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My Journey

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(10 minutes read)

 

"I, myself, am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions." - Augustin Burroughs

Hello, I'm Audrey.  I would describe myself as a relaxed perfectionist and a grounded idealist. 

I was born in the US, assembled in China and now operating in Switzerland.  This is my story.

 

My yoga practice began in 1998 during my highschool years.  I had absolutely no flexibility, strength or coordination. My arms would tremble in down dog because I didn't even have the strength to push the floor away.  My mother and I practiced Hatha Yoga twice a week at the local gym as our mother/daughter activity.  I remember thinking, "Wow, this is the first time I'm taking a deep breath."  I also remember us laughing uncontrollably through strange postures like, "happy baby".  But innately I sensed there was something very special about yoga. During that time, I was more focused on team sports and running.  The combination of exercise and yoga helped ease my anxiety and lack of confidence.  As an Empath, I often felt over-stimulated and emotional so I would use food to self-soothe and destructive substances like alcohol and tobacco to numb myself.

For years I would yo-yo; some weeks feeling motivated to other weeks feeling like a pile of bricks. 

You'll read soon why certain experiences led me to finally commit to a more balanced life. 

For over 10 years now, I have fully immersed myself in a journey of health and movement.  Some days it's yoga asana, some days it's handstand training.  Some days it's about breath, meditation or a walk in nature.  But rain or shine, I show up, because I finally learned the indispensable value of self-care.

 

If you're like me, any topics related to optimizing potential of the human mind, exploring our limits, care for the environment and evolution as individuals and a collective, absolutely fascinates me.  My passion is essentially to become the living science experiment. I employ my body and mind as a testing lab for new discoveries inside and out.  Standard social occasions and late nights out are not my cup of tea.  Honestly I'm often bored or antsy. I'd rather be outdoors, moving or creating. 

 

"Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" -Benjamin Franklin.

 

It's nice to connect with you here.  I love knowing other active, curious, like-minded people. 

 

Turn Pain into Empowerment

We all work on ourselves for different reasons.  Often it's a painful experience that instigates our desire to change.  For me this all began as I was trying to cope with a family tragedy.  In 2006 my oldest sister and mother were hit by a car in a bicycle accident.  My sister lost her life and my mother suffered from a severed C3 spinal chord, which left her body fully paralyzed from the neck down.  It was utterly heartbreaking.  When my mother woke up in the hospital, doctors explained to her she would spend the rest of her life bound to a wheelchair, learning how to live as a quadriplegic.  Never again did I take the simple gift of movement for granted.  After the accident I dropped out of university and took full time care of my mom. I couldn't fathom continuing my own life knowing she was in that condition. I was heartbroken and just wanted to give back some of the love and care she gave to her six kids.  Despite her difficult situation, she kept a positive attitude and brought joy to everyone around her.. To live over 10 years in a wheelchair, unable to move, and not once feel like a victim or complain about life is something extraordinary. Additionally she taught herself how to paint using her mouth! She started a business and was able to support herself as a working artist.  As her daughter and full time care-giver, I can't really express in words what it was like to bathe, dress and feed my mother.  I slept for years on a sofa next to her bed, worried and waking up in the middle of each night to bring her a sip of water, scratch her nose, adjust her blanket or read to her.  Sometimes I would just sit quietly with my head on her heart so she didn't feel alone. Those years together were the most precious gift.  We discovered the blessings in the smallest things.  Gratitude has a million shades.  My mother passed away in 2017, but still remains my hero and greatest teacher.  Whenever I feel tired or unmotivated, I simply close my eyes and think of her.  She refuels me with resilience and her grace.

Never doubt what all the challenges are guiding you towards. Instead of letting it break you, let it make you. 

The outer strength that I have in the Yoga practice feels like a small fraction compared to the inner strength I gained from the past.

                                                                                                     

 

                                                                                                          Building a new life

 

At the end of my 20s, I moved to Shanghai, China.  I hadn't any income from those years of taking care of my mother, so with less than 500 dollars in my bank, I started working as many jobs as I could to support myself.  I learned Mandarin Chinese by befriending locals.  My closest friends were a Shanghainese couple in their 70s. I spent years in their little music shop listening to stories about the cultural revolution and what it was like being avant-garde individuals in a communist society.  They shared their views on politics, art, history, chinese mindset and ancient practices.  I was captivated by their stories and experiences.  It was like stepping into a completely different world.  Growing up, I came from a family very easy-going, free-spirited and loving. Our household had an attitude of "just do whatever you want in life and enjoy yourself" but without much guidance,  Rules, schedules? What does that mean? haha. That can be fun, yes, but not so practical in reality. In China, I was able learn and integrate exactly what I had wanted for so many years: Structure and discipline.  

I took a position at the University of Shanghai as a Cross-cultural communications instructor within the tourism field.  Later this led me to collaborate with EuropaCorp and China Film Company as a translator for scripts and a dialogue coach for Asian, European and Hollywood actors. Even though I enjoyed these industries, I felt a desire and calling to do something more meaningful.  I started making daily manageable goals for myself.  I assessed where I was at and set intentions for where I wanted to be in a few years. I worked on myself physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s when I committed to practicing either yoga or martial arts every day.  Slowly but surely I felt stronger and more flexible.  I cleaned out my possessions and lived as a minimalist; even sleeping on a tatami mat for years so I had more space in my bedroom to train. I stopped shopping unless necessary. I changed my relationship with food.  I didn't even consider drinking alcohol, it didn't interest me at all - I made boundaries and only invited healthy situations and people into my life.  It all felt like a natural process. - invigorating and cleansing.  My energy and zest for life was soaring.

