Martine Trélaün is the Franco-American founder of Yogateau, a comprehensive guide to yoga in Paris. She’s also a certified yoga teacher, having trained at Virayoga in New York City, and an advanced yogini.
Martine has a holistic approach to yoga and sees it as a way to develop personal and professional life, make relationships flourish, and increase well-being day-to-day.
Inside/Out: What was the starting point for Yogateau?
Martine Trélaün: Yogateau started as an idea I had when I lived in Brooklyn. After another teaching formation in Paris in 2010, I realised that the local yoga community was just like the ones I knew in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, namely that students and teachers are open-minded, generous, and welcoming. People were always giving me tips and good ideas, and I just started writing it all down in my notebook. This became the Do Yoga in Paris section, a category full of good spots to go for healthy food, winding down, getting into shape, or just practicing yoga. I started sharing all of this with the people I knew in New York, my friends told their friends, and it got to a point where I was always writing the same emails, giving the same advice to people asking: “Where can I buy a yoga mat? Where can I practice in the 4th arrondissement? Where to shop in the Bastille neighborhood?”. Eventually, I decided to put all of that together.
I/O: When did you launch your website?
MT: Yogateau has been around since May 2011.
I/O: What has changed in Paris since then?
MT: Everything: the number of studios, teachers, students, training programs, visiting coaches who come to give courses for a few days, the numbers have just skyrocketed. There’s a real interest in yoga now, it’s no longer some alternative lifestyle. They even sell yoga mats at Carrefour!
I/O: Where did the name Yogateau come from? (Editor’s note: yogateau includes the sound of the word gâteaux which is French for “cake”.)
MT: I tried to pick a name that sounded fun, and would make yoga seem like a light, delicious treat. Also, I love pastries and food, in general.
I/O: What’s your philosophy in life?
MT: "Any fool can know. The point is to understand." Albert Einstein.
I/O: A mantra?
MT: My mantra was given to me by my Vedic meditation teacher Nicho Plowman and I can’t share it with you. I do have a motto, which is: Everything. This might be my tantric side, or the fact that I grew up with two cultures, but I hate binary thinking. I mean, you have to be able to make decisions and choices, of course, and yoga helps with that! But to me, the in-between areas are the most substantial and interesting.
I/O: What do you think about the evolution of yoga today? Thoughts on all of the new styles and trends?
MT: I’m far from being a purist when it comes to new yoga practices. Whether people discover it through Yog’n’Dance, Hip Hop Vinyasa, or Ashtanga, the result is the same as long as one is serious and dedicated. Yoga has always been in a state of evolvultion: today’s yoga is far from what was being done in 800 BC. At Yogateau, we try to give people a wide spectrum so they can find a lifelong practice, and with it, happiness. As long as yogis develop a fuller conscience of themselves and avoid injury, as long as the teachers mean well and are professional, I have no problems with these newer variations on yoga. The most important is expansion and connection.
I/O: What are the most significant challenges for you?
MT: Yoga has become so popular in Paris and the rest of the country that it’s become a bit of a challenge to keep an eye on everything that’s happening! But it’s something extremely positive. The more of us yogis there are, the more relaxed the world becomes! Yogateau is still evolving, the website is finally available in French and English, there are two of us managing it now, we’ll soon welcome new members to our team, we’re collaborating with people dear to us, and have a bunch of new editorial and design ideas!
I/O: Any advice for beginners? And for more experienced yogis?
MT: If you want to start practicing yoga, get to know the discipline by signing up to 4 or 5 classes first. It’ll give you a feel for regular practice, you’ll learn the basic postures, and you’ll come out knowing enough to attend group classes without feeling lost. To the more experienced yogis, I’d say: spend a little more time meditating and a little less time doing handstand postures!
I/O: Does yoga help develop your creativity?
MT: Yoga and meditation are essential for my creative thinking. Practicing asanas provides me with strength, confidence, and it grounds me, while meditation opens up my mind. After a session, I feel like my thoughts float along easily, like my ideas multiply and flow freely. My little worries and troubles suddenly evaporate.
I/O: Do you have other physical activities besides yoga?
MT: Meditation, pranayama, and dancing. Every Friday afternoon, I crank up the volume and dance around like a crazy person! It relaxes me, and helps me unwind. One of these days, I’d like to go back to surfing, modern dancing and classical dancing. I used to dance semi-professionally to pay for my graphic design studies in the US.