By Elaine Kelly
2013 has started with a business trip to Paris. I lived here in the late 80s for 3 years and have a special love for the city.
I left Dubai on the Emirates 380 flight on 27 January to spend the week in meetings with my team. I arrived to a rainy Paris evening and caught a taxi to my hotel. The taxi driver was very happy to chat when he discovered I speak French and asked all the usual questions about a woman working in the middle east, did I have to wear an abaya etc. I am always happy to dispel these misconceptions. Therooms at the Oceana hotel , in Porte de Versaille, are ‘cozy’ with just enough space for me to spread out my yoga mat. At Euros 137 for a room, internet and breakfast, it’s a real deal and it’s right on the metro line too. I crashed and woke at 4am as it was really7am Dubai time, and decided log onto www.yogaglo.com. I did a Kathryn Budig class and finished with a meditation with Sally Kempton – great start to the day. Breakfast was delicious; fresh fruit salad with red berries, a huge selection of yogurts and the freshest, lightest croissants and pain chocolat.
I sat in a large, bright conference room for most of the week with a view of the Seine and the Eifel tour. Each night we dined in little bistros, the best one was River Café, which is actually a boat on the seine that specializes in Jazz nights on the weekends. As we sat eating our meal energetic paddlers in long kayaks passed by in the dim light.
Desperate to find a yoga class and not having much luck on finding somewhere on the internet, I ask my colleague who put me in touch with his friend Antonella who sent methe link to two studios. Be Yoga is a one room studio in the 14th arrondisment near metro Raspail. I chose the yoga flow class at 6.30pm and set offearly giving myself time in case I got lost. The studio was well camouflaged behind a forest of bare branches and wind chimes down a small cobbled alley. Inside I met the owner who told me the yoga studio was one of only two main yoga studios in Parisoffering many style of yoga. It’s more expensive than Dubai at 22 euros per class,around AED120. The room is in the basement, so no natural light and as a result was pretty smelly by the end of the class. The instructor, Mark Holzman, is a yogi from New Jersey who is also a yogaglo instructor who left LA to move to Paris 3 years ago. He teaches in English and told us he had just turned 51 but he looks about 40. He taught a hip opener class, and spoke at length about the importance of not only giving but being able to receive. He founded guerilla yogi in 2007 that ensures students of all economic circumstances can practice yoga. A suggested donation is requested and classes are taught in parks, churches, anywhere. I guess I too am a guerilla yogi through the Full Moon Fridays I organize as well as the annual Yogafest.
I was really hungry by the time we finished and stopped in a shop to buy a smoothie. I found these cute organic drinks with winter hats – I couldn’t resist taking a photo. No idea what to do with the hat!
My final morning, it was a toss up between going to Musee D’Orsay and another yoga studio and I ended up at Rasa Yoga, located just 5 minute walk from Notre Dame on the Rive Gauche, closest metro station is La Cluny Sorbonne. This beautiful studio is spacious and open with a high glass ceiling flooded with natural light. The room was full and I found a slot right in front of our instructor, Silke Schroeder, an American from Minnesota who moved here with her husband recently. She taught a lovely para yoga inspired class and began with a beautiful message about the essence of our heart which which contains the space of the universe. Rod Stryker, the founder Para yoga tells us that it’s not about finding time to fit in yoga into our lives but rather, ensuring we do yoga to keep the balance in the rest of our lives. So let me leave you with this though. Plan each day committing to getting on your mat and let everything else fit in around that.
If you haven’t yet booked to attend yogafest, sign up today. Share the link with your friends, colleagues etc. It’s not often in Dubai you can attend such an event for free. If anyone would like to help out, please give me a call or send me an email on [email protected] See you on the 22nd!