By Kienan Briscoe
For the Reporter
Seattle-area cities consistently rank high on the list of overall healthiness, so it makes sense the region is also considered one of the best U.S. cities for yoga.
According to Yoga Journal, there are almost 1,000 Yoga Alliance (YA)-registered teachers and 56 YA-registered schools in Mercer Island alone. While the island seems to have no shortage of studios for the Indian movement-based meditation, only one instructs classes in French — at least as far as Fleur-Anne Serre knows.
Serre’s Mercer Island-based yoga practice, Fleur-Anne YogaThai, began operation in August 2022, shortly after she and her husband relocated to Mercer Island from Paris. Her practice focuses on vinyasa yoga and Thai massage — a massage steeped in Ayurvedic medicine. Both are conducted entirely in the French language, a service Serre noticed was missing in the area.
In 2012, Serre’s interest in yoga blossomed after a trip to Bali where she became aware of the importance of going through the body to take care of the mind, her website states.
Four years later, Serre began training in vinyasa yoga with Paris-based yogi Gérard Arnaud, and opened her own school teaching children ages three to 12 shortly after. A year later, she joined the De Gasquet Institute to study pre- and post-natal yoga training for new and expecting mothers. In 2018, Serre continued her interest in “accompanying femininity with yoga” by training under Tatiana Elle, author of “La Yoga de la Femme,” and other French-based yogis Mathieu Boldron, David Guarriguez and Stephanie Viu Klesser.
Serre formed an interest in Thai massage while pregnant with her second daughter in 2019. She found a Parisian Thai masseuse for her related body aches and pursued her interest by studying the Buddhist-centered practice three years later.
Thai massage is based on the concept of energy that runs through the body and works out these lines through massage, Serre said. A full body massage contains a traditional combination of acupressure, meridian energy work, and yogic stretching.
Serre relocated to Mercer Island last summer after her husband, Khalid Amali, accepted a position as Lower School Headmaster for the French American School of Puget Sound. One of the first things she noticed about her new home was that there were no French-speaking yoga studios, as far as she knew, and that she needed to find work. It seemed natural to utilize her training in yoga and Thai massage to open her own business running yoga sessions out of her house and outside at Luther Burbank Park.
Aside from noticing a lack of French-speaking yoga studios, Serre noted that her new community in Mercer Island was profoundly nice and helpful as she, her husband and two daughters settled into their new home, bringing nothing but clothing with them from France.
“In Mercer Island the community is really helpful and they want to help you all the time,” said Serre. “That was the major difference I noticed from Paris.”
Since starting her business, Serre typically teaches three sessions a week while working as a server at Roanoke Inn. In total, she has about 18 returning students.
“My hope is that I can have one more class a week and maybe more massages,” said Serre.
The yoga sessions led at Serre’s household are vinyasa-based and range from beginner to intermediate depending on the participant’s skill.
Single classes start at $25 each, $180 for 10 classes, and $100 for five classes. Yoga Thai massages start at $150 for an hour and 15 minutes, and go to $240 for two hours. Bookings can be made by visiting her website.
Recently Serre and her family moved out of Mercer Island to Bellevue, where she continues to teach French yoga classes, and give Thai massages out of her home, but continues to return to Mercer Island daily to work and do her shopping.
She hopes to continue conducting yoga sessions at Luther Burbank Park, weather permitting, but has no plans yet to acquire her own building separate to her home.