So you can list the multiple benefits of yoga and meditation but just can’t do bring yourself to actually do it?
We’ve found the answer for you: immersive yoga.
It’s the new yoga/meditation hybrid class that has hit Sydney and it is as modern as it is effective. Forget traditional Sanskrit verses and chiming bells, this new-age approach to an ancient practice uses music, visuals and uniquely designed sequences to create an immersive, multi-sensory experience for everyone – from experienced yogis to those mindfulness hater.
When I walked into the room for a trial class at W1LL in Surry Hill (there is also a W1LL studio in St Leonards), I immediately couldn’t help but mouth the words, “This. Is. Cool”. At the front is a giant screen with scenic pics of nature flashing; a gurgling stream, a snow-capped mountain, a lush forest scape. Then at the sides are two other screens, projecting a recording that takes you through the sequence.
Classes are either 22 or 44 minutes long and are assisted by an instructor who walks around the room ensuring you do the moves correctly and giving you a head massage at the end (this was a real win for me).
You follow the class through a booming voice over a loud speaker that fills the room as rhythmic beats drop in the background. The acoustics are more rock concert than yoga class but the effect is surprisingly still calming and relaxing. Those yoga faithfuls like downward dog and goddess pose still heavily feature in the class – in fact the routine is very similar to other yoga classes – but the visuals, music and lights around you, force you to truly focus on what you are doing.
My mind is notorious for drifting off and getting side-tracked, but you can’t in this class because everywhere you look there is something going on. So for me it was 44 minutes that I truly focused on myself and my practice.
Owner and brainchild Jacinta McDonell explains this is what’s meant to happen, “Many fitness spaces can feel intimidating and we can find it hard to focus on the actual work out because we are distracted by everyone else around us. Immersive experiences remove this as all of our senses are fully engaged. You will feel the difference because you can completely engage in your work and can give it your all.”
McDonell came up with the idea while travelling. “I looked through so many YouTube videos and couldn’t find what I was looking for,” she explains.
“The quality was terrible; none had been matched with suitable music or was the style I was looking for. In late 2014 the concept for W1LL started to take form and I recruited people to play with music and choreography and consistent sequencing.”
“Each session involves an instructor leading users through a 22 – or 44 – minute class for which the audio movements are matched to visuals to provide a more immersive experience,” says McDonell. “The classes are built into 12 week ‘seasons’ so that you are consistently building on your practice and improving strength, tone and mobility.”
The great clever thing about the class is that W1LL also has an online studio so if you can’t make it one day, you can make it up in the comfort of your living room.
Another cool thing is that W1LL donates a percentage of sales to The Human Kind Project, which promotes the education and empowerment of overlooked women and girls in communities around the world. Yoga truly for the soul.