BURNING MAN 2019 schedule

Namaste yogis!

I’m honored to teach once again at Burning Man (usa)

MONDAY August 26th 10am SmartFLOW at Camp Pepperland 6:00 and i plaza

TUESDAY August 27th 8am SmartFLOW at HeeBeeGeeBee’s healer camp 6:30 and G

SATURDAY August 31st SmartFLOW at Infinite Love Camp 6.10 and D

See you in the dust yogis!

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Carrying angle and yoga

First thing first, what is a carrying angle? It’s a small angle between the humerus and the forearm. It’s easy to check if you have one. Stand in front of a mirror the arms alongside your body and externally totate your arms (savasana arms) Some of you will have the arms straight by their side, and some others (like me) will notice that their forearms and hands are moving away from the body, their arms have like a boomerang shape. This is what is called a carrying angle.

Having a carrying angle will still allow you to practice yoga, but some modifications need to be done in some weight bearing + arms straight poses, mostly to protect the wrists that have a tendency to be weaker when the arms have this shape, and the shoulders.

You have guessed that the postures the most affected by this “condition” are Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog) Adho mukha vrksasana (handstand), Urdhva Danurasana (wheel) plank…

In Down dog, the common cue saying that the eyes of the elbows should face forward will cause some problems, because arms won’t be straight whatever you will do. This is due to the bones shape at the elbow. So if you apply this cue you will lose the external rotation of the shoulders, and therefore you will lose stability in your shoulders, and that’s precisely what we are looking for in adho mulha svanasana, stability in the shoulders so you can practice jump to handstand or the down dog plank chaturanga vinyasa (which i bet you practice quiet often) in the safest way as possible.

What will help is to strengthen your arms to hold the asana in the strongest way. When the bones are perfectly aligned it helps to carry the weight without too much effort, the stress of the weight is absorbed by the alignment of the bones, not by the muscles. But, if you have a carrying angle, the alignment of the bones is structurally impossible, so you will have to compensate with the muscles, to make sure your posture is still stable.

It’s a good idea to have the upper arms a little bit more closer to each other than the usual, and the hands slightly externally open (fingers pointing to the external side of the mat, (not too much!))

The strong fondation of the pose (down dog) will come from the triceps and the rotator cuff. You will have to pull the upper arms towards each other, and pull them tin the shoulder sockets. This will help to create the line of energy, that will push your sitting bones back towards the back of the room; and you will feel the stretch that you look for in Adho Mukha Svanasana. The same modifications can be apply to the handstand, or wheel pose or any weight bearing + arms straight pose. (Yes even Urdhav danuradana, where the carrying angle can be an obstacle to the opening of the arm pits, and the work of the shoulder blades)

On the other hand, some asanas are easier for people with the carrying angle, like Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) or Mayurasana, the shape of the bones will helps to place the forearms or elbow more easily.

Do not hesitate to talk to your teacher about that, Every body is different and taking some smart modifications will help you practice until 100 years old.

On the importance of continuing education for yoga teachers.

I’ve reached a little bit more than 1000 hours of yoga teacher training. I’m not bragging with this article, I’m just trying to explain why I feel it is important for us, yoga teachers, to keep educating ourselves even though we are working full times and have enough students to survive.

First of all it would be very presumptuous to think that 200 hours is enough to learn and share a practice that is more than 1000 years old (even though at that time there were only 5 or 6 asanas), and that is not only physical but also philosophical, and that contains in addition of asanas practice, meditation, breathing, chanting…. It’s a true way of life.

Of course in our society the yoga that is taught is mostly asanas but to my opinion 200 hours is not even enough to contain all the anatomy and body knowledge necessary to keep our students safe (and I’m talking here about our western anatomy not even the eastern anatomy who also includes energy, chakras, Nadis…)

The more I’ve taken trainings the more I can feel my ignorance in so many fields, it’s exciting to know i have so much more to learn.

I also think it’s important to be a good student, in order to be a good teacher. To stay open to different kind of yoga, just to be aware of what is offered by other teachers.

