My attempt to practice yoga since arriving hasn’t been all that successful. Since taking a class that I really enjoyed this summer at Gérard Arnaud Yoga in the 11th, I was confident I’d find a studio that suits my needs while living here. At the very least, I could go back there. Since I’m living in the 9th arrondissement for the time being, I thought I’d check out some options closer to home. That said, I’m fairly particular with the type of yoga I like to practice—a vigorous Vinyasa—which hasn’t left me with too many choices, as it seems a lot of studios offer Hatha, Ashtanga or Pilates.
I did some Googling and found a place called Qee that had a few Vinyasa classes on the schedule—or, as they call it here, “planning.” I added the 12:30 to my iCal for Saturday and was all set to get my stretch on when an hour before, I logged on to check the rates only to find the class fully booked. I called to make sure, and yup, elle etait complete. I asked about another class for Sunday, but that one was full too. Merde.
In doing my research, I also came upon a Meet Up called “Affordable Yoga in Paris.” It’s mostly for expats, only 8-euro (about $10) and held in a different location each week. I RSVP’d “yes” (didn’t have to pay in advance) and planned to go on Sunday. I figured maybe I’d meet some people in the process. When I arrived at the building and climbed the flights to the designated room—a fairly blasé space with creaky floors—I passed a handful of men changing out of their karate uniforms in the stairwell. Apparently, Tai Kwon Do is a thing in Paris. As is getting nearly nekkid in public. I scooched around them and laid my mat down for what was a very uninteresting 90-minute basic yoga class. For something that was meant to be a “meet up,” there wasn’t much friendliness in the room. I attempted to make conversation with the girl next to me, but she wasn’t having it. And she wasn’t even French! Even the instructor, who was Spanish (but taught in English), didn’t foster any introductions, which is often typical in any yoga class—foreign or not.
So now it’s Monday and I’m dying for some downdog. I knew I could go all the way back to the 11th where I went this summer, but I had just been around the corner from it for dinner the night before (if only I went there instead of the Meet Up) and didn’t feel like shlepping back. Instead, I decided to try Big Apple Yoga, which wasn’t in my area, but was founded by a former New Yorker who couldn’t find the type of yoga she practiced back in NY and therefore opened her own studio. Smart girl.
Online sign-ups weren’t required, but I left super early for the 8p.m. class so that I could explore the area without rushing and actually be on time for once. Plus, I had been inside all day, leaving only to get milk—thanks to Adeline’s instruction, I learned the blue cap is half-skim—so I needed an extended dose of fresh air. I walked to the 2nd arrondissement within no time and ended up on another super cute block where sparkling Christmas lights were strung overhead, and pedestrians strolled in the center of the street. Once again, I was surrounded by patisseries, chocolatier’s, fromageries and more.
At around 7:15, I worked my way to the studio, figuring I could sit in the lobby and read or have a tea or something. The door was closed and the lights were off. My assumption (read: hope) was that there was a class in session and I didn’t do something foolish like read the “planning” wrong. So I walked back to Rue des Petits Carreux where I killed time by totally pissing off a man behind the counter at a chocolatier as I pondered…and pondered…and pondered precisely which piece of chocolate was worth my indulgence. I really only wanted one, but I sensed that was not OK so I settled on three. Magnifique.
Finally, at around 7:45 I went back to the studio and found it open. Whew. I took off my sneakers, paid for the class, and went to change when…
I realized I didn’t have my yoga pants.
After working from home in my yoga clothes ALL DAY, when I finally left to actually DO YOGA, I changed into something more presentable for the walk over (aka jeans), leaving my pants on the edge of my couch.
Are. You. Kidding. Me.
Had I realized it sooner, I could’ve gone home to get them and come back in time rather than eat chocolate. But now that was not an option. I’d have to practice in jeans.
