Warning: This article may cause envy
The two things I love most about my life are waking in this beautiful place I call home – Dunsborough – and teaching yoga. Of course, my husband, family, friends and my fluffy, flat-faced feline rate highly too, but as far as the things that lift my heart, bring me into a happier place and truly nurture me, teaching and practicing yoga in this magical south-west corner of Australia is as good as it gets.
From “feel the burn” to “let go, breath, and be”!
I am so lucky to be part of the unique and ever-growing yoga community in Your Margaret River Region. I’ve been teaching for four years, dividing my life between yoga and a very intense career as a freelance TV commercial Producer (you can check out my blog on the production work I do – link to blog). For nearly three decades, I also had a part-time vocation as a Fitness Instructor, and have taught in gyms across Australia. It’s hard to believe I’ve progressed from “feel the burn” and “no pain, no gain” to “let go, breath, and be”!
Witnessing the evolution of yoga in the Region has been awesome, not only with the diversity of classes available and the way locals have embraced yoga in its many shapes and forms, but also in the willingness of resorts and local businesses to make yoga available to their clients and staff. The benefits for all concerned are huge. And (pinching myself here) I get I to teach at some of these places! Let me take you on a journey of one of my busier yoga weeks. Between TV commercial stints, it’s a schedule that keeps me on my toes as it’s as fluid and changing as the postures in a practice. But be warned: be prepared to feel a pang of envy …
My Week in Yoga
Over the summer months, I join with a collective of Dunsborough teachers to run daily classes at Yallingup Beach. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are generally my days. It’s one of the most uplifting and joyful times on my yoga calendar, having people bend and breath in unison at each “class on the grass” overlooking the world-renowned surf break. There are family groups and individuals, locals and holiday-makers, teenagers and retirees, beginners and those with a regular practice. From the outset, these classes proved popular and last summer we averaged 30-40 per class, even topping 50+ on a couple of occasions. Dogs meander through the mats and surfers give equal attention to the waves and our Yogi Warriors. I’m not sure who loves it more – the participants, the onlookers, or me! Using the resources of Facebook it’s easy for everyone to stay connected with the dates and times the classes are running. Plans are already in place for the summer of 2015/16. Find out more here.
Monday, 9.30am: Crystal Bowl Meditation with Maurice at Alchemy Body and Soul.
Just a couple of minutes’ drive from Yallingup Beach, Maurice weaves auditory magic every Monday morning with his gongs, singing bowls, chimes and all manner of mystical instruments. It’s the perfect complement to a yoga practice – I treat it as an extension of Savasana (the Corpse Pose). The meditative and healing practice through the sense of sound is just one of the spiritually-inclined therapies and treatments available at Alchemy. The property overlooks a beautiful lake and has an enticing array of classes, events and workshops every month of the year. More about Alchemy Body & Soul.
Tuesday, 7am.Class at Howard Park & Madfish Wines.
I’m up at 5.30, in the car by 6.15 and trekking down Caves Road (my favourite drive. Ever!) to this truly wonderful winery. The classes were initially established for the staff but have been extended to include locals and tourists. We spread our mats across the floor of the cellar door area (a stunning building) and watch the sunrise through huge walls of windows. There aren’t too many yoga classes with views to a vineyard and visual ambience courtesy of displays of award winning wines. And as there’s minimal wall space, we often take a variation on “legs up the wall” by getting legs up (or legless) at the bar! More about Howard Park & Madfish Wines.
Wednesday, 7am: Back for more Yoga at Yallingup.
One of the few facilities in Dunsborough established exclusively for yoga is Samudra and I am honoured to occasionally stand in for their regular teachers. There are two impressive spaces – one large room used for daily classes as well as workshops, and the other (my personal favourite) is more intimate and has glimpses of the herb garden. While primarily focussing on the Ashtanga lineage, Samudra’s teachers also offer a range of classes daily including Vinyasa and Yin.
Thursday, 8am: Private yoga session.
An increasing number of holiday makers love to balance their exploration of the Region’s wineries, dining and exemplary providores with some attention to wellness and self-nurturing. I have regular enquiries from individuals, couples, friends travelling together, and corporate groups wishing to be led through a yoga practice. Five lovely ladies recently requested a practice every morning and evening for four consecutive days – in between brunches, lunches and wine tours – and another group was trekking the Cape to Cape Track and needed to recharge their bodies every evening with a yoga session. It gives me an opportunity to customise classes, and the participants a chance to find their inner bliss while indulging in the external sensory pleasures of the Region. There are numerous teachers in our community offering personal classes, and they can be taught at private holiday homes or resorts, or at one of several yoga venues around the Region.
