Sadly, my very beloved Bikram Yoga Studio on the Main Street of Cobargo was destroyed during the New Year’s Eve bushfire.
I don’t know if I have ever cried as much in any 4 month period as in the first 4 months of 2020. Not all those tears were from sadness (about the loss of my yoga studio in the bushfires and so much more of our beautiful valley), fear (if my husband and loved ones survived the fires) or exhaustion (from grant & loan processes, rebuilding ideas falling through time and time again...) ...some of my tears were of deep gratitude, hope and joy but very often it just all seemed too big or too hard.
I have not just lost my safe space and business of seven years, but also the space for community and healing for many people in our valley. My students are not just customers, I see them as family. Even my children say they don’t remember a time when the studio and my students were not a part of their lives.
While the fires were still burning on New Year’s Eve, about 20 of my students came up to me at the rescue centre in Bermagui and said things like “you have to rebuild your studio as soon as possible so we can all start to heal from this!” The loss of my Bikram Yoga Studio has left our family of five without most of our family income and equally as devastating, it happened at a time when healing, health and community are most needed.
I am sure most of you reading this have had a very tough start of the year too, so it feels a little silly and selfish to write just about me and my little yoga studio, but maybe this can give a little hope or a smile when we are physically having to be apart due to Corona virus restrictions.
It seems outrageous and pretty stupid to get a loan to rebuild a yoga studio in a time when nobody is even allowed to come together in a group, but I believe that when the Corona restrictions lift, our health, community, coming back to our roots, being in nature and keeping life simple will be more important than ever to most of us.
What has kept me going through all this, is the deep rooted urge to rebuild a space for healing, health and community, so we can heal from the traumas of this year!
I believe that balance and restoration of health, whether it is physical or mental, is essential for the long journey of healing ahead. Possibly there might be even more people now looking towards Yoga for comfort and support to heal and strengthen themselves, by themselves, rather than just trusting and looking for help from the outside...
Bikram Yoga Sapphire Coast, razed in the Australian bushfires of December 2019
Since the fires I have been offered many opportunities to work in other locations around Australia and overseas but this is where my family and my home is, and this area is where I want to rebuild my studio.
We went through 9 different ideas of rebuilding the studio in the township of Cobargo, from waiting for the Main Street to be re-built, the Kinetix building, the sports oval building, one of the old Nu-pulse sheds, purchasing an empty block of land, building at the back of the White Horse building etc etc.
With every idea there were loan applications, costings, quotes, building fit out drawings, hopes and dreams and with every version that fell through I had to pick myself up again. My poor husband and family had to be on the other end of it but they stuck by me!
They say “Success doesn’t mean never falling down, it means falling seven times and getting up eight.” Well it seems that I had to get up 10 times and I really hope that will do for now and the following is the final idea! We have decided to build the world’s first completely off grid Bikram Yoga studio on our property ‘Waterloo’ on Upper Brogo Road (Ben managed to save all the historic buildings from the fires).
Here we will create a space for health and healing for our community. It will bring money and work to local building business that have all suffered from the bushfires. It will bring tourists back to our area when they come to my yoga retreats (which have been booked out 5 -7 times a year over the last 6 years).
Why out there rather than in Cobargo township you may ask? Well, first of all we tried in Cobargo but every option fell through because of different reasons but now I feel it actually was all for a reason.
Amrei Marden, India, Scorpion Pose.
Yoga comes from India and traditionally is taught in an Ashram. Looking up a definition of what an ashram is traditionally, I came upon this on yogiapproved.com: “An Ashram is a place for practicing Yoga, Meditation and other spiritual practices to evolve and grow spiritually. Ashrams are typically set outside a village or town in a quiet and peaceful area. They consist of only basic facilities with living quarters, dining hall, Yoga hall, library and gardens. An Ashram is an oasis of serenity and calmness. There is no place or need for luxury in an Ashram. The purpose is to go back to the basics and become independent from regular habits, patterns and indulgences.
Traditionally an Ashram is the home of a spiritual master or teacher who lives there with his family. People visit the Ashram to seek guidance and spiritual wisdom. Visitors that stay at an Ashram become a part of the teacher’s family. Yoga Ashrams provide a safe space, free from distractions and routines of daily life, and the chance to get rid of excess emotional and material baggage. Visitors come back to themselves and reflect on the true purpose and meaning of their life.”
Whilst I don’t want to claim to build a traditional Indian Ashram (since I am not Indian), I do believe, that by building an earth friendly Bikram Yoga studio on Waterloo I am building something that will be a reflection of the traditional
Idea and an oasis for our valley and beyond. Please come and visit when we re-open as we would love to share this place with you!