My first summer in Paris, I was awed and flabbergasted with the number of restaurants, bakeries, butchers, cheese shops and liquor shops closed the entire month of August. I even wrote a blog post about it back when I was blogging about food and traveling and back when my wrist was still broken and I couldn't do yoga. I've since realized that in addition to having to walk a few extra blocks for a good baguette, you really have to search for yoga classes in the summertime in Paris. If you eventually find a class, you might show up to find it has been cancelled last minute. It has happened to me, in July! Since many of my friends are out of town during vacation time, I often find myself idle, and need of some human interaction and what better way to get that than a great yoga class. Unfortunately, I often find myself S.O.L. (look it up) because like everyone else in Paris, my favorite teachers are also on vacation or having retreats in some sunny beautiful lush local. I have the option to teach myself a yoga class, but many of you aren't quite familiar enough to do so for yourselves, and I often get requests around this time from students for online classes they can take. Usually, it's to get them through a week or two, so I've compiled a couple of recommended links for all you Paris yogis who will be around in dire need of yoga this summer, or just anytime you're looking to do some yoga at home. If you have a favorite online home for yoga classes, free or not, let me know. I'll check it out and perhaps add it to the list!
Updated: I had a couple of websites for free yoga, but they are no longer useable.
Subscription services (monthly) that are low cost compared to Paris yoga classes and have free trial periods (as of last check):
Has an almost overwhelming selection of well curated well filmed classes in all genres and styles. I've taken classes with a few of these teachers in real life, and they're quite good. Jason Crandell is one of my favorites.
Also has a good selection of well filmed classes. I've taken many a classes with Pete Guinosso in San Francisco in real life, and he has a few here that are very good. I also saw a press release that they were now offering prenatal/postnatal classes too. And it looks like Yoga Journal has snatched them up recently. They do have a few very short free classes (5 minutes).
I've never taken a full class with Aiofe, but she's a fantastic spark of a woman, and a kick ass yogi. And I recognize quite a few of the names of the teachers, so let me know if you enjoy it.
This website is pretty geeky, but they have a good selection of all different kinds of yoga for all different kinds of people.
Looking back at the last blog post I wrote about yoga in the first trimester, I mentioned how drastically my practice had changed, and it had drastically changed, but I was able to do a simple flow class and from one day to the next know which poses I was still capable of doing. Not so much the case these days at 8 months along...
At the beginning of my second trimester (12weeks - 3 months), despite not yet being visibly pregnant, I did start to feel the increasing size of the uterus, both from the inside and the outside. For about a month there was an occasional feeling of considerable pressure way down low, and I was a bit afraid that the little Mr. didn't know that he had another 6 months to incubate. My doctor said it was normal to feel the uterus so low down. It was small and gravity dictates that it stays relatively low. I fortunately figured out early on that I could move it up easily with a few modified bridge poses and I felt so much better. Instead of focusing on the backbending part of the bridge pose, I focused on straightening my lower back by engaging the lower core and lifting the tailbone up to flatten the small of the back then gently lifting the hips with the lower core engaged and the lower back flat, making the spine long and straight and the lower part of the pubis point up. Once my hips were lifted, I took a few deep belly inhales and exhales. Then lowered the hips starting with the top of the back getting the small of the back on the ground then gently lowering my tailbone until the (now smaller) natural curve of my lower back returned. A bonus for this pose is that it also happens to help with any swayback you might develop as your belly grows, and keeps your lower transverse and oblique abdominals in shape, which are oh so necessary and useful later in pregnancy and childbirth! Lifting the heels later (photo @ 6 months) helps to engage the thighs and keep the spine long. After 16 weeks, lying on your back for long periods isn't recommended, so I didn't stay in the pose for a long time, just long enough to move the uterus up a little. If my breathing was steady and long I did the pose a few times before coming back to seated position.
I also started feeling the little bump quite prominently from the outside. And by that I mean that when I was bringing my knee to my nose to place one foot between the hands from plank to prep for any standing pose, I kept feeling like I was mushing the little Mr. My simple remedy was to bring my knee to the outside of the same hand as knee, no longer squishing the lower belly, but still being able to gracefully (enough) transition from vinyasas to standing poses. Additionally, the moment I felt a bump in my belly, I no longer did any poses on my stomach to give the little Mr. all the space he needed.
Every person is uniquely different, and every pregnancy has its own challenges, so please ask your doctor before doing any new exercises. Mine told me to keep doing whatever I was doing, so I listened to my body and figured out how to keep doing my yoga. I hope you keep doing your thing and if you have any questions about my experiences, please don't hesitate to ask. It's an awesome journey!
