#BEYOUROWN MEETS MÉLANIE BERTHAUD
Mélanie Berthaud also known as Mel Berthaud was born in the South of France. She has been living in Mexico for the past 21 years. She took her first yoga class in Mexico 20 years ago.
Mélanie Berthaud is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance, which acknowledges the completion of a yoga teacher training with a Registered Yoga School. She has completed 500 hours of training and has taught more than 800 hours of teaching in the last 5 years since she decided to train and become a yoga teacher. She has taught in several studios in Mexico City before opening a shala in her house and, since 2019, she teaches outside of her shala and organizes retreats in Mexico, Spain and the South of France. She is a certified meditation guide, a psychoanalyst since 2006 and a primary teacher since 2009.
She is the founder and owner of Vinyasa Yoga Justine Time. Mélanie approaches Yoga as a Philosophy, an Art and a Science. She teaches Vinyasa Yoga with a very strong soulful posture. Her intention is to go far beyond the benefits offered by asanas, the postures. Yoga on the mat, yoga outside the mat. Lately, Mélanie has been investigating the benefits of uniting the practice of psychoanalysis with yoga practice. She also teaches yoga to her young students at the primary school where she has been teaching over the last ten years.
Thank you for joining us Mel, can you tell us a little bit about your background story and how it reflects who you are and what you do today as a yoga practitioner and meditation guide?
Of course. I was born in the South of France. I grew up in Provence, in a very small town at that time, near the town of Toulon. I did enjoy school and sports. I always practised many sports: dance, volleyball, basketball, horse-riding, running. At the age of 17, I had to leave my hometown and live on my own, as I got into one of the most prestigious schools in France: The Institute of Political Studies, also known as Sciences Po. I studied at Sciences Po from 17 to 20, in Paris. I learned how to live on my own at the age of 17, far from home and in a very competitive university. From this university, I learned how to do things quickly and effectively, but I lost contact with my body at that time since there was no time at all to exercise whatsoever. France still has a very elitist educational system and I was totally overwhelmed by the competition. I did complete the three years’ program, though.
Then, at the age of 20, I left France and started studying a Master Degree in International Relations and, under the supervision of Mary Kaldor, I wrote a master thesis on the economic reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I also then got deeply involved in Human Rights and, after spending a year as a French Lectrice in the University of Saint-Andrews (Scotland), I joined IKV, a Dutch non-governmental organisation in Den Haag (The Netherlands), where I operated as a Western Liaison Officer, focused on conflict resolutions in Bosnia Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. I was very inspired by Mient Jan Faber at that time, a wonderful activist who never or almost never got angry. Maybe he was the first character I met who was near to a zen attitude….
I was passionate about the causes I was defending, but I had definitely no relationship with my body and soul at that time. I just wanted to save the world. And of course, I felt absolutely exhausted and depressed because guess what? The world was not getting better at all.
This is the reason why, at the age of 24, I decided to take a trip to Cuba and Mexico. On holidays in Mexico, I fell in love. As a consequence of that love situation, I was about to take three decisions that marked my destiny. First of all, I decided to leave everything in the Netherlands and to come back to Mexico, a month later. Second, while I was having my first couple experience in a Latin American country with a Mexican person, I took my first yoga class in Mexico. Third, as a consequence of the huge decision I had taken, I endeavoured to start a psychoanalytical therapy. Life is a flow of events that seem separate and aren’t at all, actually.
I became a psychoanalyst in 2006 – the year I became a mother- and a yoga teacher in 2015. I have also taught as a primary teacher in a French School over the last eleven years, convinced that the seeds of change have to be planted at the earliest age.
I then understood why Life had given me these gifts. In 2010, I lost my elder sister from cancer and in 2013, I lost my other sister who took her life. I had started silent meditation in 2010 after the death of my elder sister and it became clear I would keep on sharing the gifts I had received and keep on trying and help people facing high mental health challenges.
Vinyasa Yoga Justine Time offers short-term or long-term yoga and meditation immersions, can you tell us about your philosophic approach towards yoga?
I founded Vinyasa Yoga Justine Time in 2016. Vinyasa Yoga Justine Time offers short-term or long-term yoga and meditation immersions. I approach Yoga as a Philosophy, an Art and a Science. My intention is to go far beyond the benefits offered by asanas, the postures. Yoga on the mat, yoga outside the mat.
