Cyrille Caille - Aerial yoga, occupational therapy & TBI

Episode 127

56 mins

Cyrille Caille - Aerial yoga, occupational therapy & TBI

May 7, 2023

Welcome to our podcast! Today, we have a very special guest joining us from Switzerland: Cyrille Caille. Cyrille is not only an occupational therapist, but also an aerial yoga teacher who has developed a specialized course for people with Traumatic Brain Injury. We were fortunate enough to connect with her through the Making Aerial Yoga More Accessible Facebook group, which was created by Jo to share inspiration, insights and questions about the more accessible and therapeutic aspects of aerial yoga.

During our conversation with Cyrille, we delve into the various effects of Traumatic Brain Injury and how she supports her clients in navigating their new way of life. We also discuss the emotional impacts of these life-changing injuries, and how they can be a source of grief for both the person affected and their loved ones.

Cyrille and her team are incredibly dedicated to their physically and emotionally demanding work. We learn how her own personal journey with aerial yoga led to the installation of aerial yoga hammocks at the rehabilitation center where she works, and ultimately to the development of her specialized course for Traumatic Brain Injury survivors.

Join us as we gain insight into the amazing work of Cyrille and her team, and discover how aerial yoga can offer unique benefits for those who have suffered from Traumatic Brain Injury.


Cyrille's website:
Cyrille's instagram:
Centre Recontres:
Fragile Suisse:
Making Aerial Yoga More Accessible:


Please email us to report any transcription errors

Rane Bowen 0:00
Hello, my name is Rane and this is The Flow Artists Podcast. Every episode by co host Jo Stewart and I speak with inspiring movers thinkers and teachers about how they find the flow, and much, much more. I'd like to start by honoring the traditional owners of the land where this episode was recorded the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and we pay our respects to elder's past, present and emerging. I'd also like to thank everyone for all of your lovely messages of support online, as we celebrated 10 years of Garden of Yoga in Melbourne recently, and the people who came along in person, including some of our past podcast guests, it was such a beautiful afternoon and we really appreciate all of you. Our guest today is Cyrille Caille (I hope I said that right) who was an occupational therapist, and aerial yoga teacher who lives in Switzerland. We connected with her via the Making Aerial Yoga, More Accessible Facebook group. Jo created this group to help aerial yoga practitioners who are focusing on the more accessible and therapeutic aspects of this practice, share inspiration, insights and questions. We were really inspired by a post Cyrille shared about a course she created for people who have traumatic brain injury. And we were excited to learn more, Cyrille shares about the varied effects of a traumatic brain injury and how a lot of her work is around supporting people navigate life in a new way. We also talk about the emotional impacts of these types of life changing injuries, and how there's often a process of grieving, which also extends to friends and family. Cyrille and the team, she works with a very dedicated to this physically and emotionally demanding job. And she initially turned to aerial yoga for her own well being. This led to the installation of aerial yoga hammocks at the rehabilitation center she works at and eventually to her creating a specialized course of aerial yoga for people who have a traumatic brain injury.

All right, let's get into our conversation. All right, Cyrille. Could you please start by just telling us a bit about your background and how you discovered aerial yoga?

Cyrille Caille 2:19
Well, my name is Cyrille. I'm 37 years old now. And I live in Switzerland in a small town near the Capitol. And I'm an occupational therapist. I've been working now 10 years in the rehab center for adults with brain injuries. And I discovered aerial yoga five or six years ago, I can't remember really well. When I think back on the path that led me to it. I believe that the premises were already there when I was very, very young. When I was little, I dreamed of working in the circus as a trapeze artist. I'm the one who does acrobatic things on horseback. I don't really know what the name is for it. And then my passion for horses led me to equestrian vaulting, which I practiced in competition for more than 10 years. And when I decided to stop the sport for various reasons, I started looking for something softer and more mindful. And I first looked into traditional yoga, but not very convincingly. Maybe I didn't meet the right people at the right time. I don't know. But fortunately, then I came across some images of aerial yoga. Don't ask me how, I can't remember! And it just clicked for me. So it was something gentle but challenging at the same time. And it reminded me of my initial interest in circus acrobatics. About the circus and acrobatic aspects - I know we'll talk about this later. There's a lot to say. But well, I guess that's what led me to the hammock, I quickly looked for a studio that offered this type of class in my city, I signed up and fell in love with the practice immediately. I've never given up since.

Joanna Stewart 3:58
Oh, that's so nice. And you get to live your childhood dream in a different way? Yes. And so would you mind sharing a little bit about the type of work you do as an occupational therapist?

