tea in the office kitchen.
So for me personally, yoga really has been a lifeline through the many ups and downs life has led me through so far. And it just provides like a pause, a space to breathe and also to just listen to yourself like, what's going on again, you know, we're often so busy and so are rushing that we don't listen to ourselves.
We listen and we care for everybody else, and we put ourselves last. And then otherwise, I mean, yoga, just as a physical practice is obviously a wonderful antidote to back and neck ache whether during pregnancy or because you're carrying babies or toddlers or just your weekly groceries. And also, I mean, neck and back ache is much more frequent even now after this long time of working from home. Maybe not in an optimal setup in terms of chairs and table, et cetera.
And then that's really the physical aspect. But then there's this whole other universe, which is really kind of the mental aspect. This pause, this break. It reduces, in my view, mental overload or the mother load. And then over time it just creates more calm, confidence, and ease, in motherhood and in life.
Isabelle: I couldn't agree more with you, and especially when you were mentioning that when we are working from home and whether we work or not, you know, stay at home moms and professional women working from home, we never take a break. It's so true.
It's one thing after another and even more now because. We answer the emails, we call the clients, or we attend a conference call and then we see, oh my God, like I see behind, I see the bottle of water, the little timer that I have for my kids so that we are never late anywhere. You know, I see all the toys around me and I'm thinking, oh, I should be Ike buying Ikea furniture. So the mind never stops.
And as you said, we don't take the breaks anymore. I realize I don't take proper time to eat, I just eat quickly, and I've been working a little bit more with a friend who's timing the time that we work. So for 30 minutes we're very productive. Then we take a five minutes break and then 30 minutes more. And then for lunch we really take an hour break and it's so important to impose that on us. Otherwise we never stop.
And so the mini retreat, it's much more than a yoga class of 60 minutes. It's the three hours where you really feel the difference afterwards. And the yoga practice, if we can include that on a regular basis.
How would you advise us to include that in our daily practice, let's say would you have any tips to help us include maybe 5, 10 minutes of yoga, if that's the only amount of time that we have in our busy day? What would you recommend to us if we're very busy?
Verena: I mean, I would say really like two really small things, which are easy to do, which don't require any kind of knowledge. There's nothing you can do wrong, et cetera, is if you have 10, if you have 5 minutes, just meditate.
It sounds complicated, but in the morning, what I personally do in the morning, I get up before anybody else in the house is up. I sit down cross-legged on the sofa and I set a timer and I just sit there, my eyes closed and breathe, and I try to pay attention to my breath and yes, thoughts will disturb. You know, obviously the brain will already fire all kind of questions and problems to resolve.
But whenever you notice it, you just try to again, focus on your bodily sensations and like this, you have five minutes of peace and quiet, if you can make it 10 even better. Personally I usually do 10 on hectic days, I do 10. If I have a bit more time, it's 15. And it changes the whole dynamic of the day that because you really start kind of centered and you had this moment of peace and quiet.
So often we say, oh, I just want peace. Five minutes of peace and quiet. Well like this, you get them every single morning just at the beginning.
And the second thing is just something really nice you can do in the evening. No energy required just before going to bed. You lie down on the floor on a yoga mat, a towel or something. You just lie down on your back, feet flat on the floor, so your knees will be kind of angled. It's called constructive rest. And you can put your hands on your belly and you're just breathing and really just through the gravity, it'll relax your back. You will start breathing more deeply. And just five minutesis really beneficial.
Something lovely also, if you are working from home or if you have a break, during the day, the kids are, kids are busy, et cetera, you can also do it at any point in the day, but it's аlso just something wonderful as a last thing before you sneak into bed.
Isabelle: I really agree with the meditation, the breathing. These are simple, easy to do. Anyone can do that, even if you're a beginner and you know, I am. I don't know if you have some applications that you like to use or you would recommend to help us in a guided meditation, would there be something you could recommend?
Verena: There are two things. I mean, when I started meditating, which is now a long, long time ago. There was an app which I used in the beginning Headspace, because as a beginner often we have difficulties just with pure silence. Now, since a few years, I just sit in silence and I have something that is called the Insight Timer, which is a free app and it has lots of guided meditations you can take, I simply use it as a timer and it just has a nicer ring than like an, an iPhone alarm or something. So the coming out of the meditation is much smoother with your, like a nice type of Tibetan bowl or like a nice bell. That's what I personally use.