The immersions I guide are meant to be extremely complete and address the human being as a spiritual being living a human experience, as Teilhard de Chardin coined the expression. These immersions are guided in Spanish, English or French. They offer serious work in yoga and meditation. They are not holidays with a bit of yoga but the exact opposite: a clear focus on yoga while we’re enjoying some special free time.
These immersions are also initiations to silent meditation, as well as yoga practices adapted to all levels and other activities, depending on the sites where immersions are organised. All the food is vegetarian and we only work with associates who share the ethics of yoga, meaning a conscious behaviour towards all kinds of beings. It means, for instance, that we only work with partners that are environmentally conscious. We mean to understand and ensure the transmission of the depth of yoga as a way of life.
My goal about yoga and meditation during the immersions imply that participants get a set of tools available to be used in their daily life after the immersion is over. I wish to train independent yoga practitioners who are later able to practice on their own. My intention is doing so in a very kind and loving atmosphere so that our participants feel they’re being pampered and nurtured through the process. I also teach yoga to my young students at the primary school where I have been teaching over the last ten years.
Give us 3 ways in which you are aiming to ensure the transition of the depth of yoga as a way of life?
- First of all, I do not separate yoga from meditation. Yoga is, according to me, active meditation and what the western world calls “meditation” is “still meditation” or “meditation without movement”. I encourage all my students to meditate all the time. During weekly classes or special retreats, meditation sits on the front row. I try and help them realise they will walk this earth in a lighter manner if they integrate the habit of meditation on a daily basis, as it happened to me. Despite the difficulties of life, the sadness, the anger, the violence, we always have space which is open for meditation.
- Also, I offer daily classes which always integrate readings and thoughts, so that the students understand yoga is an art, a science and a philosophy. My classes encompass meditation – as I said- as well as the use of mantras, some readings, always a special theme, a specific musical selection, as well as several types of yoga, such as Vinyasa Yoga, restorative yoga or yin yoga. I intend to create a special sensorial and sensitive experience for my students, in order to inspire them! Given this, my goal as a teacher is to empower my students so that they can practice on their own. If they feel free to practice on their own, at home or wherever it means they have integrated the depths of yoga as a way of life.
- Finally, I work with specialists from other disciplines in order to make it clear that Yoga is open to everyone. I have worked, for instance, with a dancer and choreographer from Mozambique. His name is Manyanga Como and we offer together with a Yoga and African Dance concept which allows the students to connect with their body, their soul and their heart, through the practice of dance and yoga. I have also worked with musician Elie O with whom the creation of yoga sequences is especially wonderful for the student as well as the performer or myself. I believe creativity is a way to ensure the transition of the depth of yoga as a way of life.
The retreats offer your clients a set of tools that they can implement in their everyday life after the immersion is over, what else can participants expect to take away from this experience that will benefit them long term?
The students, after an immersion, always mention some friendships they’ve created, as immersions are ideal moments to stop the routine and connect with our true and deep values. The need for connection might very often be one of them and yoga, which means unions, allows us to connect. The students get to learn a lot and practice as well as ask a question about their lives. During an immersion, I do not practice psychoanalysis, but I still have developed the skills to listen deeply to a person.
How you are balancing the work/life strife?
I balance the work/life strife thanks to my meditation and yoga practice. Clearly, I owe to yoga and meditation my Life and a lot of energy I spend teaching to kids, teaching yoga classes and immersions as well as caring for patients every week.
What platforms are you using as marketing tools to promote Vinyasa Yoga Just In Time?
I use Facebook, Instagram and Book Yoga retreats for my immersions.
Do you currently use any apps or tools to help the functionality of your business practice?
My students can book their class with me through my webpage. I use a platform called Acuity which allows online booking.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
It means women inspiring women, it is an amazing platform and I am glad to have met you!
What does 2020 look like for you and what is next for you at Vinyasa Yoga Just In Time?
2020 means the opening of yoga, meditation and wellness centre in the south of France, which is a project I’ve been working on for a long time. It shall be a special place meant for culture, therapy, meditation and yoga. 2020 means as well a yoga and meditation retreat in the countryside of Barcelona, it will be a second edition in July 2020 and we are thrilled!
Image taken by David Flores Rubio
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