Funnily enough, I have a pair of actual “Yoga Jeans.” My Mom bought them for me, which was sweet, but I could never really get into the look and feel of them—both literally and figuratively. The concept itself is actually smart, though: pants that look like denim to be worn around town, but are stretchy enough to practice in, leaving you with the option to do so should you, say, not have a pair of something more comfy when you arrive at a new studio in a foreign city. But these were not those jeans. These were Gap skinny jeans. With little white flowers on them. Flowers that totally clashed with the black and white floral-lace Lululemon top that I, thankfully, still had on.
My cheeks flushed, I went back to the lobby to see if they perhaps any clothes to purchase. They did, but I wasn’t about to drop 45-euro on a pair of yoga pants I really didn’t need. Thankfully, the woman at the desk spoke English and when I embarrassingly mentioned my predicament, she offered to look in the lost and found. For a few minutes there, I actually considered wearing some random person’s lost (and likely sweaty) yoga pants. But then we both thought better of it. I’d just have to practice in jeans.
Of course, the class ended up being super intense (just how I like it!) causing me to bend and stretch in non-appropriate pants for 90 minutes. For the most part, downdog and standing warrior poses were manageable. But lifting my leg into tree pose and pretty much all of the sitting poses were tres difficile. The button dug into my gut during all forward bends and I was just waiting for the crotch to rip every time I extended into a side stretch. What’s more, the instructor—a totally good looking French man, bien sur—sensed my flexibility and often came over to adjust and ease me further into the poses, making a tear even more possible. And I won’t even get into the stickiness situation. I felt like Ross in that episode of Friends when he was wearing those leather pants and had to use baby powder to get them off.
In the end, I got through it. A tad embarrassed, oui. But I wonder if anyone would’ve ever known had I not, in true Sara form, said anything. For all they know, this could be the new American trend: practicing yoga in stretchy skinny jeans. You know, cause us New Yorkers are too busy to deal with changing or whatever.
The class was worth the trouble, though. I loved the instructor and his style, and I don’t think he noticed or cared about my odd ensemble. He still helped me into headstand and occasionally explained things in English with a smile. I definitely plan to go back—avec my Lulu’s.
On the way home, my skinny jeans now baggy in the crotch, I heard someone behind me ask a question. I really had no idea what he wanted to know, but I assumed it was directions, so I just said, Je ne sais pas (I don’t know) and then when he kept on, I told him, in French, I only speak a little French. This didn’t seem to matter as he continued to speak to me en Francais. So I played ball and attempted—really attempted—to converse with him. (He was cute. Obviously.)
For about 15 minutes, as we walked in the same direction, he just kept talking and talking until the next thing I know I managed to tell him I like indie rock, live in the 9th, am a journalist that covers travel, fashion and food and that I do yoga at least four times a week. In fact, I had just come from a class. And yes, I already ate dinner before.
I’m not sure where it came from, but I did it! Truth be told, I only understood about 15 percent of each sentence he spoke. But he didn’t seem to mind. Or at least didn’t let on that he did, which is why I think I was able to keep humoring him (and myself). He gave me the confidence to just go with it by not giving me an alternative option. Because the thing is, I often do know the words. They’re in my head, bouncing around out of order. It’s putting them into a complete, linguistically correct sentence that causes me to fumble. I get too self-conscience about sounding like a fool, so I end up just saying I can’t really speak French (in French) and start talking in English. But this guy wouldn’t let me fall back on my crutch—and I appreciated his faith in me. (Or complete obliviousness.)
Eventually, it was time for our paths to diverge. He asked my name. I told him and asked him his. Then, after finishing a discussion about where to run in Paris, I think he asked to go running with me sometime and therefore wanted my number. (His pulling out his phone was a dead giveaway.) I gave it to him, assuming he probably wouldn’t call. Also, the odds of my giving him the correct phone number, seeing as I’ve only just memorized it, was slim.
And it wouldn’t matter. Because after a rough start to the evening, I was now a giddy fool who was super proud of herself. Not so much for being asked for my number (which almost never happens!), but for talking to someone for a fairly long time in French. And while my hair may have still been in a bun from yoga, at least I was wearing more presentable pantalons.