Iyengar Yoga in Gariwerd National Park.

Clifton Hill Iyengar Yoga Studio was founded in 1995 by my partner Jane and me. At the time, it was one of only a few Iyengar-only studios in Melbourne. In the following 14 years, we developed a loyal clientele. When we left Melbourne in 2009, it was Melbourne’s most popular and loved yoga school.

It would be difficult to leave such a wonderful group of fellow Yogis.

Jane and I loved the inner-city life, but we felt a strong urge to move to rural Victoria, a place with more natural surroundings. Both of us had grown up in the countryside. It seemed like the natural next step for us to create an Iyengar Yoga Retreat at this stage of our lives. We wanted to provide a place where people could escape the daily chaos and find peace in nature.

We moved to Griffins Hill from Clifton Hill, a six-acre property located 1.2km from Dunkeld in Western Victoria. Djab Wurrung Country is located at the southernmost tip of Gariwerd, or the Grampian Mountains. Gariwerd is a mountain range that rises from the western plains. It is mostly sheep country today, but an ancient landscape known for its natural beauty and walking trails. We thought it had great potential to be a unique yoga retreat.

Our passion for nature and yoga-inspired us as we began this new chapter. Griffins Hill is a place where everyone can experience the peace and tranquility we’ve found. Miles the Emu and other animals, such as kangaroos, live in our backyard, which is surrounded by mountains and bush. The National Park walking trails begin at our front doorstep, and Kangaroos are grazing right outside of the windows of the yoga studio.

Yoga practice in nature

Iyengar Yoga is taught through practice. We develop a deeper understanding of correct alignment and actions in an asana through practice. As we practice, we become familiar with the effects the asana has on our nervous system and body. We can then guide others to the same experiences. The emotional context of my yoga teaching is enhanced by practicing yoga at the foothills of the Gariwerd Mountains, surrounded by early morning bird sounds.

Our Iyengar Yoga retreats last between five and seven full days. The students can immerse themselves deeply in the peaceful atmosphere. Yoga, organic food, and the beauty of nature are all that’s on offer. These retreats allow me to go deeper with students to explore specific aspects such as backbends and inversions.

Griffins Hill is a place of importance to us.

We pay respect to our place by acknowledging its original inhabitants and ecosystems. Our ‘place’ and our actions are defined by peaceful cohabitation with other mammals. Our fragile ecosystem is delicately balanced. Australia has a history of poor protection and is rapidly losing species. Griffins Hill is involved in a local campaign to end the killing of kangaroos for commercial purposes. This is a continuation of the yogic non-violence practice, Ahimsa. It offers a real contribution to “place.”

I have been practicing and teaching Iyengar Yoga for over 40 years. I love to share the spirit of Griffin Hill as much as I do Iyengar Yoga.

Griffins Hill Retreat pays homage to the Gunditjmara, Eastern Maar Peoples, and their elders, past, present, and emerging, as well as the Traditional Custodians.

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