There’s a magical place in the 2nd Arrondissement of Paris. It’s called Caelo Yoga.
Nestled neatly at the end of a hidden courtyard on the Rue Montmartre, you’ll instantly know you’ve found this cove of zen by the warmth that awaits you…. because it’s all kinds of warm. The warm welcome you’ll receive — in English or in French, and the warm dark woods and reds that surround you. The warmth of the talented instructors, and the warmth of the cozy, yet spacious yoga room. It’s a yogic haven. A safe place to be yourself, be with yourself… but also mingle with others in total authenticity.
Because Jennifer Goupil has a vision. She has a vision of people coming together in the spirit of health. In the spirit of awareness. In the spirit of community.
Now… Chloe and I are no strangers to yoga in the city of light — we’ve sunsaluted all over the place, and savansana’ed with the best of them, but, you see, Caelo Yoga is truly special because it’s a community. You could call it the Cheers of Parisian yoga studios where “everybody knows your name.” People discuss, exchange, hug. There are events, workshops, and sometimes even film screenings. It’s friendly like that. It’s personal. And it’s Holistic with a capital H.
Of course, at the core of Caelo Yoga, is Jennifer herself. Her generous and kind personality, her aesthetic, and her love of yoga and wellness shine through every detail of the center — whether it’s the scented candle in the bathroom, the carefully chosen non-toxic paint color, or the Justes juices in the little fridge by the front desk.
Also worthy of note (and because I love to talk about food), is what’s been popping up autour. Brasserie 2eme Art, the second “Brasserie Lola” (the ‘secret vegan resto’ — see them on France2), recently opened right next door, and just around the corner, Cloud Cakes, an entirely vegan bakery and coffee shop, will soon be opening its doors. (*squeal* It’s going to be insane. We’ve had their peanut butter cupcakes already and they are game changers.)
Anyway, we recently had the opportunity to eat vegan deliciousness at Brasserie 2eme Art with Jennifer, and talk all things veggie, yoga, and progress.
We hope you enjoy her astute insight and loving words as much as we enjoyed hearing them.
I always refer to Caelo as a yoga center for enlightened living — that was my impetus. But this “enlightened living” doesn’t mean some sort of supreme (or superior!) spiritual state, rather a desire to live life in greater harmony, consciousness and awareness.
There are more and more places offering yoga in Paris but I feel that often, students are quickly in and out. People are searching for real connections — to be seen in person, not via Facebook. We crave being with like-minded people, to be part of a community, and perhaps, ultimately, to be able to take action as a community.
For many, yoga goes beyond the physical practice, extending to a desire to make different choices in other areas. I wanted to create a center that would support that journey, providing programs and information that assist in positive lifestyle changes.
My vision for Caelo is to be true to what I believe yoga is about, to be authentic and sincere in that offering, and not to have a “gym” orientation to yoga. Yoga means union, and that union involves body, mind, and spirit. Healing and balance can happen on so many levels through yoga. We store mental, emotional, and even spiritual disease in our physical body. This focus on yoga’s power to bring about transformation and healing is very important to me.
At Caelo I want to support students of all levels, and to make yoga accessible to everyone.
My ‘health story’ has been, and continues to be, a journey. In general, I think I have always been a fairly healthy person, without focusing on a specific plan. Like everyone, I struggle to find balance, but yoga (in addition to a solid meditation practice) has been a life saver.
My decision to stop eating meat came about quite suddenly when I was 17. Some friends and I rented a movie called ‘The Faces of Death’ that we thought was a horror movie. It turned out to be a documentary about meat. It started with scenes of cows going to slaughter, and what struck me was the terror in the cows’ eyes, and that they were communicating that terror and panic with each other. I won’t go into details but I realized that there was this awareness in them, that they also wanted to live and not suffer. From that point on, a switch was flipped. I didn’t plan anything that night or make a vow never to eat meat again, I just found that, with this new awareness, it was no longer possible for me, so I stopped.
A greater awareness of veganism (versus vegetarianism) came when I attended Jivamukti Teacher Training in 2015. I am grateful to have been provided with this consciousness.
Overall, health is about balance. Doing things in measure. Deprivation isn’t healthy either, and I like to enjoy life. I’m a bit of a bon vivant. Biodynamic wine in particular is a passion of mine. Any form of extremism isn’t healthy. Sometimes our diet and exercise can be “right,” but if our state of mind about it is negative, then that’s not healthy.
I’ve been practicing yoga for 17 years. I began practicing when a friend suggested it to help with insomnia. My initial discovery of yoga was here in Paris and there wasn’t a lot available. So I ended up in a twice-weekly Hatha yoga class at a health club. That first class was a powerful experience and kept me on the path of exploration. I later discovered Vinyasa (when Rasa first opened in Paris) and then, when I was back in NYC, I discovered Jivamukti and other styles. Until that point I had always been a runner, but the two together created beautiful balance.
French cuisine can be meat heavy, but as people are changing to lighter ways of eating and more active lifestyles, vegetarianism is on the rise. This also reflects a greater concern for the environmental impact of meat. Also, more attention has been drawn to issues related to industrialized agriculture, GMOs and the animal rights movement.
People are looking for greater peace, harmony and wellbeing. There’s a longing for greater depth, a more meaningful existence, a connection to something greater within and beyond oneself. I don’t believe that we can have deep peace and happiness within ourselves and at the same time remain completely indifferent to the suffering and imbalances that surround us. The French have always been sensitive to the notion of justice, and this is now being applied to species other than human beings.
Above all I would say it shouldn’t be about “elimination” or “deprivation” but adding in and discovering new things. Start with traditional cuisines that just happen to be plant based, such as the Mediterranean diet. I would also try to stay seasonal — roast root vegetables in winter and eat lots of herbs and salads in summer. I once read a blog about a couple converting to a plant-based diet for health reasons, and they decided that they would pick one new seasonal vegetable a week and prepare it a different way every night.
It’s important to make things easy, so it helps to have a pantry stocked with versatile essentials, and make curries, stews, and soups on the weekends that you can prepare in different ways during the week. (Ann’s note: Our Chili Sin Carne, and Spicy Dhal are great for this!)
Readers, if you live in Paris, or ever find yourself here, we wholeheartedly invite you to discover Jennifer’s magical haven of vitality and wellbeing, Caelo Yoga. Chloe and I did a Jivamukti class with Ian a few days ago, and we’re still sore. #loveit