Plan your visit to Pullman Resort Bunker Bay at full moon to watch that huge glowing orb rise over the bay - a rare experience, and one you’ll never forget.
Friday, 7am: More awesome Yoga at Yallingup.
Friday, 9.30am: Massage with Jenny at Howe Natural Massage.
Teaching yoga is such a rewarding path but it requires a lot of mental and physical output. Maintaining my own practice is important and I live on a bush block surrounded by Nature, so the motivation to roll out my mat on a regular basis is an easy one. Massage is another means of reconnecting with my body, and Jenny at Howe Natural has such an incredibly diverse grounding in different massage techniques, she manages to relax and re-energise all at once. Jenny works from her studio in Dunsborough, but also offers a mobile service for those who want to roll off the massage table in their own home and into a soothing bath – or even straight into bed! More about Howe Natural Massage.
I’m not a shopper (although my husband may beg to differ) but if there is one retail outing I love, it’s a trip to The Blue Budha in Busselton. The aromas, sounds, colours and textures that float around this space transport me to so many other places, it’s hard to believe I’m in the heart of bustling Busselton. There are natural body products, an eclectic mix of clothing, jewellery and homewares, beautiful books and music (my biggest indulgences), aromatherapy, gifts … I can’t believe how much is tucked into every corner. This is a treasure trove that turns shopping into an energising experience.
Saturday, 8am: Yoga session for guests at Bunker Bay Pullman Resort Margaret River Region.
OK, so I work on the weekends. But walking into the reception of this Bunker Bay resort with my yoga mats tucked under my arm does not feel like I’m a slave to my job. This place is special … built into the natural bushland that extends around one of the most stunning beaches in the world, and designed in such an unobtrusive fashion, it’s like staying in someone’s home.
The main building is separated into lounge space, dining area and even a reading room, all with views across the infinity pool to that magical ocean setting. (A big tip is to try to plan your visit at Full Moon. Watching that huge glowing orb rise over the bay is a rare experience on our predominantly western-facing coast – and one you’ll never forget.)
My yoga space is tucked at the end of the main building, where full walls of windows take in the above-mentioned views. The class is complementary for guests and, while I’ve had the most diverse range of participants imaginable, many have their first experience of yoga with me at Bunker Bay.
I have the most rewarding feeling watching the shoulders soften, the faces relax, and the smiles at the end of a practice, knowing that if even a few walk away with the intention of bringing yoga into their lives on a regular basis, I’ve done a good job.
I know … my life is amazing. And it is definitely hard to call this “work”. I’ve just walked out of one of the country’s best holiday resorts at Bunker Bay, and driven along Caves Road through some of the most breathtaking countryside (have I told you how much I LOVE that drive!) to reach yet another incredible beachfront luxury accommodation venue. Injidup Spa Retreat comprises ten self-contained villas, each with private plunge pool and some awe-inspiring coastal views. This is as exclusive with a capital E! Yoga sessions are offered as part of a package and today I’m guiding a newly-wed couple through a practice on the deck overlooking the Indian Ocean. Your Margaret River Region holds enormous appeal as a wedding venue, and it’s an honour to be sharing the start of this lovely couple’s new life together. More about Injidup Spa Retreat.
Sunday, 8am: Yoga session for guests at Bunker Bay Pullman Resort Margaret River Region.
There’s no doubt yoga at Bunker Bay is popular, and the management at the Resort have my respect for allowing guests the opportunity to partake in classes on either or both weekend mornings. Many return from the Saturday session, while others arrive for the first time, having spent their Saturday walking and swimming at the beach, playing tennis, indulging in treatments at the day spa, or just sleeping in and relaxing over the buffet breakfast. And whether it’s Saluting the Sun, chanting an Om or guiding participants through their relaxation, I still can’t even begin to feel that this is “work”.
Observing the evolution of yoga as a mainstream practice and a way of life for so many people in the South West has been amazing. It’s an easily accessible and very rewarding way of slowing down, connecting with things that matter and bringing every one into a better place physically and mentally. With the inspiring natural environment of Your Margaret River Region as a backdrop, the positive effects are even more enhanced.
This became evident recently when the local teachers and community donated their time for a unique yoga fundraiser event: the completion of 108 Sun Salutations. Over 50 people gave up their Sunday afternoon to bend and bow their way through the sequence and raise funds for the Nepal Earthquake victims. There was laughter, sweat, and even some tears for the sense of great achievement.
It was a time to truly appreciate what we have in this part of the world, and the fact that the wonder of the region is not just in its physical beauty, but in the people who live and visit here. It really is as good as it gets!