I am usually more Om nom nom than Om but I have been on a mission to find and try as many as possible of the different types of yoga available. I don’t mean Hatha or Vinyasa Flow but yoga with fluffy animals, in interesting places, on wobbly objects and with wine.
Things I had no eyed deer I would experience in yoga
- A dolphin discount
- Trying to see the teacher with a cat’s bottom in my face
- Being encouraged to namaStay back and have a wine
- Being amongst veggies, butterflies, wine barrels and someone in budgie smugglers doing a handstand
- Dolly Parton music
- Hanging upside down in cocoon in a hidden oasis
Yoga with fluffy animals
Yoga with cats
I have to admit I’m definitely more of a dog person then a cat person, so this could have been a catastrophe, but turned out to be pretty purrfect. As Australia’s first space themed cat cafe, Catmosphere is a cafe with a difference. All of their cat hosts are from the World League for Protection of Animals and are available for fostering. The yoga session consists of 45 minutes of yoga, followed by 15 minutes of cat cuddle time. When we enter the cats are ready and waiting. I rest my yoga mat against the wall and then suddenly realise that it looks suspiciously like a scratching post, so quickly unfold it. As we go through our moves the cats wander among us. The cat lying beside me ignored me for the whole session, until near the end, and then as I lie with my eyes closed he decides to take advantage of the flat warm body and makes himself comfortable.
Yoga with rabbits
Yoga with dogs
Again abroad, yoga with dogs exists in the UK but unfortunately I haven’t found any yoga with dogs classes in Sydney: possibly because dogs tend to misbehave, as some naughty pups on UK TV demonstrated in a doggy yoga session live on air.
Yoga on wobbly objects
Stand up paddleboard yoga
My first paddleboard yoga class and indeed time on a paddleboard was with Workout On Water in Rose Bay. I had no paddleboard experience at the time so just standing up was a challenge at first. But you soon get confident and the water is warm, so if you do splash down you don’t mind the second time. I got so addicted I went on one of Workout on Water’s retreats in the Cook Islands.
Acro yoga – gymnastics with a partner
I also tried a little bit of Acroyoga with Workout On Water. Acroyoga, usually performed with a partner, is a combination of acrobatics, gymnastics and yoga. Throw in all of this on a stand up paddleboard and you need some strong core muscles – hence the reason you don’t see me in this picture!
Yoga on indoor surf boards
For those without the water (and the weather), in the UK there is indoor yoga on surf boards for those who still want the unstable motion to strengthen their core.
Yoga moves on a trampoline
Not technically yoga, but using yoga moves, is the Find Your Balance class at Skyfit in Alexandria. Billed as their relaxation class, it is great for flexibility and the core, as you work with the unstable surface of the trampoline. I found I attempted moves that I would not feel so confident with in a normal yoga class because I knew I had a soft surface to land on, whilst my core was working harder to stay balanced. On the flip side, try doing tree pose on a trampoline with your eyes closed. I finally mastered doing headstands at Skyfit as the consequences of falling were limited and I can now hold the position whilst someone bounces around me!
Aerial yoga – swinging in a cocoon
Through an unassuming door, and up four flights of graffiti strewn walls, is Sky Lab – an oasis of calm in Sydney: think New York warehouse apartment, but with white cocoons hanging from the ceiling. I’m here to do aerial yoga which involves movements whilst swinging gracefully or indeed hanging upside down in what looks like a giant hammock. Before starting we are asked the usual medical questions, and one I haven’t heard before – have you had Botox in the last 48 hours? Apparently there is a danger it might move if it is too fresh! Initially I am slightly disconcerted by the hammocks as there is some co-ordination needed to get into them and to hold on in some positions. I’m also slightly nervous about falling on my head, or getting motion sickness, after my zero gravity experience. Thankfully neither happen. Nerves don’t take long to disappear, and indeed, by the end I feel quite a dare devil and I am looking up the more advanced classes, and wondering if my ceiling at home will take my weight. Indeed, by the end I was so relaxed in my cocoon in swaying Savasana I could easily have fallen asleep for the rest of the afternoon.
Yoga and a pint or a glass of wine
Yoga in an urban winery surrounded by wine barrels and Dolly Parton music
Urban Winery Sydney – this yoga session was different and fun in so many different ways. It is definitely the first in which I have done yoga surrounded by wine barrels whilst listening to Dolly Parton and other country music. Plus, at the end of the session we are encouraged to namaStay back and have a glass of the Urban Winery’s own wine at the tasting bar, and a chance to get to know the other class members.
