Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Energy Anatomy Light Show in Paris

Eiffel Tower
Originally uploaded by *Checco*
The Eiffel Tower. Le Tour Eiffel.

While it's not Paris's oldest or prettiest landmarks, it certainly is the most imposing. No matter how many times you visit France, when you fly into Charles de Gaulle and catch your first glimpse of the Tower from the air, it takes your breath away and puts a smile on your face. An architectural marvel for its strength and resilience, the Tower is an international icon for all things French and the most visited historical monument in the world. Residents of Paris won't get within a kilometer of the base, given the year-round horde of tourists, but from afar it remains a source of great pride and indeed, identity.

Twice a week, I have the privilege of teaching yoga within a stone's throw of the Tower. The timing couldn't be better. The class is held during the nightly light show, which is a display of brilliant lights in various patterns running up and down, from the base to the crown...

You see where I'm going here. The other night, as I was teaching about the nadis, the energy channels that run on either side and through the spine, in my periphery I could see the light show in the Tower illustrating the Sushumna, Ida, and Pingala nadis - as if on cue! The Sushumna light went to the top, while the other two wound around the middle and stopped before the top and big, evenly spaced spotlights ran up the center came on and shone bright and...Chakras in the Eiffel Tower?!

As I paused, allowing this unbelievable site to wash over me, feeling chills on my spine, the lights changed to another pattern entirely; more like blinking Christmas tree decorations and less like energy channels.

And there it went. In the time that it took to take one long inhale and one extended exhale, the Eiffel Tower decided to by my PowerPoint, my teaching tool, and I felt like the luckiest yoga teacher in the world!

The Spine of Paris.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Going Back to the Source: Yoga and Terroir Normandy #2

The next GBS: Yoga and Terroir/Normandy retreat will be June 13 - June 20.

(We will incorporate a solstice celebration even though we're missing the solstice by a day. Come and experience what it's like to have 16 hrs of daylight!)

The retreat will be one extra day this year and will include farm-to-fork cooking classes with a track for carnivores and a track for vegetarians.

Thanks to Chetana Deorah, we have pretty postcards available at Satori Yoga Studio in San Francisco and Yoga Marais in Paris:

Registration begins January 2. I need to know nice and early this year if you're interested. We have 12 slots for yoga students, not counting significant others.
Send me an email for more info: amanda at

It's going to be so good. You don't want to miss it ;-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Ok, until I get a more elegant solution, I'll just put the playlists in the body of a post, which will link to iTunes.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yoga Playlists (and why everyone needs more accordion in your life)

At long last, I've created an iMix on iTunes of the playlist I used for the SF workshop. My apologies for taking so long. Several of you have asked me for it. The original application I was using to share playlists is no longer working for me, so this is a temporary solution.

You can get to the playlist by searching in iTunes for:
GBS SF Yoga and Terroir.

I intend to share my class playlists more regularly here, in the blog, as soon as I find a reliable application. Any suggestions?

Accordions will begin to factor even more prominently, I'm guessing, along with some dead French crooners.

What are you all listening to at the moment? Always looking for new musical inspiration.

I'm also curious how other yogis feel about the music-in-yoga-class-good/bad/middle ground debate? Does music help you tune-in or turn-off? Is it a conscious complement to your practice or another distraction? Does the genre of music make a difference?

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent

Victor Hugo

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Going Back to the Source SF Urban Terroir

The San Francisco workshop was wonderful. A beautiful combination of friends, family, amazing food, morning yoga on the beach, and three lovely days with some of the Bay Area's most committed yogis (and a few cute babies)!

Chetana Deorah's* Flickr photo stream captured the Dance of Shiva and the seasonal picnic, created by the Bay Area's own Chef Wong who nourished us with all ilk of fungi, fermention and other deliciousness. (Menu below)

Matt from forageSF led us through the urban forest, pointing out wild edibles (ie, the "forgotten" food system), teaching us how to survive when oil is $100k/barrel - and - how to impress your foodie friends with cool stuff like acorn flour bread in the meantime. (By they way, check out forageSF's CSF and Wild Kitchen Dinners.)

The full harvest moon graced us with its presence during the picnic in Dolores Park. In American folklore, the first full moon in October is called the Hunter's Moon and is associated with feasting and abundance. Fitting symbolism for a beautiful day/weekend! (Photo credit - Rebekah Smith)

