Master Intensive Program @ Istanbul

I have to be honest here. It took a long time of inner debate for me decide to do this intensive program. There a few main reasons why I wished to do it: 1. I was struggling with much emotional imbalance and needed to do long hours of yoga and meditation to clear up emotional blockage as well as my head. 2. The yoga teacher Chris Chavez that led the program is a great teacher and it seemed too good an opportunity to pass on. 3. I really missed Mert (my Turkish askim) – which was also the reason why I wasn’t sure about the idea of going.

Of course, I ended up staying for 16 days in Istanbul, completed the yoga program in this beautiful city and had an absolutely gratifying experience.

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Let me borrow the sentences from Cihangir website: In this Master Intensive, Chris guided guide us through the mystery and magic of the Upanishads. Using these ancient scriptures we went deep in study, practice, pranayama and meditation. This intensive was open to everybody who seeks to deepen their understanding of the journey we are all on. This program counts towards the Cihangir Yoga 300 Hour Transformative Yoga Path.

This was the description of the program but in fact it was so much more. Chris is the most personable yoga teacher I have ever met and I have taken a lot of classes with a lot of teachers. He treats every student of his as his friend and turns the most technical terms into something most easily understandable. He is a wise teacher as well as a humble student. Being a yoga instructor myself, I admire him greatly and have much to learn from him.

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And sunsets in Istanbul are most unforgettable…

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Frida Kahlo: A Style Inspiration

Frida Kahlo is a true legend that clearly needs no introduction. Despite a lifetime of obstacles and pain, she was an ingenious and inimitable painter as well as a resilient and passionate lover of life. She had devoted all of her kaleidoscopic ways to her idiosyncratic art, countless tempestuous affairs, and more importantly, love. But today we are going to focus on her iconic dress sense which continues to dazzle and inspire even to this day.

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Maxi Dress & Skirt with a Twist

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Frida contracted polio at the age of 6, which stunted the growth of her right leg, and experienced a dreadful trolley accident as a teenager, which left her bedridden for almost a year. Because of this series of unfortunate events, she opted for maxi dresses and skirts partially intended to disguise her imperfections. In addition, the vibrant colors of nature in her garden not only inspired her paintings, but also the eclectic patterns in her unique choices of clothing.

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Valentino Resort Collection 2015

Anything Frill

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Natives of the South of Mexico, Frida and the Tehuana dress had an inseparable link. She was almost always seen in a Tehuana dress with the beautiful white frill, implying her tremendous pride in her vivid Mexican heritage and deep-rooted attachment to her country.  It also contributed to the colorful composition of her abundant self-portraits which made her one of the most significant surrealist painters of all time. Moreover, we have to admit that a beautiful flowing dress with a frilly hemline has an incredibly feminine flair and flirtatious touch.

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Valentino Resort Collection 2015

Rebozo / Giant Scarf 

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A Rebozo is a traditional Mexican scarf. Frida wore it constantly, suggesting her immense vulnerability and self-consciousness. Nonetheless, they are usually called shawls in other parts of the world and you can see them in every Parisian corner. It is the perfect transitional piece and a must-have in your fall and winter collection. Wear a big bright-hued scarf with your minimalist outfit to add some extra color and warmth.

Statement Jewelry

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I used to purchase a lot of earrings whenever I went to a boutique because they are my favorite type of jewelry. I bought feather earrings, indigenous culture inspired earrings, rhinestone earrings…pretty much any kind you could think of. But now I just wear my tiny Chanel clovers because I have grown too lazy to take them off before showers (I know, I know…It’s such a bad habit). Regardless, a distinctive piece of statement jewelry can easily brighten up your entire outfit. A plain black sweater may be a bit boring? Add a turquoise necklace. Having a bad hair day? Wear a pair of statement earrings to draw more attention to your beautiful features.

Floral Headpiece 

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The signature look of Frida was an ensemble of a slightly updated Tehuana dress and a tightly braided bun with a floral headpiece. The flowers brought out her intense, brooding eyes and their vivacity was pertinent to Frida’s inherent pain and dark beauty. Although it seems unrealistic to wear a floral headband in daily life, it is a splendid addition to your festival outfits or wedding gowns.

Strong Brows

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I have naturally very thin eyebrows which have been kinda of bothering me since I entered adolescence. For those who are blessed with thick brows, I have only one advice: “NEVER overly pluck them.” They are so beautiful and add great definition to your face. I am not gonna say, “Oh look at Cara Delevingne or any other “It girl” with thick brows.” But keep in mind, looking more “au naturel” is always better for any age.

Shakespeare and Co. – Where Willy Wonka meets Shakespeare

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I became fascinated with Shakespeare and Co. when I watched the movie Before Sunset in which Julie Delpy got a glimpse of Ethan Hawke at his own book signing at the bookstore. The second day I was in Paris, I went straight to the Rue de Bucherie on the Left Bank, opposite Notre Dame Cathedral, and almost weeped at the sight of Kesey and Ginsberg’s works on the shelves.

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Shakespeare & Company has been a literary institution in Paris since 1951, although its roots lie with bookseller Sylvia Beach in 1919. You might recognize her name; she was close friends with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein during the riotously fun “Roaring Twenties,” or as the French put it, Les Années Folles. If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, you know exactly what I’m talking about!

The place is inconspicuous on the outside yet has a unique charm that attracts tens of thousands visitors per year. When you walk in, it feels like a literary utopia where Willy Wonka meets Shakespeare. The walls are decorated with signed title pages and tens of thousands of books are causally piled up on the weather-beaten shelves. It’s like entering a time machine which brings you back to the lost generation.

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Soon after George Whitman opened the bookstore, he started housing several writers at a time, either published or aspiring, and these literary vagabonds came to be known as the Tumbleweeds. “Several million persons have walked in our door like tumbleweeds drifting in the wind,” George wrote in his letter from the editor in the second edition of The Paris Magazine, published by the bookshop in 1984, “and then walked out, their innocence lost, as free citizens of the cosmos.” He believed “we’re all homeless wanderers in a way,” and over the years, Shakespeare & Co. has welcomed wandering writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, James Baldwin, Julio Cortázar, Darren Aronofsky, and Dave Eggers.

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This is me in one of my favorite sections – music and film holding a book about one of my favorite directors and screenwriters, Woody;). Photographs are generally prohibited but it was a relatively hidden part of the bookstore.

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Paperbacks line red wooden steps leading upstairs to a “non-commercial” floor: a library in which you could lose yourself, with one rule: books mustn’t leave the premises. Here, as on the ground floor, single mattresses lurk between the shelves, and, in the children’s section, a bunk bed. It’s on these that young authors sleep each night.

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I read one blog post about the bookstore and I am going to end the post with the last paragraph. “As I leave, the western facade of Notre Dame is noisy with tourists. I cross the square, haunted by one of the messages tacked to the mirror. Hand-written by the mother of a 21-year-old bipolar man who killed himself by jumping off Brooklyn Bridge, it read: “I’ve spent the last hour trying to decide if I should end my life. If he could have discovered your bookshop, perhaps he would have survived. I want to thank you for this place and the hope it gives.” Not only does that seem to underline the redemptive power of literature, but also something less tangible: the balm of environment.”

Shakespeare & Company Bookstore

37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris
Metro Saint Michel Notre Dame (line 4, RER C and B)
Bus 24 (Stops Notre Dame or Maubert Mutualité) and 47 (Stops Notre Dame or Petit Pont)