A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, I (Martine) was contacted by Phyllis Flick who inquired, “My French guy wants to give yoga a try—any tips for beginner styles/classes?” There are so many styles and yoga traditions out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the choices. I think the metaphor of trying to cross Place de l’Étoile is apt: you can see your goal clearly in sight, but there are a lot of distractions, uncertainty and fears swirling around!
My own yoga journey began with a lucky coincidence: around the time I became curious about yoga, I discovered a six-week Beginner series at a studio near my apartment. I was fortunate that I liked my very first yoga teacher; many new students, however, do not have that luxury and give up before their journey has even begun. This is why it’s important to heed the words of one of my New York City teachers, Eric Stoneberg: “There’s a yoga for everyone. (…) Best advice? Explore. Find your home. And because you’re a complex, diverse and wildly interesting human being, I bet you have more than one home.” If the first studio or yoga style or teacher doesn’t work for you, check out another one!
UPCOMING BEGINNER-APPROPRIATE YOGA WORKSHOPS
• Saturday 16 March-Sunday 17 March: Asana and Pranayama for Beginning + Intermediate Students at Le Dojo, program run by Gaya Yoga
• Sunday 17 March: Super Beginners Workshop at Big Apple Yoga
• Sunday 17 March: Special Beginner Classes in Ashtanga and Hatha Yoga at Espace Yoga Bastille (FREE!)
UPCOMING BEGINNER-APPROPRIATE YOGA SERIES
• Tuesdays 12 March-16 April: Stage Débutants Yoga 1* at Centre Sivananda
• Saturday 16 March-Wednesday 20 March: Intro to Mysore Style Practice at Ashtanga Yoga Paris
• Wednesdays 20 March-24 April: Stage Débutants Yoga 1* at Centre Sivananda
• Tuesdays + Thursdays 26 March-11 April: Stage Débutants Yoga 1* at Centre Sivananda
Most of the studios in Paris have classes specifically geared toward new students on their weekly schedules. If you’re interested in trying Bikram Yoga, no worries: their classes are always open to new students. Just make sure to arrive early and let the teacher know you’ve never done it before.
If you’re a beginner, some things to keep in mind:
• Find a teacher you trust and with whom you feel safe and supported. It may not be the first teacher so don’t get discouraged after your first few classes. Keep exploring!
• Sign up for a series rather than attend drop-in classes to ensure you and your body retain and build on every foundational bit.
• Be nice to yourself. Go at your own rhythm and don’t be embarrassed to let the teacher know if something hurts or doesn't feel right. Listen to your body.
• Props are your friends! They are wonderful tools for making poses more accessible and user-friendly. Using props doesn’t mean you’re a baby ;)
• Wear something comfortable. It doesn’t have to be the latest fashion but it should allow freedom of movement without being super baggy. (Need ideas? Check out our post “Yoga Shopping in Paris, Part I”!)
* Centre Sivananda’s Beginner series are always on their schedule so if the sessions mentioned above don’t work with your availability, don’t worry. They always offer more!