“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde
THE yoga learning and teaching path …
Vinyasa yoga is my yoga of choice, I identify with it, rather than with a particular tradition or lineage. To me, vinyasa is the yoga that embodies in the most sensitive way the natural rhythmic pulsation of life, allowing us to spontaneously flow with grace and embrace change. My breath, body, and intuition are my only gurus. My main teacher, Mark Stephens skillfully initiated me into all the aspects, gross and subtle, of vinyasa yoga. Mark’s precious guidance through the last decade gradually led me to color and nuance both my practice and teaching so as to make it safe, sustainable, transformative, and intimate. After achieving my initial yoga teacher training with Mark, I began teaching private and public classes at Toadal Fitness and West Cliff Yoga in Santa Cruz, and then further completed my advanced in-depth training and studies with Mark.
During this journey, I have continued to deepen my knowledge and practice, through diving more deeply into yoga philosophy and particularly vedanta, exploring various yoga traditions from Ashtanga Vinyasa, Iyengar, Vinyasa Flow, and Tantra, all the while continuously training and getting inspired by numerous teachers, and more profoundly by Erich Schiffmann, Jason Crandell, Shiva Rea, Janet Stone, Jafar Alexander and Annie Carpentier.
Therefore, my teaching is naturally evolving, continually being reshaped by the array of genuine influences that cross my path and will take a new shade every day, drawing from the color palette made of life’s wonders and challenges constantly arising along the path.
As I step on my mat, I intend to engage, personally and my students, in a process towards deepening our inner awareness, i.e. clear seeing and unearthing our intrinsic beauty through attending the flow of our breath, nurturing our body, training our mind, all the while cultivating a sense of playfulness and equanimity in all. Yes, that is quite a project, ambitious, but not presumptuous!
I want all of us to engage in that process which is a refining of our skills to experience the fullest of our lives and make the world a better place.
… and now, the longer story!
Born and raised in France, Brittany more specifically, I am a daughter, a mother of two beautiful boys, a lover, a friend to many, a dedicated yoga student, and a RYT 500 yoga teacher living in Santa Cruz California. Corinne Marie-Jeanne Julienne Leblanc is my legal name, but I am also known as “Coco” since my dear french grandfather Jules named me so because I was reminding him of Coco Chanel, the French stylist. “Coco” stayed with me since then and the sound of it makes me happy. I am 10 years old in this picture, it was summer in France, and I still remember being mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of this very sunflower, my only one, unique sunflower. Did I waste enough time for it? Before stepping down the yogi path, I spent about 15 years of my life as a law student and a practicing lawyer, far from yoga.
I received a Law degree and a postgraduate degree (DEA Degree of in-Depth Studies) from the Université de Droit Paris II Panthéon-Assas, and a Masters’ Degree in International Legal Studies from Tulane Law School. Pursuant to the completion of the DEA thesis I wrote on the fiducie–sûreté, I started a scholarship under the guidance of François Terré, emeritus from Université de Droit Paris II Panthéon-Assas. My research was about the “sacred” principle of the relativity of contracts under French law. As I began to dive deeper into the theory, philosophy, and spirit of this principle, accessorium sequitur principale became unavoidable and required of me to parallelly refine my elementary knowledge of Latin. During this period of passionate academic study was growing the drive to “taste” the practice of law, bite some dust, and I decided to pause my scholarship after about a year and try out my skills in the game of real life. However, one needs to be admitted to and attend a professional school to be allowed to take the Bar Exam in France. There I was, back to school! I studied for a year at L’Ecole de formation du Barreau de Paris and was eventually admitted to practice law in Paris, and later on in California when my personal life brought me to the United States. I spent several years working between Paris and the U.S. as a lawyer in international law offices.
Motherhood made me slow down, pause my hurried pace on the lawyer path, and reflect more profoundly on my life. Yoga came to me then, initially as a healthy way to maintain my sanity during this intense period of my life as a lawyer and a new mom in Paris. I was finding respite in the shalas, and letting myself get out of my buzzing brain. Yoga also surfaced to me as a renaissance, reviving my body, making it flow and bend with the strength and grace I had already experienced and explored deeply as a dancer and a gymnast during my childhood. This aspect of the practice was and remains today a source of joy to me at many different levels. Yoga was still emerging back then on the Parisian scene. I had to travel all across Paris, use several subway lines before stepping into the yoga studio that I had carefully picked because it was located right next to a very fine boulangerie-pâtisserie where I was indulging myself with a délicieux “Paris-Brest” after each yoga practice. However, long working hours at the law firm, then restless nights were often compromising my plans to practice at the studio on a regular basis. Oh, and how was I missing my after-practice indulgence! That’s when I started to develop a personal practice, learning from yoga literature, notably Light on Yoga (B. K. S. Iyengar) and The Heart of Yoga (T. K. V. Desikachar ). I soon found another favorite pâtisserie close to our apartment located under the roofs of Paris 7e arrondissement, facing the Invalides and offering a peak on the Eiffel Tower, and this time I elected “le mille-feuille” as my new Péché Mignon, and dove deeper into yoga.
Yoga became a more integral part of my life after our family moved to California. I had tried out many classes, mainly Ashtanga and Vinyasa, numerous teachers before I found Mark Stephens. I will forever thank my dear friend Suzana for dragging me to his studio on the other side of Santa Cruz, when I was only longing for a nap on a sunny California beach while passively observing my happy progeniture eat some sand. I fell in love with Mark Stephens’ yoga teaching. Mark’s teaching is genuine, intelligent and lighthearted. I feel grateful I can continue to practice with him to this day.
When our children reached school age, I strongly aspired to get involved in their education and school. Thus, I am volunteering and working at Tierra Pacifica Charter School in Santa Cruz, where our children attend. I there taught French language and culture to primary schoolers for a few years, and I now principally help math students to embrace a growth mindset approach to their mathematical learning (I completed Jo Boaler’s mathematical mindsets training “How to Learn Math” and apply her curriculum in the classrooms).
Soon, I connected the dots, finding passion for teaching yoga. As of today, I continue exploring and deepening my study and practice with Mark, other teachers, and principally on my own.
Last, I am currently working on writing a book on yoga!
“Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand, placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others.”
I have not felt very different appearing in court in my lawyer’s robe pleading a case, raising my boys, perfecting a Soufflé au Fromage, investigating math mysteries or stepping down a Shala as a student or teacher; they indistinguishably require of me to be faithful to strong ethics such as those infusing my yoga practice, among those, satya (truthfulness), abyasa (self-discipline, persistence), vairagya (detachment to outcome), and svadhyaya (self-study, self-reflection).
Meanwhile, when not practicing yoga or trying out new recipes to satisfy my gourmandise (gravely distressed by the inexistence of a french boulangerie comme il faut in Santa Cruz), you can spot me surfing some soft waves at Cowell’s or in Biarritz, or simply day-dreaming, musing, and thinking aloud. Whatever game I play, nature, music, literature, family and friends, cats, earthly delights and love will accompany me along the journey.
“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.”