Be Still to Move Forward: Lessons from Paris

This post is a special contribution authored by Tioka Tokedira

I’ve always had a plan for my life, through high school to college to the start of my career, but then circumstances started wreaking havoc with my lists, deadlines, and grand ambitions. Some of the sidetracks were amazing surprises, like falling in love and moving to Paris. Some of the detours were heart-breaking, like struggling with infertility and miscarriages. If hard work doesn’t always work, if determination doesn’t always lead to the answer you want to hear, if those qualities, that are so often part of our modern-woman-DNA, aren’t enough, then what is?

I had no idea what the answer to that question might be or even a notion that I should dare to ask such a question, until a yoga class at a gym late one night. It was the last class on the schedule, 9:45-10:45 pm. I was still wired from my workday—yet another editorial meeting where I hadn't felt heard. The treadmill and weights had taken off the edge, but I wasn’t in the mood for sleep. I thought one hour of yoga would do it. 

I was expecting an energetic, light-hearted class, like ones I’d taken in NY. Instead, I walked into a room with white curtains, blowing under the ceiling fans, and yoga poses that were so gentle and subtle, they felt like a massage. I definitely did not imagine becoming a yoga and meditation teacher then, but that class did open me to the possibilities of using stillness to go further, using gentleness to unlock strength, and getting quiet to be heard. 

Twenty years later, I’m still a student discovering what yoga and meditation can add to my life. (Before COVID-19 I meditated once a day, now I’m definitely a two-times-a-day girl.) What I know for sure is that setting goals, and pushing forward on pure ambition gets you nowhere fast if you haven’t taken the time to get still and listen to the rhythm of your breath, to feel the vibrations of your heart beating, to truly be intentional about why you need anything beyond that in your life. 

As a New Yorker living in Paris, Tioka has practiced Yoga for more than fifteen years. She started teaching Hatha, Vinyasa, Nidra, and Meditation after a trip to Mysore where she fell in love with training and living a life dedicated to Yoga. Tioka is passionate about exploring ancient rituals and traditions, contextualizing them through science and today’s wellness options, to create curated classes. With a university degree in Education and a Masters in Anthropology from Columbia University, Tioka blends her experiences to move students through physical, emotional, and philosophical alignment towards a connection with their truest selves. Connect with her to schedule an online private session.

Instagram: @Tioka_Yoga


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