ST. STEPHEN – Sometimes you just reach a point in your life where you have to step back and take stock of what is truly important. For instance, Annabelle Juneau of St. Stephen said she was suffering from a mild form of PTSD while working at a government job. She said she needed to find a way to get out of the funk she was in, and remembering how much she had enjoyed yoga several years prior, decided to give it a try again.

“I started doing it, and realized how much I enjoyed it,” said Juneau. “I created a little program for myself. I was on the board of directors at the Ganong Nature Park, and I thought, we have a mandate for this and we’re not doing it. So, I approached the board and I brought it to the park. That was 2012. So we did it for 30 days straight. I had a 6 a.m., 7 a.m., and 8 a.m. class, a 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. class. I had 10 ladies, and they settled into the mornings and the other were evenings.”

Juneau said prior to getting back into yoga, she had trouble sleeping. She couldn’t think straight, and kept “processing things over and over and over again”. She realized she needed to do something different, so she decided a change of scenery would do her good. She traveled to China to teach Kindergarten, but had to cut her time short following two deaths in her family. She returned home and went straight back into her funk. So, she once again turned to yoga, and decided to become a yoga teacher.

“I enjoy this too much,” said Juneau. “If I’m going to teach, I need credentials. So, I went to Bali to do my yoga teacher training with a company that was based in New York and they got their teachers from Om Yoga in New York. That’s where I got my basic 200 YTT (yoga teacher training).”

Following 200 hours of training, she spent an additional eight weeks doing her practical work. She said when it comes to yoga, you’re continuously learning. After her practical work was finished, she signed on for 500 hours of advanced training, working on advanced asanas (poses) and meditation. She was then invited to do some training in Ellsworth, Maine.

“In Maine, they recognize teaching yoga to individuals with cancer as a way of treatment,” said Juneau. “So, I was fortunate to be invited to go there with the Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center. The State of Maine had hired an individual from Harvard University to go around to all of the counties and bring all the yoga teachers together and give them training on how to help cancer survivors. I have that training as well.”

Then, Juneau’s world of yoga got even more exciting. The first year the St. Stephen Aces Junior A hockey team was in St. Stephen, she was approached by the coach. Yoga is popular with athletes in many different areas of sport, particularly hockey. That first year, goalie Kyle Porter was injured. When he came back to play later that season, he asked Juneau for her help, and she readily agreed.

“I went online and looked for hockey yoga, and goalie yoga,” said Juneau. “This woman’s name came-up; Dana Santos. She’s called the ‘mobility maker’ in sports worldwide. She works with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Blue Jays, NFL football players, NBA basketball players, and professional golfers.

“I found her online, and it was the last day and she was offering a three-month mentorship to six people worldwide through Skype. It was a one-on-one. It was the very last day and I applied and got it. We used Kyle as a subject. She said, ‘what do you want out of this three-month mentorship’. I said, ‘I’d like to be able to look at someone, assess them, and tell them what I can do to help them and create a yoga program for them’.”

Santos said she would help Juneau, and would provide a specialty in hockey players, specifically goalies. Santos had worked with other goalies in the past, including Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins, who credits her for his abilities through her yoga training.

Now, Juneau offers what is known as functional ability yoga. She thinks she may be the only person in Canada who is offering this type of training. She described functional ability yoga as a process that will take your body out of the sympathetic nervous system, the state of fight or flight, to restive repair. She said immediately after this training, one can think more clearly, react faster, and have better recall.

“You have 87 hormones coursing through your body,” said Juneau. “They’re all out of balance when you’re in that sympathetic nervous system. If you stop and think about it, melatonin, the natural hormone your body produces, if your body thinks it has to be on high alert, you can do everything right, take electronics out of the room and quiet down an hour before, warm milk, turkey dinner, but if your body it’s in the state of fight or flight, it’s not going to release that melatonin. “By doing this particular technique, within 90 seconds it takes effect. Most people start counting at 20. Each breath is an inhale/exhale. People seldom get to 10 and they’re asleep. That’s how powerful it is.”

There is another part to functional mobility. Juneau likes to do assessments of her clients, looking at how they stand, sit, posture, and whether or not they get knots between their shoulder blades. Then, she teaches them how to work within their bodies to learn how to avoid injuries and unnecessary surgeries.

If you are interested in learning more about yoga or taking some classes, Juneau offers eight-week programs on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as private classes. She can be contacted through her website at www.Solbythesea.ca, on her Facebook page, or via email at annabellejuneau@gmail.com

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca