Ahh, the sweet delight of a weekend escape! After a lengthy period of working, teaching, studying and house-moving, it was time to recharge for a couple of days. I was lucky enough to go to Paris to practise with renowned yoga teacher Petri Räisänen.
There’s some history here. Years of practise in London had made me feel, well, anonymous. Present in many, many classes and Mysore rooms but never with a singular teacher. Ryan Spielman, teacher at Triyoga, probably knew my practice the most but I travelled a great deal with work so many Mysore rooms knew my face. My life was in flux and continued to be so, as a planned trip to Mysore fell through and a new relationship started with my current partner Tom in Brighton. We went to Purple Valley retreat in Goa as a consolation prize for my Mysore trip really and were lucky enough to be taught by Petri. Tom now realises how lucky he was to have experienced yoga for the first time under Petri’s guidance. The two of us let Petri’s adjustments and yoga philosophy work their magic, and arrived home feeling like different people.
Eventually arriving in Brighton to live and work, I was very fortunate to encounter Sarah and Kathryn and, much later, to have been qualified to teach with them. Other local students such as Guy Andefors helped me to commit to my mat. Having talked at length with them, I had finally understood that regular practise with my teacher comes first (not just feeling good once a year on a retreat) and they continue to inspire me every time we meet. Tom also now attends Kathryn’s classes. And that occasionally, to check in with Petri on a retreat and to receive a second information source – well, it’s the icing on the cake. We’ve visited him in Thailand (and his wife Wambui, also a yoga teacher) and Paris was too close an opportunity to miss.
We practised Mysore-style at Samasthiti Studio in the beautiful and creative Marais district, followed by two led Primary classes at a different studio at the weekend. Everything was slowed down with lots of breath, and the final asanas of the Primary Series emphasised the importance of lying flat with straight legs before taking the asana. Breath count in led classes was extremely precise, aside from an additional five minutes to allow people to take partners and help adjust in the Paschimottanasana seated forward bend.
Paris is stunning of course, even if we were fairly short of money. To be able to practise each morning and then to drift around the museums and search for local lunch deals was such a wonderful opportunity. In that sense, a weekend felt longer.
I have been practising since 2000 and have encountered many teachers. Petri’s style appeals to me because his talent is clear from the moment you meet him but he is extremely modest and thoughtful. He makes yoga accessible for everyone and gives quiet, considered responses to your questions. His Mysore room has a peaceful energy from which you feel hugely restored, and his adjustments (or those of his assistants) work gradually along the spine, for example, to unlock the body slowly and safely.
Sarah has the same energy, and I hope that Petri will visit Brighton via Sarah’s programme in coming years. This video gives a good sense of his approach and you can check out his website. I see that he is visiting London next year!