A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published October 31st 2016
Even the class fees are flexible at this studio
I recently heard Jessica Dewar talking on the radio and was inspired to reach out to her. Her business, Jessica Dewar Yoga, is the first in Melbourne to offer 100% donation based classes, and Jessica's passion for yoga, and her strong desire to make it accessible to everyone, shone through.
Jessica, founder of Jessica Dewar Yoga, the first donation-based yoga studio in Melbourne
Happily, Jessica was willing to meet up and talk about her business, her motivation and her future plans. We met at her studio, located at Level 1, 199 Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn East (opposite Rivoli Cinemas). Bright with natural light on a sunny afternoon, it's a simply decorated space, yet feels warm and welcoming. Jessica tells me she likes the simplicity, and lost faith in Western yoga teachers that played music and talked 'fluff'; that was part of the motivation for starting her own studio.
A yoga practitioner for over 10 years, Jessica started on a yogic path to seek relief for chronic lower back pain due to scoliosis. At the time, she was working in the corporate world - somewhat ironically as a rehabilitation consultant, helping people to work through the physical and mental effects of severe illness and injury. Experiencing first hand the benefits of yoga set Jessica on the path to making it more accessible to all. She completed teacher training in Mysore, India with Yogacharya Bharath Shetty.
Jessica Dewar Yoga now has around eight teachers, teaching different styles of yoga including Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa. There is also a four-week beginner's program. "Different students will like different teachers and different yoga styles", says Jessica. "All my teachers share my values, though not necessarily my teaching style". Jessica screens and selects all the teachers herself, and looks for people who 'teach what they love'. "They have to be genuinely passionate about helping others".
As all the classes are gratuity based, the teachers accept that there is no minimum class fee.
Classes are available seven days, with a range of yoga styles available
As profit is clearly not a key motivator for this business, I asked Jessica how she would judge success. "First, I want to achieve a stable, sustainable business - which helps to secure my goal of making yoga accessible to all. Second, I want to have a place where people feel welcome and comfortable, regardless of experience, background, or looks. How flexible you are is not important. No one should feel judged."
"It's important to me that my studio is a place where people can come and find solace through their practice."
The Hawthorn East studio is a pilot for a chain of studios
Jessica is keen to expand the business, with the Hawthorn East studio a pilot for a network of donation-based studios across Victoria, and ultimately, nationally. Outwardly open, warm and friendly, I sense a strength and steely determination behind Jessica that leads me to believe she will be successful. I will follow her journey with interest.
Jessica Dewar Yoga offers classes seven days. Click here to view the class schedule, or call Jessica on 0421 115 941 for more information.
The images in this article were taken by the writer. They are not to be reproduced in any form without the express permission of WeekendNotes.