Well, if everything in my life fails I can move to Paris and open an affordable yoga studio because they really need it. Forget the French and their lack of exercise; there are so many Americans living here who are dying for a good yoga practice.
I’ve been going to Yoga Style with my friend Annie which has been a hot, sweaty, non-spiritual workout chalk full of weird sequences that are absolute no-no’s in the books of my favorite, most trusted teachers at Yoga Vida in NYC. While I know that I’m going into murky territory addressing this on the internet and I’m not one for slander, I have to voice my concern because I am convinced this man is wrecking peoples spines. After all of the classes I have been to in Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York, I know my fair share about asanas and anatomy. Not that I am able to do all the postures or know anything compared to my friends who are teachers, like Hilaria but I know what not to do in most poses, and how a flow should go in order to prevent injuries. Afterall, I injured my shoulder this past summer because I was doing a posture wrong and it’s still killing me. Not even the 12 massages in 2 weeks I had over Christmas helped.
So it pains me not just to see people who are new to yoga not get adequate help but to then have to do these sequences myself. There are only so many modifications you can make before a teacher starts getting passive aggressive and talking to the class about why they’re there and to “let go” and get out of their heads and into their bodies. Sir, I am trying. I want nothing more than a simple workout with a fair dose of education from the yoga sutras in order to help maintain my body and mind while I am here.
Look, I give the guy props for the fact that he’s attempting to make yoga affordable and powerful in Paris, but I’m also wondering if he’s using yoga as a ploy to make money and doesn’t really give a damn. Is it possible that the 30 euro cash for 30 days in a little studio in a courtyard is a little too…cunning? It just seems like he isn’t taking care of his students the way I expect a yoga teacher to. Kind of feels like that one soccer coach who yelled through practice and most likely went home to drink a bottle of scotch while watching videos of himself playing in the glory days. I don’t know. But my gut says something is fishy.
For anyone who does yoga, and for my own personal observation, I made a little list of the what I found as the most common problems that went unnoticed and unfixed. If attempts were made to adjust, they were usually verbal, confusing, and...harsh.
1. Chatturanga: I have yet to see a single person do it without dropping their whole body to the mat. I learned in the last year that your elbows come to a 90 degree angle and you flip over your toes without anything touching the mat with any other part of your body aside from your hands and feet.
2. Crunched limbs. From reverse triangle to standing splits, the newbies don’t know how to elongate their bodies, or turn their torsos in order to maximize breathing, help their organs, and keep their spines in tact. Instead of being instructed to shorten their stances, tuck their tailbones, or pull in their ribcages, they try to do what they think the posture is without a demonstration from the teacher. When they do it wrong, he berates them. As a person doing the proper posture, I look like I’m doing something wrong.
3. NECKS. Crunched up. Constantly. That is all.
4. Balance. There isn’t much instruction about balance, the first day in tree pose he asked everyone to put their foot on their leg without using their hands. Most students don’t seem to understand “drishti” which he doesn’t seem to explain just repeat over and over. I want to go into Hilaria’s explanation of pushing down in order to stand up, or Zoe’s reminder to kick back with your extended leg while balancing on the other. It’s just a mess.
5. Om. Okay this one is a bit minor BUT I have just noticed that without proper direction of breathing even the Om at the beginning and end of practice i off because the students don’t know how to elongate their breath in order to extend the sound. They also tend to be an octave higher than usual and go up at the end like a question which I think also may counteract the ability to use even the last breath.
So what do I suggest to people looking for yoga in Paris? Well at this point I don’t know. My quest will continue though. Annie and I are going to keep searching for anything affordable that isn’t a waste of time, unsatisfying, and counterproductive.
Good golly miss molly I miss Yoga Vida. The immaculate studio with a community, couches, real teachers with extensive training who genuinely care for both the spiritual and physical well-being of their students. Om to that.