IT’S ALWAYS a delight to find that something you desire, but which seems out of reach, turns out to be available right on your doorstep.
Last summer when visiting my hometown, Montreal, my sister Pamela introduced me to the Canadian yoga, fitness and relaxation clothing brand Lolë; it was love at first sight of their beautifully tailored garments in a wide range of styles and colors in easy-to-care-for materials. Great for wearing in a yoga class, but also for everyday and evening wear.
So once back here I was really pleased to discover Lolë on my doorstep courtesy of a delightful boutique located near Plainpalais called the Yoga Shop.
Everything you could ask for
It’s fully stocked with everything you might want and need to practice yoga, from high-quality clothing for women (including, yippee!, Lolë) and men (and delightful yogi t-shirts, hats and bodysuits for tots) to bolsters, mats, blocks, straps ‘n belts, blankets, posters, books, cards, DVDs and some very hip jewellery as well as beautiful mala prayer beads made of wood, seeds or crystal.
The shop itself is a bright, colorful and inviting space that is the dreamchild of owner, yoga teacher and homeopathic adviser Lorène Deschenaux, clearly the source of the calm, healthy ambience the shop exudes.
Offering an occidental approach to yoga
Lorène opened the Yoga Shop in 2011 after finding her inspiration on a trip to the US. “As a yoga teacher people were always asking me where they could get a yoga mat so I was aware of the need existing in Geneva (for yoga merchandise). And then during a trip to Los Angeles I fell in love with a little yoga shop there and thought, this is so cool: it was obvious to me that the same could only work back here,” Lorène tells me.
She was keen to import the same “occidental approach” to yoga, one that she says allows you “to be beautiful, to enjoy yourself, and to stop feeling guilty about taking care of yourself and buying yourself clothes.
“Taking care of your body doesn’t mean that you’re superficial or obsessed with the physical. It’s about taking care of yourself on the outside and on the inside. An important concept in the shop is to allow yourself to be feminine, to be comfortable, to be bio (organic), and to respect the people who work on the clothes,” she says.
“My basic philosophy is that the clothes (sold here) are ethically produced, meaning no children work on their production, only adults who are respected and well paid.”
Highlighting natural products and ethical production
Lorène offers a carefully thought-through range of well-crafted garments that suits a variety of tastes, needs and budgets, and with an onus on all-natural clothing made with 100% cotton, organic cotton, modal, bamboo, and beech cellulose. A new brand available at the shop is Breath of Fire, a Swiss brand of ethical clothing for yoga, sports and wellness that’s made from the thickest, softest organic cotton that I’ve ever touched.
The clothing on offer allows wearers to “bring yoga out of the mat”, a philosophy Lorène learned early in her yoga teacher training, which means bringing the vision and values discovered through yoga into every moment of your life regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, whether that’s executing a sun salutation, lounging at home, or meeting friends for drinks.
So it’s important to her that the clothing she sells can be worn without sacrificing comfort, movement or wellbeing. (Some pieces that caught my eye are so elegant you could easily wear them for a chic evening out, so clearly, beauty and design is not sacrificed on the altar of functionality).
A yoga resource center
The Yoga Shop goes beyond just stocking yoga merchandise, however. It’s also a resource center for people who want to learn more about the philosophy and practice of the discipline in its various forms.
“I wanted to have a place where people could come if they had any questions about yoga classes, clothes, meditation, and workshops: I also like to do a lot of workshops so I go everywhere and check them out so that I can pass on information as clearly as possible. So my shop is like a meeting point for people who are curious about yoga, what it is and where to go, and they are reassured by what they find here,” Lorène explains.
A qualified teacher of Hatha yoga, she offers private, small classes (max. 2 persons, French/English) in yoga and meditation in a room at the back of the shop, which also serves as a consultation room where she advises on sympatico therapy and lifestyle reflexes. The best place to keep up with developments at the shop, as well as yoga courses and special events is via the Yoga Shop Facebook page.
The Yoga Shop is a great place to go if yoga is your passion, but even if it isn’t, you can’t help but be seduced by the beauty and craftsmanship of the sporty-chic garments you find there and by the shop’s relaxed and positive vibe, a reflection no doubt of its owner, who is a great ‘advertisement’ for living a yoga lifestyle if ever there was one.
The Yoga Shop, rue Jean-Violette 18, 1205 Geneva; Lorène Deschenaux: 078.626.49.76.