Lifestyle

à Paris – Tantalising tips for the city of romance

Santiago Lifestyle July 2, 2017

By Caroline Von Krockow

I lived in New York, London, Madrid, Cologne and have travelled all over the world, but Paris is simply fantastic! I fall in love again and again with this city every day. The history of France and Paris is of course fascinating. The cultural scene is extraordinarily rich from the museums to the opera, from the galleries and art centres to the private initiatives. Then of course the fashion, parks, boulevards and restaurants all contribute to the unique savoir vivre, which makes every day a feast.

 

 

 

 

The first kings were the Merovingians, a Salian Frankish dynasty that ruled the Franks for nearly 300 years in France during the 5th century. The dynasty was founded by Childeric I (457-481), the son Merovech, but it was his famous son Clovis I (481-511) who united all of Gaul under Merovingian rule. They reigned from the Conciergerie, now a tourist attraction, formerly a prison, which is located on the Île de la Cité. It used to be the royal palace, the Palais de la Cite and the Merovingians ruled from there. Charlemagne was the next big king of France, who united much of Europe during the early middle ages and laid the foundations for modern France. Francois I, attracted and influenced by Italian art, then invited Leonardo da Vinci to stay in his court. The Bourbons ruled the country in the 16th century. Henry IV (1553-1610) also known as Good King Henry was the first French monarch of the House of Bourbons. He resided in The Tuileries Palace which, along with the Louvre Palace, was the usual Parisian residence of most French monarchs until the Paris Commune in 1871.

The period of the 18th century was the “Enlightenment” and France, mostly Paris, played a strong intellectual role. This was the time of the philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau, the time of poetry and romance. Louis XIV was crowned king and during his reign France enjoyed a rebirth of art, music, drama and literature. In 1789 the French Revolution resulted in the end of the monarchy and the death of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. After the reign of terror Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Paris and almost all of Western Europe. Much later, Paris survived two World Wars and thankfully General Dietrich von Choltitz disobeyed Hitler’s command to destroy one of the most beautiful cities in the world. If we fast forward to today, with this year’s election coming up, property prices stable and with potential tax incentives, Paris could be the next place to invest. Regardless, one should never miss a visit to the city of love.

 

We have seen a growth of many new hotels opening, spoiling our visitors for choice. I recommend staying in Hotel de Crillon, re-opening after four years of renovation this September on the Place de la Concorde. Karl Lagerfeld is currently designing the most prestigious suites and bringing his discerning eye to create an unforgettable experience. He is a great connoisseur of the 18th century and combines French art de vivre and modernity in the most elegant manner. A dear friend, Aline d’Amman, is in charge of the artistic direction along with four established decorators. The excitement mounts as we come closer to the much anticipated opening party. Another option is Hotel Le Bristol on Rue du Faubourg St Honore just by the Champs-Elysees and Avenue Montaigne. It belongs to my German friends, the Oetker family. One cannot resist the quirky pool at the top, the brand new Spa, the cosy courtyard for outdoor lunch and one of the coolest bars, traditional yet trendy. The newly opened Ritz on Place Vendome, where Karl Lagerfeld’s latest haute couture creations were shown, is of course perfect for the start of the fashion season. Even if you don’t stay in the Ritz you should definitely have a drink in the Bar Hemingway. Only there will you receive roses with your champagne and a special signature drink. Ask for my friend Roman Devaux, the head bartender and you will be treated like royalty. If you want to stay on the other side of the river, Rive gauche, Hotel Lutetia is still under renovation, but soon re-opening and a good option as well. Conveniently located opposite Le Bon Marche, which in addition to having every single fashion and beauty item one requires, also hosts contemporary art thanks to its owner the great Bernard Arnaud. This year Chiharu Shiota’s “Where are we going” is transforming the department store into a sea of white strings. Another hidden gem is the relaxed, homey, family run Hotel Dauphin in Saint Germain. My friends Marie and Marc Tournier lovingly decorated it and are now also the new owners of the hotel Jeanne d’Arc in the Marais area, perfect for art lovers. In addition to the multitude of fantastic galleries there is also the new Picasso museum, a must see.

Regardless of where you’re staying, a memorable day in Paris could look something like this: Fresh croissants and café creme in the literary Café Flore, which dates back to 1885 and got its name from a flower sculpture. Writers like Joris-Karl Huysman and Remy de Gourmont had their habits here and Frédéric Beigbeder founded the Prix de Flore, a French literary prize to reward young authors in 1994. It is awarded yearly in November and the laureate wins 6,000 Euros, as well as a glass of Pouilly-Fumé, at the Café de Flore every day for a year.

I would then recommend a stroll through St-Germain-des-Pres heading to Place de Furstenberg. The circular island in the middle of the square is framed by four Paulownia trees, surrounding a central and rather gothic lamp post, which have become focal points for many artists. Do visit Yveline Antiques, which opened in 1954, with its wonderful collection of objects and antiquities. My friend Agathe Derieux, Yveline’s grand-daughter, continues the tradition. A few steps further is the Delacroix Museum, which used to be Delacroix’s studio and transformed into a museum in 1971. It exhibits memorabilia, works and pictures from nearly every phase of his career, including the artist’s only three attempts at fresco from Valmont (1834); the Education of the Virgin painted in Nohant in 1842; and Magdalene in the Desert exhibited at the 1845 Salon. Continue along your stroll and you will come across tiny, sheltered streets around Place de Furstenberg, dotted with independent art galleries, custom made shoe stores, boutiques, and luxury furnishings, expect not only excellent shopping but some of the best people watching in the city too.

