I'm a beginning writer with a Brisbane Bucket-list and a desire to see it all and report back.
Published February 17th 2015
End your day with a stretch in the most convenient of places
Stretch Yoga is a stunning little studio perfectly situated in the heart of Brisbane CBD for post-work exercising. This gorgeous studio adorned with bunches of greenery and filled with soft light, opened mid-2014 and aims to make yoga "a little more fun and a lot more convenient."
Stretch Yoga offers its customers over 30 classes a week ranging in difficultly from beginners to advanced and a bunch more in between. They also hold courses for beginners and pregnant women AND I calculate I now have 50 weeks to connive my husband-to-be to sign up to the Valentine's Day Partner Yoga session in 2016.
I recently got my hands on a Stretch Yoga pass for as many classes as I could fit into a two-week period and decided to attend each of the classes in order of increasing difficulty to allow my body a gentle re-introduction to yoga. I also thought that whilst I am no yoga newbie, the girlfriend I was bringing along with me, had never once done a downward dog or found herself curled in child's pose, so it was pretty important her first yoga class wasn't going to be too full on.
Luckily we arrived early to our first class, as the studio can be a little hard to find; make sure as you walk along Albert Street you keep your eyes peeled for the big blue dot directing you towards the studio.
We entered the room and the lovely PJ met us with a smile and a quick form to fill out. We filled out the form in the quiet waiting room. Everyone was either whispering or sitting in silence… it was wonderful. After a busy day at work with phones ringing, people yelling, (or, if you are like me, kids refusing to do their work) it was really lovely to walk into somewhere that was completely peaceful.
Stretch Foundation I'm sure anyone who has ever joined a gym class will know that awkward (possibly scary) "first time" feeling but PJ gave us clear instructions about what to grab and from where. Then once we had lay our mats down, grabbed a foam block and cylindrical cushion we simply looked around the room and followed what the yoga usuals were up to. Most of the participants looked perfectly relaxed, either lying flat on their backs or using the cushion to support their bodies in whatever felt most comfortable. So of course we copied and I soon found myself in an extremely relaxed state. I was a regular at my previous gym's yoga classes, but we always just jumped straight into our stretches and I have to admit it was really nice enjoying those problem-free, stress-free (teenager-free) moments before the class began, and it was even tougher when Gabe's soft voice broke through the quiet asking us to roll over and up into a seated position.
We started with some movements to get to know our bodies a bit better and to ensure we were properly aligned for the classes. The lovely instructor Gabe gave very clear directions and I never once felt like I needed to hurry up. He also ensured to talk us through every move so we understood the purpose of each stretch.
Leaving Stretch Yoga felt different to the feelings I experienced after gym yoga. I left feeling like I had learnt something, not just done something. It was the perfect class for my inexperienced yoga buddy as it really helped to build a strong foundation of knowledge for future classes, which we bought with us to our next class, Simple Stretch.
Enjoying a long stretch!
Simple Stretch The lovely Harriet ran today's class, as Ari, who usually takes the class, was unfortunately away. The class focused on opening up the thoracic back which is often neglected by the many of us slumped at our computers for the majority of our working hours.
For the majority of the hour our eyes lay lightly closed as Harriet's soothing voice flowed over our bodies giving careful instructions on how to complete each position. As the website says this class is "not too slow and not too quick," introducing the participants to a variety of moves but allowing us time to breath and open up in each of these new moves.
By the end of the session I felt stronger, more flexible and was able to balance in positions I have never been able to before. I was so proud of my new balance that I ran home to show it off. I can't wait to see what else I can do by the end of my two-week pass.
We stuck around after and asked Harriet to show off some more challenging moves.
Deep Stretch I headed back to the city on Sunday so I could attend the 4:15 class run by Ari. This hour-long session is described perfectly via its name, Deep Stretch as it focuses on the body parts that are typically very tight; hips, hamstrings, quads, back and shoulders.
The class began with a quick jump into frog pose, during which I felt a stretch in my inner-thighs like nothing I'd ever experienced before. The pose itself is not the challenge in this class; instead it is the length of time spent holding the pose. Each pose can be held for up to 5 minutes, which sounds pretty easy but once your legs are wrapped around each other the burn will set in. Of course it is a good burn and you are grateful for it afterwards, but three minutes into each pose I could feel myself willing time to move a little bit quicker.
I think that for me this class was tough as I've always been pretty fit and strong but my flexibility is pretty much non-existent; I have never once even been able to touch my toes or join my hands behind my back. However, after a month of Deep Stretch classes I'm sure that I will not only be able to touch my toes, but should be able to bend myself into all kinds of pretzel-like positions. Bring it on!
Within about five minutes of this class beginning I understood why Flowing Stretch is classified as an intermediate class; it was a definite step up in difficultly levels.
This class involved really getting to know, and be comfortable, with our breathing and learning to inhale and exhale with each of our yoga moves. The moves in question were quicker and held for a lot less time than in the previous classes. As a result, this is the class to attend if you wish to increase your fitness levels, but based on the way my arms are feeling, I would also assume that I will be seeing more muscles appear any moment now.
I've been to similar classes at my old gym, which moved at about the same pace, and I found myself too embarrassed to step out of poses if I found them hard. However Brodie, who run this wonderful session, ensured that we all knew not to take ourselves too seriously, that it was "just yoga" and if participants fell over we were to simply laugh at ourselves and give it another go. She also encouraged us to drop back into comfy child's pose if we needed a rest from the quick-moving class.
By the end we were definitely working up a sweat and I'm not going to lie… I'm a little worried about tomorrow's tougher class. I'll let you know how I go!
Down Dog to Plank to Cobra. Go! Go! Go!
As I mentioned I was pretty nervous about heading to the toughest of Stretch Yoga's five wonderful classes. This fear dissipated as Nirvana began the session and helped us to become fully focused on our breathing and our positioning in each of the poses.
I would really like to point out to readers that Stretch Yoga is a hidden city haven for those who have the opportunity escape work during the day or pop in a class between lectures. Every other class I've been to was held after the 5pm knock-off time of the office workers in the CBD and as a result the classes were somewhat busy. However coming in early to the 4:15pm Strong Stretch class meant I only had to share the wonderful instructor with one other participant. Nirvana kindly altered the class to each of our ability levels, giving us both options relevant to our differing ability levels, and she also spent a great deal of time ensuring we were holding each of the moves correctly.
Part of the lower attendance might also be because, like myself, members are concerned with the "intermediate-advanced" label, but if I can do it, you can to! I haven't practiced yoga regularly in over a year, but after enjoying each of the other four classes I was keen to give Strong Stretch a go. I'm so glad I did, because whilst it was most definitely a challenge and I did work up a pretty epic sweat, Stretch Yoga has created an extremely supportive environment that allows you to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. I left the class knowing that I had truly challenged myself and come away really proud of myself.
I can't believe I can now do a pose like this!
I have thoroughly enjoyed undertaking each of the five classes on offer at Stretch Yoga and am excited to enjoy two more before my fortnight-long membership expires. Now my math skills aren't great but a quick calculation would indicate that each class cost me about $6, which is over half what other yoga studios offer. So if you work in the city, or study nearby I would recommend ending your long and busy days with a relaxing Stretch Yoga class that improves your strength, flexibility, endurance and leaves you feeling as fantastic as I do now. I can't wait to head back tomorrow!