Yogi Michele Baker began teaching yoga at a New Orleans athletic club in 1998. Ten years later, after Hurricane Katrina forced Baker to evacuate her home, she started writing a yoga-instruction training manual. She soon put it to use, using it as a guide to lead her staff at Swan River Yoga, which she opened with business partner Keith Porteous. Today, the yoga center helps pupils practice yoga and guides aspiring instructors as they hone their craft and nurture the third eye that sprouts from their forehead.
Yoga classes are suitable for a variety of skill levels, and range from prenatal and beginners’ yoga to Anusara yoga—a class that focuses on flowing movements and proper alignment. Swan River Yoga also provides holistic services such as massage, reiki, and acupuncture.
Taught by native French speakers, Alliance Francaise courses use language immersion plus video, audio, and textbooks to teach communication skills to students planning travel in the French-speaking world, seeking an advantage in the global business world, or craving a deeper understanding of cartoon skunks. Courses are offered at every skill level, which can be determined by taking Alliance Francaise's placement test (required for all new students except beginners). Classes are limited to 10 students to ensure every budding Franco-speaker gets individualized instruction. Today's deal includes the cost of a Connexions textbook and CD (normally $60), though it does not cover the cost of berets or berets stuffed with baguettes. Many courses meet on Saturday and weekday evenings to accommodate busy professionals and full-time students.
In Introduction to Improv, small enclaves of students familiarize themselves with the fundamental skills and vocabulary of long-form improvisation. The course focuses on scene work, group mind, and how to apply the art form to other avenues, such as rescuing ill-prepared PowerPoint presentations and committing gut-busting perjury in traffic court. Because improvisers learn best by experience and example, students begin playing onstage during the very first class and are encouraged to attend performances of The New Movement's troupes, nearly all of which are free for the entire corpus studious.
When Shanti Yoga Shala founder Nathalie Croix studies yoga, she does so directly from the source. On one of four trips to India over a 10-year span, Croix trained at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, honing her practice so that she could share her passion for the practice with students. She and her fellow instructors at Shanti teach Vinyasa yoga, a root form of Ashtanga that inspires flexibility and strength in a fluid sequence of poses. The studio welcomes students of all levels, and the schedule includes classes divided by difficulty as well as a handful of all-levels sessions. Regardless of the class, all students will learn how body alignment and proper breathing can soothe the mind.
Balance Spa at the Loews is like a social mixer for spa services: East meets West, water meets air, modern science meets time-tested treatments. And all of these convergences happen under the skilled eyes of aestheticians. In four treatment rooms they apply self-heating mud-packs to the spine and feet while aromatherapy calms the senses. The sea's bounty also becomes apparent with Phytomer products made from underwater plants that combat aging and help reduce the depth of wrinkles to keep people from filling them in with cement. The East meets West massage, meanwhile, combines muscle-soothing techniques from both hemispheres, readying the mind for a rejuvenating facial that mixes glycolic acid and proteolytic enzymes. Afterward, clients can draw on age-old hubs of well-being: the hotel's pool, fitness and wellness center, sauna, and whirlpool.