Discovering Real Yoga in Byron

11 November, 2014

I was warned before heading to Byron Bay that the place can ‘bring up your stuff’, rumors of the hills and countryside surrounding being filled with some prehistoric substance that draws people to the area where they can start the busy process of healing and letting go.

As a result the people you find in Byron are a varied bunch, German tourists with unsuitable surf boards, Sydney hipsters, wasters loading themselves up to get numb, friendly locals with sunshine smiles and a few true yogis, living their practice, shining the light.

In researching the what/where/how/& who of Byron I was given all sorts of tips and recommendations.  But none better than from my old mate Rachelle, a Northern Beaches girl I met through my studies at Yoga Coach.  Rachelle’s text, a fully loaded sentence with no punctuation said I had to, MUST, check out Ananta Yoga Studio.

So after a sun drenched walk up to the iconic white light house, a quick Google search led me to the Ananta website and a Thursday night 6pm class labeled ‘Surfers’.  A yoga class for surfers in Byron Bay. How perfect.

byron bay lighthouse morning

Ananta yoga studio is situated on the edge of Byron Bay town centre, at the back of a grey unassuming car park.  A basic white sign hanging over the balcony read’s ‘YOGA’.  The space is humble, big enough for perhaps 30 students, but the energy as soon as you arrive is palpable.

This appears to be in no small part to Ananta founder and head teacher Geoff Brooks, an experienced yogi who holds the space, solidly, compassionately.

After my usual diet of flowing hatha vinyasa where (depending on the teacher) very little energy is spent on accurate alignment and long holds, practicing Geoff’s surfer class was like discovering the key to an old locked door and viewing rooms in your body you never knew existed.  A soft rock playlist humming in the background, Coldplay, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, proving your yoga playlists don’t have to avoid lyrics.

I haven’t been asked to work so hard and yet so purposefully in an asana class in months.  How refreshing!  We were asked to focus deeply in to the hips.  The instructions and break down of poses took me way beyond what I would normally think I am capable.  The surfer’s class finishing in apex pose, a full scorpion.


Now, my practice is not quite at the scorpion level yet.  But neither was anyone in the room. Except for Geoff, who masterfully sprung up to demonstrate. And so it should be in yoga! If you can’t practice it, don’t teach it.

The rest of us practiced up against the safety of the wall, with Geoff listing careful instructions, I was totally amazed and impressed and chuffed at how deep I came in to the pose, inching my toes further and further from the wall towards my crown.

I understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the glory poses, and god forbid it’s not all about ‘the asana’..  who’s sole purpose is to help us unlock the body, let the energies flow up and out. But having a play in scorpion was a lot of fun, and that ‘egoless’, child like fun definitely has a place in yoga.

After Geoff’s class I was left feeling spacious, rested down, strong (!) and all the other lovely feelings one gets from a good yoga stone.  Walking to the car I knew I had experienced something delectable.  Will asked me ‘What kind of yoga do you call that?’ All I could repeat was ‘real yoga’, ‘real yoga’.

So real, I went back for seconds the following morning.

Alas I cannot see any retreats or teacher trainings with Geoff on his website yet, but should that day come, this yogi will be there.

Check out Geoff Brooks’ website here:

Or follow Anata on Facebook

Geoff Brooks

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