Je Suis à Paris

Trocadero

The following is an update from blogger Kia Guarino, on her adventures in Paris

I am currently sitting in my bed in the apartment I will be living in for the next two months, thoroughly exhausted and exhilarated by my first day here. Very different from my last stint with living abroad, I believe these next two months are going to be packed full with studies, volunteering and the occasional babysitting! I can’t wait for it all to get started!

Today was great. My wonderful host took me to a beautiful café on Trocadero where I had a croissant and a café crème. Of course, despite practicing for precisely these moments, I stared at the pretty waitress pretty blankly and had to be rescued from my lack of French skills. Hopefully that will change. I was also shown around the neighborhood, which is gorgeous despite the unusually cold weather. From that circle, which is a block form the apartment, the Eiffel Tower can be seen and is very large. Much of the day was simply situating myself with the area and transportation, etc., but just over 12 hours feels like a week! It’s all so exciting!

Je vais à Paris

Musée du Louvre: Image copyright Paris Convention and Visitors Office

The following post is by guest blogger, Kia Guarino

There is an unfortunate amount of snow on the ground in New Jersey today and I am hoping my flight takes off on time tonight! I am off to Paris this evening to immerse myself in French language and culture in an effort to quickly learn this useful and beautiful language. I will be in a position of discomfort for at least the first week as I struggle to become proficient enough to hold a conversation, but I think the challenge is worth it.

Since graduating, I have had a strong desire to continue learning. I was not as burnt out as I would have expected when I finished school, and I am really looking forward to the day I return to graduate studies. In the meantime, though, there is still a great deal of studying I have to do to improve my application. Since I hope to pursue a career in international development work, I decided that I should challenge myself to learn French to the best of my ability in a short amount of time. I have a background in Spanish and Italian, but I decided to try something different, to really challenge myself.

When I was handed an amazing opportunity and very graciously offered a place to stay in Paris, I realized this was something that could and should happen. Of course I am nervous and worried that my sprinkling of French will make the transition difficult, but accomplishing such a biggoal is rarely easy!

I am going to be staying in the heart of the city of lights and studying at Alliance Française a few days a week. I am looking forward to the superb people-watching that Paris sidewalk cafes offer and I even purchased a sketchbook in order to document it.

tower of macarons from dalloyau

I will be writing updates about the challenges and beauty of the city, and my two months immersed in another, wonderful culture. I will also be eating crepes, baguettes and fromage, not to mention visiting my favorite source for patisseries in the world, Dalloyau. You can download their mouthwatering, beautifully photographed catalogue here.

Au revoir!

Live Green Membership Giveaway

This month, Herban Lifestyle was made a designated Live Green Spot, providing shoppers with the confidence that it embraces green practices and provides high quality products at a reasonable price. Herban Lifestyle now offers a 20% discount off all products purchased online at HerbanLifestyle.com for Live Green members.

We are proud to announce that we are a new LiveGreen spot. Live Green Spots provide members with an array of discounts at partner businesses andorganizations that have proven eco‐friendly practices. Partners listed on Live Green’s website,including Herban LifestyleTM, have passed a rigorous screening process and provide qualityproducts at a discounted price for Live Green members.

What is Live Green? Here’s their answer: “Live Green makes eco-friendly living and business practices easier and more affordable in DC, Chicago and beyond. We are a membership organization that provides support to green businesses in the local community and secures great discounts on everyday green products and services for consumers.”

In addition, they throw several wonderful events throughout the year, where you can eat delicious sustainable food and meet other people on the eco journey.

To celebrate, we are giving away three (3) free 1-year LiveGreen memberships (valued at $13 each). To enter, please email me at info [at] herbanlifestyle.com and tell me 3 ways in which you are living the green lifestyle. To enter, you must be 18 or older. The contest will end at 11:59pm EST on February 5, 2010. Three winners will be chosen at random from qualified entrants.

Namaste

photo copyright Dancing Mind Yoga

The following post is by guest blogger, Kia Guarino.

Yesterday morning I woke up pleasantly sore, feeling it in muscles I had forgotten about, and thanked our newest discovery, a local hot yoga studio! On Tuesday, we tried out a Baptiste Power Vinyasa yoga studio located in downtown Falls Church and were thoroughly impressed. Dancing Mind Yoga uses a heated (90-95 degrees) yoga studio and the Baptiste style of flow yoga, a relatively fast-paced class that works to create stamina and improve overall health and wellbeing. The high temperatures are designed to increase the benefits of yoga, and to improve circulation and eliminate toxins from the body. It also reduces the chance of injury during the class by keeping your muscles loose. The difference is undeniable – I have found that practicing power vinyasa without heat does not leave me feeling as strengthened and healthy.

I really enjoyed the class, and the studio itself was very pretty and relaxing. The walls are a beautiful, serene turquoise color and their lotus flower symbol captures the feeling that yoga inspires. The instructor was attentive about correcting mistakes, which I enjoyed. There are a lot of benefits lost if the poses are done incorrectly, and she was very good about making sure my arms, legs, and back were positioned for the best results. I really felt good in the morning, enjoying the soreness in my lower back from the Locust pose. We bought an unlimited pass for this month so I will be going as much as possible!

Bikram yoga is a different form of hot yoga in temperature and in structure. Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses that are very demanding, the first half standing and the rest on the ground, in an intensely heated studio. Bikram yoga was designed for the Western yogi and aims to release stress and help with chronic diseases and injuries. It helps increase focus, stamina and clarity while adding the benefits of exercising (weight loss, increased energy, etc.).

In Connecticut, about 6 years ago, we discovered a Bikram studio in South Norwalk and regularly took classes. Our favorite teacher was Dan Markowitz, who would sing James Taylor songs to us during savasana :) I have attended a number of classes over the years, including in New Haven, Norwalk, and Danbury, CT, as well as in the Boston area. I have learned that the temperature ranges from about 100-105 (usually) to 115 at one studio (which was VERY intense). When I was able to take Bikram classes a few times a week, I felt great overall and found that I had toned muscles that would have been very difficult to get even with strenuous gym workouts. However, if you are not prepared, it can leave you with a pretty intense headache. As they mention online, it is very important to drink a lot of water before entering a Bikram studio and not to eat for a few hours prior.

While the poses and flow of the classes differ, I find that hot vinyasa does have many similar benefits. There is something extremely relaxing about yoga, even in high temperatures. I am very excited to be getting back into it.