As you may have previously read, I do lots and lots of home practice. I just got back from Stockholm where I visited a friend from Yoga Teacher Training, and despite having the same training as me, she prefers to join a yoga studio and take regular classes there during the hours that are convenient, even though she doesn't necessarily like the teacher. She finds that she doesn't hold the poses as long, and doesn't do the difficult ones when she does yoga on her own. To some degree that's true with me, but when I'm having a good day, I make sure to do all those poses that I don't much like because I know they're good for me in many different ways. When I'm not having such a good day, I do all the poses that I love. It works out marvelously. Plus, as I said in a previous post, I can do my practice in whatever clothes I want and with whatever music I like. Hip hop yoga playlist anyone?! Oh, right, and have I mentioned the studio prices? Gulp.
Though all of the above are good enough reasons, there is an additional reason that I do lots of yoga at home. Yoga in Paris is not reliable. What, you say, does that mean? Well, back in San Francisco, if I showed up for a yoga class and the teacher was sick, or on vacation, or had other plans or whatever the case may have been, there was always a replacement. I think once in the almost 10 years I practiced in San Francisco, class was cancelled because the teacher was super sick, and she couldn't find a replacement. That's a pretty good record.
Here in Paris, however, that is most certainly not the case. The summer in Paris (July and August) is a crapshoot. Many of the studios are closed, the others have reduced schedules, and almost none of the regular teachers teach. Don't get me wrong, I love that we have more vacation here in France, I just don't get why everyone has to take them at the same time. (Before I go on, I will admit that I have cancelled classes here without finding a replacement, but I'm working on that.) I tend to frequent studios more often than not because they usually have replacements. Where else would you take a yoga class, you ask? Well, that's the second problem. It's all willy nilly. People rent 'atelier' spaces to teach a class a week here or there, or a room once a week in the public gym, or they have a personal space they use somewhere twice a week. Also, websites suck, I got a flier at the local farmers market for Integral Yoga, so I checked out the website. Can anyone tell me when and where these classes are held, what kind of yoga it is, and are those classes still happening? I know there are (must be!) some great yoga teachers out there -not in studios, but I just can't keep track of who is teaching where this week, and when they're on vacation. There were a couple of studios that had classes all summer, and that was a godsend, I knew I could show up and there would be a class, the problem was that the style of teaching was nothing like the regular teacher. Why? How? It's all so bizarre. Maybe there is competition amongst the yogi's in Paris? (not very yogic) In the land of unions and protests, why can't we all just organize? I'm sure there are great yogi's out there that would absolutely love the opportunity to sub a class if a colleague can't be found that day.
Why, you ask, am I bringing up this subject now? Well, last week, I wrote an excellent review of Yoga Solidaire. I had taken a 10€ class at a local studio and it was stellar, wrote the review, and decided to try a few more classes. I went to a Monday evening Yin Yoga class at a room in a public gym (city space) and it was really nice. The teacher lit candles, burned some incense, had a lovely calming voice, and then it came time to pay, and everyone stood around chatting for another 30 minutes about how lovely the class was, and about an upcoming retreat, all the while waiting to put our money in a bucket and write our names down. It was like I had to join the group to go to the class again, and certainly allot more time than the 1hr30 the class should take. I fortunately wasn't in a hurry, and I'm happy they have found a great community, a joie de vivre, but it was not terribly accessible to outsiders.
Bon. I decided to try another Yoga Solidaire class the following week. This time a Vinyasa class, it was to be the first class at this location (since 'la rentrée' aka the end of vacation - in October!) and I was super excited about it. I showed up and found a few fellow yogis on the curb that said the class wasn't happening. What?! It's marked on the website updated for this exact day. But according to the studio owner, the lease had expired back in June, and no one had renewed it. I wasn't at all angry, again, I'm not a super busy person, and it gave me the opportunity to chat with the studio owner who was lovely and "the mother of anglo yoga in Paris" so only good things came of it. It happens all the time that things are closed midday or mid week or mid month in this city, and it doesn't bother me much anymore, but it makes me all the more a Paris hermit. Since I really want people to do more yoga because it's damn good for you, I'd like that to be the one thing in Paris that works. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my new mission!
Former San Francisco DNA wrangler and current Paris yoga teacher and mom. Sharing. Caution: Possibly too much.