Free Yoga in Paris

Over the weekend, I had a chance to check out a couple of Paris’ free yoga events: a Portes Ouvertes, and one of Lolë’s classes at Wanderlust Paris (held at Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design.) Thanks to the sustaining energy of La Rentrée, there are still a few opportunities left to explore new teachers, studios and styles of yoga, take advantage of “Back to School” class pass prices, as well as unroll your yoga mat in surprising environments. This coming weekend is a perfect example: there are not only three free classes sponsored by Lolë, but three separate open houses at Studio Keller (11e), Sivananda (10e), and Red Earth Centre (10e).

The Autumn weather has definitely turned the corner from warm to maussade, but thanks to a few sun salutations, Renan at Espace Nataraja helped us heat things up (and anyway, you already know that it’s always summer on the inside!) Because there were so many students new to yoga at Espace Nataraja’s Portes Ouvertes Ashtanga session, Renan spent some time explaining the importance of the breath in yoga, of balancing the rhythms of the inhale and exhale. For the demonstration, he fired up his iPhone and launched a metronome app then instructed us to smoothe our breathing, following the beats of his mobile. So clever! To be honest, even after a zillion years of doing yoga, I have never been able to count my breath without getting distracted -- during asana as well as during meditation -- so Renan’s iPhone trick is a game-changer for me! His use of technology to make the ancient discipline of pranayama accessible to my texting-while-talking, clicking-while-thinking Monkey Mind was a revelation, and one I am excited to use and share. That shockingly simple astuce, the practice itself and the welcoming ambiance of the studio have pretty much guaranteed that I’ll be back for more classes and workshops. Plus it’s a stone’s throw from Rose Bakery

Another Ashtanga class, this one outdoors during Wanderlust, was led by Patrick who modified the primary series to render it accessible to all. While focusing on the breath and yoga basics, this genial teacher jumped off the stage and circulated between students, interspersing instruction with adjustments, humor and encouragement. Just because Patrick kept the sequences simple, does not mean that he didn’t challenge the beginners with bakasana. Quite a few yogis in my vicinity laughed at the very notion of balancing on their hands, but some actually achieved lift-off for the first time! It is so exciting when that happens, and I hope that that joy and buoyancy will float them over to Patrick’s classes at BeYoga.