And you can something also I can recommend or something I personally use. Is that if I, for example, and you can set the time and also an intermediate bell. So what I personally do for my 10 minute meditation, I have a big, I have 30 seconds. You can set a time just to get comfortable. Then there's the beginning bell. There's an end bell in 10 minutes, but personally, I have an intermediate bell at five minutes because that's usually where then my mind has wandered off, et cetera, and it's nice. Then I have a bell, which brings me back and I have a second chance for another 5 minutes of meditation.
Isabelle: Absolutely. And for those who would like to practice their French at the same time and are at the right level, I can recommend Petit BamBou, which is a free meditation app. It's based on Sophrology and it's lovely. It's very soothing, very relaxing. I really like it.
I would say that probably if you are very busy during your day and you need a little break before picking up your kids from the school or from the creche or before a stressful meeting, or a meeting where you need a lot of focus or before your French lesson where you need to be very focused, that would be a good time to do these 5, 10, 15 minutes of meditation to really gather yourself and find a calm space. So you can be focused again and energized. I think it gives you the energy to start again to reload or recharge your battery before you start again. Right?
Verena: And yeah, and I think what is important when we, because you say, I mean, ideally, yes, you have 5, 10 minutes and you have a calm space, but, you know, sometimes this is difficult to find, so don't try to sabotage yourself by having this high expectations on how it should look like. It can also be in an office setting or when... then three minutes to a bathroom in the office. You sit down, you close your eyes and you breathe.
Isabelle: True. You know, for me, when I really need a little break, I put Paw Patrol on the little tablet. I know the episode will be 10 minutes and then I go in the bathroom or in my room and this is when I do my little moment for myself and I know my kids won't disturb me. So technology can help us for this as well as moms. Very good point. Okay.
Would you have any tips to help us stretch and feel better after having worked long hours in front of the computer? Apart from the meditation, apart from, you know, the the breathing, would there be a stretching exercise that you really like to do for yourself to feel better?
Verena: Absolutely. So I think I call it, I mean, it's called Eagle Arms more in Yoga Town. For me, it's the computer stretch. So really you would take your arms. Parallel the elbows up and then you cross one under the other, crossing the hands and there you already feel like quite an intense stretch, and then you can just kind of intensify it by lifting your elbows up a little bit. And then breathing, just closing your eyes, a couple of breaths, and then you change sides.
And because that is really the area that gets particularly tense while from working or being bent over, or also just, you know, holding a baby, and carrying things around. That stretches exactly what we need, the right places.
Isabelle: Thank you so much Verena. Can you tell us more about your upcoming project? I would love to know more about your meaning retreats and I think there is a bigger retreat that is coming up for you.
Verena: Yes, sure. Absolutely. So the next Mini retreat, the release and reset mini retreat, which is the very first event yogamelia created three hours this Sunday, on, so March 6th, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM which also for moms with smaller children, this might be nap time, so it might be easier to get away. And there will be like a yin yoga practice, very restorative. And meditation to release tension and stress. Then we'll have a break to chat, to chat and share a sweet treat. Some of my clients actually say they come back just for my special chocolate moose.
And then we will have a more dynamic uplifting vinyasa flow at the end to allow you to leave energized and recharged after just three hours back to your usual mom life.
Isabelle: That sounds so good. So this is the next retreat will be this Saturday at Yoga Moves in Nyon between 1 and 4. And to know more about this retreat, to subscribe, register for the retreat, this will be on your link in bio, on your Instagram profile. Is that correct?
Verena: It's on my Instagram profile. There's a link in the bio, when you click on the little picture with my head, you will have the signup link directly to that, or you can just send me an Instagram message, or also write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Isabelle: Super. And you have a bigger retreat coming up soon at the end of March, I believe.
Verena: Yes. I mean, that's, that's really one of my, that's my second baby. So it's really one of the highlights of the year. I'm proposing a rest and recharge weekend, which is designed to exactly do that. It's March 25 to 27 and it takes place in a lovely place which is called the St. Peters Island, and it's a kind of peninsula in the Lake Yen. So it's about one and a half hours drive from Nyon but also reachable by public transport. It's a nature reserve. It's an historic hotel. There's only this one hotel on this car-free island.
