Yoga for every body
Four years ago, at the age of 45, Genoveva Escandell started to feel fatigued, unable to function normally and experiencing pain. She thought it was her age, the toll of raising two children, caring for her family and working in the family business. But over the years it became worse until she found herself unable to function properly at all. A series of tests and countless visits to medical professionals discovered she was suffering from an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease. Genoveva didn’t want this condition to define her life and so she commenced a courageous journey of discovery through yoga that led to a remarkable change.
How did Hashimoto’s disease affect you?
It makes you really tired. You don’t recuperate as well and for me each day was getting worse. I found I would go out less, work less, I was tired all the time; you just can’t function like normal. Conventional medicine helps with the symptoms, for pain and for sleep, but it doesn’t stop it. Hashimoto is a deficit in the immune system so everything slows down. You start to talk slower, and even move slower. They treat it with hormone therapy but that doesn’t get you back to normal. The tests look good but you continue to feel tired and depressed, without energy.
How did you start to change your life?
I was at home in bed and I thought this can’t be it. There has to be a way out of this. About a year ago I went to a specialist who changed my diet. Now, I eat as naturally as possible, I stopped sugar, coffee, refined flour and additives. I noticed the difference in my kids and husband too. Before I often cooked things in a rush or I bought premade food. Now I take more time, I buy from the market not the supermarket, and we eat together. It’s changed a lot.
What first attracted you to yoga?
A doctor told me to try yoga and one day I went to Ibiza town to drop my son off somewhere and drove past the studio. I saw the sign so I just went in to ask. I didn’t know anything about it. It was so hard for me to just get up the stairs. When I spoke to Sebas, I was talking so slowly, and I told him how sick I was, what was wrong and he said, “Don’t worry, come tomorrow to start”. The next day I started. That was four months ago.
What were those first sessions like?
At first I was a bit scared. I thought yoga would be something really easy and relaxing, but it’s not! When I went into the studio and it was 40 degrees, I thought, “I can’t do this!” But then each day I found I had more energy, the next day after that first time, I wanted to go back. Each time the physical and psychological effects are stronger for me.
What helped you persevere with the practice then?
I was really bad when I went to Sebas. I was not very strong and I didn’t realise how hard it would be. After a week I found that I was feeling better and getting better at it. It was the same with the food, at first it was so hard to change but then very soon I started to see the difference. I was not the same person as when I was started. I felt like I could get out and do things again.
What kind of physical changes have you noticed?
Physically I have changed a lot. In only four months I have been able to halve my medication. I was speaking very slowly before and now my speech is more normal. I’m 49, you know, when things like hormones start to drop, and lots of women don’t know that. They need to start these things early; simple things like eating natural foods and yoga make a big difference.
When my parents died, they both had long difficult illness; I didn’t have any way to relieve my stress. You accumulate all of it, like so many women do. What happened with yoga was that I felt so well cared for by Sebastien, so looked after by him, that it helped lift me. You don’t even notice it, things that would stress me before, in normal life, don’t any more. Every day that goes by you start to put it all into practice automatically. Stress passes, tomorrow is another day, and it’s okay. You are able to process things in a different way.
Has your daily life changed since starting yoga?
Very curious things happen to you in yoga. At first you don’t realise it, Sebas talks and explains things and then afterwards you notice it. Say, before you were thinking, “I want a new car” and then you realise, “Uh! That’s not important! Who cares which car you buy? Don’t buy a new one.” Things that previously seemed like problems, you realise are not problems at all. I have become more conscious, I go to a shop to buy something and now I think, hey, I don’t need that, so I don’t buy it. And I think to myself, oh, that’s Sebastien! It’s weird because it’s only been four months!
How often do you practice?
I go four days a week. I’m hooked. If for some reason I can’t go one day ,the next day I feel so tired. If I don’t go the next day I feel sore, and it’s the disease. I’ll start to complain and my kids will even say, “Why didn’t you go to yoga?” It’s better to go.
What do you know about the philosophies of yoga?
I don’t know anything of the philosophy. But I am very curious. Each class Sebas gives us ‘homework’, to find out something about a posture or I will be curious about what he is saying in the class so I do look things up.
How do you describe Sebastien’s teaching style?
Sebas is super attentive, he dedicates himself to us with a lot of energy. He always has the same intensity, he never tires. He is also funny. There are a lot of us in the class but you always feel like he is giving his attention to you.
Where do you see your practice going in the future?
The truth is, these past four months I really understood that none of us know anything about the future. The change in me has been so good, I feel so good, and each time it’s better but I can’t say what will happen in the future. My life has changed a lot. For now, each day passes and I am more hooked on yoga, and I feel better then I have for years. I would be so happy if someone reads this and it helps them too, that they can see there is more – that things can change.