Springing Forward—In More Ways Than One

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Our first second home: the cozy interiors of the first Loosloo. Stay tuned for photos of our second space!

 

Over the weekend we set our clocks one hour ahead—the true measurement that Spring is finally here. Everyone says that Spring is about looking ahead and preparing for wonderful changes, and I couldn’t agree more. I have been teaching in this wonderful little yoga studio called loosloo a little over one year. Several months ago, I got to talking with Barbara, the lady who built and began loosloo, and after much talking, praying, thinking, daydreaming and meditating, we decided to partner together and expand this place I deem as my second home.

Loosloo is two years old now, and while part of its charm is its quaint little practice quarters in Kleinbasel, many of our students have been saying the room is getting too small for them. At times we’ve had to do our sun salutations packed like sardines in a can. In some cases, we have been so full that a willing yogi would have to practice in the reception area because we couldn’t accommodate them in the room (thank you, Stefan and Rahel). And a handful of times we seen several students come in, realize it was too full, and slink away.

This is why, due to popular demand, Barbara and I are opening a second space, this time in Grossbasel (corner Kannonengasse and Steinengraben). Our doors open on the 1st of May, and while our second second (yes, that’s not a typo) home may be bigger than the first, we’re sure that those who visit will still feel the same warmth, welcoming spirit that yogis love about loosloo. Indeed, we’re springing forward, together with the time. Come and join us!

Small versus Big Yoga Classes

Last Saturday I attended an intimate yoga class with four students. The weather called for sleeping in that morning, and I would have done that, had I not known what the theme of the class would be: the progression into spring, and how we can sow the seeds of our practice (or anything in life), to be able to reap its rewards later on.

Our teacher Céline introduced herself as an agronomist, and someone who loves to garden. It takes a lot of patience and love to be able to tend and flourish a garden—let alone a plant—and I felt these qualities in Céline’s manner of teaching and talking. We were a mix of newcomers and regulars that day, and just like the patient gardener that she is, our teacher gave us just the right amount of attention and looking after that we needed to root ourselves, then grow. With just five of us in the room, Céline arranged us in a circle, so that we were all visible to one another. It was a vulnerable set up, and yet it also gave us the chance to look each other in the eye, relate and actually talk to one another at some parts of the practice. At the end of class, we were a bit more familiar and comfortable with ourselves and each other, so that we fostered a warm environment that almost felt like family. Céline also gave us flower seeds for us to grow in our own flower gardens—I liken this process to my yoga practice where I sow, tend, work, wait, care for, and then see the fruits of my labor. It will take time, but the journey is an enlightening one!

The next day I went to a much bigger class organized by yogacommunity.ch. Here, more than a hundred students lay down their yoga mats in a large hall, as a mix of wind instrumentalists and percussionists accompanied our breath and movement. Here, yoga teachers gave instructions through wireless mics in both Swiss German and English. When one couldn’t understand the teacher, one could look at the stage, where yet another teacher demonstrated the sequences. Other volunteer teachers went around and corrected participating yogis and yoginis. It was probably the largest yoga class I have ever attended—where rows and rows of mixed level students displayed different expressions of poses and transitions. The combination of everyone’s individual energy was new, very vibrant, and super exciting. 

After experiencing Saturday’s intimate setting with Sunday’s huge crowd, I realized the value of practicing in different environments. Sometimes you need the individual instruction and personal guide of a teacher. Sometimes being fueled with the liveliness of many different people works, too. And then there are days when being alone on your yoga mat is just what you need. What kind of practice do you need today?

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Gift of Seeds: Our takeaway from Saturday’s intimate class.

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The other end of the spectrum: Sunday’s big turnout was an equally enjoyable experience. That’s me by the way at the bottom of the photo, in the gray top.
Photo courtesy of Maaret Jokela

How To Stay Young? Enjoy Fasnacht!

Last week I mentioned the celebration of Fasnacht, a yearly carnival which is seen as Switzerland’s most popular celebration. From 4:00am on the Monday after Ash Wednesday until 4:00am on Thursday, the streets of Basel teem with up to 20,000 masked participants who play the flute, drums, trumpets, trombones, and other percussions. Others walk around carrying outrageous lanterns or pull ornately-decorated floats. Confetti, locally known as Räpelli fill every square inch of the city center. Giant floats which are built according to a pre-discussed theme, roam through the main roads. In it are Waggis (traditional Fasnacht masked characters bearing huge heads, oversized clothes and wooden clogs) who throw oranges, candy, Mimosa, and other goodies to the crowds.

On Wednesday afternoon last week, I went on my own to one of the main bridges in Basel and joined the throngs of people to watch the parade go by. I made plans to meet up with some friends, but it wasn’t until almost two hours later that we found each other. Not to miss out on the chaotic fun, I stationed myself in the middle lane of the bridge. On either side of me, floats and bands passed by. Like a kid, I screamed and shouted “Waggis!” (you have to, if you want any goodies thrown your way), and successfully collected candy to last me until next year, flowers to spruce up our apartment, and oranges to make freshly squeezed juice for several mornings to come.

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Wary of Waggis: Careful, these Waggis will give you Mimosas when you ask for some, but they may also stuff your collar with Räppli (confetti).

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In the beginning, my friend Jöelle brushed off every confetti flake that landed on her. In the end, she didn’t care.

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Cheers! Apart from the regular oranges, flowers, and candy, some of us got some liquor.

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Glorious Gold: This group represented Switzerland’s Winter Olympics gold medalists. These guys skied in 16 degree weather—confetti was their snow!

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This is my float! If you look closely, the clique behind me was started in 1974: the year I was born! The Waggis on this float also gave me this little toy, which thrilled me to bits; I felt like I was 4, not 40!