Cyrille Caille 4:11
Well, the world of occupational therapy is very broad, it would take a very, very long time to define the profession in a comprehensive way. I guess my job is to try to give the person back as much autonomy as possible to carry out the activities that are important and meaningful to them in their daily lives. And we try to achieve this by either retraining the activities in order to carry them out as they were before or by finding other ways to do it of doing so. Whether it be by adapting the environment, finding strategies, proposing and using special tools or equipment. And well, like I said, the field of action is vast. It often starts with personal care, like relearning to wash to dress, and then extends to cooking, shopping, cleaning, taking public transport, managing weekly appointments, carrying out leisure activities and so forth. And as long as it's important to the person, as long as it makes sense to them, we can potentially get involved to see how we can help. And so in our rehabilitation center, we work in very close collaboration with neuro psychologists, physiotherapists, psychomotor therapists, and of course, the nursing team. And our skills sometimes overlap, and we help each other to get to the person to their goal. And the patient is really, really at the center of of it all, I guess, I would just like to mention that I try not to mix my job as an occupational therapist and the aerial yoga course that I give, that's two separate things, that I do separately, but I think we'll get to talk about this later. But I introduced the hammock and some way to use it to psychomotor therapists, and she sometimes uses it also, but with her own backgrounds. So if needed, I can come and help for instance, but I really tried to separate both practices.

Joanna Stewart 6:02
And so is that because it's just a different scope of practice. So you kind of go into a different headspace or just kind of, for practicality, reasons that you need different tools when you're doing different tasks.

Speaker 1 6:15
I think my job as an occupational therapist is very different because I focus on daily activities, you know, and aerial yoga is just something else. In my spare time I love to do aerial yoga, but it's not my work, my main work my main job,

Joanna Stewart 6:29
that makes sense. And you've mentioned that you do work with people who have traumatic brain injury. I know that can also take a lot of different forms and a lot of different levels of severity. Would you like to talk about some of the issues that your clients are dealing with as a result of their own injuries?

Cyrille Caille 6:46
Mm hmm. Well, just before I start, I would like to mention how the people get to us in our center.

Joanna Stewart 6:53
Oh, yeah, good idea.

Cyrille Caille 6:55
Well, there are several ways in which people come to us, and most of the time, they refer to us following their acute hospitalizations and to continue their progression before returning home. When it's still possible. It's not always the case. And sometimes people have returned home, but later realized that the return is too difficult. And they asked to stay with us to try to improve their situation a little more, and to be better supported in the transition back to a to life as normal as possible. Now about the issues, the list of possible long lasting consequences is extremely long and varied. It will depend on the brain region affected and the severity of the injury. Recovery is always very uncertain, it's very difficult to say, who will recover and by how much and in any case, to keep things simple, we can divide the after effects in two categories or three, maybe the list is not exhaustive. As I said, this is just the most common examples. And we have first I guess, the physical outcomes, for example, hemiplegia hemiparesis. Some people have ataxia, lack of coordination of movement, loss of balances, involuntary movements, and so forth. There are sensory issues as well, like hypersensitivity to noise or lights, impaired vision, impaired sensitivity to touch, and also a big chapter is cognitive and executive issues. And the most frequent are like headaches, concentration difficulties, fatigue, memory problems, organizational difficulties planning or disorientation. Apathy and lack of initiative, or, on the contrary, excessive and appropriate initiative, impulsiveness, lack of awareness and lack of, well, awareness of the difficulties. And last chapter, psycho affective disorders like mostly to depression, and it's related to the losses they're experiencing. Sometimes the cycles can be only physical, sometimes only cognitive and therefore invisible. And sometimes most of the times it's a mixture of both. That's quite a long bit.

Joanna Stewart 9:10
I mean, like you said, though, like our brains really, like everything in our body is affected by our brain. So if there's been a brain injury, it can show up in so many places. And like a friend of mine actually worked at a group home for young men who did have traumatic brain injury. And he found that like, one of the things that he struggled with the most was, how to help them or just how to manage like their feelings of like anger and frustration, and I guess depression as well about being in the situation that they're in when like you say, you can't just tell people Oh, you know, do you rehab for another six months, and then you'll be fine. Like some people don't improve from there and then other people do, like, there'd be so much uncertainty and when you were there as someone's main support, I imagined that you would have to really take care Have your own self care a lot so that you can just be present for your clients.

Cyrille Caille 10:04
That's true.

Joanna Stewart 10:06
And so, like family members, as well as people who've had these types of injuries, like, I guess they would have their own emotions in response, which would also be perhaps something that you need to navigate.

Cyrille Caille 10:21
But well, as I said, we were collaborating all together. And I guess that's we're very lucky because we always have psychologists and psychiatrics just nearby. And it's very helpful for us and for the families and for the patients as well. So, um, whenever topics like this arise, we can just also work with a psychiatrist. But yes, well, the emotional component is very present when dealing with people with TBI, just like you said, all the relatives, and here too, there's great diversity as well. On the one hand, there are those because of their anosognosia. How do you serve it in English? I don't know when you're not aware of your your difficulties. Okay. That's,

Joanna Stewart 11:07
I think that sums it up really well. I'm not sure if we have a phrase.

