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!
Just after I wrote the last blog post I went to lunch with a friend, and the third thing she said to me was, "You can't do yoga when you're pregnant in your first trimester?!" That was the moment I realized that a little bit (more) of France had snuck into me. What do I mean by that? Well, despite all the grèves (protests) the French participate in, there is a general attitude of --'that's just the way things are and there is nothing to be done about it' which translates to a shrug of the shoulders and the statement of "il n'y a rien à faire". In fact, most of the protests have to do with keeping things the way they are. That attitude does wonders for your blood pressure, but is bad for the evolution to a more modern society.
My friend who asked this poignant question has done yoga from time to time but wouldn't be considered expert enough to attend a normal class in her first trimester, and considers yoga the best preparation for childbirth, which is no surprise. Here in France, we have 7 hours of free birthing classes taken with midwives, and included in every syllabus I've come across, is at least one hour of yoga.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how strange it is for teachers to not accept students in their first trimester, the more I was determined to find classes for said students. It made me wonder about the liability laws in France, and how they differ from those in the US. I remember pregnant ladies in their first and second trimesters in heated studios doing Vinyasa yoga, they were treated like healthy adults, put next to an open window so they wouldn't get as hot as the rest of the students, and told not to twist. I'm not sure heated Vinyasa is the most responsible or safe thing for pregnant ladies, but prenatal yoga classes in your first trimester are. Why are ladies here in France treated like sick people who can't do a few supported squats and some breathing exercises in a prenatal class? Don't get me wrong, I love it when people in the Metro consider me an invalid and give me their seats, especially when I'm having a particularly rough day (that Mexican I stupidly ate is trying to come back up... but it was sooo good!), and the metro is packed like a can of sardines. It's really nice, but there must be a balance. So, here are a list of yoga studios in Paris who accept students in their first trimester (according to their websites). If you find others, or have tried one of these classes, let me know, I'd love to know how it goes. I will eventually try one or two and let you know what I think.
The Gasquet Institute (Institut de Gasquet)
98 bd du Montparnasse
75 014 Paris
01 43 20 21 20
Métro : Vavin (ligne 4), Edgar Quinet (ligne 6), Notre Dame des Champs (ligne 12) ou Montparnasse (lignes 4, 6, 12, 13)
Check here for schedule updates
Mondays at 5:30pm and 6:45pm
Wednesdays at 5:30pm
This is probably your best option for an evening class. Additionally, Sharon, teaches the Monday at 6:45pm class, and she's perfectly bilingual, though likely teaches in French.
Paris Yoga Shala
9 rue Magellan
01 40 70 14 44
Métro: George V (ligne 1), Alma-Marceau (ligne 9)
Check here for schedule updates
Mondays at 1:30pm --by reservation in English
Wednesdays at 6:30pm --by reservation in English
Trini Yoga Paris
*Medical authorization required*
26 rue d'Enghien (Enter at 24, 2nd court left)
06 03 53 08 42
Code : 4B12
Métro: Château d'Eau (ligne 4), Bonne Nouvelle (ligne 8, 9)
Check here for schedule updates
Tuesdays at 11am
Whoa. I haven't written in over a month. But now that all my friends and family are ‘au courant’ I can share with you! I've been busy incubating a mini-human and haven't been to many regular yoga classes. But I have been trying a few prenatal classes here in Paris, so for all you Vinyasa yogis that have been following the blog, I'll have some more reviews for you come October. If you're looking for prenatal classes in Paris stay tuned!
Before the conception of the mini-mister, I had a couple of conversations with prenatal yoga teachers here, and many of them don't take students who are in their first trimester. I, however, continued to go to the 'normal' classes of the teachers I knew, and I didn't tell them I was pregnant; I just modified any pose I needed to. I am not recommending this to you, my dear readers. I've been doing yoga for 11 years and have training in prenatal yoga. If you've been doing yoga for a long time, and want to continue your practice during your first trimester, there are a few teachers (mostly Anglophones) that won’t have a huge problem having you in their regular classes, contact me and I'll give you some suggestions. If you've never done yoga before and you want to start during your pregnancy, I initially suggested you wait until 12 weeks, realized how absurd that was, and wrote a blog post about prenatal yoga in Paris in your first trimester. I have found only 3 studios and a handful of classes.
