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Last Yoga and First Tango in Paris

It must be the big birthday coming up that leads me to exploring all sorts of ways to enlighten my life. The things that have been floating around in my mind for years to do and accomplish are starting to land and become a reality. There’s a long list — the kind of list that travelers have of places they want to visit — an endless one — but as we all know, there are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year to accomplish it all. It simply ‘ain’t’ enough.

Fortunately, we have Paris, and in Paris, almost anything is possible.

My long time friend, Anne Morton, is a retiree who moved to Paris from San Francisco for part of the year and has taken up more new enlightenments than she has hairs on her head — at which all she seems to be succeeding quite beautifully. In just the last few months, she has personally taken up life drawing, clay sculpture, perfecting French, dancing tango and non-stop travel. Her enthusiasm for each and every one is infectious, so she has me (and other friends) doing some of the things that have floated around for a long time as ideas, but never come to fruition.

11-6-12-white-yoga-session-au-champ-de-marsPhoto courtesy of purepeople.comOne on the list, at the encouragement of my daughter and lots of friends, is Yoga. The first time taking Yoga in the early 70s, I giggled so hard in the first class at the dumb names of poses that it took 20 years before trying it again. Peer pressure has since coerced a retry on several occasions, never discovering why it should ‘pass the so-what test.’

Now that these older bones and muscles are creaking louder when moving in any direction, Yoga seems to be a good answer to slowing the aging process. In fact, Yoga philosophy is just that —  it “slows down the aging process by giving elasticity to the spine, firming up the skin, removing tension from the body, strengthening the abdominal muscles, eliminating the possibility of a double chin, improving the tone of flabby arm muscles, correcting poor posture, preventing dowager’s hump and so on. Yoga lets you trade in characteristics of old age for characteristics of youth.”

What’s not to like?

Any Google search on “Yoga + aging” will take you to a myriad of Web sites claiming its miraculous affects and lord knows, at this stage, I could use a little reverse aging! So long time friend, Nancy Szczepanski (“shuch-pan-ski”) just returned from a month-long Yoga instructor retreat and is now taking on private clients.

I warned her: “I’ll be your biggest challenge. I HATE exercise and think Yoga is stupid.”

She laughed and took the challenge. Now she has me doing a simple 10- to 15-minute routine every morning before doing just about anything else (or whenever it works) until building up stamina and allowing it to actually feel so good that I won’t want to live without it. (Smart cookie.) Every week she’ll monitor progress and get my routine a little more sophisticated until it just becomes a part of daily life and all those years of old age start melting away.

11-6-12-yoga-secada-by-erica-simonePhoto by Erica SimoneThere’s no shortage of ways to learn and practice Yoga in Paris. A Google search on “Yoga + Paris” will pull up more sites than you can imagine, and perhaps just confuse you! You can test out Nancy’s skills, of course, as she believes Yoga is individual and should fit the needs of the person. She’ll do a private lesson “chez vous” for 30€.

SPECIAL NOTE: I’d like to form a small group lesson once a week “chez moi” — would you be interested? We can fit three + Nancy in my living room, so for only 15€ each for three ‘reverse-aging beginners’ (30€ if only two show up), we can meet on Wednesdays 6 p.m. TO 7 p.m. Just dress comfortably, bring your own mat, the cash, and a good attitude. (For the gear, there’s a Yoga Concept store near my apartment. Visit Yoga Concept for more information.)

The first two people to respond to this are the lucky Yoga winners. Email [email protected] as soon as you can!

While Anne wasn’t the motivator for Yoga, she certainly was for Tango! Let’s face it, Tango is the sexiest dance alive, and not the kind of dance you pick-up in minutes like Salsa (one Web site promises you can learn Salsa in two minutes!).

There are Tango venues all over town. She and I first went to observe, then she located a great teacher and started private lessons. Now, she’s Tango-ing well-enough to join group dances at the various clubs or public events and incentivized a group of us to get Tango-ing, too.

11-6-12-Francisco-LeivaAgain, in my living room with the furnishings pushed aside, seasoned teacher Francisco Leiva, smiled as he instructed us neophytes in the basic steps of Tango and watched us step on each other’s feet…for a while. Hey, it’s not as easy as it looks!

Francisco is a director, playwright, choreographer, teacher and dancer having studied theater, ballet, contemporary dance and Argentine tango in Argentina and France. In 2000, in Paris, he created and directed the artistic group Laboratorioc.org composed of musicians, dancers and actors with whom he produced various theatrical creations, achievements and performance videos. So, he’s no Tango slouch! And we were lucky to have Anne to find him.

While I asked a friend to be my partner, who was just as much a greenhorn as me, to participate in a group lesson with two others, it’s clear that you’ll learn faster and dance better working one-on-one with a skilled dancer and teacher. This afternoon is lesson number two — this time with Francisco alone and taking full reign (it’s tough for me not to take the lead!) and teaching this old dog new dancing tricks.

Next Sunday, the furnishings will once again be pushed aside to make way for our group lesson. By that time, hopefully I’ll be more skilled and ready to kick up those dancing shoes outside of my own living room!

For more information about Tango and Francisco Leiva’s courses, visit Tango Poema or email Francisco Leiva at [email protected]

The question is: Can I fit it all in to a busy Paris life? At least the living room is managing it. Perhaps I can, too.

A la prochaine…

adrian-franciscoAdrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

(Tangoing with Francisco Leiva)

Respond to Adrian

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P.S. See you tomorrow at Parler Paris Après Midi when murder mystery author Cara Black speaks about “Getting Lost in Paris” and will have books for sale and for signing. Visit Parler Paris Après Midi for more information.

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