I showed up to Patrick's all levels Ashtanga class at Big Apple Yoga on Saturday at noon nursing a mild cold and sore throat, so I had with me my trusty nalgene full of water. If you've done yoga for a while, you know that Ujjayi breathing dries the shit out of your throat, and it's especially nice to wet your whistle during yoga when your throat is already a little scratchy. We started off with some deep breathing exercises, so just after I went to my bottle for a sip... and then came the 3 minute lecture about why we shouldn't be drinking in yoga class. We had just stoked our fire, and we were putting it out with water, and what's the point, etc etc. Whoa. Dude.
The funny thing is, this wasn't my first lecture from a male French teacher. I got one a few weeks ago, a bit longer, about why I maybe shouldn't be doing Vinyasa yoga with a (formerly) broken wrist. And I kind of get it. I don't look like the typical French wispy yogi. I've got some meat on my bones, and neither of these teachers have ever seen me in class, so they may think I'm a newbie and I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. But... instead of the lecture of why I (vous) shouldn't be drinking in class, perhaps he could have explained why normally, in an Ashtanga class, they generally don't drink water because they believe that it puts out the fire, and that's how he chooses to practice. Love and Peace and Acceptance, isn't that a yoga thing? Maybe I just made that up, but so you know, that's how I strive to teach. Please call me out if I don't!
Now that you know not to bring water to his class, I can critique the rest of it properly. It was truly an all levels class, as it was apparent that he knew some of the students, and others had never taken yoga before. It also included French, English and Spanish native speakers, some of which didn't understand the other languages, and I can tell you first hand that juggling all that is not easy and he did it impressively well. His instruction was clear even though he taught in French and he kept it simple but gave up-levels when possible. When I didn't know a word (underarms=aisselles) he kindly translated for me. His adjustments are more a gentle and calming hand to focus the attention on a specific area, than an attempt to get you into a fuller expression of the pose, but hey, he at least touched his students. According to his bio he is/was a comedian, and his humor did help to keep the class light, especially after a lecture, but it was a little snarky. Ahhh, the French. He may have been right about the water though, because despite being sick, I didn't sweat much in his class, so either it wasn't that flowy and difficult, or I had already put out my fire. Damnit.
Teacher: Patrick Frapeau
Studio: Big Apple Yoga
Class: Ashtanga, All Levels
Feel Good Vibe: ★★
Spiritual Lesson: I'm not sure if stoking the fires is considered spiritual, but it was quite a lesson. Also, lots of pranayama for an all levels class.
Would I pay 20€ to take a class with him again?
Nope. Because I have a home practice, his class didn't make me relax more fully or give me a better workout than I give myself, nor did it give me useful alignment tips. But if you don't have a home practice, it's a great all levels class for a Saturday. Also, that isn't to say that he couldn't do some of the above things (for me) in a more advanced class.
Former San Francisco DNA wrangler and current Paris yoga teacher and mom. Sharing. Caution: Possibly too much.