There’s a beautiful new yoga studio in Auckland nestled in the Waitakeres amongst the trees, and the owners of this urban retreat have an energy and enthusiasm for yoga that is contagious. I sat down with Bridget Broomfield and Steph Meaden, founders of Yoga West, and chatted about their yoga journeys, how they came to start their own studio and their advice for beginners who are new to yoga.
Finding yoga and each other
While working in healthcare, Steph used yoga as a way to manage some emotionally taxing and stressful situations. An 18-month overseas adventure with her husband led them to Bali where she signed up for a Yin and Vinyasa yoga teacher training course.
On returning to New Zealand, Steph began using her experience to help others and now uses the benefits of yoga, mindfulness and meditation in the wellness work she does with others.
Bridget had formerly trained in classical ballet for a number of years. While working overseas in the ski and snowboard industry she discovered Vinyasa yoga and loved the flowing movements which felt familiar to those from her dance background. Yoga proved to be a great way to lengthen and stretch out her muscles after days spent out on the mountain.
Later, she took her yoga experience to the next level by doing a Vinyasa immersion course in Thailand, followed by Yin yoga training later in Bali.
Both returned from their overseas adventures as qualified teachers and began searching for the next direction they would like to take. This is when they randomly met online by chance and found they were thinking along the same lines when it came to yoga styles and business aspirations.
Picking the perfect studio location
It wasn’t hard work to find where their new yoga business would live; they both agree that the studio in its idyllic bush setting found them. Just after they had decided to join forces and needed a space to teach classes, Steph was getting her hair cut at a South Titirangi Road hair salon when her hairdresser mentioned the place next door was up for rent. After some investigation, this proved to be perfect for their needs as there were no other Vinyasa/Yin-focused studios in the area.
Everything fell into place so easily it was obviously meant to be. In just three months, Steph and Bridget had gone from Yoga West being a dream, to finding a location and opening their studio.
Managing a yoga business
Steph and Bridget have a team of eight yoga teachers taking a variety of classes at Yoga West which cater for a range of tastes including Vinyasa, Yin, Flow, Stretch and Release, Pregnancy Yoga, and also individual health and wellness consultations. Their aim is to provide teaching for everyone from the beginning yogi to those who are advanced, and to help manage the stresses of modern life (a need which most of us can identify with!).
Since opening four months ago, their classes have proved to be popular with Steph and Bridget on the verge of adding more to their timetable including classes for beginners. Steph also has plans to do yoga therapy training later this year in Bali which will add to their repertoire of services.
Advice for beginners
Bridget and Steph have some great tips if you’re new to yoga:
- You don’t have to be flexible to start
Regular practice will help increase your flexibility, so if you can’t touch your toes yet it doesn’t matter; you will be able to one day.
- Sign up for a beginners class or workshop series
These are designed with the beginner yogi in mind which make them a great starting point. They’re taught at a slower pace where you will learn yoga postures, or asanas, commonly used in class and also correct alignment to lessen your risk of injury.
- Every body is unique
Every person’s body is anatomically unique; it’s great to look around the room when in a class, but try not to compare yourself to others or your teacher. ‘Not all bodies are suitable for all classes,’ says Bridget, ‘but all bodies are absolutely made to experience yoga’. Come as you are, use what you have, and do what you can.
- Bring your sense of humour
Don’t take yourself too seriously. When we are feeling frustrated with a pose, humility, an inner smile, an outward laugh and a little kindness can save ourselves from pushing our bodies to the point of strain and injury.