Seasonal Picnic Menu


raita w/ zata’ar crisps
fava bean puree w/ dandelion greens
summer terrine
chicken and lemon terrine


pepperonata crostini w/ ricotta
picked red onion & spicy peppers
chicken liver and fennel crostini

chilled bell pepper w/ sumac, basil and lemon yogurt

raw zucchini w/ green olives, mint & pecorino
heirloom tomato w/ burrata, crouton & basil
bosc pear w/ fennel, walnut, parmigiano reggiano & balsamic


cold spicy sesame noodles w/ crisp vegetables
pesto pasta salad
lentils w/ fennel and wild nettles
quinoa with chanterelles and heart of palm


tuna conserva w/ cucumber, capers & bread salad
salt-cured sardines
roast chicken salad w/ peppers, pine nuts, olives & bitter greens
bulgogee (marinated Korean beef)
grilled skirt steak and arugula salad w/ roquefort and catalina dressing

apple citrus custard tart

*Check out Chetana's other photo collections as well. She's a great photographer!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Solstice Celebration w/Live Percussion

Michelle of Yoga Marais, and I will be hosting a Solstice Celebration of slow flow yoga, candlelight, and live music provided by none other than my better half, Greg Beuthin.

The class will be held Tuesday, 22 December.

More details to come!


Michelle, de yoga Marais, et moi accueillerons une célébration de solstice de yoga, de lueur de chandelle, et de musique en direct lents d'écoulement fournie par aucun autres que Greg Beuthin. La classe sera tenue le mardi 22 décembre. Plus de détails à venir !

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Paris Candlelight Flow

Ritualistic candlelight is used and has been used in every tradition, every religion and every practice since the dawn of time.

The act of lighting candles is used to augment the experience of prayer, purification, romance, passion, and to memorialize those who have gone before us. In other words, in those vulnerable, heart-driven times in our lives - we love candles.

Most people would agree that candles and the gentle illumination of candlelight, soften the space making it more conducive to quiet reflection, focus, and meditation.
We light candles for special meals that we want to be appreciated and savoured by our loved ones.

In yogic tradition, candles lit in the practice space do all of the above as well as help a yogi embrace Pratyahara, the fifth limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga; the withdrawal of the senses or sensory inputs. By being able to block out external stimulus of the senses, a yogi is better able to focus on the breath, thereby deepening his/her practice.

Yogis also view the candles as a representation of the inner flame; the divine light that exists in all beings.

My beloved Qi Gong instructor, Larry Wong, also taught me that lighting a candle in your practice space will help burn away fears and deepen any intention you set for your practice.

Join me on Friday nights from now until the Winter Solstice, at Yoga Marais,
20:15 - 21:45, for Candlelight Flow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dia de los Muertos

Today is Day of the Dead. It's a predominantly Mexican holiday, with origins that date back to the Aztecs and pre-Christianity. Having lived in rural Mexico (where I adopted the Aztec Warrior Princess) through a harvest season, and then having spent 9 years in CA, this holiday has held special meaning for me for a long time. The Latino community is very small in Paris, so November 2 passes with nary a drum beat or sugar skull to be found. Suffice it to say, I'm homesick.

It is essentially the celebration of death; and of the dead. It is held in deep autumn, when the harvest is complete and the natural world is taking its last breath before going into a nice long svasana.

It is the time when living relatives celebrate those who have left the material world in body, but whose souls are very much alive. Beautifully ornate altars are built as offerings, showcasing the deceased favorite things in hopes that the gap between the material and spirit worlds becomes smaller for that night. Through this reverence and ritural, eg, performances, music (Drums! Lots and lots of loud drums!), dance, poetry, and many, many candles, they hope the two worlds can directly communicate on behalf of the fundamental things most of us pray for: prosperity, health, peace, and love. They believe these souls are our spirit guides.

The sugar skulls and dancing skeletons give an almost cartoon-like representation of the physical body, which is believed to be nothing but a temporary form we inhabit for a short while before moving on, supporting the yogic notion that we are not our bodies.

Day of the Dead is also a celebration of rebirth; of the innately regenerative qualities of the natural world. Plants are dying, but they're also going to seed. The leaves are falling from the trees so that new buds can form in the spring. Celebrants of Day of the Dead believe that a full and beautiful life cannot exist without a willingness to accept the inevitability - and indeed beauty - of death.

And what is death really, other than matter and energy just changing form?

After a 90 minute yoga class, if we've practiced with a clear intention and conscious attention to the breath, our energy shifts. Stagnant energy awakens and begins to move. Cells die and others cells are produced. We sweat and cry, detoxifying our organs and our emotions. New oxygenated blood flushes our system as we rise out of poses. Our minds become clearer, quieter, more focused on the moment; the breath. We make space where there was constriction and softness where there was rigidity. We begin to let go calmly where we were holding on tightly.

And then...we go into Corpse Pose. We die with grace.

When we rise out of svasana, we are rarely the same being we were when we went into it. Old layers have died away, allowing us to live a more spacious, peaceful life.

Build an altar or just light a candle today, celebrating those who have left their bodies before you. Maybe even utter an intention of or request for guidance.
And in your next yoga class, let yourself die a little. You'll be glad you did.

(*The photo is Greg's bucket drumming brigade that performed for Day of the Dead SF 07)