Ana Poirier, from Yoga Body Nutrition sheds some light on her views of spiritual and nutritional wellbeing and fulfillment, and how she can help those who reach out to her achieve this very goal.
What can you tell us about your pathway to spiritual and nutritional fulfillment?
It has been a long journey and will continue to deepen. I believe that it stemmed from the health challenges I had from quite a young age and this is what kept me seeking to understand what was happening and what my body was saying. I wasn’t always consciously aware of that, but I do know that it drove me down certain roads and in certain directions.
Certainly when I was a child. I didn’t want to feel badly and then, as I got a little bit older I tried different avenues. I tried being a vegetarian and then a vegan. I was a dancer and actually had started to develop quite an unhealthy relationship with food and towards my body. I struggled with depression, other mood disorders and with very extreme digestive issues which were rooted in many ways to foods that didn’t agree with me. I suffered from numerous food allergies and intolerances and then later realized that I had celiac disease.
I was in a lot of pain but I do feel that there was a definite emotional component there too. I believe that our bodies are mirrors for what’s happening to us on a deeper emotional level. I was totally emotionally and spiritually unfulfilled and I feel that this translated into being physically unfulfilled. I tried to fill that gap by controlling or restricting, but then bingeing took over. This was my relationship to food, especially when I was a dancer and wanted to succeed and be the best. I reached a point which literally was critical mass – rock bottom. This was the end of my dance career.
It was at this point that I had an angelic intervention. I heard a voice that said, “you can feel better.” I didn’t know where this voice came from, but I heard it and I listened to it. I knew that I had to leave part of my world behind me. Dance had been my entire life, my identity. I left it all behind and I started seeking something more. I had no idea what I could do to feel better but I did know that there were better nutritional choices I could make. I started yoga and this was a gateway to some of the spiritual emotional healing that I needed to do.
I started teaching yoga and studied holistic health and nutrition. I started to understand what my body needed. I studied Taoism and Chinese medicine, I went to an acupuncturist and herbalists and started to weave these different disciplines into my teaching . Astrology became a large part of this journey too.
As I mentioned, this journey continues on and I feel even more strongly that all of these things are interwoven. In addition to the health and nutrition aspect of my work, I add a layer of astrology – I do something called a body blueprint where we use the birth chart in conjunction with other aspects of what makes a person a unique individual and highlights their own unique needs. Yoga also plays an integral part in how I work, for myself and clients alike.
Do you believe that mind, body and soul are all connected?
I do, and I believe that all beings are connected. I believe there is a Union of everything. I will make a disclaimer and say I am a pisces sun – this is about the Union of all the interconnectedness – we are all ONE. This is the ultimate form of love, and being able to live on this planet with love is to actually feel and know that we are not different from each other. We are unique but we are connected. There are differences on the physical plane, but we are ultimately connected by this common thread of mind, body and soul connection.
If you were to sum up the job description/core values of a health coach, what would they be?
As a health coach I really feel that I am a guide, a conduit, a cheerleader and a tough love witness who is able to empower others through an understanding and a ‘listening’. Being a health coach is a big form of listening, being attentive and being reflective.
I also think intuition plays a role. However, It’s not simply about giving information because information is available everywhere (internet, books etc..) It is about having someone to hold your hand and to guide and support you, to be a conduit for your own healing, to cheer you on and to acknowledge and hold accountability to.
This allows the space for self discovery and the space for people to witness their own unfolding.
How do you work with your clients and what exactly do you offer them?
I offer something that is really quite unique. The way in which I work is really by showcasing my client’s uniqueness and allowing them to understand their unique individual makeup. I like to start the conversation with their body, which opens the doorway to other realms, and this is to ignite their own self healing and their own self knowing. Again I’m looking to guide them and I use these different parts and pieces as a means to sacred cleansing. This is a way to simplify and to cut out the noise and distractions.
I call it sacred cleansing because it involves multiple different levels. It is not a physical experience, although this is an aspect of it, but is about being able to hone in on the whole unrefined healing types of dietary, lifestyle and mindset shifts that one can make. There’s a tremendous amount of awareness that starts to take place at this point.
And then, of course, being able to guide my clients with astrology. If I can find out about their astrological chart I can retrieve information and run with that, which can be hugely helpful. It can pinpoint certain areas that need attention or highlight where we need to start, where the potential challenges or roadblocks lie or where they might self sabotage. Those are some of the examples.
Being able to work with the cycles of nature, and using ayurveda and astrology also form an intrinsic part of my work.
I work in program with my clients and never do one off sessions. Why? The program allows the client to take a journey of self discovery, whilst being in a fun dynamic. I also do this in a group format and have some online offerings.
Do you believe that emotional eating is the primary cause of obesity?
I do and I don’t. I definitely feel that emotional eating is a huge part of it. We have created for ourselves a culture of numbing out, of entertainment and escapism. I’m not happy in my reality so therefore I’m just going to escape into food or into other types of addictions.
This can lead to a lack of presence and perhaps emotions are scary, or wounds and trauma too painful, so we blanket these emotions by eating which in turn leads to excess stimulation. I also feel that there’s a very real addiction to chemicals, not necessarily what is put into the food system, and this isn’t necessarily whole unrefined foods, but definitely the processed foods which are laced with chemicals to have us all addicted. The media and advertising also have a huge impact on us in the form of brainwashing.
Actually, socio-economic status, general accessibility and lack of education – not understanding what food is and what is good for our body – also play an important role in obesity and unhealthy eating habits.
How were you first inspired by food and cooking and how important has this become in your life and in those of your empowered clients?
This really started at home for me. My parents were firm believers in home cooked meals. We did eat out sometimes, but there were no frozen dinners at my house and very little junk food, if any. The ice cream we had was always made by the local ice creamery down the street from us. There was this real emphasis on ‘prepared from scratch’. My father had a garden where he planted herbs, flowers and plants, and fruit and vegetables. I loved being in this garden.
My studies completed at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition really just put the way I was raised into a professional context. Here, there was a big emphasis on cooking and preparing your own food and the energy that you put into it – and making it taste good.
I always encourage my clients to do the same as much healing can take place while preparing one’s own food. It can be simple and wholesome – but whatever it is, it is an empowering tool for any individual.
“Creating extraordinary health and energy are the gateway to enjoying fulfillment in all areas of life” – Can you quantify?
We are ultimately physical beings on this planet that are housing our souls or our spirits who are here and interested in fulfilling a purpose, a destiny. Whether you believe that or not there is this definite pull. When we are operating in vessels and bodies that are not feeling energized or are not being cared for in the way that they need to be cared for, it is really challenging to feel fulfilled or to even express and grow and evolve in other areas of life.
We see this so often in people with ‘success’ and ‘wealth’. They haven’t perhaps taken the best care of themselves, and once a health crisis arises everything else pales into insignificance. Health becomes wealth. This is what fuels other areas of their life.
This is something we all need to remember!