BRINGING YOGA TO EARTH
By Quincy Malesovas
If you’re into yoga (and really, what northsider isn’t?) then you know there’s nothing better than bringing your practice outside – with grass between your toes and the sun on your face.
Physically, our bodies benefit from being out in nature, touching organic material, breathing fresh air and tuning in to the natural rhythm of the day. Add a bit of gentle asana into the mix and the benefits multiply.
Gabby Fitzgerald, leader of Barefoot Yoga Melbourne, knows this to be true – which is why she has launched a range of classes set amidst the lush greenery of the Princes Park Bowling Club.
Her intention is to welcome yogis of all sorts, from the long-time practitioners to the naturally flexible to the most novice of students. And – unlike some yoga collectives – Barefoot Yoga is not just promoting this tagline to sound more inclusive than they actually are.
Rather than leading a grueling practice with options to take things down a notch, Barefoot Yoga will offer all-level options while still allowing eager yogis to try advanced-level poses if desired.
When not leading these classes, Gabby instructs at several retirement and assisted-living communities around Melbourne. Given the nature of this role, she is used to providing a personalised practice that suits the student, rather than forcing them to fit into a hyper-strict or dogmatic practice.
Although I have been teaching and practising for several years, the basics class that I sampled felt perfect. It was simple but not too easy – reasonable enough for a person with little yoga experience, but challenging enough to motivate them to work towards “improvement”.
Most needs and preferences at Barefoot Yoga are catered for – not just physically, but mentally and spiritually – with an appropriate emphasis on yoga’s benefits beyond looser hips and tighter glutes.
It’s a tough game trying to figure out how much “spirituality” you can work into a mainstream yoga class before it starts to freak people out. The class I attended did not err towards the freaky side, but it did give me an opportunity to reflect at the end of the practice, which is something I prioritise when attending a class outside of my own home.
At the end of the session, all students had the opportunity to launch a bowling ball across the field as a symbolic representation of releasing something that no longer served us – perhaps an unhealthy relationship, a bad habit, an obsession or a vice, or unrelenting criticism of the self or others. What could be seen as quite a heavy introspection was given a bit of levity when made into a game.
Then, once the balls were tossed and the air was cleared, Gabby stuck around to greet students and answer questions. Although Barefoot Yoga is still in the early stages, they already seem to be setting themselves up as a comfortable, intimate space that promotes their primary philosophy: “Yoga should be fun.”
Princes Park Bowling Club
109 Bowen Crescent, Princes Park, Carlton (Enter via car park gate)
2 for 1 bring a friend special or Single Class: $20 / Concession $18 (limited offer)
5 Class Pass: $90 / Concession $80
Quincy is a self-identified writer/explorer with a penchant for all things culture – sub, pop, alt, you name it. You can read her musings at shugurcan. net.