Cyrille Caille 11:12
Okay. And knows not, knows yet. Yeah, that's how I would say, well, they, they're not aware of the difficulty. So they just like, well, I'm fine. And on the other hand, sometimes they may feel disoriented, strange, without really knowing why. Or rather, on the depressive side, when they are going through a period that can be described like mourning, we then try to accompany the losses and to help them forge a new identity. There are also some people, as you mentioned in your example, that are angry and frustrated, these people can be very vehement at times. And we'll try to find a way to channel this energy into something creative and positive, which is not always easy as well. But as I said, we're a team. And we rely on each other. But there are so many profiles of relatives, friends and families. For example, there are the over protectors, who wants to shop this past, we want to take on everything and do everything for the person that is affected, and they will quickly become exhausted. Others will experience moments of great sadness and despondency. And sometimes the states are just mixed. And it's also important to know that TBI often leads to a great change in the affected person in that identity and behavior. And many friends or relatives say they no longer recognize the loved ones. They say, for example, well, he's no longer my husband, he gets angry all the time. He's always tired and does nothing. I don't recognize him anymore. Well, here again, families and relatives have to face up to the mourning and come to terms with a new version of the person. That's not always easy. And it's a challenge to accompany all these people over time to avoid exhaustion of both parties and the erosion of ties. Because yes, very often, families and friends end up drifting apart, which is very sad. But to finish with a positive note. Amongst all this, I've also met people with incredible resilience, who claim to have become a much better person, thanks to the TBI, this also exists.

And so, I guess we should get into the like how aerial yoga fits into all of this. I believe that you told me that. Like there's a room a therapy room at the rehab center where you work that they actually installed the aerial yoga hammocks. So was that just something nice that they did for the staff like for your own self care? Or is that actually quite a common thing in Switzerland?

It's not a very common thing. Actually. I don't know if any other place that has therapy room with hammocks. I don't know. If listeners know of other places like mine. I'd love to know about them. But as far as I know, we're the only ones.

Joanna Stewart 13:59
Oh, wow!

Cyrille Caille 14:00
The only thing I can mention is that I know one or two independent physiotherapists to have one hammock in the therapy room and use it sporadically for physical rehab, but not not not as many as we have not like for six, seven people at the same time.

Joanna Stewart 14:15
And so was it your initiative that got them at your center? Yes, nice work.

Cyrille Caille 14:22
Because I was just so convinced that it can be such a useful tool for for the whole team, I guess because physiotherapists can do things with it, our psychomotor therapists can do with it, the sports coach or whatever can use them and we can use them. So I tried to find arguments. And and it works. Yeah, I really thank my boss or the director for his open mindedness because it was new. Nobody knew about this.

Joanna Stewart 14:56
And actually I wanted to ask you as well because I know that some Occupational therapists do use them in their practice, like as a tool to help work with sensory processing. And I believe, that all sensory integration, and I believe that's based on the work of Dr. Jean Ayers. And I actually have tried to research this myself, like, who started using an aerial hammock and how did they put her theory into action? Is this something she did? Could you give us some insights into like sensory swings and sensory integration and how it all fits in together?

Cyrille Caille 15:29
I'm not sure I'm very well placed to talk about sensory integration and the work of Mrs. Ayers, because it's a method that at least in Switzerland is more used in pediatrics. And it's a field which I have practically no experience in. So well, as far as I know, sensory swings are used so that the child can manage the amount of stimulation he or she needs, or so that he or she can learn to do those and organize himself as well, physically or psychologically. But I definitely would have to look into this aspect much further. I guess the sensory integration, they first use swings, hammocks, maybe came later, I'm not sure.

Joanna Stewart 16:10
Yeah, I really like good luck with your looking because I've really tried to research this one. And I'm like, I feel like there's a missing link in here. Like who was the first person who started doing these movements in the hammock? For these reasons?

Cyrille Caille 16:22
I have actually I have. I have an OT friend coming, visiting this afternoon. I can ask her because she's working with with kids.

Joanna Stewart 16:32
And so would you like to share like, what do you think some of the specific benefits to sharing aerial yoga with people who've had a brain injury, versus like a more traditional mat based yoga practice or physiotherapy?

Cyrille Caille 16:47
There certainly are specific benefits to it compared to mat yoga best practice? Well, at first sight, it might seem more difficult to more dangerous because the hammock seems so unstable, and all complicated tricks you can see on the internet and social networks. But if you take a slightly different look at the hammock, it becomes a very interesting tool. Although it's a fluid texture, I think the fabric helps with stabilizing, you can hold on it, it won't let you down, you won't fall. That is once you trust it, which is maybe the first step one has to do this with or without TBI. This works for everyone. And also the pressure of the fabric. It's like an enveloping contacts and it allows for sensory informations. And it can so it can also help to reveal one's own body, like proprioception, also self limitation and redefine body envelope, I think so at least. And suspension allows movement that are impossible on land. And you can sometimes compare it to what you could feel in the water of a swimming pool, which is also very helpful. And well the hammock is such a versatile tool, you can have a very physical approach to it, like maybe a physiotherapist would, for everything that concerns movement, balance, strength, range of motion, so on. And on the other hand, it's also very interesting for the more psycho effective side to create or become aware of the link between body and mind how we feel about ourselves. And this, I think, thanks to a mindful practice of a asanas, but also thanks to the sensation of the silky soft fabric. And it's like a cocoon, a place to rest and feel held. And well, just a quick anecdote if I may. I remember a participant who has logorrhea, the only moment he manages to be silent to keep a few minutes without saying a word are the moments when he's completely wrapped in the hammock, either in shavasana, or in meditation seat. Well, but otherwise, it just keeps talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, you can't find the button off. And it's okay.

And, well, what I also find this interesting is the color of the hammock, in the rehab center, I work each hammock is a different color. And so participants can choose to call it that speaks to them at a particular time. And so some may or may feel that they need to lie in a forest green hammock because they need to feel like soothed or calm down and other may want to use the yellow sunshine because they need that feeling of energy and vitality. So well you can just link into a symbol that speaks to you. And that's also interesting to work with. And all of this, you can barely feel in traditional mat yoga to me.

Rane Bowen 19:46
Absolutely. And so I wonder if you could tell us about your project with Fragile Swiss. Is that how you say it?

Cyrille Caille 19:52
Yes, that's right. Well, Fragile is an association of people who With with a brain injury and their relatives, and Fragile offers specific support discussion groups, courses and various activities adapted to the difficulties of people with a TBI. And it's also active in communication and awareness raising about TBI in general. And it's present throughout Switzerland with offices in each state or cantons as we call them here. So it happens that for the canton where I work, Fragile has its offices right next to the rehabilitation center where I work. So we are in regular contact. And the idea of offering these courses at Centre Recontres was given to me by my director. So I didn't expect him, didn't expect this. And I thank him for his open mindedness. That was really good surprise. And we started this project in summer 22. And they have now been three cycles of six lessons, and I hope many more.

Joanna Stewart 21:01
And so this was aerial yoga for people who have the traumatic brain injury and their families. Was there like a criteria as to who could do this course?

Cyrille Caille 21:13
Yes, my criteria was that you could walk with or without help, and get down to the floor and stand up again, without help, or with just a little help. So I would say, light cases. If you find me,

Joanna Stewart 21:31
that makes sense. Because if you have more movement restrictions, probably you would be better doing a one on one session, rather than being in a group with five other

Cyrille Caille 21:39
people. Yeah, and in this case, with the courses with Fragile, we try to start simple. See how things are going and then maybe why not open it and broaden it, but we're not that far yet. So and also I'm, I'm alone, I have no assistance. So I have to, to do what I can. But for them, for them, people with more difficulties, or for people who are still in rehabilitation. And who needs more help. As I said, there's a psycho motorist who is also taking them into the hammock, but then it's another, it's another process because she's not doing yoga. She's more on the cocooning effects of the of the hammock.

Joanna Stewart 22:20
And maybe that could be something like an in between option would be you bit more assistance, or maybe everyone having their own carer who could help them. And that could also eventually open up the criteria a bit more. And yes, each time you're doing this training, you're learning more about what works for people and different things that you know, you learn from different people and how they navigate the movements. But they

Cyrille Caille 22:45
would also, yeah, that means more means. And well, we'll just maybe in the future. Maybe in the future, I would be open to it anyway. But we'll see how things go.

Joanna Stewart 22:57
And I believe that you consulted with the neurologist, as you were developing the program. Are there any specific country indications for people who have traumatic brain injury? When it comes to aerial yoga?

Cyrille Caille 23:09
Yes, well, I sought advice from the consultant neurologist who comes to the center once every three months. And I just wanted to make sure that I was not posted, putting the participant at risk. And he told me that it didn't really see any specific contraindication apart from those acrobatic poses, because there's risk of falling down and inversions, because of the increased pressure in the heads, which can be very dangerous, especially if the person has a shunt. That's something that put in the brain to divert the blood flood. So that was very, that's what the two things I was, I had to take care about and be conscious of. So no inversions, and no fancy tricks.

Joanna Stewart 23:55
So interesting, because often when people see aerial yoga online, that's what they see the inversions and the fancy tricks. And there's so much more that you can do with the hammock. And that's one of the reasons I was so excited to speak to you today to share all of the other things that it is capable of. I was wondering as well, like, I guess you've done three, three terms. So this is probably quite a lot of issues. But beyond the safety concerns about going upside down. Were there any kind of specific issues that you noticed coming up with the participants that kind of shaped what you taught?

Cyrille Caille 24:35
Well, yes, and no. And I don't know, because maybe I'm a little biased because I've been working with these people for so long.

Joanna Stewart 24:44
Also, you already knew the people well, before they came to the class.

Cyrille Caille 24:48
Some of them yes. And some of them no, but I mean, we TBI people in general. So maybe I just don't realize what I'm doing and why don't how am I adjusting you know, that's what I'm meaning. So say no. But when I have to think about it, I said, Yes, I do. But what do I do?

Joanna Stewart 25:07
This is why you're such an ideal person to lead a class like this because it's already second nature for you. You don't have to like think about how to adapt like you're used to adapting because that's your job.

Cyrille Caille 25:17
Yeah. Oh, well, I do have to think about it. Sure. But at the same time, if I want to explain what I'm doing, it's not always easy because some things I do without even noticing.

Joanna Stewart 25:30
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I have another way to think about this. Like when you were devising the course? Did you have a plan of what you wanted to cover each class? Or did you just arrive? Planning to go with the flow? And just seeing what was working for people?

