Monday, September 01, 2008

Moving house!

This blog is moving!

Please join me at my new home,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Review: Bala Yoga and Interview: Jodi Boyd

Bala was one of the first studios I visited when I arrived in Melbourne. Despite the fact that it took me a hour and a half to get there, I just kept going back, until work got in the way! Jodi Boyd's classes, although vigorous, helped me start to rehabilitate from my sacro-iliac injury, and were completely safe, even for the likes of me. Also, the studio is beautiful and smells nice. I am always keen on the sweet-scented spots!

Jodi practising bakasana in the studio at Bala

Glamour shots of the studio...

And. Did I mention that there is a boutique? Prana yoga gear, mat bags, eye bags in delicious silks, and assorted natural goodies and books. A great way to pass the time before or after class!

They have an online store, for those of you who can't make it down to Beaumaris.

So, without further ado, read on to find out more about Jodi...

1. How long have you been practicing yoga, and how did you start?

My first class was about 18 years ago in high school, I was told it would help my asthma and my performance in the different sports I was competing in at the time (Surf Life Saving and Triathlons). I was pretty random in my practice - once a month, before or after an event - more stretching than the true sense of 'Yoga'.
Yoga became an essential part of my life a little over 10 years ago when I found two Yoga videos by Louisa Sear & Rachel Zinman. I practiced those videos morning and night until I knew them of by heart and that's when my journey really began.

2. How has yoga changed your life?

I am not sure how much of my changes have come from having Yoga in my life or have just come with age ('older and wiser') I know I put a lot down to yoga but I have 4 sisters who don't have yoga in their lives and they have had similar experiences - so a lot of my changes are inevitable - yoga or not. I know I am much kinder to myself and my body than I was in my teens/early twenties mostly due to yoga. I am very conscious and in tune with my surroundings, and my feelings, as well as what I want and what I actually need in/from life.
I know I was pretty sad and empty for some time and now I am the opposite. I lead a very happy and full life but my husband has a lot to do with that so it's not all Yoga.
And of course, it aided in changing my career path from Television Editor (which was not a bad job either!) to yoga teacher and studio/boutique owner.

3. You have been a triathlete, beauty queen, surf lifesaver, and TV editor. How did you come to add yoga teacher to the list?

My husband's job took us to Taiwan, and editing TV was not an option (I don't speak Mandarin). I had a pretty strong personal
practice then and one of the friends I made over there asked if I would teach some to her. I was nervous about teaching her things wrong so with my husbands encouragement (and my teacher at the time - Joy Armstrong) I did a teachers training course and I then started with teaching her at my house. 1 friend grew to 2, 2 friends grew to 4 then 8 and before long I was teaching 2 -3 classes a day all over Taipei some private some with 20+ students attending. People were telling me how I was changing their lives. I know it's the yoga not me, I am not disillusioned, I know I am not some kind of yoga Guru, it is just a great feeling to know you are helping to bring some happiness to other peoples lives, so there - a Yoga Teacher was born!

4. What kind of teacher do you strive to be?

Compassionate, approachable and understanding of my student's needs.

5. Lastly, tell us about the studio that you and your husband, Roger, own.

Hard at work behind the reception desk

It is a wonderful place for me to spend my days and hopefully an environment my students look forward to coming to, not just for the yoga but also for the comfort and calm they feel in being here.
My husband and I put it together, painted, scrubbed and assembled with a bit of help from a few friends and some tradesmen.My husband came up with the initial design, focused on a resort feeling with a Zen flow. We tried to create a spacious feeling with fresh flowing air, as well as being a quiet, calm and clean oasis with an Asian influence. Because the style of yoga I teach is very modern and not so traditional it was important to me that the studio reflected this.
The ambiance was very important to us also, dimmable lights, candles and oil burners with our unique bala scented oil. We are both into the minimalist style featuring large open spaces with the occasional piece (e.g - the Buddha's head) to add to the feel. Plus, I am an artist and I wanted my oil paintings surrounding me, they inject some colour along with our colourful students. I think your state of mind and the quality of your practice is effected by your environment, this is why I wanted to create something calming, open and uncluttered.

We called it 'BALA', it's a Sanskrit word associated with the meanings 'Strength, Energy and Power' reflecting the style of yoga I teach (a blend of the various different types of yoga practices I have tried over the years). I also like how the word 'BALA' implies balance.
With all the smiles on faces after a class and the lovely illustrated notes I receive from my Bambini (4-7yrs) and Nava(8 - 12yrs) students - 'I Love Jodi' and 'I Love Yoga', life can't be more rewarding! The Bala studio is a beautiful place to be.

Review: Studio Cirq and Interview: Lindsay van Niekerk

This post should have appeared much earlier in the week, but, dear readers, I have been busy!

