Ashtanga Yoga Paris 10 Year Retrospective – February 2014

~ on yoga, marriage, family, study & growth, by Linda

As I reflect back on these past 10 years I’m amazed at how much has happened!
2002 in Auroville, India at Gerald’s Shala
In February 2004 Gerald was still living in India (we were having a long distance relationship 🙂 and I was opening the Ashtanga Yoga studio with the generous help of a good friend, Laure and a wonderful yoga student, Patricia.  It was Patricia who rented me the ‘atelier’ she was renovating – a place where I could both live and give yoga classes in a bright, clean room overlooking a beautiful rose garden in the 13tharrondissement near Place d’Italie.  Laure helped me set the place up, taught yoga classes and even lived there for a while to help pay the rent.

Gerald came to visit and gave yoga classes but didn’t actually leave Auroville to settle in Paris until October 2004.  We planned to get married in the spring and eventually have a baby.  The baby came a bit quicker than expected…we were married in April 2005 and our beautiful little girl, Amaya, arrived in June!

2004 First Yoga Shala
We were happy giving yoga classes in the little room, which held up to 12 yoga students.  The space was gorgeous and having a private garden surrounded by huge rose bushes helped Gerald not be too home-sick having come to this big city from his quiet house in the middle of much green and flowers in India.  In spite of this, we still traveled to Auroville enough to avoid too much of the winter season in Paris.  Upon returning from one of these trips we were surprised to find out that I wasn’t terribly sick from some kind of Indian stomach bug but I was pregnant with our sweet baby boy.  HA! 

Now that small space wasn’t going to work with 2 kids and an ever-growing troop of yoga students!  I immediately went on line to look for a new place to live and work in (still not ready to take the leap of taking on two Parisian rents).  There were only two places in all of Paris that fit our budget, size of place and that offered a mixed lease so we could both work and live in it.  Gerald called them both; the first was already gone and the second was showing that evening!  Gerald got on his bike and booted it to the 11th arrondissement to check it out and put in our ‘dossier’. 

2007 Garden of Zen Yoga Shala
Six weeks later the whole yoga studio, Gerald, Amaya and me re-located to the new space.  It was quite a surprise for everyone, including us as it all happened so fast.  Now we had a lovely yoga room that could hold 16 yoga students and over-looking a tranquil Japanese Zen garden.  Jonathan was born a few months later in August 2007!

I’m not going to pretend it was always easy having people in our home seven days a week when trying to be new parents to small children but it was certainly a special time.  The classes were working well and we often had too many people for the small space.  We also were practically the only teachers therefore we rarely had a day off, so less than a year after Jonathan was born and Amaya wasn’t even 3 yet, we started our first teacher training program to be able to train more people to help out at Ashtanga Yoga Paris. 

I don’t know how we managed it because we had both been sleep deprived and exhausted for three years and looking back I realize we were (well, maybe I should take all the blame since I’m the one who usually takes on too much) totally crazy!  Although, even if I often had a foggy brain most of the time and Gerald and I were trying to figure out how to have a healthy marriage with 2 more beings added to our relationship (lots of arguments at the time but thankfully we’ve gone through that!)…I still enjoyed the teacher training.  It was as much an opportunity to grow in our own yoga paths as it was exciting to share more about the yoga with people who were enthusiastic and eager to learn.

Growing, growing and starting to explode at the seams…we needed to add classes to the schedule to spread the students out over the day.  However, we needed some time in the day to be alone with our young family.  What to do?  Well, somehow I had decided that we needed to take over the loft below us.  Gerald said that was ridiculous because the tenants there had just moved in and had a three-year lease.  Anyway, I just kept imagining what we could do if we had that space.  A month or so later our landlord called us to tell us that the tenants downstairs were breaking the lease and moving out!  Excellent!!! 

2009 Added 2nd Yoga Room to Zen Shala
Two weeks after that phone call in September 2009 we were opening the second yoga room!  Again a bit too quick but we had to take what the universe was giving to us when it was given!  It also was a lovely space and perfect to just have to go downstairs to give classes, a nice short commute to work.

Around this time one of our yoga students and good friends, told me that the new thing is Face Book, YouTube and Pod Casts.  I had no idea what any of those words meant (Gerald hardly used email so he was even more backwards than me)!   The totally talented art director, Stina Daag, decided that we had to be on all those things so she set to work opening FB pages and asking her boyfriend and another friend to take photos and videos of us to use on the social media.  Then the always radiant, Carolina Daza, came along to continue with even more filming and photos to make a full-on You Tube channel and Blog!  Well it all helped get the yoga school more recognized that eventually our landlord was complaining that there were too many people coming and going!  Ha, ha, ha.

Our lease was coming up so we were afraid he wasn’t going to renew it and didn’t know where we would give classes.  Once again, I was on-line looking for a new place however, there was nothing in the area suiting our needs where we could live and work from.  However, we did find the completely run down space that had been empty for at least 6 months so we took a chance trying to get a commercial lease.  We practically had to give up our children to be qualified but then again they didn’t have too much to loose since it seemed no one else wanted to rent the place…so we took on that massive project. 

Having a little rest during teacher training.

We re-located Ashtanga Yoga Paris to the current location in the summer of 2012.  In the end, it is such a pretty space with so much natural light and such a feeling of love.  We feel SO blessed to have been guided through this path with the help of so many kind-hearted people.  All the yoga teachers that teach at the studio, all the yoga students who practice at the studio, all the friends who have encouraged us on brilliant new projects and of course all the teachers we have had to help us grow in our personal yoga practices and lives.

In those last 10 years I’ve taken 3 teacher trainings with Ron Reid and Marla Meenakshi, I’ve done two yoga philosophy courses with the late Georg Feuerstein plus a year mentorship with him, I’ve studied and taken a pranayama teacher training with Sri O.P. Tiwari and most recently I’ve completed an anatomy training with Leslie Kaminoff. Also, Eddie Stern who is a constant inspiration even if I haven’t had the opportunity to study with him in person as much these last 10 years is always a part of my path and a mentor. 

Not to forget my husband, Gerald Disse, who has been the greatest inspiration to me and supports me like no other person ever has in my life!!!