Despite my doctor(s) telling me to do as much yoga as often as I wanted to (I have a feeling they hear yoga and think meditation and stretching, not chaturangas and headstands), there are a couple of things I absolutely didn't do during my first trimester, no matter what. I did not take classes in a warm room, no hot yoga, no Bikram yoga. You need to stay fully hydrated, plus I had a problem with mild dizziness (vertigo) when I stood up from a forward fold, so I surely would have passed out in hot yoga! I did not take any classes where I couldn't keep my breathing deep and calm, which means, I didn't take any classes that were super-duper dynamic and/or twisty. Your baby needs lots of oxygen. And I did not attempt to do any new poses that I hadn't done before.
Twisting in the first trimester is a big no-no because it can dislodge the egg from the uterus, but since I do it every single day, and I continued teaching, I kept twisting, but made them very gentle and infrequent. I did not go to a class with a teacher who does lots of adjustments and who would twist me into a knot, and I did not twist myself into a knot. If I went to a regular class and chose not to tell my teacher, I twisted like I was trying to check out who was playing the sax in the metro. And towards the end of the first trimester, when I could tell my bump was getting a bit bigger, I didn't do any poses that put weight on my lower belly.
I'm now halfway through my second trimester, and my practice has completely changed, but I'll save that for another post. Perhaps when I'm fully through with it so you can get the entire story.
I must have really good luck, because when I (finally) took my first yoga class in Paris at Rasa yoga, I took it with the best teacher in Paris. Wisely chosen? Or just luck? I guess we'll never know. I got a 10 class pass that day, it was an investment, but it had no expiration date, so I thought why not, and it was a smart move. The pass lasted me almost 2 years, and I took 8 of the 10 classes with the same person, Sharon Jacobs.
I've been wanting to share this information with you, my loyal readers, since the very beginning, but despite my best efforts, I couldn't get any other information on Sharon. Rasa's website has only her first name, and even when I found out her last name, I still couldn't find any information about her online. It sort of reminds me of my favorite teacher in SF. No one but her loyal students knew her. Her website was basic, she didn't market herself, but despite all that, her classes were full. What conclusion can you draw from that ladies and gentlemen? Awesomeness!
Sharon's classes are Alignment based, but flow magnificently. Her attention to detail is exquisite, and the -one in a million- time she can't get you into the perfect pose with her words, her hands are like magic! Don't expect a vinyasa paced class, but do expect to be taught by one of the most experienced and trained teachers, to sweat, to breathe heavily, and to be sore in all the right places the next day. And don't even consider worrying about belonging. Even with a (formerly) broken wrist and a weak body after not having done yoga while recovering, her classes were always accessible.
She is perfectly bilingual and teaches at Rasa and at the Gasquet Institute. Lucky for you, she's teaching a donation based class this Saturday at 11:00 at the American Church of Paris, so you can actually take a class with her during non-office hours.
Teacher: Sharon Jacobs
Studio: Rasa Yoga
Language: Perfectly Bilingual in English and French
Feel Good Vibe: ★★★★★
Spiritual Lesson: Short, thoughtful, attainable and always uplifting.
Would I pay 20€ to take a class with her? Yes, yes, yes!
Bonus, if you'd like to take a private class, or know more about her schedule:
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel : 0660147486
Have you read my 'about' page? The first thing mentioned after yoga is food, and I said I'd sometimes post about my musings... You should be surprised this is only the second post.
But why am I posting about granola? First of all, I've been munching on it all week, and it's sooo good. Second, those of you that live in France know that the granola sold in the grocery stores comes with your choice of... chocolate chunks (milk or dark) and although I've adopted many French customs, like eating a sweet breakfast every day and saying bonjour to everyone, I still can't get myself to eat chocolate in the mornings (and yes, that includes nutella and pain au chocolat). And third, homemade is always better.