Cyrille Caille 26:39
No, I have a plan. I'm preparing each of my classes in advance. Well, I mean, it's it's it's, it's a journey. Because at the beginning, I didn't really know what people could do when couldn't. So I just like, Oh, I'll go with what I think is easy. And then I'll just build up on that. Sometimes what was easy wasn't sometimes what I thought would be difficult was easy. And I just readapted from week to week. And also I tried to keep some of the poses I did last week I tried to do again the week after so that people could get used to them the poses. And I also decided to do in a series of six classes, three hip high classes and three low hammock classes. And then well what was also difficult was that their physical and cognitive abilities of each participant were so diverse. So I I I had maybe one person with a hemiplegia and the other was only with a cognitive difficulties. So how do you find balance in a course to suit everybody. But I think we manage to find something.

Rane Bowen 26:39

Cyrille Caille 27:07
At least they didn't say it didn't work.

Rane Bowen 28:04
And I was just wondering, did you start with any specific goals for the program?

Cyrille Caille 28:09
No, not really, apart from the fact that I wanted them to feel better at the end, then when they came at the beginning? Not really it's it was mainly an exploration for them as well as for me. Or maybe if I really wanted to have a goal, it would be that they can reconnect with sensations and experience their bodies differently. Maybe discover or rediscover movements or poses or postures long forgotten, maybe that's what what I was trying to, to find for them or to give them. Yeah.

Rane Bowen 28:45
And what positive outcomes Did you notice along the way?

Cyrille Caille 28:49
Hmm, outcomes take a moment to arrive, I mean, progresses very slow with this population. So it takes a very long time before you can see actually see something or feel something. But I would say I thought It seems something as well in this last series of courses, because I decided to, to reteach the first cycle. So the six first classes I did and to see whether it was it was still as difficult or if it was easier, and I definitely say it's it's not huge, but you can see small, small changes and how things get more fluid. And I can I could feel that people felt more at ease with the hammock, but it's very subtle.

Joanna Stewart 29:37
And did you notice a shift in people's mood from when they started the class to when you get to the end and everyone has their relaxation and meditation time?

Cyrille Caille 29:47
Yeah, they definitely don't have the same face. They look very different.

Joanna Stewart 29:53
And were there any surprises that came up for you as you've been doing this? Ah, surprise.

Cyrille Caille 30:00
This is... Yeah, I think what surprised me was maybe just what what I thought would be easy. Sometimes it wasn't. And so I was surprised that the variety and where they challenged me actually were the people challenged me. You can do all the thinking you want in advance. And all the planning your wants, things sometimes just happened. And it's something else.

Joanna Stewart 30:24
And I think that is true of every area or yoga class. And something I noticed as well. Often it's the moving in between the postures that people find more challenging than the actual moves, like just getting used to even something like yeah, rolling over in the hammock can be pretty challenging to navigate.

Cyrille Caille 30:44
Once you're in the pasture, it's okay. But getting into it and getting out is, I think, the most difficult.

Joanna Stewart 30:50
And so you might have covered this already. But did you learn any lessons along the way from some of the challenges that you might have had?

Cyrille Caille 31:00
Yeah, there were a lot of challenges and lessons that I could learn on the way? Well, my first concern was, will I be able to assist people enough to get in and out of the poses if they need to, I had to become creative. I had to develop alternative ways of getting in and out of the posture, especially when working with an open hammock. And well, the fluidity of the fabric is particularly difficult to manage for all sorts of reasons for fine motor skills, body and spatial awareness, general mobility, and so forth. And while sometimes when I was confronted with a slightly more complicated situation, for the first time, I didn't have any answer right away. So I would reassure the person and try to think of a solution for the next week. Another challenge was to adapt the instruction so that they were understood simple, very little information at the same time, and try to be to picture them in a very relevant way as concrete as possible. For example, if you say, try, grab the chair is more meaningful, then move your hands to the right. Or activate your abs is meaningless. But if you say you tried to bring your belly buttons towards your spine, or whatever, it works better. And a lesson that I finally learned is less is more, I really had to make a big effort to reduce the amount of poses in a class to leave enough time for people to settle in and feel. And I guess in the case of the course, for Fragile, even more than for a normal course. I have to go back to the basics to do simple things and take time to feel and the richness of these exercises again, because I'm a little quick in my head and move my body and I'm so passionate, I want to do everything. I really have to make a conscious effort to slow down. And yeah, I'm take time and feel again. So they brought me back to the basics. Thank you.

Joanna Stewart 33:06
I can definitely identify with just being excited, I want you to do everything. And I'm not sure if you have this as well. But sometimes I don't want people get bored in my class. And so I try to pack too many things in because I just want to share so much. And I think that's like it's a lesson I'm working on for myself. Because sometimes scenario yoga, like the magic really happens when you do have that time to really settle in. And especially if it's been a lot of energy getting into that position. You want to make it worthwhile for

Cyrille Caille 33:41
people. Yeah, I agree. I totally agree sometimes. Well, you feel that you're boring the people, but it's actually not the case. And yeah, it's an effort also to, for me as a teacher to just be okay with that and say no, no, it's fine. We'll, we'll just keep on the program and do no fancy tricks. It's okay, if there's so much to feel and to. Yeah.