For lunch there are endless options and it depends in which of the 20 arrondissements of the Parisian snake you wish to be in. In culinary terms the city is full of delights. If you want to stay in the 7th arrondissement the traditional Voltaire restaurant is good. Recamier, just by Le Bon Marche, has the best soufflés in town and Brasserie Lipp is an institution where you can eat oysters and a hearty steak with its famous bernaise and fresh fries. For the afternoon, a stroll through Jardin Luxembourg watching the children on the old fashioned carousel or sitting in the rose garden by the pond is rejuvenating. The Tuileries Park by the Louvre is quite central and the Bois de Boulogne lends itself to an extensive walk.

The exhibitions in Paris are also of such a high standard it would be sad to miss out. I never miss an exhibition in the Louvre, the Grand Palais, the Musee d’Art Moderne and the Centre Pompidou. A recent favourite was the Second Empire exhibition in the Musee d’Orsay, with exceptional Mellerio jewellery, truly mesmerizing. Bernard Buffet is not uplifting, but powerful and prolific, despised by the French until now. They did not want to see an artist rich and mundane with friends like Brigitte Bardot at the Cannes Film Festival, a sad fate his final suicide. Now it’s atonement time and the Musee d’Art Moderne has the biggest exhibit of him ever. My dear friend Diane de Polignac is also showcasing powerful Buffet pieces at her exceptional gallery in the 7th arrondissement. There is also of course the Palais de Tokyo, a must for art aficionados. It is a building dedicated to modern and contemporary art and has the Tokyo Art Club with many exclusive events in the pipeline. The Christian Lacroix store, opposite the Hotel Le Bristol, transformed into the Musee de la Parfum with white flowers and various smells and other surprises. Off the beaten track in the 12th arrondissement on Boulevard de la Bastille is La Maison Rouge, the private museum, which was opened in 2004 by the political scientist and supermarket dynasty heir Antoine de Galbert. Numerous top collections, like those of Thomas Olbricht or Harald Falckenberg, have made their appearances at La Maison Rouge. Thematic and monographic exhibitions also take place here, as well as projects with artists ranging from Arnulf Rainer to Gregor Schneider.

What about some shopping? The Parisians are known to dress well and not surprisingly, there are plenty of guides on how to be and dress like a Parisian woman, such as Ines de la Fressange’s en masse. Montaigne Market and Chanel on Avenue Montaigne are my personal favourites, but Colette also has a great selection. Paul Smith, Azzarro, Roger Vivier, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin on Rue du Faubourg St Honore are perfectly situated and accessible. Isabel Marant on rue de Charonne in the 11th is more relaxed and Stella McCartney and Pierre Hardy in Palais Royale are beautifully located. Azzedine Alaia in the Marais is equally tempting. Around Rue St Dominque and Rue Cler in the 7th one can expect many bargains. For presents I recommend Sephora for perfumes, Taschen books on rue de Buci in the 6th, Diptyque candles or the delicious chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat and macarons from Pierre Hermé. For bigger presents perhaps Baccarat, Christophle or Hermes?

With children, a pleasant outing would be the Rodin gardens. After passing the roses there are two sand boxes tucked at the end behind the fountain, which provide shade during the summer. In the Tuileries gardens there is a trampoline, a carousel and a playground.The Invalides with its’ canons and Napoleon’s grave also have lots of grass squares to play football on. The Aquarium and Guignol marionnette theatre are great when it’s raining. The Jardin d’Acclimatation is a perfect, child-friendly entertainment place for a full day of fun. For children shopping go to Bonton, Jacadi, Bonpoint or Tartine et Chocolat.

 

Paris is also full of fabulous book shops. During the Belle Epoque privileged women like Countess Greffuhle’s held their salons inviting writers like Marcel Proust amongst their midst. Some years later, the American Gertrude Stein, opened her own book store, a place to mingle with the intellectual elite. These type of Paris salons don’t exist anymore, but literature still plays a great part in Paris culture. There are readings, book signings and Paris salons constantly on offer. My dear friend Michele Rossi organizes several prestigious prizes all year round. An exceptional place for English speakers is my preferred bookshop Shakespeare and Company in the 5th. Interesting readings take place there on Tuesdays and Sundays, there is The Other Writers Group where young writers can share their writing too.

For home decorations I suggest India Madhavi, Pierre Frey, Silvera, Christian Liagre or the more bohemian Merci on 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais. If you’re renting an apartment and would like to do some food shopping I recommend oysters and fish from the fish store on rue du Bac, Barthelemy cheese on rue de Grenelle, the official provider of L’Elysee (the President) or Petrossian for a fabulous caviar dinner. There are countless exceptional restaurants for dinner and it really depends what you are in the mood for. Excellent high-end choices are Apicius, Lasserre, Jule Verne in the Eiffel Tower or Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier. Fish lovers should go to Marius and Jeannette or Le Duc. The best meat in town is served at Chez L’Ami Louis and Stresa is the best Italian in Paris! After a play or opera the Closerie de Lilas or Brasserie Lipp are still open for evening escapades. Gilbert Costes has trendy restaurants all over town. Hotel Costes, Societe and Invalides are the best for evening occasions. Another cool option is Monsieur Bleu or Loulou, not far from the Louvre.

