Yoga in Australia is more popular than the Pope, and with so many practices to choose from you can pick and choose your place of worship. But what if you’re on the other side of the yoga block, so to speak? What if you want to open a studio of your very own? I caught up with the owner and senior teacher of hugely popular Yoga213, Sammy Veall to talk about her journey which saw her planning and ultimately opening the South Yarra studio in Melbourne a few years back as well as the newer one in Bondi Junction, Sydney. So let’s get down to it, dawg. (That pun will never get old).
AMW: I am curious about Hip-Hop Yoga. Is it exactly as the name suggests – practicing Yoga while listening to Hip Hop music? Or is there more to it? What’s the theory behind the practice?
SV: That is definitely what it is, but there is way more to it. Music is an amazing tool that is used in lots of different ways to encourage happiness and stimulate positive thought patterns in the brain. It’s a sneaky little tool that has the ability to change someone’s mood without them noticing that it was the music that did the trick. Hip Hop music is a personal favourite of mine for many reasons but I believe any music (that the individual loves) will have the same joyous effect, and matched with yoga – the happiest, thought clearing exercise you can do – it works wonders! Plus it’s a lot more exciting and keeps the practice fresh.
AMW: So you opened the studio when you were 23, correct? This is putting a lot of us older 20 somethings to shame! How old were you when you decided you definitely wanted to open Yoga 213 and what made you sure it was the right move?
SV: Yes I am but I feel a lot older – I think I’m a bit of an old soul. I was 22 when I decided for sure that it was what I wanted. I remember the moment too… I was in Bali for teacher training and [during] the short time we had by ourselves I would write out my business plan in my little hut. When I returned back to Melbourne I started putting it into action and it took about 8 months from start to finish. I knew it was the right move because there was no way that something that had brought me so much happiness couldn’t have the same effect on others. I knew that people would enjoy it and they do, it’s too good!! It actually changed my life, not my personality as such, I am exactly the same person but it brings about this amazing perspective about what’s really important. Yoga in general does this.
AMW: How did friends/family react to you starting Yoga 213?
SV:They were so supportive! At first they didn’t think I was serious, I have written a lot of business plans in my time and shared a lot of wild business ideas with my family but this one seemed to stick and I am so grateful that it did. My sister was the best she kept pushing me telling me to keep going and helped me with the whole start up process (which I don’t really have the brain capacity for). My dad is a legend he was behind me the whole way, and that means a lot to me.
AMW: How long did the planning and execution take of Yoga 213?
SV: From my planning in Bali to Opening day it was 1 year. Can’t believe that long it felt like a few months!
AMW: How did you find the space/location?
SV: It took so long to find the space! I was just going through the internet and searching that way but that got a bit tedious and nothing seemed right. We were trying to find a place that we didn’t have to change much, for dollar reasons, but there was nothing. It wasn’t until I was looking on the internet for the 500th time that I saw one of my friends was the agent for the property I was interested in, so I called him up and he took me around to all the properties that his company looked after and we found one that way. I strongly recommend this for anyone starting up their own business – contact the agent directly and make them look for you.
AMW: The ‘213’ is a throwback to the LA zipcode, and the studio design is reminiscent of an LA beach/surfer chic vibe. Did you have an idea of the look you wanted to achieve with the studio before you started? How did you go about the achieving it?
SV: Yeah! It also comes from the 213 Crew with Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg – cause they like getting down dogg!!! I did have an idea in my head about what I wanted for sure, I wanted it to represent Venice Beach and have that laid back surfy LA vibe. The best part about it all was that everyone involved was my friend – the builder, designer, architect – because there were so many good ideas getting thrown around I was confident to just let it roll. If any one had an idea we rolled with it – and its worked out much better that way.
AMW: Do you teach traditional Yoga poses, new ones or a mixture of both at Yoga 213?
SV: There is a very misunderstood concept about what yoga actually is in the Western World. I believe that you make of it what you want, as long as you are feeling happy after each session I think your doing pretty well. All of my teachers teach traditional poses and throw in a few new little changes here and there but generally we try and keep it nice and traditional.
AMW: Is Hip Hop Yoga for everyone? Or is it more catered for the Gen-Y’s and younger?
SV:I don’t think it is for everyone, nothing is for everyone. I feel like it caters better for Gen-Y for we understand the Hip Hop a little better as it came about in our generation and because I play a lot of Old School Hip Hop it brings us happy memories from our younger years. But you would be amazed how many Mothers, Fathers and even Grandmas get around it – they were young and naughty once too! And a few F words never hurt anyone – I feel like it’s a nice reminder not to take life too seriously, life can get SO serious but it shouldn’t be. EVER!
AMW: Describe the Yoga 213 vibe in 5 words…
SV:Happy, welcoming, fresh, beautiful and FUN!
AMW: What is your dog’s name (seen in pictures) and does she join in?
SV: Her name is Tilly I bought her 3 years ago and she has been by my side ever since. She loves sun baking so she sits by the window in the sun and watches the class, I’ve tried doing yoga with her before but she licks your face every time you get near the floor! She is very good at down ward dog though 😉
Yoga 213 is located at 12 Garden Street, South Yarra, MELBOURNE VIC 3141
ph: +613 9826 5391
click here for timetable