Yoga is evolving. With science and practice we have realized that we should change the way we teach some asanas (squaring the hips in Warrior 2 anyone?), so it’s important to learn, and to practice as a student, to explore, and not be ashamed to say: I was wrong when I was teaching this, let’s do it differently. (That’s one of the many reasons why I love my teacher Annie Carpenter, I’ve seen her evolving a few times, and say the words: I was wrong)

For those reasons, I will keep taking trainings every year, because, yes, even with 1000 hours I still have a lot of things to learn. I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my students who trust me. The more I learn, the more I have knowledge to share.

I teach SmartFLOW yoga! What is it?

Methodology and Philosophy behind SmartFlow yoga and why I’ve choosen to teach this yoga.

Somebody once asked my teacher what is SmartFLOW yoga, she answered: If Iyengar yoga and Vinyasa yoga had a baby, it would be SmartFLOW (Yes we do use props!! and we love it) . I always smile when I think about it.

The philosophy of SmartFlow is based on the fact that every living being is unique and because of this, every aspect of yoga practice is presented as an inquiry, so the practice allows each of us to ask questions to self without any excpectations for outcome.

Every practitioners is in a state of observation of itself.

We, as yoga teachers, always ask our students not to look at what their neighbors are doing since every body is different, and they should only care about their own practice. SmartFlow yoga really emphasizes that, and encourages every students to experience her full potential, and to be connected to her practice.

The philosophy of SmartFlow is to allow any practitioner to understand the language of the body and to recognize the meaning of any sensation it creates.

It allows them to communicate with their body and to accept it as it is. It also helps bringing their mind to stillness by focusing on their practice.

Most of the time this will lead the students to a deeper practice of yoga, meaning they will start to apply (or at least have an interest in) the other limbs of yoga.

Understanding the language of our own body allows us to avoid injuries. It’s important to know its boundaries, know when we have to soften and rest or, may be know when we need to be more present. In SmartFlow classes acceptance is always encouraged, acceptance toward what is and what is not today. The student is always aware that every day is different and that what is happening or not happening today might be different tomorrow.

This state of mind allows us to honor the present moment.

By this practice of inquiry SmartFlow embraces all type of yogis.

What makes it easy to celebrate the fact that every human being is individual is the (shall I say it ?) smart methodology of SmartFlow. Instead of giving rigid one size fits all cues, the sequences are created through the lens of Movement Principles, which allows to understand asanas through lines of motion.

Instructing asanas this way avoids the implication that they should look a specific way, it’s quite the opposite, it allows to create an atmosphere of exploration and inquiry.

The student is given a clear and specific movement that has a direction toward an asana and a clear route that leads her back to center.

There is a full expression of effort and a return to center.

Everybody has, because of this mechanism, a safe practice that creates spaciousness and stability in the joints. It allow the breath and prana to flow clearly.

The movement principle mechanism is the exploration of the direction that each asana moves us away from the center aka Tadasana, mountain pose.

By understanding the movement, the effort, that takes us away from center and how to return to center, we can create balanced transitions into and out of each pose, and everybody can create its own full expressionof the pose.

This mechanism allows the student to know herself, and that’s one of the goal of yoga to my humble opinion.

I have chosen to teach this style of yoga because of this. I want to teach my students how to be aware of their body, to get to know their body and accept it as it is.

In our civilization we are obsessed with our apparence and therefore we are obsessed with how our body looks like, but we are incapable of communicating with it.

We are incapable of travelling into the Self.

The practice of SmartFlow allowed me to feel parts of my body very clearly and therefore helped me to move more precisely into the asanas, without the risk of injuries, and that’s exactly what I wish for my students.

I’ve met SmartFlow yoga at a hard time of my life and It has also drove me to do some Introspection and to be more opened to meditation, it helped me to control my breathing during practice which was very hard for me.

All that benefits I got, I want to share them with my students, that’s the reasons why I want to teach this specific practice. I have experienced it, I know it works and it’s worth sharing !

It took me a little bit more than 2 years to get my certification, I could have just participated to the training, but being able to call my class SmartFLOW is a plus. Yoga practitioners know the seriousness of Annie’s teaching, and I benefit from that.