If you still have energy and feel like dancing, Castel is a fashionable lounge bar with retro cool spirit. You can have dinner in the main level restaurant before hitting the basement dance space that is consistently one of the best in Paris. More than a decade following its founder’s death, Castel remains a Paris nightlife institution with its famous street front perch in the 6th. Today, the club has been revamped by André Saraiva and Thomas Lenthal. Raspoutine is a totally different experience. Just walking through the front door you are swept into another time, long ago when clusters of harlots would clamor over visiting gentlemen amongst the dark nooks of this Paris bordello that later became a well known cabaret club and now is knows as a popular VIP boite for models, billionaires and fashion society. Silencio is another option, belonging to David Lynch, who has transferred his club in Mulholland Drive from screen to Parisian reality. Falling somewhere between private bar, arts club and nightclub, it is open only to members and their guests before midnight, though has free but selective entry after midnight. Situated deep underground in the building that once housed radical newspaper L’Aurore.

I hope I have tantalized your tastebuds and inspired a visit to one of the forever remaining romantic cities in the world, Paris!

Healthy Living in Cape Town

Santiago Lifestyle, Wellness July 2, 2017

by DC

When I moved to Cape Town three years ago from the beautiful and small city of Vienna in Austria, I thought I knew a lot about fitness and nutrition. Turns out there was so much more for me to explore and learn. These two topics are endlessly abundant to anyone who is willing to dive into the wonderful world of treating your body and mind well.

 

Somehow the combination of moving to another continent all by myself without knowing anyone and Cape Town being the magical place that it is, made me discover who I want to be, or better – who I am.

Being on my own in this new strange place, I had the freedom and motivation to wander. It did not take me long to realize what an amazing place this was for living a healthy and active lifestyle. You have the many beaches to take walks on and the mountains to hike on, which is a luxury that I was not used to and very much appreciate every single day. Besides these natural wonders that Cape Town has to offer, there is a wonderful variety of studios that provide just about any workout that my heart desires. Some activities I never knew existed, until I came across
them here.

 

In Vienna I loved going to the gym, doing weight exercises and cardio. In Cape Town, however, I have not set foot in a gym and I could not be happier. What motivates me the most is keeping my workouts exciting and being able to track my progress. This is the reason why my week consists of a few different workout forms that compliment each other and keep my routine from turning into a rut. After trying my fair share of different yoga and fitness studios, I have found the ideal mixture of yoga, pilates, cardio and meditation.

The very core of my fitness regime is my pilates reformer classes. I never knew how much awareness of my body I lacked before I had my first reformer class. The Reformer is an apparatus designed by Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates. It is essentially a carriage that moves back and forth along a frame. You use your own body weight in addition with springs that can be adjusted for the level of resistance that you need. The beautiful (and evil) thing about this machine is the precision it demands as you are constricted to staying along the grids of it. When I used to only do my stretching on the mat, I thought I was quite flexible, the reformer burst my bubble though. With no means to cheat my way to a deep stretch, I had to accept my beginners stretch abilities. I learned so many intricate details about how my my body moves, that I have never noticed before. I use muscles that I never even knew existed. I finally understand what good posture truly means. The best part for me is the huge variety of exercises on the reformer. It is so rewarding to notice how I gain strength and flexibility and therefore am able to add new exercises that used to be too difficult. My studio of choice is the beautiful Core Fit center in Sea Point. I attend private reformer classes every week with my angel of an instructor, Jenna de Beer. Having a background in dance and Ballet she has a vast knowledge about movement and fitness. Training with her with the breathtaking view of the ocean in the background is blissful.

The focus and body awareness that the reformer training teaches me is seamlessly applicable for my yoga practice. There are many definitions of yoga and just as many different forms of yoga. For me the best way to describe it is the connection of everything. It is the connection of the eight limbs of yoga: your ethical standards (yama), your self-observance (niyama), the postures practiced in yoga (asanas), your breath (pranayama), the withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara), your concentration (dharana), the practice of meditation (dhyana) and lastly the merging with the divine (samadhi). Reducing yoga to simply a physical practice, is therefore not doing this beautiful way of living any justice. Personally it is also a way of life. It is learning to use these eight aspects to attain a serenity that is essential to my own sanity. I am a highly sensitive person and being connected to my physical and spiritual body protects me from feeling too overwhelmed by the many different energies that float around us constantly. For some people it is easy to ignore negative energies but if you are sensitive like me it takes a lot of willpower and conscious awareness to be able to differentiate between your own and other peoples’ frequencies. In Austria I used to enjoy heated yoga a lot but I only learned here in Cape Town the importance of breath – a real challenge during heated yoga. I practice Vinyasa, a beautiful flowing sequence of poses which are synchronized with your breath, as well as Yin Yoga. I love treating myself to the very slow and gentle Yin where you hold restorative poses for a longer duration between 2-15 minutes or more. You will not get the usual workout high, but it will absolutely nurture your body because holding the poses for this amount of time activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is your rest and digest state. After some yoga studio hopping, I have found my personal yoga haven at the Shala on Dunkley square that offers amazing Vinyasa and Yin yoga classes in a serene and calming environment.

