I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published September 4th 2013
Nurture your body and soul at these cool classes
Health and Fitness the Natural Way
With its origins dating back thousands of years into the mists of antiquity, yoga is not simply an exercise routine but a complete way of life that enhances several levels of health and wellbeing: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Although many types of yoga exist, ranging from those which focus primarily on the physical body to Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion to the Supreme, all share the goal of gradually elevating the practitioner's consciousness to a higher level: a fact which is sometimes overlooked as we valiantly attempt to contort our bodies into a variety of ambitious asanas, or postures.
Yoga is a great way to achieve health and fitness naturally. This is image is from Wikimedia Commons (by jfbongarcon).
While yoga disciplines have been practiced in India since time immemorial, it's only over more recent decades that its ancient wisdom has been popularised in other places around the globe. These days, from New York to Beijing, yoga classes are held in most cities and towns throughout the world, while yoga retreats catering to stressed-out city-slickers are a big business in idyllic holiday destinations such as Bali, Byron Bay or Western Australia's south-west.
Perth is no exception to such a trend, and with the popularity of yoga skyrocketing, a vast range of courses are available throughout the metropolitan area. Ranging from informal beginners' classes at local community centres to advanced tuition at specialised yoga studios, there is a huge choice of places to go and traditions to explore around the city. The following pages examine some of the options which are available locally, focusing mainly on affordable classes for absolute beginners.
Generally focusing on a particular yoga tradition, yoga studios or schools are popular spots for aspiring yogis. Employing several teachers, they often hold classes seven days a week, from early morning work-outs to evening groups that are perfect to unwind at after a busy day. In addition, their highly trained teachers frequently hold specialised classes for pregnant women, children or absolute beginners. Some even organise retreats, enabling enthusiasts to immerse themselves in their yoga practice without the distractions of everyday life.
Bikram Yoga is an energetic kind of yoga. This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by HealthZone).
Yoga studios often specialise in a particular style of yoga such as hatha, astanga or iyenga, although some combine a variety of disciplines, depending on the training of their teachers. Here in Perth we have a dazzling assortment of yoga studios. While the following are a few I can recommend, many others which are equally good are situated throughout the Perth metro area.
Bikram Yoga Also known as the 'hot yoga', Bikram Yoga is a complete workout which active and energetic people will especially enjoy. With studios in North Perth and Myaree, the Perth Bikram Yoga studio is considered by many to be the city's foremost places to learn this technique.
Unlike slower, more meditative types of yoga, Bikram Yoga is very faced-paced. Led by a highly-trained teacher, each class follows the same sequence of twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises, while the heated studio encourages the body to sweat profusely, thus purging it of toxins. Although I found the pace rather demanding, after each class I felt extremely refreshed and energised, so I'm sure that it was doing me a lot of good. Beware, however, if you have a sensitive nose. As the studio is very warm, everyone sweats heavily, and since there are over thirty people in most classes, it can get a bit smelly.
Taking advantage of the North Perth Bikram Yoga's very generous beginners' offer (ten days of unlimited classes for just $20), I attended several classes which gave me a pretty good insight into the style. To discover whether Bikram Yoga is for you, I strongly recommend giving this offer a try as it doesn't involve any further commitment if you decide it's not really your thing. If, however, you want to pursue it further, the studio offers a range of special pricing deals. To find out more, take a look at the Perth Bikram Yoga website.
Fremantle Yoga Centre Fremantle Yoga Centre is an impressive yoga centre that has been operating for over twenty years. Conveniently located in the heart of Freo, right on Victoria Quay, it's just minutes from the train station and several bus stops. While the teachers working at Fremantle Yoga Centre are all highly trained in traditional yoga disciplines, they're not rigid in their presentation and creatively utilise elements of different yoga styles. The centre holds a wide range of classes seven days a week, including ones for beginners, intermediate practitioners, experienced practitioners, therapeutic purposes, mums and bubs, children and teens. If you would like to eventually become a yoga teacher yourself, the centre also holds yoga teacher training courses. To find out more, go to the Fremantle Yoga Centre website.
The Yoga Company The Yoga Company in Subiaco is another highly reputed yoga school which offers a good range of classes conducted by qualified and experienced teachers. There are classes for students of every level, from total beginners to experienced yogis and to kick-start the day in a healthy way, the centre also offers Early Morning classes which you can do before heading off to work. Like most yoga studios, the Yoga Company offers a few different payment options. While at $22 (waged), the cost of a casual class is the most expensive way to go, you can also pre-pay for a ten class card which gives you discounted tuition or pre-paid class cards that entitle you to an unlimited number of classes for a specific time-span: one month, three months, six months or a year.
Kookaburra Creek Yoga Centre
Located at beautiful Bedfordale in the Perth Hills, Kookaburra Creek Yoga Centre is a lovely spot which holds a variety of regular Hatha Yoga classes including ones for beginners and children. If you want to take a break from your busy life and immerse yourself in yoga, they also hold one-day yoga retreats as well as longer retreats in Bali. For the kids, they also periodically hold school holiday yoga camps.
There are numerous community centres throughout Perth and many of these hold classes in yoga, often at quite affordable prices. If you don't want to travel too far and would prefer to attend a relaxed, informal class in your local area, these kinds of classes may be just what you're looking for. Similarly, if you're experimenting with various kinds of fitness classes and trying to find something that really grabs you, community classes are usually quite affordable in comparison to those offered by specialised yoga studios.
Yoga split. This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by lululemon athletica).
Other terrific casual community yoga classes are held throughout Perth as part of the TAFE short course program. There are four TAFE networks in the Perth area (Central Institute of Technology, Polytechnic West, Challenger and West Coast), each which has several campuses, and they all hold a range of short courses each term. Check on-line and see if there are any yoga classes close to where you live.
Gyms and Fitness Centres
Gyms and fitness centres are also popular spots to learn yoga, and the great thing is, they're extremely affordable if you take advantage of the various membership options and deals they usually provide. Local aquatic centres such as Bayswater Waves and Beatty Park Leisure Centre in Leederville, or community fitness centres such as the Kingsway Indoor Stadium at Madeley or Loftus Recreation Centre in Leederville usually hold a few classes each week: great if you're a total beginner, interested in trying out different kinds of fitness groups or just want to take yoga classes on a casual basis. Check your local centre's website for their weekly fitness schedule and other details. The YMCA Sport and Recreation Centre in Morley is another spot I recommend, and they also provide some attractive membership packages.
Practicing yoga in nature is very invigorating. This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Daniel Renkel).
If you're a student, be sure to check out gym membership at your educational institution. All the universities in Perth and the Central Institute of Technology (Central TAFE) have gyms, so make some enquiries about their class schedules and cost. These centres are usually also available to the general public. However, if you're studying at the specific institution, classes and membership are always much, much cheaper.
Free Yoga Classes
Are you interested in yoga but don't have enough money for regular classes or studio membership? Although many people are interested in learning yoga, quite a few are put off by the cost, which at some centres is rather high, especially for those on a tight budget. If this sounds like you, you'll be glad to learn that free classes do exist at several spots around Perth. Here are a few groups that generously provide free tuition.
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by lululemon athletica).
The Sahajya Yoga group offers regular yoga classes at many locations around Perth and regional Western Australia. These include Bassendean, Fremantle, Victoria Park, Thornlie and several other suburbs and country centres. To find out more about their classes, check out this website. Be sure to give them a call first to confirm that the class you're interested in is still running .
Located at 21 Glendower Street in Highgate, just across the road from beautiful, tranquil Hyde Park, the Theosophical Society holds weekly beginners' classes in Hatha Yoga, totally free of charge. For more information, call 08 9328 8104.
With shops in Perth City, Cottesloe and Karrinyup, Lulu Lemon is a wonderful chain of retail outlets that specialises in yoga and fitness clothes and equipment. They also hold regular community events such as free yoga classes and talks about health and fitness. Their yoga classes are offered by teachers specialising in various yoga traditions, and are usually held at their stores although during the warmer weather they're often at the beach. Earlier this year I did some of their fabulous early-morning classes at Cottesloe Beach, which I highly recommend. To find out more about Lulu Lemon's free yoga classes, go to their website and click onto a store near you. After this, click the 'Community Events' tab. A calendar will come up listing what's happening this month.
Free Yoga in the City and Fremantle
From time to time free outdoor yoga classes are held at both Perth and Fremantle. Naturally, these are usually held during the warmer months, so as the days grow longer and warmer, be sure to regularly search online and see what comes up. Last year during Spring there were free yoga classes at Perth Urban Orchard and hopefully these will be offered again next year.
Other places where yoga is taught Ashrams
Another option for those desiring to learn yoga is a yoga ashram, a centre entirely dedicated to the practice of a particular yogic tradition. Ashrams will often teach meditation as well as yoga, but not always, and will generally focus on yoga as a way of life as opposed to simply physical exercise. Traditionally, in India, they'll also offer accommodation for serious practitioners, although classes are always offered to the wider community as well.
An outdoor yoga class in Europe. This image is from Wikimedia Commons 9by Vahagn).
Here in Perth the only yoga ashram that I'm aware of is the Beacon Yoga Centre which is situated at Beaconsfield, near Fremantle, in a lovely old building on top of a large hill. Also known as the Sivananda Ashram, the centre runs a variety of yoga classes that include ones for beginners, general practitioners, over 55's and pregnant women. Check out the timetable on their website for more details. They also hold regular yoga days if you want to immerse yourself in yoga for more than a few hours, and these include a vegetarian lunch.
Complimentary Health Practices
A growing number of natural health practitioners are providing classes in yoga and meditation to help their clients maintain an optimal level of health and well-being. In the northern suburbs Surya Health holds regular yoga classes, as well as naturopathy, counselling, pregnancy support and cancer support services. Check out those in your area and see whether they provide any.
For those who'd prefer to practice yoga far away from the distractions of their daily life yoga retreats are becoming increasingly popular. India and Bali are popular retreat destinations for Western Australian yoga lovers, while more locally the Samudra Yoga Centre in Dunsborough is a great spot to head to for a relaxing weekend of yoga and meditation. Kookaburra Creek Yoga Centre and the Beacon Yoga Centre are also good places to contact about retreats. However, retreats are organised by various Perth yoga studios so shop around to see what is right for you. For more information, regularly check online, New Age magazines such as Nova and Conscious Living, noticeboards in health and organic shops, and signs at your local yoga centre.