Joanna Stewart 34:07
And so you probably had this as well, because you have six people in your group. And sometimes one person might need quite a lot of assistance. So there's five people who like it's not like they're waiting, because they are having their own experience. But I could imagine that would also shape your timing, because you are moving at the pace of the slowest person or the person who needs the most help or the last person that you can get to to assist. So sometimes I find that that can take up quite a lot of time in class as well. And to not feel like I'm talking about myself now to not feel like I'm behind. Because I didn't get through the things that I had planned, but just to kind of go at that rhythm of what's actually working for the people in the class.

Cyrille Caille 34:58
This series of courses for Fragile. They're specifically designed for people with disabilities. So when people sign up for the course, they are aware of this. So I guess there's a lot of tolerance and acceptance for the rhythm of each and every one. So they agree to slow down. They know that things can get complicated, and they know that they'll have to wait. So I guess that makes things easier for me. And for them maybe as well. And otherwise, it's just a good lesson for me to just say, No, it's fine. Don't hurry. It's okay. Things are like that today. And yeah.

Joanna Stewart 35:38
Did you find there was a lot of group energy and community spirit within the group? Yes.

Cyrille Caille 35:44
They're very encouraging also each other and, and saying, Oh, wow, this time you got it and helping and and with really, really community spirit, I'd say.

Joanna Stewart 35:58
And I know that you teach aerial yoga classes just for a general group in the community as well. Did you notice differences between your teaching for this specialized population versus a general class where everyone could show up? And maybe you don't know the person before they

Cyrille Caille 36:16
arrive? Mm hmm. Yes and no. Because I guess what I find with the people who have a TBI is can be sometimes almost the same as in a normal setting. But it's like, exacerbated it's like times 10 times more. You also have people with dizziness in normal settings. You also have people who, who maybe have limited range of motion or whatever. But I think with with TBI people, it's just 10 times more, sometimes. And what was your question again?

Joanna Stewart 36:50
Well, I guess I was just wondering about your own experience, like, because you've taught general community classes, and then this really specialized class. And just from what you said, it sounds like you already teaching quite an adaptable way. But just with this group, everything was the volume turned up.

Cyrille Caille 37:12
And so I think it's my occupational therapist side, I always want to find strategies and means of adapting things that's already embedded somewhere in my brain. So I can't just separate from that. Maybe that's why

Joanna Stewart 37:25
I think that's a great quality as an aerial yoga teacher. I think that's even one of the most important qualities.

Cyrille Caille 37:33
But that also means always having like, two or three different solutions for one Asana if like, Oh, if this one has a hip problems are well, I have to have this ready. And and if the other one has a knee problem, oh, okay, I have to add that this way. So I always have to have like two or three different solutions ready? Or try to it's not always possible, but

Rane Bowen 37:56
And you mentioned there, there are people who have dizziness, even in normal settings. And I can only imagine that would possibly be worse in the hammock for some people. So was Was this an issue that came up for you or like that? What sort of strategies did you have for working with that?

Cyrille Caille 38:16
With motion sickness? Especially, actually, I have not been very often confronted to this kind of problem. It's pretty rare. As far as my experience go, most of the time, everything goes well. Maybe also because I don't include any or hardly any poses without any contact to the floor. When I'm working with people with TBI. Maybe that's also helping. But when it did happen with these people, the motion sickness and proprioception challenges were not related. Also, it's not because they have progressive proprioception challenges that they are have motion sickness, it's very different to separate things. I'm not saying that it can't happen. But for the passage participants I've been working with the ones who occasionally had dizziness didn't have any of those proprioception problems. Well, in the rare cases, when it happens, I tried to find solutions, like proposing different things. Just just like I said, poses with floor contacts, poses or prioritize sessions with a hammock set closer to the ground, like low hammock classes, also, so that you can have the floor just nearby. And also, maybe not use an open hammock where the person is so that the person can always have visual contact to the walls or the floors. That is also very helpful. But really, as I said, it's, I've rarely send them had to adapt things in this way for now, maybe later, but, but now it's been it's been quite good.

Joanna Stewart 39:49
I think what you're saying about having the contact with the floor at all times is super helpful because that's something that I sometimes recommend to people like I find that the more like fluid floaty movements where someone's whole body is kind of flowing in the fabric are often the ones where if someone does have like a, you know, get motion sickness like that will be the time that it happens or, you know, coming in and out of the inversions as well. And you're also skipping those moves, we to share an anecdote from our studio. We've also had some people come in on a Saturday morning with a bit of a hangover. And that has been a meeting in class.

Cyrille Caille 40:30
That hasn't happened to me.

Joanna Stewart 40:34
And so Another common issue that beginners have is the feeling of the fabric, pinching or digging in being uncomfortable. And you did mention that a lot of the people who you work with have heightened sensitivity and like, maybe even would be healing after some injuries as well if they'd been in a car accident or something. So I was wondering how you worked with that, like, What strategies did you use if someone was finding the fabric uncomfortable on their bodies?

Cyrille Caille 41:02
I have had very little experiences of this problem with people who have a TBI, students in regular classes seem to be much softer and complaining them.

Joanna Stewart 41:15
That makes sense, it's the least of their pain challenges.

