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Published January 4th 2015
Leave your city cares behind as you walk the down dog
Badha konasana. Image courtesy Stretch Yoga.
It seems an unlikely spot for a yoga studio: a short stroll from the pub, atop a kebab shop and accessible only via a winding flight of internal steps (or ancient-looking lift if you're feeling brave). Yet Stretch Yoga proudly occupies just such a space and I'm ever so glad it does, for it functions as an oasis of calm and compassion in the midst of the CBD.
After rolling out my yoga mat, and grabbing a block and a bolster, all of which Stretch Yoga provides, I joined about a dozen other students and considered the surprisingly spacious studio. Though overlooking a carpark, it is light and airy, with a sprinkling of greenery and, crucially during the hot months of summer, is also amply air-conditioned.
Snippets of inspiration. Image courtesy Stretch Yoga.
As I waited for the class to begin, my gaze settled on the blackboard quote of the day ('The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga': Yogi Bhajan) while other snippets of inspiration were painted more permanently on the walls ('A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving: Lao Tzu'). Yes, I thought, as I settled back into Savasana (corpse pose), me and Stretch Yoga are going to get on just fine.
Founder PJ started Stretch Yoga less than a year ago. The lunchtime classes (starting at 12.00pm and 1.00pm) run for 45 minutes - PJ notes these are the busiest by far because they represent the perfect slice of peace for busy office workers. 'Everyone is just so busy these days,' she adds. 'Our mission is to make yoga more accessible - easier to integrate into the busy everyday lives of our students.'
More than 30 classes are timetabled each week, including in the early mornings, afternoon and evenings, while two classes are held over the weekend for those who simply have to get their yoga fix. 'We aim to provide a fun and friendly environment in which to explore yoga, helping students with improving physical health, reducing stress and developing a stronger sense of spirituality and inner peace,' adds PJ.
Tools of the trade. Image courtesy Stretch Yoga.
During this lunchtime Simple Stretch class, PJ leads us through Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) and a series of standalone asanas (poses) including Supta Virasana (reclining hero) and Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), before we return to the bliss of Savasana. I am so relaxed by the conclusion of the class, I think I could stay here forever.
The reception area boasts a well-stocked yoga boutique, full of products like Jade Eco yoga mats, Kantha yoga mat bags, cushions and blankets. Homewares, mala and jewellery are also available. 'These are sourced globally and made from upcycled and eco-friendly materials, wherever possible,' says PJ.
There are some good deals available during January at Stretch Yoga for those who'd like to try out the studio before committing. For example, one special deal offers a week of unlimited yoga for $25 or a month of unlimited yoga for $75.
Private lessons are also available, as are classes tailormade for everyone from beginners to expectant mothers.