Studio Cirq is tucked away in a side street in the centre of Melbourne, owned and run by a gracious woman called Lindsay van Niekerk. Yes, she hails from South Africa originally! A long time ago though. Lindsay has created a lovely space for people to go before or after work, and at lunch, and get their yoga fix. The studio also offers pilates classes, meditation, and shiatsu.

I have been attending the lunchtime Dynamic Yoga sessions, which are taught in the Sakshin Ghatasha style, and I love them! Just vigorous enough to keep you interested, not so vigorous that you need to shower before continuing with your day.

Image from a workshop held at Studio Cirq. See more on their Flickr

The studio is filled with interesting things; hand made stools from a local Melbourne designer, piles and piles of interesting magazines - yoga mags, health mags, Vogue. And then, of course, Lindsay herself is very interesting. Read on to find out...

1. How long have you been practicing yoga, and how did you start?
I think I started when I moved to Australia. It would be in the early 90s I dabbled in the odd Iyengar class at a school in Fremantle with a teacher called Kale Leaf (!) who was a wise and witty man who I believe is still teaching. I remember those classes fondly though I’m sure I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. The school was next to a strip club and I remember a Friday evening pranayama class where it took supreme mental strength not to be distracted by the amplified commentary coming from next door. It was a memorable experience and helps when I get stressed about the noise here at night with so many bars and restaurants around me. And now I am very drawn to Yin Yoga which emphasises working the joints by holding a pose for up to five minutes.

2. How has yoga changed your life?
The change has been a gradual process of changing the way I think about things. Trying not to be too dogmatic or believing their is one solution to things. Also being aware of the instinct to push oneself physically may be appropriate in many other activities, but in yoga we can rise above that and listen and learn instead of impose.

3.How did you come to open a yoga studio? What are the challenges? What keeps you at it?
I opened the Studio because I had lost interest in what I was doing (twenty years of film and television starting in Johannesburg) and wanted to do something that combined my skills in production management with my love of Pilates and yoga. My concept was very clear from the start and I researched it thoroughly, spending 8 months on a business plan. I love having my own business, making decisions every minute of the day that are all mine to make. Running a business can be a very creative process and I thrive on the human contact, particularly as it is something people want to do and the Studio is a place that is a great escape from the office.

4. What other things excite you?
Many things excite me. I read voraciously on many topics. I am also a huge user of the web, in particular blogs on topics ranging from architecture to politics. There is so much good stuff out there – I could spend hours on the web though I do restrict myself. I’m a bit of an early adopter and will research topics that interest me. Right now I am becoming more interested in growing things and have been messing around with making terrariums at home. Its something that will take a while as it is very much trial and error. Also I’ve discovered martial arts – and I do something called Swimming Dragon which is just the best thing as it is very expressive and beautiful to do. I’ve always been interested in design, music (my first job was at a record library in Johannesburg), cooking and I love animals, particularly my two large and noisy Siamese cats.

5. Lastly, tell us about your ultimate indulgence.
I’m not one for over the top luxury, though if you had to offer me a weekend at the Peninsula Hotel in Tokyo with unlimited spending, I may say yes please!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's a circle of love!

Remember the interview of BlissChick I posted?

Well, if you click here, you can read the one she did of me: It makes me sound super-special, and now I love the BlissChick even more than I did before - it's a circle of love!

I think there are grammatical errors in this post, bear with me, late-tired-incoherent.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just Breathe...Out!

I was so grateful to receive this email from Nischala Joy Devi:

1:34 Slow, Easeful Exhalations can be used to Restore and Preserve Balance

Rhythmical breathing allows the mind and emotions to return to their natural state of equilibrium.

This is her interpretation of the Yoga Sutra 1.34. I wasn't breathing so well, having just spent 15 very uncomfortable minutes with a guy at the laundromat* who insisted on telling me about all the women and girls in the area who had been raped and assaulted. In fact, he said the word rape so many times, I was starting to feel quite twitchy. I would have left, but had to wait for my laundry to finish. Needless to say, I had to stop and take a few deep breaths, and a few more deep exhales, once I escaped!

Thank you for the reminder, Ms Devi!

*Still waiting for my furniture to arrive, and with it, my beloved washing machine. Sigh. Soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Melbourne Yoga Expo!

How exciting! A big, YJ-style yoga expo, in Melbourne. It has been running for several years in Sydney, but this year is the first in Melbourne.

Here is the official schpiel:

Come as one, bring two.
Share happiness. Introduce your friends to yoga.

The essence of yoga is union. Practicing yoga gives rise to a sense of being connected with all others - in effect to become ‘at one’ with them. The main aim of Yoga Expo is to help bring about this sense of oneness within the yoga community and within the community as a whole.

When we are ‘at one’ we can connect with ourselves and our natural reaction is to share the joy of this connection with others. Therefore, the Yoga Expo’s theme this year is for all yoga practitioners to come in a mood of oneness, of unity, but to bring along other friends to share in the joyful experience. In other words to ‘come as one and bring two’, to ‘share happiness and introduce your friends to yoga’. For more info see: