After opening up on Ryrie Street in Central Geelong just a few months ago, Wonder Yoga exemplifies the adage, 'all good things take time.' Having molded her vision for many years, founder and Wonder woman Sally Ferris takes us through the design and practice of this enlightening space designed by Folk Architects.
Tell us about Wonder Yoga, where did it all begin and what was your vision?
My business partner Richard and I had been talking about opening a yoga studio for nearly 9 years before Wonder was created; but the timing was never quite right. We have been lucky enough to be surrounded by some great yoga teachers and studios in the different places we've lived and as our yoga practiced evolved- so did our vision. Fast forward five or so years and we found ourselves back in our home town of Geelong with the skills and resources to make our dream a reality. We always knew that we would create a studio with multiple movement modalities as different ways of moving resonate with different people and our goal was always to have a place where everyone felt they belonged. For us, yoga had always given us a sense of 'wonder'- wonder in our own ability and strength, wonder that we could find calm amongst the chaos, wonder that the world was as amazing at it is- the sense of wonder was what kept us coming back again and again... hence the name.
What are some of the benefits of practicing yoga?
Where to begin? There are absolute definable benefits to doing yoga. Over the last 40 or so years there have been a number of research papers and studies that show measurable benefits to practicing yoga. Some of these include reduced blood pressure, increased strength, healthier joints, improved mobility, better sleep, improved appetite... these are just the measurable benefits. It's more difficult to quantify things such as mood, calmness, self-love, kindness to others... but they are absolute benefits that students tell us about all the time. As one of my favourite yoga teachers, Jason Crandell said- "We don't do yoga to get better at yoga; we do yoga to get better at life".
What advice would you give for someone who has never tried yoga before?
To know that our teachers are here to support you and that we understand that it can be intimidating coming into a yoga studio (in fact any gym or exercise place). At Wonder we are all very different - we have different teachers with different strengths and you are bound to find someone you resonate with. We have different styles of yoga too; we have vinyasa flow for all levels from beginner to advanced practice, nurturing Yin, Barre- a global exercise sensation and Cross Flow - which a unique class style designed by us which has been massive hit.
What was your inspiration when designing the interior of Wonder Yoga?
We knew from the beginning that the space needed to be special so we enlisted Folk Architects who were spectacular to work with. There was a collaborative approach. We took over just on 500m2 of retail space that involved mezzanine floors, a commercial kitchen, offices, multiple levels and very very old bathrooms. We gutted the site and started from scratch- we couldn't have done this without them. We wanted to provide a welcoming and light filled environment with natural materials and textures reflecting our values. The spatial qualities of openness and connection using wherever viable, environmentally sustainable approach to design and material selections. The finished product exceeded our expectations- it invokes a sense of wonder with winding walls, hidden doors, and takes you on a journey from the reception space and invites you to explore. There is a sense of whimsy, yet the space is also durable and practical. It's not an easy combination to get right but we did!
Where would you like to see Wonder Yoga in the future?
First and foremost the future of Wonder lies in the hands of our amazing staff and the beautiful people who walk through the door every day and whom trust us to guide them in discovering their own version of WONDERful. In saying that, an operation of this size and stature has a business plan and processes and nothing has been left to chance. Our goal is to continue to build a business that has at its foundation, the culture and ethics that we believe in- this means putting people first. We also have strategic goals that sit comfortably within that framework that includes immersive experiences, world-class guest teachers divine retail options and maybe even expansion... but not at the expense of our own health or our families wellbeing.
Sally and the team are opening their doors this Thursday for International Yoga Day, with free classes all day. If it wasn't already sweet enough, one visitor on the day will also win a six month membership, so there couldn't be a better time to discover the Wonder. Head over to their website to book your place now. We hope to see you there.