Here are some practical tips to keep in mind when you visit a new yoga studio, not just one in Paris! Yoga is an international language of community, but occasionally gaining access to a studio can leave you feeling disconnected and lost. We've assembled this handy list of things to know before you venture out to ensure that your experience is optimal. As always, have the studio's phone number with you.
DOORS In Paris, doors are a Thing. The door at street level will likely have a keypad or an electronic reader, but may not have a directory for the residents/businesses inside. For this reason, many studios will let you know what the door code is so that you can gain access quickly. This is usually called a "Code d'Accès", a "digicode", or even an "interphone" (similar to an intercom.) Often, the keypad at the door will have a central button on the bottom or top (larger than the keypad buttons) that unlocks the door during daytime hours so you don't need a special code. To exit a building, you will likely have to press a button marked “Porte” (generally located on a wall near the door.)
COURTYARDS Once you're past the street level door, you may encounter a courtyard/une cour with different doors and different staircases. You will feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland, but do not despair! Most studios will let you know which floor they are on (rez-de-chaussée is street level/ground floor,) which staircase/escalier to take to get there, and whether there is a second door code to use. One of our favorite tricks is to pause in the courtyard and listen. Sometimes the sound of Om will direct you to where you need to go.
ASSOCIATION/ADHÉSION Many studios in France are membership-based. This membership fee will only apply if you're planning to be a regular student over a year's time. The memberships are reasonable (usually 20€-30€ per year) and they entitle you to lower-priced classes, series and workshops. If you are a fulltime student or unemployed, studios sometimes offer a reduced membership fee.
YOGA MATS If you're not travelling with your own yoga mat, expect to pay around 2€ for mat rental. Some studios do have loaners at no cost. There are a few studios and shops with mats for sale. Yogateau is a big fan of Yoga Concept for their great selection and excellent, personalized service, but you can find yoga mats almost everywhere now (Decathlon, Monoprix.)
CHANGING ROOMS A word of warning: many of the changing rooms in Parisian yoga studios are co-ed. The atmosphere in the changing rooms is matter-of-fact and familial, rather than lascivious, so it’s really not a big deal HOWEVER if you are even the slightest bit bashful, you may want to arrive at your chosen studio dressed in your yoga clothes, perhaps throwing something on top so you’re not walking around Paris in the equivalent of pyjamas.
COMMUNITY/COURS D'ESSAI/DÉCOUVERTE Cost should never be a barrier to practicing yoga which is why many studios now offer options for the budget-conscious. Community classes are donation-based, or low-cost (5€-12€.) Some studios advertise Cours d'Essai which are free or low-cost trial classes, while still others entice with Offre/Forfait/Tarif/Carte Découverte which can be any number of packaged deals (2 classes for 35€ over a 7-day period; 3 classes for 40€ over a 2 week period; 10 days of unlimited classes for 35€... you get the picture.) You can always check our Affordable Yoga in Paris guide to plan your low-cost yoga adventure.
JOURNÉE PORTES OUVERTES Generally in the Fall (La Rentrée) and at the beginning of the new year, yoga studios hold “Portes Ouvertes” which translates to “Open House.” On these day-long and sometimes weekend-long occasions, schedules include a variety of free classes to give prospective students a taste of what things are like at the studio, to entice them to join and become part of the community. This is a great opportunity to sample new styles and teachers, and practice in different environments without committing to a monthly pass or membership. Very often the studio offers special discounts or rate on class cards during this time so if you find a place that you like, take advantage of the price reduction!
ENGLISH OR FRENCH? No surprise, classes will be taught in French with musical, French-inflected Sanskrit! Quite a few studios offer classes taught exclusively in English, and those will be easy to spot on their schedules. Do not let the fact that classes are not taught in English dissuade you from attending, though. Be open to the experience as there is as much to be learned from non-verbal communication as there is from someone speaking your native tongue. In addition, practicing in community is a fantastic way to meet like-hearted people, make friends and gain a new perspective on French culture.
We are continually updating this section of the site so that it accurately reflects the yoga experience in Paris. If you have useful advice to share with first-time visitors to Parisian yoga studios, we'd love to hear them!