To keep my yoga practice playful, I discovered an ingenious way to combine the beauty of nature that Cape Town has to offer with the serenity of yoga. So when the weather is playing its part, and the very strong southeasterly wind named the “Cape Doctor” is calm, I indulge in Stand up Paddle yoga at the Camps Bay Tidal Pool. It is such an exciting way to take your yoga practice to another dimension. The boards by Boga Yoga are broad enough to provide good balance and it has a yoga mat-like surface so you don’t slip. The beautiful Bianca Jade of SUP Cape Town takes the class. We start with a paddle around the tidal pool that’s surrounded by the famous Camps Bay beach and the 12 Apostles mountain range. We then anchor our boards so we do not float away and start the yoga. The postures are modified with a lot of focus on core work to keep your balance. Lying, sitting, standing on the board I let my eyes wander from the blue of the ocean to the distinct shape of Lions Head – all the way to the magnificent Table Mountain. In my mind I am speechless every time I take in these views. After one hour of balancing postures on the board we end it in Shavasana (corpse pose) – I sway gently on the board and tap my fingers in the cool water – if there is anything that will bring up a deep feeling of gratitude, it is this moment.

 

For a while I got so immersed into my pilates and yoga practice that I never thought about cardio. Since Cape Town is a city where you drive everywhere, there is not much opportunity to get some casual cardio in. As opposed to living in Vienna where I would run all over town to get to places. Luckily through a friend I found an amazingly intense work out that gives you just the right dose of cardio spikes to last you for a few days. Barre body, also called bar method, is a workout that combines ballet moves with core conditioning, pilates, yoga and light weight training. You typically have a bar like in a ballet class which you can use for balancing, some light weights, a squishy ball and upbeat music. The win win is that it fuses cardio with strength training, meaning you are burning fat while building muscle. The Barre Body Studio in Green Point is the perfect spot to sweat it all out in a supportive all female class, that blasts beautifully girly and motivating music. The cherry on top is the super fit power woman of an instructor Jessica Munnell. You can picture her as the drill sergeant of the fit girl world. Doing every exercise with us whilst motivating us with her empowering words through the headset. She makes me endure a whole hour of sweat drenched cardio madness with a big smile on my face. That is close to a miracle.

Engaging my body in all these forms of exercise requires me to also rest and take care of myself properly. Nutrition is therefore extremely essential to my wellbeing and happiness. It took me moving continents to discover all the beautiful and diverse aspects of a healthy diet. In the beginning of my Cape Town experience I indulged in the excellent meats you can get around here but as time passed I grew more and more conscious of my own self and the environment. Finally, I became meat free and around the same time I also stopped enjoying alcohol. Cape Town is a wonderful place if you are a wine loving meat eater but it is even more wonderful a place if you love exploring vegan and vegetarian options. Luckily some of my new favourite places opened just in time to fulfil my new found herbivore cravings. Something I never used to understand was fermented food. In Austria “Sauerkraut” is a big thing and I did not bother to give it a second thought. Nonetheless when Sexy Food, a place serving fermented food and drinks ranging from Kimchi to Kefir, opened I was intrigued. The ancient process of fermenting food preserves it, creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and very importantly various strains of probiotics. As just about 70 -80% of our immune system is located in our digestive system, supporting a healthy gut is not just a question of wanting good digestion but also great overall health. Eating food that tastes delicious and has major health benefits is a no brainer for me. Spending time at Sexy Food, with its walls cladded with wood and beautiful Himalayan salt blocks, it is always inspiring to learn what is possible solely with
mindful nutrition.

Just as delicious, but coming from a different angle of vegan food, is Scheckter’s Raw in Sea Point. Much frequented after my Pilates, for my weekly matcha flapjack fix. The name gives it away – only serving raw food with a few nourishing cooked dishes, which I personally prefer. The owner, Toby Scheckter, has a playful and open minded attitude to food and you can taste and see it in his experimental creations.

 

Although going out to these amazing restaurants is a treat each time, I do love making my own food. Just being able to know what ingredients exactly were used makes a big difference in how comfortable I feel. Awhile ago I got very fed up with the amount of trash I produced by solely going to a supermarket to by fresh produce. Every little chili was packaged in plastic. Some of it not even recyclable. Interestingly, I feel that the more yoga, mindfulness and body awareness I was integrating in my daily life, the more conscious I grew of my impact on the environment. The answer to my supermarket struggle is the wonderfully magnificent Oranjezicht Famers Market at the Waterfront. Every week on Saturday I shop all my fresh produce that comes from local small farmers. Additionally, I can stock up on groceries like honey, grains, olive oil – anything really that I need to make nourishing meals at home. The best part of it all is that it is all locally made, much tastier and you get to meet the people behind the great organic products.

Cape Town is my paradise in every sense. This special place has helped me transform into the conscious human being that I always wanted to be. I hope reading this might inspire you to come see this magical place for yourself at the very southern tip of Africa.

YOGA

Santiago Lifestyle December 2, 2016

Whilst the variety of schools, practices and goals are far-reaching, the core origins of yoga date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, mainly found in classical Buddhist, Hindu and Jainism texts. Yoga has been around for centuries, with The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali dating back to the first half of the 1st Millennium CE. The West, however, have only since the mid 19th Century, began fully embracing yoga. It was guru Swami Vivekananda who was one of the first to introduce the yogic philosophies to Europeans and the Americans in the 1890s. Celebrities began building public acceptance of yoga through their personal endorsement and soon enough yoga was being practiced around the world. Today, the Wests popularization of yoga is mainly as a form of physical exercise, focusing on Vinyasa yoga, Hatha and its asanas. Madonna swears by it, Gwyneth Paltrow lives by it and Jennifer Aniston admits she would not be who she is without it. As our society becomes more health conscious and connected we see a surge in practices such as yoga and meditation. In the USA alone yoga grew from four million practicing in 2001 to twenty million in 2011. Barack Obama stated “yoga has become a universal language of spiritual exercise…crossing many lines of religion and cultures.”