(Although beware SmartFLOW classes are given by yoga teachers certified by Annie Carpenter, and implies that this teacher has at least 500h of teacher training with at least 300h in SmartFLOW yoga, the title is SmartFLOW, do not mistake that with Smart yoga, smart vinyasa or other similar designations.)

Bye Bye 2018

It is with no regret that I let you go. You were tough. I’m a different person than 365 days ago that’s for sure. The good thing is I’m more focus on my yoga practice. Not that I wasn’t before, but I’ve realised that it is the main thing that makes me happy.

Good things happened though!

I’ve been to India! And I loved it. (you can read my previous posts about it.)

I’ve trained a lot and with fantastic teachers and I feel very lucky! Annie Carpenter, Maty Ezraty, Dona Holleman and Krista Cahill. I’ve studied yoga philosophy with Dr John Casey and Richard Rosen.

The french Yoga Journal likes my articles and publish them on their blog. 5 of them so far!

I had the best burning man ever. It was my 10th burn and it was epic. I went there depressed and fill with dark thoughts, I left with a light heart. I’ve volunteered more than the years before and it filled me with joy.

And… I am now a certified SmartFLOW yoga instructor which makes me very happy. I’ve started to study SmartFLOW with Annie two years ago and it has deeply changed my practice and my way of teaching. I was already certified in power vinyasa and Prana flow, but I felt incomplete, it was not the yoga I was looking for. Annie’s method resonates with me, and with what I expect from a yoga practice.

All this good things helped me to step away from what brings me anxiety, pain and darkness, even when those things or persons were part of my life. I had to rethink my expectations for the future. Truth is, everything can stop in 1 second, so I will not expecting anything from anyone anymore, I’m stepping away from toxic, selfish and narcissistic people, and I will just walk my path and see how it goes.

I have many projects, but I do not expect anything from that either, I will take things one hour at a time.

I wish you all a great new year to come.

Namaste

I’ve trained with Maty Ezraty and it was amazing

If you know me as a yoga teacher, you know how it’s important to me to go and train every year so I can learn new things to share with my students. A wise yogi once told me that to be a good teacher you have to be a good student.

So last July I took a training with the great Maty Ezraty about hands on assist and it was brilliant. Maty is a super legit senior teacher, but not an instagram celebrity lol (If you dont know who she is, click here Maty Ezraty .)

Hands on assist have always been my weakness,. I’m not a physiotherapist of any kind and I don’t want to hurt my students. But her knowledge put a new light on that part of my teaching. Cherry on the cake, my friend and amazing teacher Krista Cahill was taking the training too, and as we partnered a few times, it was so amazing to benefit from her knowledge too! (is you don’t know Krista, she’s a fantastic american teacher in Paris and you can learn more about her here: Krista Cahill.

I’m not gonna lie, it was a tough training. I was emotionally in a dark place as my dog was super sick at home, and Maty is hard core. We were practicing for 3h30 to 4 hours before even starting the hands on assist part of the course, with only 15 minutes in between.

The room was filled mostly with ashtangi, as she was Pattabhi Jois’ student. But Maty’s practice and teaching evolved toward an Iyengar style after many trips to Puna in India. We used many props, lifted many heavy blocks. My shoulders were so soar., and the ashtangi so surprised ahahah.

I kept listening her slapping people buttocks when they were contracting the gluts, or telling them not to look up because “there is nothing up there”. She’s so tiny but at the same time has such authority and presence, it’s fascinating.

I’m now more confident in my hands on assist and I’m looking forward to taking more training with her in the future. In the meantime, I will go train in a few weeks with Maty’s teacher Dona Holleman and I’m very excited about it.

I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to train with great yogis, so I can share their knowledge with my students. If you’re a yoga teacher, you should definitely try to take at least a class with Maty, it will change your teaching for the best.

Namaste.

A little thought on the sutras. Sutra 1.2 Yoga is to still the patternings of counsciousness.

This is, no doubt, one of the most important sutras, because here, Patanjali does nothing less that giving a definition an explanation of the benefits of yoga.

