Hot Yoga’s been huge for a few years now.
What started as an LA fad, made its way across the Atlantic, first to London where yummy mummies in Parson’s Green and stressed out city slickers in London Bridge and Canary Wharf lapped it up; then it crossed the channel.
Back in the early 2010’s I remember there being only a couple of obvious hot yoga options in the French capital. They were few and far between. It really wasn’t clear if it the trend was going to take off amongst Parisians, not known for their love of sweating it out. Even mainstream sports culture was a little lacking ten years ago.
Bikram, the original hot yoga
So, it was Bikram Choudhury who first convinced his zealous followers that it was sexy to get your sweat on. After a crippling weight-lifting accident Choudhury used yoga to put his body back together.
He emigrated to America in the 70’s and founced yoga studios in California and Hawaii and went on to create a 26 posture series to be performed in a room heated to 40 degrees celsius, ostensibly to mimic the climate in India and allow the body to go further into postures.
Choudhury made waves that rocked the yoga world for several reasons:
He started training teacher is just a few short weeks, these were the only yoga teachers allowed to share his branded techniques and series.
Bikram was quite the businessman and founded a world-wide franchise. On the positive side of things this got yoga out there to the masses with an “instant results” message. Others criticised him for trying to establish copyright on postures shared in a thousands year old heritage of Ayurvedic and Yogic tradition.
Celebrity friends, diamond watches and and a ever growing sports car collection. The guru behind the brand eventually fell after sexual assault accusations, a messy divorce and a lawsuit which eventually saw his lawyer make off with the brand.
However, as reprehensible as the morally bankrupt founder of this yoga style was, he couldn’t keep control of the Hot Yoga idea forever.
Today, while some of the studios still bear his name, other have separated entirely branding themselves simply as Hot Yoga. Often the temperatures are a couple of degrees lower, the classes may be an hour long instead of 90 minutes and the series is open to more variety.
Is Hot Yoga for me?
Tricky question! Originally Hot Yoga, which as mentioned was pretty much synonymous with Bikram, remained the preserve of those keen to skip over the Pranayama, Chakras and and any spiritual, you know, yoga.
As things have diversified and the market’s opened out, you’ll find teachers who are willing to bring more of the spiritual elements into a Hot Yoga class. Whether that’s dipping the lights a little, being mindful of the temperature and the needs of the yogis present in front of them that day, or allowing for sufficient savasana.
When approaching Hot Yoga, my best advice is to simply use good common sense:
- Have you recently had a cold or are you likely incubating one? (Maybe not the time to go and share these germs in an ideal body-temperature-hot breeding ground.
- Did you have something substantial to eat in the last two hours? It’s best not to attempt a challenging hot yoga practice while your body is still digesting your last meal. You might end up feeling or being sick.
- Are You Hydrated ? This is just key. If you have not drunk sufficient fluids during the day, you will likely experience a nasty headache as you sweat out reserves. Just as important – drink enough in the hours following your practice.
- Do you have time to shower before your next meeting? Hot yoga is notoriously sweaty. Unless you find the chillest class and hang out by the door, not really pushing yourself to the max, you will leave with sweaty slicks of hair stuck to your forehead and sweat patches that just keep coming. Perhaps not the best look for a client meeting.
Luckily for Parisians keen to try this exhilarating heated yoga practice, the last few years has seen many a new outfit of Hot Yoga and Power yoga open its doors.
Modern Bikram or Hot Yoga traditions seem to be softening from the fierce intergrist fervour that defined the movement in its early days.
I like that many of these studios offer Community Class. This is a tradition linked to Dharma in yogic philosophy, which encourages us to think about ‘the right way of living’, notably duty and service. The community class concept became popular with LA studios keen to gift yoga at a more affordable price to members of the community who would otherwise find it inaccessible.
As well as welcoming community classes, certain studios have diversified to have at least one unheated studio alongside their heated Hot Yoga room.
This opens up other possibilities for different types of yoga to be taught in the same studio, and for visiting yogis to vary their activities, listening to their bodies and what they might need most on the day – an important aspect of yoga.
Modo Yoga Paris
A fine example of this new breed of studio. It was actually my in-laws’ apartment janitor (gardien) who first mentioned this studio to me. He had signed up to an introductory offer and had been going regularly with his architect girlfriend.
It was the teachers and sense of community at Modo Yoga that really stood out. Plus, when the introductory offer ran out there was a community class to bring the €29 drop in price tag (with water and towels provided) down to a considerably more affordable €10 for their Modo Love community class, guided by yoga teachers in training on their programme.
Modo have heated yoga practice, but it keeps its mindfulness. During their Hot Yin & Tonic class, attention is paid to the Fascia (the connective tissue surrounding out muscles, tendons and ligaments) during these sustained postures. Massage and micro adjustments are on hand.
Only a few places are allocated for this practice of precision led by a yoga teacher who is also a therapeutic massage professional. The class lasts 75 minutes.
Another great initiative at Modo is their Ambassadors programme.
I cannot recommend this idea highly enough if you’re a stressed out student living somewhere within hailing distance of the 11th arrondissement and good quality yoga would make a difference to you.