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Why Yoga?

As we become more connected (digitally) so do we become more disconnected, from nature and from humanity. With more time spent on cell phones and laptops than ever before and cities seeing stress levels sky rocketing, it is no wonder people have been on a desperate search for more peace. In our highly chaotic lives, rarely do we find the time to notice our breath. Breath, a powerful tool used in yoga to quieten the mind. Thoughts of what we need to do: future, and what has happened: past, are set aside during practice as one relishes the present moment, by noticing our breath. Sounds simple, but try putting aside the endless to do lists and thoughts and you will soon realize how cluttered our minds really are. It is through discipline and continual practice of yoga, however, that some peace and tranquility will undeniably find its way into your life. Overtime, leaving your yoga class will bring feelings of ease with yourself and your surroundings.

As yoga becomes more popular, more research into its health benefits have been discovered. Scientists are now able to show a direct correlation between yoga and physical health. Dean Ornish, a follower of Swami Satchidanada, connected yoga to heart health, legitimizing its benefits beyond the more skeptical esoteric ones. Yoga has been used to treat cancer patients as it is said to decrease depression, insomnia, pain, and fatigue as well as anxiety. The American College of Sports Medicine has acknowledged yoga as beneficial in bringing ‘mental, physical and spiritual awareness’ and a great tool for stretching, breath control and core strength. The strength which yoga provides is long lasting as the body is trained from the inside out, with focus going beyond your external body image. By strengthening the muscles around the spine and core, everything that operates around this area is improved: posture to shoulders, neck ache and back alignment. Yoga is particularly beneficial, therefore, for those sitting at a desk all day.

The functioning of respiratory, circulatory, digestive and hormonal systems is vital to our overall health and wellbeing and another feature which yoga benefits. The digestive system is rebooted, relieving all forms of internal discomfort and allowing for a healthy tummy which results in a healthy mind. It is found that those doing yoga naturally adopt healthier eating habits too. Soon the need for a chiropractor or doctor will begin to fade as we realize the power of self-healing; how our bodies have the miraculous ability to heal themselves.

Preserving our health is the best medicine, yet often we wait for something major to happen before we decide to take care of our bodies. Yoga can be seen as a powerful preventative tool and the best remedy for longevity. Unlike some of the intimidating gym classes, where only the youngest and fittest attend, yoga is open to all generations and fitness levels. From young models to middle-aged moms; bodybuilders to old hippies; even children, yoga does not discriminate. ‘Age is a matter of the mind, if you do not mind it does not matter.’ The point is to leave your ego and insecurities at the door and come as you are. Yoga reminds one to be humble. Whilst instant gratification is what our Western minds often expect and seek, yoga’s main benefits are gradual. Patience and discipline are key but the result is lasting transformation. Unlike the monotonous gym routine, leaving little space for stillness and reflection, yoga strengthens the body but more importantly, the mind as well (‘moshka’ or liberation via ‘nrodha’ – mental control.)

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Yoga Styles

The wide variety of yoga styles allows the practice to be accessible to all who welcome it into their lives. You can tailor the practice to suit your lifestyle and level. If you are looking for fitness and detoxifying, hot yoga or Bikram is a powerful cleansing practice and very popular in cities around the world. For those wanting to have a restorative, deeper muscle stretch, yin yoga holds poses for longer, allowing for greater opening. There is also power yoga, for a more physical workout, Vinyassa Flow, kid’s yoga and even prenatal yoga.

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International Day of Yoga

The 21st of June is International Day of Yoga (IDY). An initiative of The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and is recognized by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). On 21 June 2015, 35000 people, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, performed 21 yoga asanas for 35 minutes at Rajpath, New Delhi, establishing two Guinness World Records for the largest yoga class with the greatest diversity of nationalities. The day is now celebrated around the world with events even taking place in cities such as Cape Town, South Africa. This year, five hundred people came to celebrate their love for yoga with family and friends in a warehouse in Woodstock, organized by LOKOH, a collective and social enterprise based in Cape Town. The intention behind IDY is for yogis around the world to celebrate their passion for yoga and share this with their family or friends in the hopes that they too may to discover the great benefits it brings.

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Yoga Retreats Around the World

Yoga can be practiced anywhere: on your front porch or garden, in your room, in your office in the city or a studio down the road. If you are looking to dive straight in with a holistic experience of yoga, an exotic yoga retreat may be the perfect way to start. These resorts around the world are some of the most luxurious and healing. Recharge those batteries and experience world-class teachers, delicious cuisine and the very best rustic and
luxurious spas.

Obonjan Festival, Sibenik, Croatia

Sail across the Adriatic Sea from Šibenik and you will soon come across a small island called Obonjan. Only an hour and a half from Split, the island is surrounded by turquoise waters and the land is covered in olive and pine trees. With only six kilometers of mainland, this mystical island is completely secluded from the rest of the world. The yoga classes range from beginners to advanced and take place throughout the day with sunrise salutations and sunset restorative classes. London’s top yoga teachers are flown in to share their practice with you offering acro, vinyasa, yin and yoga nidra. Imagine stretching under the shade of pine trees with a panoramic view of the ocean; the island breeze cooling you off after a heated vinyasa series.    