Usually the definition given for yoga is « union », that’s how it is define in the Bhagavad Gitã and in some of the Upanishads, but he never talks about that in the sutras. Instead he defines yoga as the fact to quiet the mind in a way.

Because of how we think, and how we perceive the stimuli from the outside world we are shut down from awarness, by practicing yoga we can still the and the body and therefore we might have access to pure awarness. Yoga was used traditionnaly to prepare the body for meditation, and whant is meditation ? It’s a practice where your body and mind are steady, it.s a place where you concentrate to find awarness.

Patanjali thinks that human beings can’t really make a difference between cousciousness and Pure awareness , so that’s why he said that we have to allow Counsciousness to settle from the whirling thoughts, sensations and emotions to be able to reflect pure Awarness. Yoga is a journey within ourselves, that will help settle down the agitated patterning of consciousness.

And it’s only when it happens that we can reach pure awareness.

Being a yoga brand ambassador

Being a yoga brand ambassador is a trendy subject now, regarding what’s going on in the US between a huge yoga brand and a yoga teacher, and the repercussions it has on the brand ambassadors, so I’ve decided to share my own experience as a brand ambassador myself. (Not the same that is involved in the current drama, but a similar one).

A little more than 2 years ago I went shopping in a town near mine, where a store of a famous yoga brand I liked just opened. I used to shop for their outfits when I was in LA, but they were starting to conquer the European market and suddenly here they were at a reasonable distance from my place!

The staff was super nice and I immediately liked them. They asked if I was interested to give free classes sometimes in the store, and I said yes. (I liked their products and the girl I was speaking to was the sweetest).

I came back a month later to teach my free class, and that’s when they offered me to become an ambassador.

I was honored even though I didn’t really understand what being an ambassador meant for them. They didn’t ask me to post pictures on social media (although I did because I was just super grateful), I could wear other brands even when I was teaching in their stores (which I never did because, you know, it felt wrong), they said they would help me for whatever project I could have that would fit their image, and they gave me a gift card, so I can shop in their stores worldwide. (the amount was really REALLY interesting…).

When you’re an ambassador for a brand like this you are spoiled. They took us for some coaching week-ends in magical places, where we were doing yoga and personal development (I even taught a class to one of this event). They told us how much we were family, how it was more than a clothing brand, how they wanted t to spread the message of healthy living, we all shared very very personal stuff during those weekends, it was almost like a group therapy, but we felt safe because, yes they were family remember?

I’m not saying we were brainwashed, but you know, we were super spoiled and they sell us this idea of a dreamy life with them, and I started to believe that they were not only doing business, but that they had a higher purpose, that business was is just a way to serve their “higher goals”….

….Until the store that recruited me was shut down.

Just like that! In a month time, may be more, they closed the store. The staff was very sad, because they have created an amazing team, and because them too, have believed all the beautiful words they were told about being a family and stuff, and everything happened so fast. They told us that for us it will not change a thing, that we were still ambassadors.

We had another weekend scheduled, which some of us (including me) attended. But it was different, than the last one. Suddenly we had less attention, it’s like they were embarrassed we came.

After that week-end I never heard of them again. Except for one email saying they will call, it was months ago, they never did. Suddenly there were no more family, no more sharing, no more support. Only some dollars left on my gift card. And it made me realize (although deep inside I knew it all along the way) that the only thing that matters for them is money. They just try to wrap that in a beautiful healthy loving and caring package, but in the end there is no real humanity and it’s all fake.

I was suspicious during all this time, but you know, you always want to believe the good things people are selling you.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m forever grateful for this experience, I’ve met good friends and good people (the staff from the store, some other ambassadors…), I was showered with gifts…

What I’m trying to say here is that when you get an opportunity like this one, never lose the idea that this is only pure marketing and business, a brand rarely become that big without doing pure marketing and business. And most of the times they have more than yoga pants hidden in their closets…

life in an ashram

My indian trip ended in an ashram in Rishikesh, a way too short experience that I will try again for sure.