Aside from all that, I wanted to add more whole grains to my diet. I hear they're good for you, and since the baguette is so yummy and so easy to get, I tend to eat it in the place of grains that I have to make myself... 10 minutes for quinoa is a long time when you're hungry and the bakery is spitting distance from your building... and I'm not exaggerating.
Although I started formulating this post in that big mushy organ in my cranium earlier this week, I woke up this morning to find that Yoga Journal had pre-empted my post with one of their own, so at least you can be reassured that this is yoga-ish related. Plus my recipe is easier than theirs.
A few more notes on Granola: I have a small serving in the mornings with plain yogurt and fruit, and perhaps a few bites for an afternoon snack. It is delicious, which means it has calories. The oats are caloric, as are the sugar and the nuts, so don't use the whole grain part as a 'hall pass' for eating an entire tray in a day, and if you manage to eat an entire tray in a day, please let me know, so I can be impressed with your stomach capacity. I don't pack the light brown sugar like the original recipe calls for, and even measure a bit shy of the 1.5 cups, so this recipe turns out lightly sweetened with a nice salty flavor. If you'd like it sweeter, and don't mind the extra calories, feel free to increase the sugar to 325g.
Easy Granola (adapted from Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee)
1 1/2 cups (280ish g) light brown sugar (Béghin Say Vergeoise Brune is at my local grocery store)
1/3 cup (80ml) water
4 cups (400g) rolled oats (Flocons d'Avoione) - or as a server in France once told my mom, 'horse food'.
1 cup (113g) pecans, coarsely chopped (or walnuts or any nut you like)
1 cup (113g) sunflower seeds (or any nut you like)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp Maldon sea salt or other flaky salt (found at specialty grocery stores i.e. Bon Marché's Grocery or G. Detou)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use olive oil, as it's the only oil I have in the house)
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 250 F (1120C).
In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and water. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved, and the mixture comes to a light boil. Let cool to room temperature. Add Vanilla and oil and stir until thoroughly combined.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts , cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and mix well. Pour the sugar syrup over the oat mixture and mix well with your hands. I've tried other utensils, and they don't work as well. Lick the goodness off your hands then wash them. Transfer the granola to a rimmed baking sheet (13x18 in. or 33x46 cm) and Pat down in an even layer. Bake for 75 minutes. Remove from oven and use a large spatula to flip the granola keeping chunks as large as possible. Return the granola to the oven and bake for another 60ish minutes, until completely dry and no longer at all soft if you take a bite. Let cool before eating. Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Ha. If it lasts that long. After baking, you can add any dried fruits.
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.
Big Apple is only a 20 minute metro ride from me and it's small enough that the ambiance is neighborhood-y and not stuffy. It's really nice to have a great studio so close and convenient, you know, on those days that I just don't want to practice alone at home. But since I do have a home practice, I can't bring myself to pay full price for a class and lucky for me, they have 10€ classes at 10am, two of which are in English! They are taught by beginner teachers, but I've taken classes with both Jo (English) and Julia (French) and they're both very competent, so if you're available at 10 am I highly recommend these classes, they're way better than some of the full priced classes I've taken in Paris!
**Please check their schedule for community classes** to verify the days and times!
For those of you who can't make Lolë's free 'morning' (12:30pm) class on Sunday at Wanderlust, there will be a free candlelit (televised) class from 6:45pm to 7:45 pm near the Port de Solferino. Don't forget your scarves and leg warmers! Sign up for your free tickets here.
Free Yoga with Lolë (candlelight televised)
Under the passerelle Léopold Sédar Senghor
Port de Solférino in the 7ème Arrondissement.
Date and Time: December 7 (2013) from 6:45pm to 7:45pm. Please show up 10 min early.
Metro: Assemblée Nationale or RER: Musée d'Orsay
I guess it's that time of year... The holiday season, when people eat a lot. Maybe a little too much. And it seems the yoga community is particularly sensitive to eating. I've seen so many articles this week about food and eating and relationship to food. ...and here I am adding another...