At the Zen Den Spa you can indulge in a range of alternative healing therapies such as reiki, hypnosis, deep tissue massage and Raynor (a blend of Eastern and Western massage). Skin and tonic facials are done with organic, natural face products serving as a reminder to be aware of what we put on our very absorbent skins. If you are looking to detox, the Zen Den includes a raw food café with spiralized beetroot and zucchini salads, watermelon zinging smoothies and ginger mornings (grapefruit, lemon and ginger juice). They cater for all allergies with gluten free breads and homemade spreads are served all day with divine raw cakes made from natural sugars. If raw and vegan is not your thing, delicious fresh fish and meat options are on offer at the east harbor restaurant called Bok, overlooking the pool and dance floor. When you are not doing yoga there are workshops, inspiring talks, boxing classes and even star gazing at night with some added insight into astronomy. Off-island adventures include a nautical paradise excursion through the Croatian archipelago with a stop off at the magical Kornati National Park, a breathtaking sight of waterfalls and karst-limestone dating back to the Neolithic Ages.

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Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand

For a more traditional experience, travel across the globe to New Zealand where a remote ashram-style yoga retreat awaits you. At Anahata, the aim is to get yogis back to basics. Expect incredible serene views of Golden Bay where you will live atop a mountain in the midst of native bush. The environment is aimed at fostering personal growth and clarity with specially targeted practices for each individual. Yoga ranges from introductory to deeper esoteric yoga but is made simple and accessible to all. The integral system at Anahata provides a step-by-step approach to dealing with the chaos of our modern world so one is well-equipped when leaving the retreat. Regardless of age, experience or social background you walk away from Anahata with tools for self-love, peace of mind and a healthy body full of energy and inspiration. One yogis review reflects on how one “starts to really think about what you’re giving to the world and how you’re taking care of it.” (A. Blair, BookYogaRetreats.com)

The accommodation is eco-friendly with hotel-style rooms and private strawbale houses offering daily, weekly and monthly stays. Locally sourced vegetarian food is hand-picked from the garden, providing simple but fulfilling meals. Personal growth is practiced through the Satayanada tradition with simple daily routines of hatha, mantras, walking, chanting, cooking and gardening. Karma, which literally translates to action or work, is a form of yoga offered at Anahata consisting of working with meditative awareness. This dynamic form of meditation encourages one to live in the present, witnessing our inevitable thoughts but remaining unattached to results. It is not uncommon for us to be so caught up in preparing for the future: stressing to reach our targets; planning the next party to go to; people to see; places to be and whilst doing so, missing the moment we are in right now. At Anahata, karma yoga is in the form of helping in the garden, cooking food for one another and sharing in the simple activities around the retreat.

Como Shambala, Bali, Indonesia.

If you are looking for something a little more refined and lavish head over to the tropical paradise of Indonesia where you will find Como Shambala. The Como Hotels are best described as understated luxury with a focus on wellness and healing. The Como Shambala retreat in Bali was voted this year by Conde Nast Traveller Awards as the ‘Best Destination Spa’ and Bilanz’s ‘Best Holiday Resort.’ Bali is known for its lush landscapes and magical beaches, a perfect location for a yoga getaway. The aim at Como Shambala is to immerse its guests in nature and offer experiences which have lasting improvements on your lifestyle. The wellness program runs for three, five or seven nights with therapies and yoga styles designed to fulfill whatever you desire: be it relaxation, detox or deep healing. The Balinese yoga teachers offer a full program of varied yoga and meditation techniques.

The accommodation is made to feel like a home away from home with villas, suites and houses for the individual, couple or family. You are immersed in a natural forest with wild (but maintained) jungle and the glorious River Ayung flowing nearby. The river, with its own sacred spring, is revered by the locals for its healing properties. The cuisine ranges from traditional Indonesian at Kudus House or raw, health conscious options from the Como Shambala Restaurant. Flexibility is imperative and their offerings are indulgent or light depending on your preference. If you are partaking in the full yoga and healing retreat, a resident nutritionist and Ayurvedic doctor will be found on site at all times to help you create the perfect diet. The outdoor services on offer are uniquely designed with bamboo bridge climbing, trekking through rice paddies and visiting the local Sebali village to learn more about the Indonesian culture. One can even take a bike ride through the wild jungle gorges to the sacred spring of the Ayung River.

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Haramara Retreat, Mexico

Last stop, Mexico, where we you will find Haramara, a yoga retreat in its truest form. Haramara was built using all the basic principles of the yogic life materialized into one location where true transformation can take place, a safe place surrounded by natural beauty. Using the eightfold path of yoga, Sajeela, the founder, created a space that would allow everyone to heal together and become whole. Haramara (Mother Sea) is an exclusive and intimate sea side retreat with a superior mind, body and spirit yoga package, encompassing all the elements. The incredible Pacific Ocean coastline views and Sierra Madre Mountains allows one to completely disconnect from the pressure of work life, city life or family life. It is an idyllic place for yoga with the yoga shalas providing full panoramic views of the jungle landscape, perfectly placed for sunrise and sunset salutations. The classes are customized with great focus on meditation and breathing. The energizing yoga breath is taught as a tool to take home, a way to return to balance when faced with stressful situations.

The food is a perfect mix of heartiness and rustic charm with catering for all pallets. Expect gourmet, organic Mexican food with a menu that changes daily, depending on what is locally available and fresh. Head to Larimar, an open air wellness center, for relaxation and renewal. The spa aims to reconnect you with nature whilst healing the body and mind through private treatments. Ayurvedic treatments as well as beautifying therapies and are on offer. The environmentally conscious retreat has been designed with minimal impact and remains at one with the spirit of the land. Everything is hand-built using traditional methods and the casitas, cabanas and dormitories have no electricity or wifi, encouraging guests to reconnect with nature (and disconnect from their digital devices) so they may fall asleep to the breaking of the waves against the shore in luxurious hand woven sheets. There are hot, outdoor showers with magnificent views and hammocks to laze around in all day.