Rishikesh is a yogi heaven, a city of pilgrimage at the gateaway of the Himalayas where hindus and yogis come, as it’s considered a holy place by them. You might have heard of it as well because that’s where the Beatles retired for a while, in the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh who founded the movement of transcendantal meditation.

Rishikesh is also a heaven place for vegetarian people. I haven’t seen a place where they serve meat in town! It’s amazing to be able to pick something on the menu not wondering if they put meat broth or other animal products in the food. (Except for milk product as they are not vegan). The food was amazing everywhere we went.

The people of the ashram was very welcoming and immediatly informed me about all the ceremonies I could join. The room was super simple, two beds with a thin mat a sheet and a wool blanket. The bathroom was very basic (but at least I had my own), a shower, a sink and a toilet (without toilet paper but with a little shower to wash myself. No heater could be found in the room (the night can be cold in the Himalayas) but I had another blanket that I use in the plane, so I was not cold at all.

Every evening they organize some chantings in their temple, it was amazing. I had my chanting mala with me and was happy to use it. The energy that emanate from this kind of event is very powerful and joyful, we ended up dancing almost in a trance

At dawn there is a Guru Puja. Guru Puja is a ceremony of gratitude honoring the lineage of spiritual Masters, it creates an invitation to the Divine. Of course I also had time for meditation. After a nice Chai massala tea, I asked for a yoga class and they sent me their teacher.

It’s the first time I was taking a class with an Indian teacher in India. I told him I was teaching as well, and that I was curious to see how they were teaching and practicing in the country of origin of Yoga. The teacher laughed and say: “you, western people, are not practicing yoga, you are doing gymnastic, and it’s very sad. I see some western teachers coming here, the rythme of the flow sometimes is more dance than yoga”. And honestly I know is right, for most of us. I’ve taken fun classes where we do a mix of asanas and dance with loud music, but I agree, it’s so far from the tradition of yoga.

His class was very interesting, we did yoga for the eyes, warmed up the body by jumping around, and finally practiced some asanas, and savasana. But it was not over after savasana, he made me practice some chest opening on the floor, such as salabhasana. We finished the class with some pranayama exercises.. And where I only teach one pranayama exercise per class, we practiced nadi shodhana, kapalabhati and Bhramari (the bee breathing)!

The adjustment were also different, way more vigorous,. Where in the west most of the teachers are cautious with their hands on assist, in India they go for it, to say the least.

The life in the ashram is simple and spiritual, a nice break from our intense life in our challenging world. I will go again for sure.

Some ashrams in Rishikesh:

Parmarth Niketan ashram

Sivananda ashram

Anand Prakash Yoga ashram

Madhuban ashram

Magical Jaipur

India stole my heart. Honestly, I had negative preconceived ideas about this trip, mostly because of all the people who tells you how much you will be sick or how many traumatizing stuff you will see. It’s also true that it was a yoga retreat pretty well organized and that we were not backpacking around. But for a first time it was exactly what I needed.

After Delhi and Agra, we went to Jaipur, the pink city, and it was the highlight of this trip. Yoga twice a day with Annie Carpenter, and many excursions. Everything was breathtaking. The city itself is incredible, we had lunches in some hidden gems where we forgot where we were, shopped in many different places from cheap bazar to high end stores, visited a local house, learned how to fly a kite (it’s a Jaipur favorite lol), and we’ve attended a private concert of Rajasthan traditional music (absolutely delightful). We also had the opportunity to watch briefly a polo game not with horses but with camels (one of the most ridiculous thing I’ve had the chance to watch lol).

The variety of vegetarian food is incredible here, and I was surprised by how they are ahead of us in terms of healthy food. You find superfood and many organic stuff super easily.

I highly recommend Jaipur modern kitchen for some healthy vegan/vegetarian indian inspired modern cuisine. And for a nice royal experience baradari inside the city palace, where you can eat or have a drink.

After a short week in Jaipur we headed to Rishikesh where I’ve spent a few days in an ashram. I’ll write about the ashram experience shortly.

If you have more questions about my trip, send me a message.

Namaste