Or in fact, if your weekly timetable allows for 4 hours of dedicated voluntary work in a yoga studio community, for which you will be richly rewarded with unlimited free yoga.
Considering monthly subscriptions for unlimited yoga go well beyond the €100 threshold, this could be the ultimate ‘bon plan’ if you have the time to spare and are passionate about your yoga.
Here is the form to fill in the questionnaire, in French, to be considered for the Ambassador programme.
Modo Yoga can be found at :
21 boulevard Richard Lenoir
– ligne 5 : Bréguet-Sabin
– ligne 8 : Chemin Vert
– lignes 1/5/8 : Bastille
– bus : 20/29/65/69
– Vélib : station 11033 “Bréguet-Sabin”
Tel : +33 (0)1 48 07 13 24
This is one of the rare Rive Gauche hot yoga studios. It’s a rare gem in its quartier on the edge of the 14th, just over from the 6th and the beautiful Jardins de Luxembourg.
I think ‘Yoga Garden’ is a particularly fitting name for this studio. It has probably the best aesthetic out of the bunch. Natural vegetation and a little garden on entering. Bright and bathed with natural light thanks to windows everywhere.
If you come to yoga to relax, this little oasis in a gorgeous part of town should do it for you.
Yoga Style is a small Hot Yoga outfit with one room studios in two middle class but cool residential areas : Haut Marais bordering the 11th and Batignolles.
While the studio space is anything but showy, emphasis is placed on postural alignment and anatomy.
Yoga Style was founded by a Physiotherapist, Oliver Fernandes. All teachers in every Yoga Style class have undergone training with him, in his particular method, marrying yoga with physiotherapy.
This Style of Yoga aims to relieve pressure on the neck and lower back, areas which often hold tension, due to the strains and stress of modern day life. The goal is to have practitioners improving their stance and posture in everyday life off the mat.
If the Physio accreditation doesn’t get you at Bonjour, then you may well be drawn in by the highly attractive price point. Yoga Style is without a doubt the best value for money out there amongst Parisian yoga hubs:
€80 for a monthly unlimited payment, which there is no obligation to renew.
This becomes seriously interesting if you were thinking of getting ten classes in, or going three times weekly.
There is also a generous Intro offer at €30 for a month, if you have never been before.
In terms of community class and the spiritual side of yoga, Oliver Fernandes offers Christian Yoga with scripture reading which is free to attend.
YOGA STYLE VILLIERS
96 boulevard des Batignolles
Code porte : A380
YOGA STYLE ST SEBASTIEN
62 rue Amelot
Interphone : Yoga Style
TELEPHONE: 09 81 18 98 03
Yoga Bikram Paris
Back to basics, or rather back to Bikram!
Here you will find the no frills 26 postures and Bikram Yoga taught with the familiar script that you will know well if you have practised elsewhere.
The studios are located centrally. There’s one in the Marais and another at Grands Boulevards within a couple of kilometres of each other.
The studio postures much like a functional fitness centre. You’ll see bullet pointed lists of benefits including weight loss and detoxifying the body.
They recommend Bikram yoga to everyone, but emphasise that those already practising sport might enjoy it.
“Même pas peur de la sueur”, ( not even scared of sweat) is their tagline. And you’ll better believe it. With studios heated to the Bikram approved 40 degrees celsius, you’ll need to go along with a healthy forgiving attitude regarding your yogi neighbour flicking sweat into your eye as they “go back, way back, more back” and then snap back up to standing.
The positive is that Paris Yoga Bikram are open 7 days per week and ensure 70 classes weekly.
Pricing isn’t cheap, but is pretty much in line with other Bikram studios:
€26 for a drop in class or €119 monthly with a six month commitment for unlimited yoga.
YOGA BIKRAM MARAIS
13 rue Simon Le Franc – 75004 Paris
Métro Rambuteau ou Hôtel de ville
YOGA BIKRAM GRANDS BOULEVARDS
17, rue du Faubourg Montmartre – 75009 Paris
Métro Grands Boulevards ou Cadet
Yoga Factory is the cool kids’ Hot Yoga address metres behind Filles du Calvaire metro in Paris 3rd.
Walking in you feel instantly at home, impressed by the effort that has gone into a seriously on-trend decor. The studio is good looking and functional. There’s a certain generosity in that deodorant and tampons are left out in the changing rooms, you know, just in case.
The brand communicates heavily on being a sort of POP Yoga, that you can hop in, enjoy, then get on with the rest of your fun, busy life.
Yoga Factory is the first and only studio to offer one price classes every day of the week and at every time slot, you’ll be paying €13.
There’s a simplicity in this approach which is mirrored in the classes which are scaled up from a pretty approachable level, to one that will require a good level of cardio fitness, postural knowledge and muscle tone.
Some of the classes veer away from a traditional notion of Yoga:
Dance, stretch, bodywork and pilates all get a look in.
Final fun fact is that this is the only heated yoga studio, which is not scared of letting its students go upside down. There are feet up props there for you to play with and occasional inversion focus masterclasses.
Take Thibaut’s class to feel like a dancer and Meghan’s for motivation and her incredible uplifting energy.
You don’t sweat, you sparkle! Is their millennial friendly motto.
Find out why at:
21 rue des Filles du Calvaire,
RDC cour droite,