There is something about doing yoga close by the sea and the Hotel Martinez in Cannes is such a place which can be visited all year long. For me, it is a great place to visit particularly off season when there are no fairs and festivals and you have La Croisette almost to yourself.
Here I met Benny Barnabe who is part of the local yoga community in this Mediterranean town. She gives great classes at the Martinez beach and when it gets colder inside the Art Deco Palais. I love to practice with her after a long trip and although she is a native Canadian she knows Cannes inside out. Meet another sporty woman from our new series.
IRMA: What makes a yoga lesson at the Martinez so special?
BENNY BARNABE: A yoga class at the Martinez is a special experience because first off… it’s the Martinez! This is the iconic hotel of Cannes that continues to be the hub & pulse of the Croisette. I think people love that from an historic point. In summer early morning classes, it’s the quiet, the calm, and the view of the sea. During the indoor winter classes, it’s the privilege of being inside this grand Art Deco landmark and being able to practice.
IRMA: How would you spend an ideal weekend at the Martinez, from a health point of you?
BENNY BARNABE: My ideal health weekend at the Martinez would be, sunrise & sunset yoga sessions with Yoga in Cannes at the hotel of course ;), yummy fresh fruit/vegetable green juices at the beach bar, a swim and definitely an extended beach lounge savasana! I would take advantage of a spa massage or treatment of some sort. Walking around Cannes and enjoying a healthy juice or light meal at Juice Lab or Casa di Nonna, and a little fitness/yoga attire shopping at Lolë Atelier Cannes is a must.
IRMA: The best thing to do after a yoga session at the beach….?
BENNY BARNABE: Swim! Float! Smile!
IRMA: How do you get the most out of your practice? What is the best way to prepare for a yoga class?
BENNY BARNABE: The best way to prep for a yoga class is by making sure you haven’t eaten anything heavy at least one hour beforehand, especially in the mornings. I like to drink warm water with lemon, and try and keep quiet & calm before a practice. Of course that’s in an ideal world and mornings are often filled with rushing around, so getting to class a few minutes early to just sit and regain some peace and calm is very helpful to get the best out of your practice.
IRMA: You have lots of travelers who stay at the Martinez. Which asanas do you advise them to do after long travels?
BENNY BARNABE: The best thing to do post travel is to get the blood flow moving in the body again and to create space. We become stagnant from sitting on flights, trains, cars and boats. I’m a firm believer that Surya Namaskar A (sun salutation A) is the great healer! The combination of asanas flowing with the breath is a perfect way to get things moving again and to open the body. After sitting or even getting out of bed in the morning I like to burn off at least 3-5 of these to get the juices flowing and be ready for the day. Other poses that are great post travel are Goddess Squat and Malasana (deeper squat), which are really nice to open the hips, stretch out the thighs, and strengthen the lower back. These asanas are grounding poses which are nice to re-center yourself after landing in a new destination. Legs-on-the-wall (laying on back with butt at bottom of wall, then legs extended up) is a fab pose and the ultimate for swollen ankles or calves due to sitting too long. This inversion gets the blood flowing and relieves any leftover fatigue from a long, drawn out travel session. A must!
IRMA: Can you book a personal yoga class with you at the Martinez?
BENNY BARNABE: Along with the regularly scheduled group classes that I and Alice Watson-Smith (my Yoga in Cannes partner) lead, we also offer private classes to help any yogi go deeper into their own practice. The one-on-one attention and assistance in achieving postures you may have not thought were possible, is definitely a real treat!
Benny Barnabe is a Certified Yoga Instructor originally from Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in a unique and vigorous Vinyasa flow. Vinyasa yoga is a discipline that utilizes postures and breathing techniques. The continual movements, from one pose to another, gives you an added cardiovascular benefit, which more traditional forms of yoga do not have. The routine practice of vinyasa yoga can increase muscle strength, endurance and flexibility, and reduce levels of stress.
If you want to treat yourself to a yoga weekend at the French Riviera, you can enjoy complimentary yoga classes at the Hôtel Martinez.