There is a real yoga scene in Paris and as I was due to visit my old hometown over few days I naturally wanted to check out what is on offer. Cue a message to the “Finnish people in Paris” Facebook page (note to self, 1am on a Saturday morning is probably not the best time for any question) and googling along the lines “best yoga classes in Paris.”
First impressions? The prices! Apparently you can charge 35€ for a class (and not a workshop, a 60 to 90 minute class)! Average seemed to be around 15€ to 20€ a class but as there is a lot on offer it was worthwhile digging a bit deeper. Most places offer the first visit at a reduced rate and there are several more moderately priced options.
Second impression? Booking in advance online was required for most places. I had sort of forgotten that this is the norm in most big places (Cyprus, as a country, has 1 million people compared to almost 10 in Paris) as a class can easily be 40 people. On the Island we call that a festival! But I suppose booking things before hand can help you get organised with your life so I can definitely see the benefits of it too.
I was determined to start as I meant to go along so for my first class I booked a 8 am “Rise” session at The Yoga Factory (Metro Oberkampf). The name had popped up on most of my searches, the morning classes were prices very reasonably at 7 euros and you did not have to book. I found the place without too much trouble (but did walk past it once before turning back), filled in the form at the reception and was directed to the changing room. The place had a cool industrial vibe to it (hence the “factory”) and was busy even at the early morning.
Now two things happened that I take full responsibility of. Firstly, I somehow managed to omit the fact that The Yoga Factory is all about hot yoga, and in every class the room is heated to +28C. I was a bit surprised by the temperature in the room when I first walked in but hey, I was after new experiences and to be completely honest, I would have probably never entered the place had I known it was about hot yoga (yes, I am that open minded.)
The other thing was that for some reason I had thought the class would be some kind of Hatha variation, nothing too crazy. Obviously I had not bothered to read the class descriptions either. Well, hatha it was not. “Rise” at The Yoga Factory was a full-on 60 minute vinyasa flow like I had not experienced it in several years. To give you an idea how fast paced it was, the 60 minutes included a generous pranayama practise at the start, at least 6 (I lost count) rounds of full Sun Salutation variations, 5 different warrior poses, half moon pose, a whole bunch of the most common standing poses, bakasana (crow pose) as arm balance, tripod headstand for inversion, full bow pose and savasana. All tied together to form a continuous flow that did not stop for a second.
I had said I was after new and different experiences so I was truly served with this one. It could not have been further away from my regular practise! Whilst I did find the class a little bit too fast and “full” for my taste it was also fun and surprisingly energising. With no booking and the 7 euro price tag for the morning and a 17:15 “Happy Hour” class I happily go back to the Yoga Factory when in Paris next time. I will also take my towel with me.
I decided however to pay a bit more attention to the next class I was booking. I figured that with all the walking around the city I could do with something more restorative so I booked a Meditation and Yin yoga class for the next day at the Studio Keller (Metro Voltaire). I had heard great things about this place and they offer an introductory class for 13 euros. After the booking they send me an email with the codes to the building (another thing I had forgotten, the door codes in Paris) and at the door naturally I tried them in the wrong order, the last one letting me in through the first door. Good thing I was on time.
Studio Keller is another beautiful place if a complete opposite to Yoga Factory. This one had a more traditional yoga-shala-meets-old-Parisian-apartment vibe to it with wooden floors and light colours, mix and match props and a lot of light. The class was divine, also pretty busy for a Tuesday morning but very relaxing and calming. After the 15 minutes or so (?) meditation at the start the teacher was very hands on with the asana practise, offering adjustments, helping with the props and to get deeper into the poses in an effective way. Just wonderful!
I liked the feeling of Studio Keller so much I decided to go back for more the next day but about that in the next post.