Kruse performing a Trikonasana, Main Beach, Byron Bay, 2008
Image: © Miranda Burne
in Byron Bay
seem made for each other. Think politicians and babies, philosophers
and ‘maybes’, Byron Bay and yoga.
Byron Bay was carved millennia ago from a volcanic eruption when lava
flowed into a wide parabola, now home to a fertile landscape of rainforest
plants, macadamia trees and sugar cane. It is the eastern-most point
of the continent, where lilac mountains meander gently down to a sapphire
In the early 70s the Aquarian Age shone its rainbow hue on the area.
Truth-seekers, bohos, hippies, healers, students, artists, and activists
rolled out their yoga mats and opened their tied-dyed arms wide to embrace
the creation of a new utopian community in the magical rainbow belt
of Byron Shire.
These ‘alternatives’ were naturally attracted to the esoteric
practices of yoga which encourage inner transformation and social evolution.
The town’s yoga schools thrived. Many teachers followed the rainbow
and landed in Byron Bay. I was one of them. In 1986, at the age of 29,
I spent five months at the Buttery Centre in Byron Bay recovering from
drug and alcohol addiction. My passion for yoga was reignited through
the Buttery’s in-house yoga classes and I also took classes with
local Byron teachers. I went to Sydney to continue practicing and then
made the ‘sea change’ back to Byron Bay in 1987 and opened
my own school, the Byron Yoga Centre.
Byron Bay was a sleepy fishing village back then, with a community-minded,
alternative culture. It encouraged the feeling that anything was possible;
which appealed to the many new arrivals from big cities and towns all
over Australia – and the many overseas visitors – who were
keen to join a commune or carve out a private piece of paradise, grow
a vege garden, raise ‘chooks’, and practice yoga.
Byron Yoga Centre is set up like an ashram, with many of our teacher
training graduates staying onsite to teach at the Centre after their
course is finished. Our small community tries to live yoga through our
values, our diet, practices including yoga asanas, meditation, pranayama
breathing techniques, and our philosophy of sharing yoga with everybody.
Byron’s reputation continues to grow – it has more yoga
per capita than anywhere else in the world and is home to countless
ashrams, spiritual centres, and communes. If you walk along the town’s
main beach on a sunny morning, you may encounter bodies facing east
and saluting the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean.
Byron Bay is now attracting a second wave of pilgrims, drawing yogis
from Asia and beyond, to participate in teacher training courses offered
by the Byron Yoga Centre and other groups. International visitors are
attracted to the experience and reputation of the town’s teachers,
as well as the many natural delights of the area, often combining teacher
training with surfing, massage or energetic healing courses.
The town’s yoga teachers encourage newcomers, in recognition that
yoga is an inner practice, a gentle evolution, a transformative awakening.
Ogilvie, Byron Yoga Centre