                                                                                                                  Awake

In 2012, I started going through energetic shifts and awakening symptoms which shook me to the core.  Some sensations were pleasant, but more often it was a challenging and uncomfortable process; like a roller coaster that you can't get off of.  For over a year I was constantly going through what felt like a downloading phase.  It was as if I had a screen placed in my mind; information constantly poured into it through the crown of my head while I was simultaneously going about my daily activities and having normal conversations.  Even at night, it never stopped.  Sometimes information was in the form of vibrations felt within the body, sometimes colors, or waves of insights and phrases that I knew was coming from some source outside of me.  I.tried to just observe what was going on and neither resist nor attach to it.  Those years were a diligent process of allowing, healing and growing.  I felt a magnetism and guidance from somewhere.  Those energies felt so intense and the pain from my past still felt so strong that it was too overwhelming to digest everything.  I remember being totally defeated, not wanting to go on.  That moment, I was standing in front of a Shanghai subway and heard a powerful voice ripple through me, "Either terminate this life or live in alignment."  That message was intense, yet clear.  It was a pivotal moment of surrender that gave me a certain sense of freedom and permission to live with purpose.  I let go of all control.  Life began feeling effortless,  It felt like I was in a matrix with the data being re-arranged. Or like I was playing a video game and unlocked other levels.  I became careful of my thoughts and words because I observed that whatever I imagined started manifesting.  I was in a very comfortable job then but the thought of staying made me feel gray inside.  I knew that changing careers meant making less money, losing "important" connections, and probably being judged as a hippy-like lost spirit,  Nevertheless I couldn't ever go back to operating the way I had before.

In 2017, I moved to Switzerland and have been fully immersed in sharing the yoga practice and healthy lifestyle since. 

                                                                                                                Flow Co

I've created Flow Co as an outlet for what I want to offer the world; tools for well-being, self-transformation and empowerment.  Here you'll find information about my yoga classes, coaching programs, as well as upcoming retreats and community events.  Soon I will launch a smartphone application so you may purchase programs tailored to specific goals, such as inversions and splits. Also stay tuned for a shop, so you can enjoy products that are organic and earth-friendly.  If you live in the Geneva area, I encourage you to join in-person classes.  There you'll meet fantastic individuals and make great connections with other like-minded people.  I hope my classes and FlowCo provide you a safe and encouraging space to be yourself and experience the many benefits of yoga in your life. 

 

 

                                                                                                                   Vulnerability

Being vulnerable and sharing personal things is a scary feeling. (As I was writing about my life, part of me was cringing like I wanted to hide under a blanket and get it over with, hah). When I was a kid, I used to climb up trees and hide for hours; alone with my thoughts and unseen. It made me feel calm and alive. I still feel like that girl, quiet and content in nature. Teaching, forces me out of my comfort zone. Approaching my work as a channeling and holding space for others so they can feel nourished helps me to get out of my head.  Otherwise my fear of public speaking would overwhelm me to do this kind of work.  Thank you all who have been part of this journey with me for years, coming to classes and continually supportive. I hope you know that you inspire and motivate me.  I love co-creating beautiful moments with you.

 

Yoga is not only about asanas, as Western society emphasises.  The physical postures are visceral and the first thing we experience in a classroom, so it's normal one identifies that as yoga.  But then we peel back more layers and see it's also about how we treat ourselves and interact with the world around us.. It's about understanding on that day exactly what you need to feel balanced.  Do you need an intense practice to ground your energy?  Or do you need softness and more child's poses?  A down dog can be just as advanced as a handstand; it depends if the mind is fully present, neither resisting nor attaching to outcomes.  It's alchemy. You transmute whatever happened before and free up space for something better to come in.  It's a dance of finding ease within the effort. The practice ultimately keeps us healthy, mobile and feeling light so we can enjoy life longer in harmony with ourselves and others.  Does any of that resonate with you?  I'd love to know what else the practice brings you.

After the accident that left my mom quadriplegic, we went back to our original yoga class with our favorite teacher.  My mother maneuvered her wheelchair into a full classroom and whispered to me, "Audrey, I'm going to focus on my breath while thinking about all the good I have in my life and I'd like you to pick up my arms and legs and move them for me.".  Even those who cannot move physically, can move mountains with their spirit. It's all about Mindset. Gratitude and pleasures can be found within the simplest moments..  One of my mom's favourite questions to ask those around her was, "Did you put on your noticing glasses today?" 

Thanks for taking time to know more about me and why I chose this path.  look forward to getting to know you better too, whether it's on or off the mat. The meaning of Namaste is so subtle yet true: "The light within me sees and honors the light within you."

For those interested in my mother's incredible journey and artwork, you can learn more about her here :

 www.mouthstickart.com

Regarding the technicalities of my movement trainings: I'm a 700hr RYT- Yoga alliance instructor and an ACE certified Personal trainer.  

Teaching experience of over 5,000 hours of classes, retreats and personalized programs.  That's a lot of OM's.

My asana practice comes mostly from experimenting on my own, not from the official hours for certificates.

What comes through in my classes is a culmination of my life's lessons and an opening to divine guidance.

May we all continue to be guided by our intuition and a playful curiosity.

NAMASTE.

trauma recovery Geneva Switzerland transformation story
mouthstick painting handicapped artist inspire story
quadriplegic paralysed woman inspirational artist
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