People living with an incurable disease and their loved ones face a great many challenges. St. Raphael’s provides gentle and empathetic support, offering care and services to soothe and calm, but also to equip these people with tools to face the challenges ahead.
One such service is yoga classes, which are offered free of charge at the Day Centre. To make this service even more accessible, we now offer online yoga videos, available on our YouTube channel. Filmed with Annie Courtecuisse, one of our yoga teachers, they are be produced by the MaTV channel and broadcasted by Videotron.
These short videos will make it possible for our guests to practice yoga and benefit from Annie’s expertise in the comfort of their homes. To watch the yoga videos, click here.
The benefits of yoga for people at the end of life and for their caregivers
An incurable disease takes its toll on people’s physical and psychological wellbeing, and chronic pain, worry or fear inevitably occupy a huge amount of space in their daily lives. For caregivers, life revolves around the sick person, and it can be easy to forget oneself in the caregiving process.
Practicing yoga can bring people at the end of life back to the present and into their bodies. By focusing on the person’s sensations, yoga has a calming effect. It’s a time to take care of yourself and leave overactive thoughts behind. Respectful of the body and its limits, Annie leads a gentle yoga practice that restores confidence to people at the end of life, who are often afraid of movement. Though no miracle, therapeutic yoga can nonetheless provide tools to help manage pain through breathing techniques or various postures.
For caregivers, yoga can be a time for reconnection with the self, and this in turn allows us to better support our loved one. Caregivers and bereaved people often also experience difficult emotions. Yoga allows us to reconnect with ourselves in a new way and better express our emotions.
Yoga practices adapted to all
As Annie says so well, “It is yoga that must adapt to the person, not the person who must adapt to yoga.” In her videos and classes at the Day Centre, she teaches a yoga that is not at all about performance: “There’s no particular destination; there is no final posture to get to.”
That’s why Annie offers chair yoga, in which the person sits on a chair or uses it as a support, and mat yoga, which is done on the floor and may include a chair for certain postures. Each person can thus choose the practice that suits them best, according to their physical abilities. Both approaches offer the same benefits, as they follow the same routines. The videos include both techniques, and viewers can choose between them. The key point to remember is that these practices are safe, adaptable and accessible to all.
More about Annie Courtecuisse
A few years after discovering traditional yoga, at the age of 55, Annie turned to teaching it. Passionate about the preventive and therapeutic aspects of yoga, she decided to specialize in therapeutic yoga and yoga for seniors. She worked for several years in the Clinique de la gestion de la douleur of the CHUM, as well as at the Clinique de la gestion de la douleur chronique at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal. In 2016, she published a book entitled Yoga pour soi: soulager la douleur chronique.
Her involvement at St. Raphael’s came about firstly through her interest in palliative care. But, more importantly, she and her husband had personal experience with us. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, her husband spent his last moments at St. Raphael’s. He took our mission to heart and one of his wishes was that we continue to offer our services to people at the end of life, their loved ones and the bereaved. Following her husband’s death, Annie naturally became involved as a volunteer yoga teacher to contribute to the mission of our Centre.