Cyrille Caille 41:22
Well, in a few painful situations that have arisen, I have used cushions and blankets to relieve the pressure. And most of the time, that was enough, once or twice, I wasn't able to relive the discomforts. And I had to ask the person to get out of the pose, that's maybe the easiest thing to do. Sometimes they get used to it after two or three sessions. Sometimes things better up when as time pass. But much more often than for pain, I had to use cushions or blocks to make up for a lack of mobility, to provide supports and to unload certain areas a bit like what you're doing in the end. So yeah.

Joanna Stewart 42:02
And so this is a surprise question that just came to me. Was there a pose? That was just the winner? Like, did people have a favorite? Or Did everyone have their own favorites? Yeah.

Cyrille Caille 42:21
I guess older, all them the poses that are like that gift that cocooning effects are everyone's favorites.

Joanna Stewart 42:29
And I imagine a lot of people you work with that most of the physical activity that they're doing is in a rehabilitation context, or in a daily life context. And as people are working on their recovery, there's probably not as much energy for play and fun. Was that something that people were able to do in the sessions? Did you get to the point where people were comfortable enough in the hammock that it started to feel like fun and play rather than a challenge?

Cyrille Caille 42:58
Yes, sometimes, but I had to help them. Because, well, at least at the beginning, they didn't dare really to express their emotions, or maybe they were just too busy getting used to the hammock and to where to have to place it and all that's complicated. But once they get a little comfortable with it, and once I encourage them in this way, they could enjoy that and and bring back their child spirits. Or wake it up. But also, maybe it's also culture because we're in Switzerland, and people don't allow themselves to express your emotions easily. It's you need to be like, correct and not to be too loud, not to disturb. And maybe that's also something that comes into, to the way so I don't know. But yeah, at first, they were really, really serious. And I had to push them a little bit.

Joanna Stewart 43:57
Because I think that is one of the things that's so special about being in the habit, like often it is this chance so people can connect to their inner child again.

Cyrille Caille 44:05
Once they get used to the fabric, yes, once they feel confident, or maybe sometimes sometimes the inner child comes out as well, when when there's a like a surprise when they don't expect that something happens. And then they just giggle happens as well sometimes.

Joanna Stewart 44:24
And so did you notice any like emotional or even spiritual benefits that emerged? Do people talk to you about this kind of thing after the class?

Cyrille Caille 44:34
Not really, I had on one or two occasions where the hammock especially the open hammock poses such as savasana, or like the cocoony stuff. And when it allows a participant to let go, some emotions were released. There were some tears, which I hope were liberating. But other than that, not really. And I just want to point out that I'm not a psychotherapist, so I can welcome the emotions that come up, I can, but I'm not trained to heal them. And I just don't want that people mix this. So I can welcome it's okay when it comes out. And if it has to come out, it comes out and it's okay. But it's just not the place that people can work on these emotions afterwards. These are two separate things.

Joanna Stewart 45:24
And I guess that's why it's so good that you're doing it in the setting that you are where there is a whole team of people. So you know, if someone did have some challenging stuff come up for them, or some trauma that was triggered from being in the hammock or kind of letting go enough that, you know, those deep feelings do bubble up. Like there's a whole support team there to help them navigate through that.

Cyrille Caille 45:52
Yeah, that's very precious. I'm really, really glad that I have this team around me and all around the participants and the residents and patients and everything.

Joanna Stewart 46:01
I don't know that, like personal autonomy is such a big issue when, like in the disability field, because a lot of people, especially older generation, often speak in quite a paternalistic way. And people have already had this, like loss of physical freedom, and, you know, life freedom taken away from them, and now need a support team. And as people are learning to navigate the world in a new way, like to be able to have that personal autonomy, and to kind of chart their own course, but also balancing that with the additional support needs, I could kind of imagine that it would be a bit of a balancing act, because they're the expert on their own personal experience. But also, there's a team there to help. So collaboration and creativity can be really powerful tools, especially if someone like something isn't working for someone, how do you navigate this balance of personal autonomy, while still kind of maintaining enough of a support structure that everyone could follow along with the class? I'm sorry, if that was a really confusing question.

Cyrille Caille 47:18
I'll try to answer anyway. There's a lot of different things in your question, just in the case of persons with a TBI, you have two kinds of persons, you have the persons that have a lack of initiative. So they're not very in demand of doing things. So they're just most of the time waiting for things to happen. And you have on the other hand, the persons that want to go forward and wants to do things on their own, and who can be very effective, but that paternalistic aspect you mentioned just before. So for some of them, autonomy is very important. But in aerial yoga classes, as the activities still new to them, they easily accept to be guided and helped. Maybe things will change in a year or so I don't know. But but for the moment, they're just glad I'm here. So I haven't really had any of the difficulties you mentioned in the iReal yoga practice. And if there have been frustrations, they have been well hidden. I haven't. Well, nobody told me about them. So perhaps what was also helpful or stiff provides a will to provide a maximum of autonomy and avoid situations of failure is to estimate the capacities and possibilities are the participants during the preparation of the course, and to choose adapted poses. So I think a good solution is to is to plan beforehand. And when there is a temporary failure, or when I don't find a solution right now for this posture. I tried to find one for the next week. So

Joanna Stewart 48:56
yeah, that makes a lot of sense and picking, like if you're offering three options, it's like three options that are safe for everyone. Because I think that's often when it comes up in a group setting where maybe there's a foundation pose. And until someone is comfortable with that variation, it's just not safe to move on to a more complex variation or a higher up in the air variation. And that's often when I find myself say oh, like, let's just stay with the first version for now, too. You know, you've got like more familiarity with that before you try this next option, even though I offered all options to the group. So if you've come into it with only offering options that are okay for everyone that really does allow that autonomy to choose within that range while still saying safe for everyone. That's true.

