By Jessica Humphries
Four years ago I left the hustle and bustle of Sydney life to pursue a more humble existence in the northern rivers of NSW. With little desire to leave the ‘Byron bubble’, and a fear of being catapulted back into the internal busy-ness that often accompanies day-to-day life in the big smoke, I was reluctant to revisit my memories of vino loving, nine-to-five working, foodie living. But coming back as a green smoothie loving yoga enthusiast illuminated a whole new side of city life. Bondi beach isn’t exactly reflective of city living, but it’s a far cry from the simple life and there’s some seriously exciting yoga stuff going on.
On arrival, I just wanted a taste of home. Someone point me the direction of the nearest vegan café pronto! In Bondi, I felt simultaneously at home and out of place. I watched the locals wander with their pooches, yummy mummies walk the beach strip with strollers and surfers strut the streets with effortless style. Immediately aware of my egotistical longing to belong, I needed some yoga!
I made my way to North Bondi with curious anticipation. I was staying at new yoga retreat, Bondi Yoga House. Owners Amanda and Benny recently left their corporate jobs, wandered the world making friends and studying yoga, and headed back to Sydney to open Bondi’s first yoga retreat centre. This young, friendly couple’s aim was to create an inviting space for yogis who still enjoy the occasional cheeky glass of wine and a sleep in. Offering chic accommodation and communal living, you can come and retreat any time or join in on one of the programs offering daily yoga, fresh, tasty goodness and time to explore. Their resident pooch, Bondi, makes the space even more homely, and it’s a convenient distance from the tourist trap.
After a couple of days I was craving some me time and beachside relaxation, so I moseyed over to Bondi Beach House. This cute and cosy beach style B&B is instantly inviting and relaxing, and just a short stroll from Bondi’s iconic beaches. BBH is perfect for some solo relaxation or a romantic getaway and within close walking distance to all of the attractions, including most of the yoga studios I visited.
YogaBar is the newly opened yoga studio connected to neighbouring gym. Clearly catering to gym-goers it felt a little unfamiliar as I entered the building, but as I wandered into the space I was struck by the décor – crystal lights hung from the ceiling of the bright room, a divinely decorated chill out space invited relaxation, and the final touch – images of the ocean on the fancy yoga mats (by local photographer/designer YogaEverywhere) created chic beach shack vibes all round. The room was dotted with Bondi beauties and surfer boys, and the classes dynamic and fun.
Experienced yogis know what to expect from Power Living. In their Bondi studio the vibe is palpably Californian – and not just because of the frequent American accents heard. The room was hot and filled with power yoga devotees and the class was strong, sweaty and inspiring with plenty of motivational language a la Duncan Peak.
Body Mind Life is another increasingly popular space to practice, with more and more studios popping up around the city. I enjoyed a delicious yin class in the dimly lit room, inside the sleek and minimalistic space with warm and vibrant feels. Having done my first teacher training with BML 5 years ago, I was impressed by the expansion of the business and pleased to see that the sense of community and exceptional teaching still remains.
A short bus ride up the road in Bondi Junction, Synergy Yoga was one of the first yoga schools to open in the area. Owned and run by extremely talented and experienced teachers Simon Borg Olivier and Bianca Machliss, the studio is simple, inviting and inclusive. The room was filled with students of all ages, sizes and nationalities, and the unique style of teaching was filled with a wealth of knowledge, catering to yogis of all levels.
There’s something about Yoga Time. Maybe because my teacher was from Byron or the garden reminded me of home, or because the reception space was a cute garage and the yoga room was oh so cosy (squeezing in a maximum of 18 students). This earthy place felt like home. The vibes were genuine and the space was eclectically boho. The teachers were friendly and fun and I felt myself getting stronger as I moved through a divinely sequenced practice.
Dharma Shala feels beautifully authentic and warm. Huge wooden doors welcome you with patterns taken from the Taj Mahal and deities adorn the large, warm room. Dharma Shala is the oldest Bondi yoga studio teachings are reflective of a holistic style of yoga. I chatted with owner, Rodney Sen who embraces the growing yoga scene in Bondi with excitement and gratitude. New studios are “creating an incredible buzz around yoga in Bondi taking people out of the gym and boot camp culture to start them on a yoga journey,” he says.
As a bit of a vego, vegan and raw foodie, Bondi was a delight to explore. With the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store, I hopped from one wholesome café to another, delightfully indulging in some of the best yogi treats I’ve tasted.
Bondi Whole Foods is your typical health food shop meets café, inviting health junkies into the bright but cosy space to enjoy quick, easy and healthy breakfasts and lunches.
Raw Elixr bar Orchard St serves by far the best vegan deserts I’ve ever tasted, as well as superfood smoothies, salads and more in a funky, gypsy setting.
Humble hole in the wall Funky Pies serves 100% vegan pies along with other healthy treats in comfy, boho surrounds. Try the Funky Chunky for a vegan twist on the traditional meat pie.
If you’re looking for something a little more upmarket, The Nine across the road are all about sustainable, organic and seasonal food in a simple, chic space.
There’s something so simple and easy about The Dandylion. There is a relaxed decadence about this vegetarian restaurant and choosing something healthy and delicious was cinch. Even my non-vego dinner date was impressed, and whoever decided to put kale in a dumpling is an absolute genius!
Sadhana Café has recently opened its doors in Bondi, and the bright space with ocean views is delightfully yogic. Try the vegan coconut Brekky Whip – you won’t regret it!
If you’re in the Junction and needing some sustenance, try Earth to Table. There’s an ambient outdoor area and a menu of vego & raw sensations, tonics and more, and it’s just a short wander down the road from Synergy Yoga.
Around Bondi there are plenty of massage and spa options, rock pools, nature walks (try the walk from Bondi to Coogee) and things to do and see. At the end of my jaunt I felt satisfied by the abundance of vego and vegan goodness, strong in my yoga practice and motivated as a teacher from the many inspiring classes I practiced in. During my stay I was able to taste the delicious variety of yoga and healthy treats that Bondi has to offer – and this is just the beginning. The yoga and wellness scene was expanding in front of me, with chatter of new yoga studios, retreats and healthy eats popping up all over the place. No yogi could get bored blissing out in this part of the world. Leaving I felt a little lighter, brighter and inspired by the wealth of yogic goodness in this bustling beachside city.