In a city like Paris, where it typically takes a few cafe au laits to turn the heart jets on, Catalina Denis stands out. No grey October skies can dampen this sunny South American spirit, who bounded into MyGinger Studio in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, arms outstretched, radiating her signature warmth as we limbered up for her yoga class. Hailing from Colombia, Catalina began her career as a model and actress, moving to France over 20 years ago before diving head-first into the world of yoga while recovering from an accident in her teens. Her practice has since flourished, taking her around the world, exploring all the avenues yoga therapeutic virtues, studying Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar and Kundalini before returning her to Paris, where she paves the way for the more holistic approach to wellness that is taking over the city with her uplifting and restorative movement classes. A true conduit for joy, she guided us and some of our most beloved French sisters through an immersive yoga session surrounded by projections of illuminated jungle scenes. We emerged utterly rejuvenated before shimmying over to her serene apartment in the 16th arrondissement for tea and financiers, where she shared some of her favorite spots for expanding one’s soul and for feeling truly well.
LA DOUBLEJ: You began your career as an actress but have since created your own booming wellness practice. What inspired your shift towards yoga and mindfulness, or has it always been a part of your journey?
CATALINA DENIS: Yoga and mindfulness have always been a part of my life. As you know, I’m Colombian, and my grandfather was a healer. I grew up watching him take naps with pyramids on his solar plexus, doing his breathing exercises, practicing his yoga and going with him on his hunt for treasures and magic plants that he would use for his remedies.
I had a very bad car accident when I was 17 years old and I was unable to walk for quite some time… Yoga came to my life as a savior! After every session, I would feel so much less pain and I started to regain mobility. Then came spirituality, thanks to the many beautiful lights that I started meeting along the way, in India but also in New York, in LA, in Paris, in Bali, and in Sri Lanka. Even on the corner of my street. Just like I met you guys right here at my home.
LDJ: You’re constantly exploring and expanding your skills and practice. Where have you been recently and what adventures do you have upcoming?
CD: This year, the traveling has been mostly inwards. There is one experience, though, that left a big impression, a Yahé ceremony in Pereira, Colombia. I had tried ayahuasca before, but this time the experience was amazing because it came out of the blue. I went to Colombia to see my father, who had been sick for a few months at that time and on my way to my hometown, I stopped in Bogota to give a joint session along with an amazing Gong Master called Ann Bessudo. A few hours after the class, I checked my Instagram and this guy that I didn’t know at all was inviting me to a Yahé ceremony in Pereira, 40 minutes from Bogota by plane. I didn’t even have to think about it – I said “YES!” I went to the airport and was on a plane by the end of the afternoon. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life because it came from total trust and surrender to my soul path, to the calling and guidance of the universe.
This year, I have a few things coming up that I am SO excited about. I have a project to go swim in the wild every full moon in different parts of the world, starting on the February 5th full moon in Scotland on a tiny island inhabited by only 30 people. Then, I’m going to see one go my dearest Gurus, Mark Withwell in Crete, before going back to one of the most beautiful and soulful places on earth, Ulpotha in Sri Lanka..
And then, of course…. MILANOOOOO to co-create beautiful activations with J.J. and you all!
LDJ: You’ve been living in Paris for over twenty years now. How do you feel your roots and your current home have influenced your aesthetic, lifestyle, and approach to spirituality?
CD: I have been living in Paris for more than half my life now. Colombian culture is undeniably present in every aspect of my life, as are the European and Parisian cultures.
My Colombian roots have given me a taste for ethnic pieces, furniture and food, a certain freedom in what I wear and buy, away from the dictates of modern fashion. As for the Parisian influence, obviously, that seamless elegance, that confidence, that “Je ne sais quoi” that is so Parisian… I absolutely love the way you can see people in a very normal outfit with one piece that’s gonna make the whole difference.
LDJ: We often talk about the high-vibrational qualities of color. How does color appear in your world, in your interiors, in your wardrobe?
CD: Indigo, my color! And white, a lot of white. This comes from the awareness of the energetic vibration and frequency of the different colors. There’s a beautiful celebration in India called Navratru (that’s coming soon, by the way) which is an 8-day celebration of each manifestation of Durga, the feminine energy represented by the eight Goddesses. So during that week, I wear a different color each day and I chant and do rituals to honor the eight goddesses that not only live in me but in every woman.
LDJ: What attracts you to La DoubleJ’s clothes? To J.J.’s world?
I absolutely LOOOOOVE J.J.’S clothes. I love everything about them! I love the quality, the textures, the freedom they express and the freedom they allow us to feel when we wear them. I love the message behind it, the vibration of the brand, of each piece. I just LOVE IT.
I have deep respect and admiration for J.J. I feel incredibly lucky to be in this world with her; she’s a lighthouse for so many of us.
LDJ: What’s next for you?
CD: I am currently in the search of a space to create a little haven for those who feel intimidated by the big [yoga] studios and conventional spaces for healing and transformation.
I want to create what I crave.
CATALINA’S PARIS SPIRIT TOUR
SPACES [left to right]
1. Maisie Cafe. A place for healthy food that comes from the intention of a very powerful and thriving woman, Isabella Capece, whom I deeply love and respect.
2. L’Avenue, La Société, La Compagnie et Le Square Trousseau, restaurants where my daughter could find her dad at any given time ; ) I Love knowing where the products come from, I love knowing that everything is super clean and neat. There are a lot of people who could say these spots are too mainstream but what I see is that the quality of the food is always irreproachable and during fashion week, they’re a must. These are places where I get to see many people that I love who return each year for FW.
3. Indicali is a little well-being temple in Paris. You can find all kinds of really good products, from brands that come from very brave people, create with awareness, to take care not only of your body but also of your mental health and stability.
4. Lymfea, a beautiful holistic house with a new vision of beauty, offering lymphatic drainage massages and nourishing food and drink in this oasis of calm in the middle of Paris. It’s my go-to place when I need or want to have a nice moment of self-care.
SPACES [left to right]
5. Bandha Yoga offers all kinds of yoga, but I go for the Bikram. During wintertime, I love to practice with some heat on!
6. Belleyme, is a little boutique spa and shop dedicated to mental and physical well-being. I love to go there for an infrared sauna session, which is super healing and detoxifying.
7. Muse & Heroine. This is a one-of-a-kind holistic sanctuary highlighting clean beauty pioneers. They have everything from body oils to facial serums to digestive herbs – this place is amazing.
8. Hotel Costes. My beloved spot to go have a nice tea on the beautiful patio, un “havre de paix!”
9. Aki Yamamoto, at Aux 3 soleils du Dao is A MAGICIAN!!! This woman is absolutely amazing. From acupuncture to Toi Na massage, to acupressure, to lymphatic massage, she’s the absolute best.
10. Rose Marie Laberene, +336287208121 The best secret address in Paris for a natural lift. Rose gives the best lymphatic massage for the face and the body.