And the idea of this retreat is really to, like in a small group of like-minded moms and moms to be, we are creating a little bubble of peace, quiet, and nourishment for the mind and the body. And it will include a daily yoga practice, both like more energetic vinyasa flow, but also healing and restorative meditation, breathing exercises, delicious fruit. And also they actually make wine on that island. So there's also to have some organic wine just from the setting we'll be in and then really important great company.
So like-minded women, a very inspiring setting. And then also the possibility of sauna and booking an additional massage.
Isabelle: Oh, I am in in Verena. You can count me in. How many spots do you have left for this retreat? How many spots are left?
Verena: Well, currently I have six spots left. But they're going very quickly and I'll have to confirm in a week's time.
Isabelle: Okay. Can you pre reserve my space? I will be there.
Verena: Wonderful. I'll do that.
Isabelle: Thank you so much for your time, Verena. It was such a pleasure to speak with you about Yogamelia. But before we say goodbye, can you tell me what would you like to tell women who have never done yoga before and they're hesitating to start a yoga practice?
Verena: Well, I would say first of all, there's a misconception that yoga is just for flexible people. So many people, they're like, oh, I can't do yoga. I'm not flexible. Well, it actually is the yoga that makes you flexible. So it's like saying, I'm too dirty to shower. I personally, I couldn't touch my toes without bending my legs when I started yoga. I mean, it was like impossible. Now it is possible. So I think for me, what is important.
Yoga is, I mean, first of all, it's never too late to start. Yoga is something that can adapt, it can be adapted to everybody, to every stage of your life. And then for me, it's really every little bit of yoga counts and will make a difference to your life. So it doesn't need to be three times a week, a 60 minute class. Also like the five minute meditation, I would count it as yoga, doing two postures once a week before going to sleep.
And usually as you start feeling the benefits, you want a little bit more and it will grow organically, your yoga practice.
Isabelle: That is so true. Especially when you said, that stretching comes. The more stretching you do, the more stretchy you become. It is so true because when I started seven years ago, I really was not flexible and I always thought, it's not for me, flexibility is not something I have inside me. But the more you practice...
No. As you would say, practice makes perfect. Alors le plus vous pratiquez, le meilleur vous devenez. On s'améliore en pratiquant, c'est la meilleure façon de de s'améliorer, que ce soit le yoga, que ce soit le français, c'est en pratiquant qu'on s'améliore, voilà.
Thank you so much Verena, for your time. Merci beacoup, and for all the information you will get that in our newsletter, which will be sent tomorrow, by Prêt à Parler. If you haven't subscribed to our newsletter yet, please do. You can do so following our link in bio so you can subscribe to our newsletter and get all the latest news about Prêt à Parler, but also our great guests like Verena.
And to know more about her mini retreat and her upcoming rest and recharge retreat on the St. Peter's Island, please make sure to get in touch with Verena. Check her link in bio and you can write to her at email@example.com. If you have any questions, you can pm her as well on her Instagram profile. Did I forget anything Verena?
Verena: Or it's all good. No, I think you, you really covered it all. There's also, I also have a website now. Which is the yogamelia.com, where you can sign up for the newsletter and with the newsletter sign up, you will get a little yoga sequence for free also immediately. So you get a little taste, already and, No, I mean it was really lovely to join. Merci beacoup.
Moi aussi je peux fournir mes services en français. Habituellement mes cours sont plutôt en anglais, mais je suis absolument je peux toujours donner encore quelques astuces et conseils en français et les cours typiquement les participants, c'est toujours très international. Très très mixte et très très riche en termes de d'échange.
Isabelle: Donc en français, en anglais, en allemand, vous pouvez contacter Verena sans problème. Merci beaucoup pour votre temps, pour ton temps Verena, c'est un grand plaisir. Je te souhaite beaucoup, beaucoup de succès avec Yogamelia. J'espère que les mini retraite et la retraite à Saint-pierre sur l'île de Saint-pierre sera un grand succès. Et puis moi, je vous souhaite à tous et à toutes de prendre bien soin de vous. Take care of yourself. Take care of your body and mind. When you take care of yourself first, then everything is much better and much easier. Right?
Isabelle: Bonne journée Verena, à tout bientôt, bon jeudi.
Verena: Thank you. Have a great afternoon.