Rane Bowen 49:47
And I was wondering what advice would you have for yoga teachers, so either floor or aerial based yoga teachers who are drawn to working with a specialized population do you think a good first It would be to get further study.

Cyrille Caille 50:02
Well, although I'm an occupational therapist, I'm only at the beginning of the road as a narrow yoga teacher with specialized populations. So I'm not sure if I can really give advice. But anyway, everything you mentioned is useful. I mean, a minimum of knowledge of the particularities of the specialized population training that is always good and maybe necessary, may be also being more or less directly concerned and having some experiences like, for instance, a family member or a friend that lives with this particularity. Or if you work with this popularity or population, collaboration is also always a good idea, it sometimes helps to find other ways, it's always rewarding as well, because you're always learning through the exchange of competencies. But I guess, above all, what is needed is a kind of sensitivity to feel what is going on and know how to adjust. You can be very, very well trained, in theory, with lots of diplomas, but be very inadequate in the fields. On the contrary, you may not have been to university have little training, but have a good sense and sensitivity or intuition, and contacts, which means that you understand and you know how to transmit and adjust. So well. I could also just say maybe it's just good to always stay awake, curious and open. And I guess that's key.

Joanna Stewart 51:33
Absolutely. And I wanted to swing back to the kind of work that you're doing with aerial yoga and how different it is to a lot of what we see online. And even, like, say, I used to teach aerial yoga gym, and the gym classes, like people had very different goals. So I was just wondering who you look to, for inspiration. Hmm.

Cyrille Caille 51:59
It's maybe a bit awkward to say that. But I really I, I learned a lot from every people I met on my journey on my path on aerial yoga really, really. But I have to mention two of my teachers, my teacher from Germany, she was my first teacher training. And she has a very special kind of cueing people. Because she had the opportunity to teach blind people. And she's very precise in her cueing and she gives them so in order to so that you can just do the classes with close eyes. It's really impressive. So I try to go this way. I'm not as good as her far from that. But my intention is to go that way. As far as she's concerned, and the other teacher is my teacher from Reunion Islands. I admire the way she introduces progressively and prepares each posture in consciousness really in mindful unconsciousness, and also her capacity to make us feel all the subtle movements inside and all of a sudden, not. She's not it's beyond alignments. I don't know how to explain that further. But but it's really, really, really subtle. And this is also something I like to do as good as she does. And well that's for them. Really classic aerial yoga parts. And when it comes to creativity and acrobatic side, which I also sometimes like to do I have two or three persons on youtube I like to follow Yeah.

Rane Bowen 53:45
Excellent. Well, we've got one more question and it's a surprise question that we ask every everyone if you could distill everything that you've learned and and that you teach down to one core essence that you think is most important what do you think that one thing would be?

Cyrille Caille 54:04
Oh my goodness. Well, that really is a surprise questions. Wow, that's very, very difficult. I guess what the hammock brought me is it supported me and it helped me just accept myself like who I am right now and say it's okay in the state. Just like you're today it's okay. It's fine. And not compare myself or just have the feeling I have such a long way to go and to compare myself to others like no, I think that's what the hammock brought me most right now.

Rane Bowen 54:46

Cyrille Caille 54:47
I don't know if I...

Joanna Stewart 54:48
know I think that's you explained it beautifully, like self acceptance just as you are now like what a beautiful thing to share with everyone that gift.

Rane Bowen 54:57
Excellent. Well, thank you so much. Yeah.

Joanna Stewart 55:00
Thank you so much for everything you've shared. Thank you for having me. A pleasure.

Rane Bowen 55:06
We hope you enjoyed our conversation with Cyrille. I know I certainly did! You can find me on Instagram at Ranelovesyoga, and Jo at Gardenofyoga. Our theme song is baby robots by ghostsoul and is used with permission check out We also want to thank our Patreon supporters, we really appreciate you. Patreon is a way that you can help support the podcast for as little as $1 US a month, higher tiers get access to extra special content. We're now uploading a monthly video class. We use the funds from your Patreon contributions to pay for editing and producing for our podcast, which used to take me around four hours per episode, so we really appreciate it. If you'd like to help support the podcast, please go to artists podcast and join the Patreon club. If you'd like to support us in other ways, you can share this episode on social media. Subscribe to us on Apple podcasts or Spotify or just reach out and let us know your thoughts on this or anything else. Thank you so much for listening. We really appreciate you spending your precious time with us here He arohanui maua ki a koutou katoa - Big Big love!

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