Leave these retreats feeling glamorous and rejuvenated, ready for the next holiday adventure. Prioritizing relaxation time for you, or you and your partner, is essential. Whilst a party in Ibiza, Mykonos or the South of France is a must do over the summer months, it often leaves one feeling as though we need a holiday from the holiday. A yoga retreat offers you this balance. Whether you are looking to better your yoga practice or just desire some personal reflective time, the best investment one can make is in themselves and their wellbeing and yoga is a great way to start!

Coming in from the cold SIBERIA NIGHTCLUB

Santiago Lifestyle May 7, 2015

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Moscow’s Siberia restaurant stands as one of the last bastions of the city’s luxury nightlife. It is located in one of the central streets surrounded by impressive mansions and old churches.

This mansion belonged to a renowned member of the Russian intelligentsia, Professor Rosanov and is a fine example of architecture of the classical period. As such it is the ideal choice for the Russian restaurant.

The interiors maintain the classic tradition with its high ceilings, wooden floors and numerous chrystal chandeliers surrounding the enormous Tsar chandelier hanging in the middle. The decorations – fresh flowers, expensive fabrics and massive furniture – all unite to create an atmosphere that is both chic and cozy.

The restaurant is divided into four zones: a main section on the ground floor, and above, balconies, chimney areas, and an open summer terrace on the rooftop, all of which makes The Siberia suitable for many different kinds of occasions.

The idea to create “a trendy Russian restaurant” in Moscow came to the owner’s mind after he had tested the concept in Russian

regions. ‘The name Siberia is a quintessence of everything Russian – taste, tradition and soul.” – he explains.

While the restaurant bears the imprint of the owner at every turn, he prefers to remain anonymous. There are rumours that he loves the place so much and gives to it so much attention that he even plays music there sometimes. One day when you are there, you may be lucky enough to hear one of his pieces!

Certainly his recipe for an exclusive club works. While everybody has been forecasting the demise of Moscow’s nightlife, Siberia celebrates another anniversary in February, catering to the tastes of Russian A-listers and the international luxury crowd. All this with neither a famous chef,  a famous designer, or an owner-brand like Novikov or Costes.

DSC_7555“Russian customers are difficult to please,” says the owner. “They want everything in one place: excellent food, the best live music and to be able to dance to the beats of famous DJs. So we have created just this kind of place for them”.

And indeed, Siberia caters for every taste, no matter what –  a quiet dinner with friends or loved ones on the summer terrace accompanied by perfectly selected chamber music or a loud party with friends featuring a concert by famous Russian bands, followed by electro music – its all here.

Particular attention should be paid to the food here. A homegrown chef, Mikhail Simagin, has recast the Russian cuisine adding an international flavor. The accent is on local products of the best quality. The food is cooked without adding any artificial colorants, flavors or preservatives. “We want the best quality for our clients. We bring the dairy products from the local farms, fresh fruits and vegetables from Uzbekistan and deliver wild fish and seafood directly from our suppliers in Japan and Russian Far East”, insists the owner. The salad with crab and bottarga caviar and the Pistachio raspberry roll for dessert are to ‘die for’.

For the cocktail-lovers, there is a specially created cocktail menu with rare and exotic ingredients – a broth of cones, berries of sea buckthorn and other specifically Russian products. In addition, the classic and exotic cocktails also deserve the highest praise. For example, The very first sip of ‘The Ultimate’ cocktail conjures a wild Caribbean island.

So what’s next? Given the growing popularity of the Russian cuisine and culture abroad and the versatility of the concept, the owner has plans to export the concept abroad. Maybe soon, we will be celebrating life in Siberia Dubai or Siberia London, savouring the experience of  Russian style wealth, taste and beauty.

Geneva Motor Show HIGHLIGHTS

Santiago Lifestyle May 7, 2015

IMG_9801IMG_9821Inside the Future

With no hint of irony, this year’s Geneva motor show introduced a feature that may spell the end of the motor car as we know it.

Provisionally known as the Mercedes F 015, this lumbering beast, almost twice the size of a normal vehicle, is not a car. It’s a driverless machine that lifts the veil on the future in a consideration of the way autonomous technologies will soon rule us.

More like a boat or plane, it specifically enables all the things that are illegal when driving normally. Seats that are arranged facing each other, can also recline like orthopaedic beds for sleeping. Bored with long journeys? No worries: screens surround you on which to watch movies, select music, browse photos and chat with friends.

Offended by endless suburban vistas of parking lots, automobile concessions and shopping malls? Relax: Mercedes have mooted the possibility of windows morphing into screens that can run ravishing vistas of superb scenery. When this early prototype becomes reality, it will be, for those that can afford it, the ultimate ‘escapemobile’.

Meanwhile the big beasts of the supercar world have reason to get restless. It would be difficult to imagine more polar opposites to the concept of the F 015 than the latest generation of supercharged monsters that can attain speeds of over 200 mph in less than a minute. 

If trends continue, private yachts will be the size of ocean liners,  corporate jets will fly at speeds close to that of sound itself and luxury cars will travel faster than most small aircraft today. 

