May Day

Photo: The Interpretation of Dreams

Today is La Fête du Travail (May Day), a day on which people give each other sprigs of muguet (Lily of the Valley) to commemorate Spring. As it’s a national holiday, expect yoga studios in Paris to either be closed, or to offer revised schedules of classes for the day and -- in some cases -- the entire week and then some (Ashtanga Yoga Paris, Big Apple Yoga France, Centre Anjaliom, Espace Nataraja, Himayoga, Paris Yoga, Qee, Samasthiti Studio, Studio KellerYoga Bikram Paris, and Yoga Village, for example.) Be sure to check the listings before heading out with your yoga mat!

In the study of flowers, the muguet symbolizes sweetness, humility, trustworthiness and heralds the return of happiness. All things that you put into practice when you do yoga :)

Cool Haunting: Musée Carnavalet

A secret garden in the heart of the Marais. Even under a light rain (as it was the other day when I ducked inside) it offers a quiet respite from the frenzy of tourists and shoppers outside. I like to sit on the benches in open-eyed meditation, letting the architecture and garden’s symmetry decelerate my nervous system and breath. As the sound of cars and scooters fades, I close my eyes and focus my awareness on the crunching of pea gravel underfoot, the rustling of leaves, whispered snippets of conversation…
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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).
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“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” —Henry David Thoreau

Photo: Little Shao

Do you feel like this at the Louvre? So overwhelmed by the magnitude of art that you want to wilt like a flower? Or do you arch backward in ecstasy at the centuries of beauty on display? I vacillate between the two extremes, and have finally learned to take in one gallery or school of painting per visit. This can be quite challenging if you’re a first-time visitor who feels pressure to hit the highlights, however once you realize the Louvre isn’t going anywhere, it takes the stress out of the equation. Who wants to live a life with space for only one single Louvre visit, anyway? Pace yourself -- you have years ahead of you to return and continue imbibing and appreciating the collections.

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Tagged, Bagged and Jet-Lagged

Having just returned from a quick jaunt, I’m reminded of how important preparation is and how much it factors into whether you have a positive travel experience or a miserable one. I can’t do anything about actual airlines, missed connections or problem passengers, but I know exactly which steps to take to ensure the journey is as stress-free as possible. This is its own sort of yoga.

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La Fête de la Musique!


Bertrand Burgalat - Double Peine from Parfum de films on Vimeo.

Thursday is la Fête de la Musique, a celebration that occurs every year on the Summer solstice (21 June.) This year, the festival celebrates the birth of pop music fifty years ago when The Beatles released Love Me Do, forever changing the landscape of popular music. Every corner of Paris will positively hum during the Fête -- the streets, parks, squares, courtyards and palaces -- with amateur and professional musicians of all stripes bursting and singing their hearts out. It’s fun.

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Weekend Kickoff

When Iya Traore’s professional football career stalled (he played briefly for PSG,) he transformed his athleticism and skill into a new art form: freestyle football. Keeping the ball afloat and bouncing in percussive counterpoint to his poised exterior, Iya performs impossible-to-imagine feats of balance and strength. If you think sitting in sukhasana with a football on your head looks plenty difficult, check out the video after the jump and prepare to have your mind blown.

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Yogateau… en Mouvement!

 

One of the best things about developing Yogateau has been getting to know the people who make yoga in Paris so unique. With every Teacher Spotlight, we discover how truly open and international the community of Parisian yogis is: of the three teachers so far interviewed, one is Canadian, one is Swedish, and one is Colombian! Their native cultures couldn’t be more different, yet they are all connected by their love and gratitude for the practice and by their desire to share it with others.

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One Year Anniversary!

While the idea of Yogateau had been percolating for some time, the site itself sprung up only twelve months ago. Having spent years practicing yoga in Paris, amassing info on studios, and having composed countless emails to friends and colleagues about where to go and which teachers to seek out in different arrondissements, I finally had an apple-falling-on-Newton’s head moment: what if all of this were online and accessible to everyone, not just people I know?

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Groovy French Musique

As you can imagine, it drives me crazy when people disparage French music. While I admit that there are some very triste chapters in the history of Francophone warbling -- ugh! hilarious! -- which country has not birthed questionable pop music, I ask you? Nations in glass houses should not throw stones. And anyway, as stated before, your Yums are very likely someone else's Yucks.

With that, here are some recent Gallic faves that have been making their way into my yoga playlists.

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Cool Haunting: Les Catacombes de Paris

I’ve been thinking a lot about Spanda lately, this idea of pulsation between complementary energies. I’ve always equated it with Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In some yoga classes -- depending on the teacher’s training -- Spanda might actually be named; more often, it isn’t but its core meaning is articulated any time a teacher asks you to find repose in a pose, inaction in action, talks about the give-and-take between ease and effort, or directs you to a delicious savasana after a vigorous yoga session. This idea of a push me-pull you energy is not exclusive to yoga, though. It lives as you in your breath (inhale and exhale,) in your interactions (the squeeze and release of a friendly hug,) and it lives outside of you, too (the clatter of the métro beneath your feet or above your head as you mind your own business on the sidewalk.) As my teacher Zhenja La Rosa says, “Life moves in waves. Everything is Spanda.”

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Yogateau in the news!

Yesterday, yogateau was featured on Bay Shakti! I was (and continue to be) thrilled to pieces at the attention. To have yogateau grace their homepage on such an auspicious day (Bastille Day or as it's known in France, le Quatorze Juillet) made me especially proud and happy. Deep pranams to Bay Shakti for shining the light on us, and gratitude to my sister Ariane for making it happen. And of course, an enormous merci to all the readers who’ve joined us! The conversation is just getting started, and I’m relying on your participation to make yogateau the best thing since sliced baguette.

Aux tapis, citoyens! Formez vos positions! Pratiquons! Pratiquons! Get on your mats and spread some of this revolutionary spirit of Franco-American brother- and sisterhood around. Start by clicking "Like" on Bay Shakti and The Force Expansive's pages on Facebook :)

“Wisdom Is Not Bullshit” —Judith Godrèche, French Actress

"J’ai découvert le yoga, et c’est un truc que je n’aurais jamais pu faire il y a quelques années. J’étais trop dans le contrôle. Avec cette discipline, j’apprends à ne pas vouloir tout, tout de suite. Pour moi, ça représente déjà un petit bout de sagesse. Et la sagesse, je vous le dis, ce n’est pas des conneries!" Translation after the jump.

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