Yoga and a pint
If wine is not your thing, Rocks Brewing Co have Yoga on Tap: 60 minutes of yoga followed by a pint of beer.
Yoga on a bar rooftop overlooking the Opera House (with bonus fireworks)
Another yoga with wine experience is Vino n Vinyasa. This event took place on the rooftop of the Cruise Bar in Sydney, opposite the Opera House. Yoga in the open air is always good, but even better with an amazing view of ferries going by and when you get a glass of wine at the end of it. The highlight was an impromptu fireworks display next to the Opera House – which I admit made it hard to look away when required for a move!
Yoga in interesting places
On an urban farm – yoga amongst the vegetables and butterflies
One lunch time I snuck out to Pocket City Farm Camperdown Common. A little oasis in the city, the farm has been set up to be a community space where locals can learn about farming, and buy super-local. You are greeted to yoga by Pepe the farm dog, and are surrounded by veggies, butterflies, and the smell of roast beef in the air. The session took place in the pavilion between the restaurant, experimental garden and main allotment, all under the watchful eye of a garden gnome. It is not hard to relax feeling the sun on your face, watching butterflies dance around the plants, and the clouds blow over in the breeze. The boring bit of yoga for me is at the end where you lie on your back, allegedly relaxed but actually going through your to-do list. Therefore, the bonus neck massage during this part of the session really made it for me. The smell of whatever nice oil our yoga teacher had on her hands lingered with me for the rest of the afternoon.
Why go to a retreat when twice a week Flow mOcean give you the opportunity to practice yoga on the sand in a pristine beach location. The session starts with a 30 minute paddle in kayaks to a beach, followed by a 30-60 minute hatha or vinyasa yoga session on the sand and an optional quick swim. Then its a 25-30 minute paddle back to base in Manly.
Yoga by the sea – with a dolphin discount
Yoga by the sea takes place at Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte beaches. I picked a particularly windy day at Icebergs, Bondi beach. The gusty wind was a challenge but just made me work harder. The class is set in the grounds of Icebergs looking over the pool and the sea so there is plenty to keep your mind occupied and take your attention from the harder moves. The lesson started with our teacher Evangeline informing us that we would get a discount next time if we were to spot a dolphin or whale during the class. I didn’t spot either, but whilst looking backwards through my legs in downward dog position I was distracted by a guy in budgie smugglers doing a hand stand against the wall.
Yoga from the sky – or at least at the top of a very tall building
Last year I did a yoga session at the Sydney Eye Observation deck, a 360 degree view 250 metres above the city. It takes a lot to get me out of bed for a 7am session but I have to admit I picked a specific day that I knew the amazing view would be even better than usual – the day five P & O cruise ships came into the harbour at the same time. Consequently concentrating on the yoga was difficult as I kept sneaking a quick photo out of the window every time the yoga teacher wasn’t looking. The session ends with a healthy breakfast and the opportunity to spend more time admiring the view.
Yoga on ice
I had no intention of featuring yoga retreats but just had to mention this one. Usually yoga retreats are set in sunny climes like Bali, but this one is on ice. Last year I visited Swedish Lapland and the Aurora Safari camp – a glamp of tepees in a forest, reached by snowmobile across a frozen lake in the Arctic Circle. I was very excited this week to receive an email telling me that they now offer a yoga ice retreat – blending yoga with ice sculpting and a chance to see the Northern Lights. If only Sweden were a little closer!
OK, I haven’t tried this one. Aussie nude yoga classes tend to be single sex and primarily male, whereas in the States they are mixed. Male classes can be found in Sydney in St Peters at Naked Yoga Sydney, recently featured in the ABC series Man Up which focused on the male suicide crisis. I did find some female classes but not in Sydney, with Rosie Rees.
Yoga to music
Silent Yoga Disco – yoga with your own private DJ and glow in the dark headphones
Flow Athletic have become the masters of silent disco yoga with their Flow After Dark events: 90 minutes of Vinyasa Yoga, sporting your illuminated head phones listening to a DJ. I originally found the concept of a silent disco a bit weird until I went to a silent disco at Sydney Madame Tussaud’s recently and became a convert as you never have that problem of a song coming on that you can’t dance to. It is also funny to walk into a room where people are shouting over their music to the next person, not realising that the room is actually silent. In the US you could also be taking part in Karaoke yoga, death metal yoga and yoga raves.
Have I missed any?
If there are any others in Sydney that I have missed then please share them so I can give them a try!