Maybe it's because yoga is linked to mindfulness. You aren't just doing poses, you are being mindful of your body while you're doing the poses, where your body is, what your mind wants and what your body needs, where your focus is while you're flowing through the poses. Or at least you should be being mindful of these things during your practice. And generally speaking, yoga makes you not just aware of your body, but after you've been practicing for a while, you become mindful outside of yoga class. Including when you sit down to dinner, which among other things, means you stop eating when you're full (Woodward). I have a sneaking suspicion, that it's not only the mindfulness that makes yogis more, dare I say, obsessed with food and eating, it may have something to do with the fact that we run around in tights all day.
I've just finished reading an article about someone quitting sugar, including no longer eating fruits. Sugar is toxic, haven't you read about it? Here's an article I read recently in the NY Times about the evil sugar. Remember circa 1998 when fat was bad and we all ate those SnackWell's® cookies? They were full of sugar and preservatives, and we convinced ourselves that they tasted good and they were good for us? (If you don't remember, I don't really want to know, because it probably means you're a spring chicken and I'm getting old.) Then remember 10 years ago when we were all supposed to stop eating carbohydrates, and just eat fats according to the Atkins diet? Well, that dude had a heart attack, and studies show that in the long term, whether you follow a low fat or a low carbohydrate diet, you'll loose around the same amount of weight. Sometime in there was the Paleo diet, which by my (not so extensive) research is similar to Atkins, but gives a different rationale. Around 5 years ago was the start of gluten is evil. It makes you sick and tired, and you must stop eating it? (disclaimer: I realize some people are actually truly allergic to gluten and have Celiacs disease. You know, those with the deficient HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1 genes.) If you don't have Celiacs disease, studies show that whole grains are actually really good for you. They're rich in antioxidants and trace minerals and may provide immune protection (Slavin). There's also that vegetarian/vegan thing, which is becoming more prominent, but shouldn't necessarily be included in this discussion, because it's not a fad (in my opinion), more than it is a personal choice. Now it's the sugar thing. And, well, apparently we were all killing ourselves when we were on the low fat-high carbohydrate diet or the high fat-low carbohydrate diet.
I love food, and have since I was a young girl. I have a cousin who has kept a recipe I wrote for her from when I was around 11. But I still fell for the low fat fad. Back in the day when I was young and dumb and (already a very thin) desperate to be a thinner high school student. I didn't eat many SnackWell's®, they were expensive, and I was mostly on my own (financially) those last 2 years, but I did have many a bag of animal crackers. When I was in college, I wasn't as concerned with what I ate as I was with having something to eat. Now that I have a choice, I eat whatever I want.
What? You're a yogi and you eat whatever you want. Yes. That's right. I want chocolate, I eat chocolate. I want meat, I eat meat. I want bread and butter, I eat bread and butter. Chocolate is really good for you, it has antioxidants and can modulate immune functions (pick your citation). My doctor says I need to eat protein to stabilize blood sugar fluctuations, red meat for its iron content because iron in veggies is not bioavailable, and I just like bread and that heavenly French cristaux de sel de mer butter! But sometimes you have a bit of chocolate, and it's not all you hoped it would be, and you eat a ripe mandarin and it's the best thing in the world at that moment. It's because your body knows what you need, and you should listen! But really listen... Don't watch a commercial then convince yourself you must eat that product. I love kale and chard, spinach and tomatoes, winter and summer squash, beets and brussel sprouts, and I eat them as much as possible. Way more often than bread and butter and steak and chocolate. What I don't eat anymore is SnackWell's® cookies and I find fast food disgusting. I eat bread made with flour, water, oil and yeast. Steak with spices and a little olive oil. Brussel sprouts roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper. If I want a sweet confection, I either bake it myself, or I go to a nice bakery and buy myself a treat, and I enjoy Every. Single. Bite. The craving is then gone, and I don't feel bad about it. I eat whole foods that are so tasty, they are worth every single calorie, whether it's an excellent lemon tart or a handful of brussel sprouts. I don't diet, but I do yoga, because it's good for my body and it's good for my mind.
