In his yoga studio in Coronado, Jean Pierre Marques leads a private session in Kenbu, a form of martial arts that employs smooth and fluid, yet powerful movements with a samurai sword. The mood was quiet and peaceful, yet I sensed great strength all around me. In the lobby of his studio, brilliant, colorful art, created by him, was on display.
“Do not be afraid,” he tells me. “We are peaceful warriors.”
He’s been called one of Coronado’s hidden treasures. Jean Pierre Marques is a Grand Master teacher of yoga, meditation and breathing, tai chi and martial arts. His background in martial arts spans nearly half a century. He’s also a renowned author, speaker and behavioral therapist. He and his wife Linda own and operate Coronado Yoga and Wellness Center and offer a variety of classes suited to the need of people all ages and fitness levels. Their yoga programs and workshops encompass mind, body and spirit, for a well-rounded experience.
Born in Algiers of French descent, Marques relocated to France when he was 16 as part of the Les Enfants Troupe, the “Children of the Army” during the Algerian civil war. Marques grew up in a poor family and at the time, the French experienced much social discrimination. He endured a hard upbringing, suffering physical and psychological abuse from his parents, which was socially accepted as the norm at the time. Jean Pierre lived in his imagination as a child, and would often escape to a fantasy in which he saved the world. He would steal books from the flea market and would read as many of them as he could, most of which were far beyond his age. Today, he still recalls the many hero figures who inspired him during his childhood: Tarzan, Hercules and Jesus Christ.
Another one of Jean Pierre’s saving graces as a child was his uncle, who would often take care of him and his siblings for weeks at a time. His uncle would teach him how to draw, paint and write poetry. It was this art to which he would turn much later in his life as a form of creative expression.
Jean Pierre recalls that living in France was extremely difficult. French people born in North Africa were unwelcome, mistreated and known as pieds noir, which means “black feet.” It was the constant daily struggle that led him to pursue his dreams of peace and prosperity and eventually end up in the United States. In 1972, he left France for California, where he taught martial arts before opening his first business three years later in Beverly Hills, The Institute of Mind and Body Development. He later opened two more businesses while simultaneously running a business in Hawaii that ran retreats for corporate executives.
During his time in Los Angeles, Jean Pierre met his wife Linda, with whom he now runs his yoga studio in Coronado. He soon closed his business and relocated to Tucson, where he taught at Canyon Ranch, one of the most famous retreat and spa centers in the United States. He taught yoga, tai chi, and meditation to celebrities as well as organized special programs such as “spiritual pathway week.”
Jean Pierre and Linda spent five years in Tucson before realizing that California was where they truly belonged. One of their students suggested Coronado, but Jean Pierre and Linda were hesitant. It only took one drive across the bridge before a lease was signed by the week’s end.
The couple opened their yoga studio 15 years ago and it quickly become a Coronado favorite. Linda, who now teaches yoga full time (Jean Pierre is the studio’s visiting grand master) has been voted Coronado’s “Best Yoga Instructor” for nine years running.
“I taught her how to do yoga, and then she got better than me,” he says with a smirk.
Jean Pierre is also a renowned behavioral therapist.
“I teach people to find their own power,” he explains. “I try to open their creativity and help them find their passions.”
One of Jean Pierre’s passions is poetry. He once wrote 2,000 poems in one year. His writing is spiritual in nature, often about love, nature, creativity and happiness.
He also paints. While Jean Pierre exudes a peaceful, quiet and calm demeanor, his paintings are anything but. Brilliant colors and organic designs burst from the canvas on which he paints. This past spring, Jean Pierre displayed many of his works at the Petals and Paint open house, along with three other local artists. Currently, Jean Pierre spends about 10 hours each week painting, as part of his meditation practice.
“What drew me to Jean Pierre,” Linda says, “as a student and his wife, is everything is mind, body, spirit. He is the real deal.”
Sitting with Jean Pierre and listening to him describe his past and his approach to peaceful living, one would never guess that he has a bit of a wild side.
“I love Elvis! You don’t know how many “best of” Elvis CDs I have,” he explains. His favorite song? “Tutti Frutti!” Jean Pierre laughs, as Linda playfully rolls her eyes.
“Now I can’t stand to listen to Elvis,” she laments.
Jean Pierre’s and Linda’s yoga studio offers a full range of programs, from classes to workshops to retreats and teacher training. They also employ five instructors, in addition to their own teaching. Classes include Kitaido yoga, gentle yoga, yoga for a healthy back, yoga pilates flow, barre/body sculpt and Tai Chi. Personal training and behavioral consultations are also offered. For additional class information, visit www.coronadoyoga.com.
Despite the challenges and hardships Jean Pierre faced during his upbringing and first years in the United States, he has come to a place of peace and is driven to share that with others, empowering them to discover their true selves. In his book, Wake Up to Life, Jean Pierre states:
“I have everything one man can desire now. Through living the Zen principles of life, and teaching these to others, I fulfill my purpose. I can polish every day who I am, and help others achieve the awakening they so long for.”
For more information about Jean Pierre, visit www.evolutioninhealth.com.
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