Finding yoga in France

Finding yoga in France

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Expat Janice Barnett explains that a simple online search can lead to a successful yoga find when living outside the capital.

Like most people starting life in a new country, I spent the first few months revelling in the differences of life in France: two-hour lunch breaks; fresh, local, produce in the shops;  time to chat with neighbours and a slower pace to breathe and think inward.

Then, like most people starting life in a new country, I started to think about the things I had before that were now missing. In my case this was a relatively short list comprised of ready access to Weetabix, watching Arsenal live, and yoga.

Maybe it’s because here in the beautiful rural countryside of southern Burgundy, tending the Charolais cattle and working on your portager are seen as enough exercise. Why overdo it when the day to day labour will stretch, tone and burn off enough calories that the daily consumption of bread, cheese and wine leave no lasting ill effects on the waistline or thighs?

For me, yoga isn’t just about stretching and tying myself in a clove hitch knot. It’s about calming my mind, taking time out for myself, knowing that in my busy schedule of planning creative arts courses, creating new menu options and designing web pages, there will be two hours when mind, body and soul will come together as one in the present moment.


Online approach
I asked around to see if anyone knew of a good class and drew a blank. Our nearest town has a gym for the over 60-year-olds and dance for the under 8-year-olds. So, I turned to the internet and typed in "yoga", including various towns in ever increasing circles, until I had a hit with "yoga + Cluny France" (yoga in Cluny Kirkcaldy was a bit too far).

Yoga mat under my arm and clad in loose-fitting clothes, I turned up at the studio to be met by the lovely Alexia Fachon. If anyone ever exuded serenity and inner glow, it is this wonderful woman. I find it hard to switch off at the best of times, but the pitch and tone of Alexia’s voice had me in a trance-like state before you could say "Sivananda" (the type of yoga practised here).

Time melted and I flowed from one posture to the next before drifting out of the class, an hour and a half later, in a haze of well being. Bliss.

Research first
I would recommend that you do a little French homework first, however. Whilst I knew words for feet, back and arms, talons (heels), mollets (calves) and le creux des reins (the small of the back) were unknown terminologies.

You don’t want to have your rhythm interrupted by repeatedly turning your head to see what your neighbour is up to. Nor would you want to contort yourself into a position with your left ear touching the soles of your feet when it should be resting lightly on your shoulder.

Type and type

When searching online for yoga in France, it does seem easier to type in the form of yoga you’d like to practice if you know it. I wasn’t able to find a central registry and the directories I did find were far from comprehensive, but random regional searches did throw up lots of practitioners.

If you do live in the Southern Burgundy area, please take a look at Alexia’s site www.ambikayoga.fr.

Namaste, reverential salutations to you all.


Janice Barnett / Expatica


Janice Barnett is a writer and expat in France running her own retreat business, www.thereallybigdreamcompany.com.

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