You know how people take the best photos of themselves and post them online, the ones where you can see the joy radiating from their smile and you can just tell they are loving life in that very moment? Sometimes you don't even recognize them when you see them in real life. I may be guilty of this very thing. I've often had people tell me I had 'the bitch look' on my face, usually when I'm trying to concentrate on something, and I certainly don't post those photos online. Anyway, I took a class with Anne today, it was actually, kind of my second class with Anne, since she co-taught a superbly fun class with Marc Holzman at the yoga festival a few weekends ago. Well, she's not one of those people. Her smile, demeanor, aura, whatever you want to call it, is just as beautiful and joyful and welcoming as it is in the photos.
She is French and she taught in French. And it was an Anusara class with lots of words, directions and alignment and it was all very scientific, as they usually are, but she managed to make it light, comfortable, welcoming and accepting. Not at all like the classes I've taken with other French teachers that seem to have been trained in military school before learning to teach yoga. For a while there, I thought it was just because it was in French and it wasn't my native tongue, and I didn't get the jokes, but now I know that's not the case. Thanks Anne!
She showed up on the mat today at Big Apple Yoga with colorful wrist warmers and a few tinctures of smelly good rose something or other that made the whole room smell like a garden. Mmmm. She taught with clarity and ease, encouraging us all to go further, but to listen and to wait for our bodies to give us the green light before bending more deeply. She was like a loving accepting mother to all her students, and as many good Anusara teachers do, she gives excellent adjustments. What's that, you say, adjustments?! Yes ladies and gentlemen, she gives masterful adjustments with warm and kind hands. What's not to love!?
Well... I realized today, that I have a totally different experience when class is French instead of English. I spend a lot of my brainpower repeating the French in my head... 'oh, that's left, and what did she just say about hips and pelvis, and what does basculer mean, and what am I supposed to do with the muscles in the what?' This is especially true of an Anusara class since there are so many specific instructions and micromovements involved, and it's why I love Anusara classes. The teachers are generally extremely knowledgeable and they are masters at getting students to refine the movements in poses. Spending brainpower translating the French means that I don't get to turn off the world around me and just breathe and move. It means I don't get that buzz. It also means that I probably missed a few of those refined movements. Normally when I take an Anusara class, despite not moving quickly, nor resting in the poses for a very long time (either of which will make me work my tail off and sweat like a monkey) I feel like I get a great workout. I feel like I've found a new muscles, and learned a little more about alignment. But sadly, I didn't feel that way after today's class. It was really lovely being in her presence, and it was really nice to have masterful adjustments, but it just wasn't the same as having an Anusara class in my mother tongue. So here's the skinny, classes with Anne are highly recommended, especially if your French is better than mine, and you're faster at figuring out left and right. Even if it's not, and you're not and you just want some motherly love, she's pretty awesome! And when I get that buzz from a French class, I'll know that I've finally mastered the language.
Teacher: Anne Vandewalle
Studio: Big Apple Yoga
Class: Anusara (all levels)
Feel Good Vibe: ★★★★★
Spiritual Lesson: Short and sweet and not wishywashy. Just the way I like it.
Would I pay 20€ to take a class with her again?
Yes, on a day I need a little healing love.
Former San Francisco DNA wrangler and current Paris yoga teacher and mom. Sharing. Caution: Possibly too much.