I got an email in my inbox a few months ago with the subject deeyoga, and I thought to myself, 'hey, someone actually reads my blog'. Cool. The author thanked me for my support of Yoga Solidaire and said there would be a new 2 hour class for yoga teachers and advanced students every Friday at 10 am at Yoga Village for the very reasonable price of 15€. I said that I'm not so much an advanced student, since my (formerly) broken wrist prevents me from doing many arm balances and inversions, but he said it wasn't about that, so I decided to check it out. With a little digging, I found out he's the owner of Yoga Village, and when I saw him for the second time, I realized he was also the reception and the reason I like the studio so much. He's so kind and welcoming and has such a great presence, and I later thanked him for being not so Parisian.
Often I tell teachers that I have a (formerly) broken arm when I take yoga classes. It's good that they know because I often modify poses, and I don't want them to think they're hurting me. So I get in this 10am class, and for the first time in a while, a teacher actually asked if we had any injuries he needed to know about. So piped up and said I had a (formerly) broken arm. And then came the 5 minute lecture (I may be exaggerating) about why maybe I shouldn't be doing Vinyasa, and maybe I should be doing another type of yoga, and maybe it was too much etc. etc. with a little, 'but I'm not a doctor' thrown in for good measure. Holy moly! I wonder if he expected me to leave?
Lesson 1 of being a yoga teacher: When you ask students if they have injuries, either ask them privately and then lecture -or not-, so the whole class doesn't hear OR Lesson 2: ask them in front of everyone and expect them to not tell you because they've previously had a teacher like Benoît. Now that you know not to tell him about your injuries, I can tell you about his class. I actually went to the class twice, because I wasn't sure I liked it the first time, and I'm still kind of unsure if I like it. I have 3 general criteria for returning to a yoga class: 1. It was awesomely sweaty 2. It taught me a ton of alignment / sequencing / poses variations or 3. I am a relaxed happy monkey after. These, of course, can be combined for extra points. It was a sweaty class! Two hours of vinyasa can surely make a girl sweaty, but I'm undecided about whether that makes up for the rest of it...
The first thing I noticed about Benoît is that he has a nervous energy. He does a bit of pacing, he talks quickly, he moves from one pose to another without allowing time to explore the pose, and his demeanor just feels harried, which means you move a lot, but it's not particularly relaxing, and one of his most used phrases is, 'ne forcez pas' or 'don't force it'. He rarely touches his students, which, admittedly, is hard to do when you're teaching a fast paced Vinyasa class, and I don't find that his alignment queues are very useful for my practice, but that could be because it's in French, and I've told you about my french proficiency here. And during Savasana of the first class, instead of holding the space for the students, he left the studio to do something or other. He is apparently funny, because many of the students laughed out loud during the last class. Thing is, either he was talking too fast for me to catch the joke, or, like many French jokes, I just didn't get it. Every time. Such a bummer.
The first hour of this particular class is quite good with nice flow and linking of poses, and variations that are interesting, even though we don't have much time to explore them, but the second hour of the last class felt like an ashtanga based (i.e. not super flowy) arm balancing and inversion workshop, which, as I previously stated, isn't very useful for me. I'm curious about his other classes, but I don't think I'll pay 20something euros to find out. However, if you're looking for a class where you can actually do some inversions and arm balances (which aren't much taught in all levels classes here in Paris) plus get super sweaty, and you've been practicing for a while so you know when to not do that extra Vinyasa, this class is a good Power Yoga class, even for West Coast standards.
Teacher: Benoît Le Gourriérec
Studio: Yoga Village
Class: Advanced Vinyasa
Feel Good Vibe: ★★★
Spiritual Lesson: No spiritual lesson. Just a few Ohm's and a lecture about my (formerly) broken arm.
Would I pay 20€ to take a class with him? I'll probably take another 15€ class, but probably not a 20€ class.
Former San Francisco DNA wrangler and current Paris yoga teacher and mom. Sharing. Caution: Possibly too much.