Turns out that friend who was asking about prenatal yoga classes in the first trimester of pregnancy had good reason, she too is pregnant, I hear it's contagious. That's how my other friend who we visited in Cambridge back in February announced it to us. She had been trying on and off for 3 years and got the bug shortly after we visited her. It's really fun to have discussions with these other mammas to be, much of which includes what I have been doing in the last couple of months besides teaching and doing yoga. *clears throat* Not writing blog posts.
I have been making lots and lots of lists, rearranging things, going to garage sales and doing lots of research on what I might need. Last time my yoga friend and I met, I was describing all the things I've acquired to welcome the little Mr. as she was making fun of me for all the unnecessary things I've been collecting. The beginning of my pregnancy was much like hers. I don't know how many times I said to my husband that all we needed was some onesies, a mattress for the floor, a stroller, and some diapers. That is, until the wonderful oxytocin hormone kicked in. For most pregnant ladies, it really starts increasing in the 5th month (it continues to ramp up throughout the pregnancy) and causes a phenomenon called nesting. It happens in all mammals, a mamma rat literally makes a nest for her pups, a cat gathers soft warm things and piles them in quiet secluded place. Fortunately we humans don't collect and pile shredded paper or rags, but we do start to focus on all things domicile.
In the midst of list making, rearranging and preparing, I really have been doing lots of yoga, it's just that most of it has been at home. Which means I haven't many Paris prenatal classes to review for you readers. I've been to exactly 2 prenatal classes in 8 months of pregnancy. I blame it all on the hormones! Those lovely happy hormones. But I will continue to tell you about how my pregnancy has progressed, and what I have and haven't been able to do during these last months.
I've found a bit of comic relief for anyone who doesn't understanding the 'nesting phenomenon,' or just another story to make you mammas not feel so all alone. Unsponsored and unsolicited link here!
I do quite a bit of research looking for studios, teachers, and classes to try in Paris. I follow Parisians' yoga blogs, have a google Alert, and chat with my classmates and fellow teachers all in an effort to find the best yoga for you, my dear readers!
There are many little and -little known- yoga studios in Paris, but for a reason that I can't recall, I decided to try Casa Yoga before the other smaller ones.
I was welcomed by a lovely woman who knew my name upon arrival, asked me if I had any injuries (I didn't get a -formerly broken arm lecture!), and requested that I fill out their form. You have to sign up for a trial class 'cours d'essai, so I guess I was the odd man out, the only one she didn't recognize, or maybe just the only one taking a trial course that night. Actually, you have to sign up for any class you decide to take as it seems that walk-ins aren't encouraged. They have an interesting system for class payment and scheduling. You buy credits and use them depending on the length of the class. The cours d'essai was only 15€, but it was also only an hour, and it felt like the shortest yoga class I had ever taken. The minimum 'credit' you can purchase is 10hrs of classes for 160€. When you think about it in 1hr classes, at 16€ a class, it's not so bad, but most studios offer classes of 1.5 hours, and when you add that up, it makes for a 24€ class, and that's a hefty price tag.
It turns out, she had good reason to be kind because she was teaching the class that night, and you always want return students. She welcomed us all kindly, shut the door, and started teaching a nice paced Vinyasa flow. It was a level 2 class, so there were even some arm balances! But just when I started to get a little sweaty, the cool down began. One hour was too short!
The entrance is warm and peaceful, and there is free decaf tea (tisane) waiting for the students in a lovely sitting area. The dressing room is a large curtained off area, and it's nicely lit and furnished, but there is only one, so prepare to share. And the actual studio is one really long room where the teacher does her thing from the middle of a line of yogi's. Not the best setup (in my opinion), but it's doable. If you live in the hood, have the money, and want that neighborhood feel (reception was nice, but not necessarily the fellow students) it's a really peaceful studio to practice in. I'm not sure if it was the surroundings, or the teacher, but I had one of the deepest savasanas (corpse pose - final resting pose) I've had in a while there, and that is (almost) priceless.
Casa Yoga Paris
4 rue de Paradis
06 17 81 64 91
Metro: Gare de l'Est (Lignes 4,5,7), Poissonniere (Ligne 7), Chateau d'Eau (Ligne 4)
Price: 15€ for a cours d'essai (trial course) 16€ per hour with a minimum purchase of 10 hours
Yoga Styles: Vinyasa, Restorative, Prenatal
Changing Rooms: yes co-ed
Secure Lockers: no
Water: Free herbal tea (tisane).
Pros - Really nice warm relaxing comfortable lovely smelling neighborhood-y studio with good flowy classes.
Cons - Expensive or short classes, no walk-ins -so no spontaneity, just a few teachers teach all the classes at the studio.
Former San Francisco DNA wrangler and current Paris yoga teacher and mom. Sharing. Caution: Possibly too much.