For the drivers of these fearsome machines, this is the perfect test of extreme precision and fearlessness; these cars are as far as it’s possible to go in exaltation of the pure act of driving for its own sake.

The brands that produce these miracles of engineering are rather like competitors in body building contests. Like the champs of muscle tone, everlastingly striving to ‘bulk up’ their gorgeous glutes and perfect pecs, manufacturers and designers are linked in a firestorm of effort to reach an engineering millennium of untrammelled speed. Half a second saved off the time taken to go from 0 to 100kmph; a couple of extra kilometers in consumption per litre; a touch more torque (or is it less?); ever more explosive throttle; yet lighter carbon composites!

It’s obvious that not everyone wants to drive a supercar – even if they could afford one. Even so, the whole car industry takes its cue from the supercharge category. All cars are sold in terms of speed and capacity and these are presented in ways that place the driver centre stage.

It’s equally obvious that the looming trend towards driverless cars is likely to pinch the miracle workers of high speed cars where it hurts. The reaction is the macho hyperbole increasingly seen in the blurbs written about supercars, which is moving from hype to hysteria with the speed of one of their own supercharged vehicles.

Here for your amusement are two such examples .

Of the Jaguar F type RAW coupe: ‘… staggeringly pretty, big chested power, hairy chested handling…’

Of the Lexus LF:  ‘…(the driver) hurled the squirmy, squidging LS into a glorious smoketastic slide…’.

Dreaming of the Future.

The advent of commercially available driverless cars is at least ten years or more away. At that point a widening gulf may open up between itinerant couch potatoes and neurotically competitive speed merchants with not much in between.

Until then, superbly fine tuned instruments of locomotion will continue to hold sway, their owners undeterred that the feeding, protecting and preening of their gleaming monsters compares unfavourably in terms of time and cost with looking after an endangered species in a zoo.

Some of the best were paraded at the Geneva Motor Show.

Audi R8 V10. UK prices for the standard model are now confirmed as £119,500 for the ‘base’ V10 and £137,500 for the 602bhp V10 Plus.

Amongst the interesting options available are, a $500 cowhide interior, (the best money can buy) and a Bang and Olufsen surround sound system which consists of upto  sixteen speakers each of which is shaped like the grille of the car. 

The car will rival the latest Porsche 911 and will initially only be available with a twin-clutch S-tronic transmission and a V10 engine with either 533bhp or 602bhp outputs. The faster V10 Plus model covers 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and hits 205mph flat-out.

An even more laudable achievement is Audi’s all-electric 456bhp R8 e-tron model with 920Nm of torque, a range of 276 miles and a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds. It entirely squashes the notion that electric means creeping about in the slow lane.

Lexus LFS.

“… a vehicle that redefines the supercar of the 21st century” .

Quoted as costing in the region of a whopping £343,000.

This is an extraordinary car that moves from 0 to 100 kmph in just 3.7 seconds. It also can reach a top speed of 325kmph. Another matter of note is that it will feature a carbon fibre plastic shell that has been developed in house. They have also collaborated with Yamaha to produce an engine noise tuned to perfect pitch.

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Tesla P85D.

Elon Musk swears that the latest up-market rear wheel model removes all lingering worries about coming to a grinding halt unintentionally. As he puts it:

“Now it is basically impossible for a Model S driver to run out of range unintentionally. Presuming he is right, then this will be the world’s first electric car capable of driving along highways and motorways. The car does 244 miles on a single battery – changed in three and a half hours.

This pioneering vihecle will set you back $109,000 (£86, 950 in the UK).

Jaguar F type RAW coupe.

The show saw the fastest and most powerful saloon in the Jaguar’s history make its European debut. It’s the latest roll-out of the F-TYPE sports saloon range, dubbed the  XFR-S. Jaguar Global Brand Director Adrian Hallmark described it as “…a car of incredible potency…a visceral blend of power, driver involvement and control.”

 

Powered by the same 550PS 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine as the XKR-S, the new model can reach 60mph in 4.4 seconds from a standing start; with a top speed of 186mph.

The new 495 PS F-TYPE was joined by classic Jaguar XK 120, C-Type, D-Type and E-Type sports cars in a ‘Jaguar Bloodline’ sports car convoy to the Geneva Auto Salon.

Cost, depending on model £51,000 to £91,000 (5 models). 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds; top speed 186 mph; bhp

Mercedes AMG GT3.

Cost $ 456,500; 0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds; 0 to 100 in 7.0 seconds; top speed 187mph.

Like most GT racing cars the Mercedes has been widened drastically compared with the road car. The result is a machine that’s not quite as elegantly proportioned. The racer’s built around the aluminium shell of the road car, comprehensively reinforced with a substantial rollcage. Pretty much everything else is carbonfibre: the bonnet, the doors, front wings and boot lid.

It’s tamer cousin, Mercedes-Benz C63 S is very much a performance car with thrilling touches borrowed from it’s track relative.  To remind you of this there are numerous design touches such as front wings that flare out and a low seat.

Also under the bonnet of this sober-looking saloon is a wet-sumped version of the AMG GT sports car’s 4.0 V8 Biturbo. Rest to 62mph is dealt with in four seconds flat but the car is limited to 155mph.

BMW i8.

Dual power electric/petrol.

Cost £94,545; 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds; 42 mpg; three hours to charge battery.

So there you have our dream cars. Having stumped up anything from £100,000 to over £1 million, the next problem is finding enough road to run on without speed restrictions.

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