December 2, 2021
Shop stories: Explore Yoga Tree in Elsternwick Village
Providing a friendly and welcoming atmosphere is at the heart of Yoga Tree in Elsternwick Village, and it’s something the studio has embodied since opening almost 20 years ago.
Director Ritu Babbar said this ethos has formed the foundations of the yoga studio, which has become renowned as a “safe, homely space for people”.
The studio has a rich history in Elsternwick Village, first opening in 2002 as a dedicated Bikram yoga (hot yoga) studio – which, at the time, was Melbourne’s first hot yoga studio, said Ms Babbar.
The business changed hands a couple of times before Ms Babbar took ownership in July 2019, and it has evolved over the years to offer a diverse range of yoga styles, including Bikram, vinyasa flow, yin, and flow.
“The studio has evolved as we have evolved. We started out really strength-based and as time went on some students wanted the option for something slower paced,” Ms Babbar said.
The studio now offers a mix of power flow (vinyasa) classes that focuses on building strength and follows a set sequence, while yin yoga offers a slower-paced class where poses are held for longer periods of time.
Proud of its warm and welcoming atmosphere, Ms Babbar said Yoga Tree was a yoga studio that people could call home.
“It’s such a safe space – not just for me, for most people that come through. It’s a homely space where there’s no judgement, and you and go and be who you are,” she said.
“It doesn’t have that cliquey vibe to it – that’s what separates us from other studios because it’s not just about a fitness regime. Yoga Tree has a sense of authenticity to it.”
A personal journey to yoga
With an Indian background, Ms Babbar grew up with yoga and with ritual in her lifestyle, and one of her earliest childhood memories is of her grandfather teaching her breathing exercises and chanting. And this is something she brings to Yoga Tree to keep it authentic.
Then Ms Babbar’s journey to finding yoga later in life was as a healing experience. Following a neck injury in her 20s, it was recommended that Ms Babbar try postural yoga to assist with the pain and aid her recovery.
That’s when she joined Yoga Tree, opting for hot yoga as a gentle approach to managing her injury.
“I started off with Bikram and it has been a big journey since then. I then moved into the more dynamic sequencing, and I’ve done extensive training and got more into the meditation side as well,” she said.
“These sorts of practices are always growing, and your body is always changing. So that’s why we offer a range of styles at Yoga Tree.”
Ms Babbar has been with Yoga Tree since its beginnings, first as a student, then as a teacher, and now as the studio’s owner.
“I’m naturally a people-person… I never thought I was because I spent most of my life travelling to other countries, living in other countries, teaching in other countries,” she said.
“Then when I came back to Melbourne and I became a studio owner, it felt quite organic. It has been quite a steep learning curve, but I’ve realised that it is really nice to be grounded and it (the studio) has this sense of safety.
“I say ‘the tree has really deep roots’. We’ve been through a few storms and we might have some weathered branches, but we still pull it together somehow.”
Blending fitness with spiritual connection
Those looking for a yoga studio that allows them to improve their strength and fitness, as well as connect with their spiritual side, will be right at home at Yoga Tree.
The studio not only offers a range of yoga styles, but also has a variety of yoga instructors who bring their own teaching style to classes.
“We have a diverse range within our yoga styles, but also within the teaching. So, you can come to a flow class and feel like it is super flowy, or you can come to a flow class where you’re actually holding a pose and only flowing through transitions. It depends on the teacher’s style.
“One thing we’ve always believed in at Yoga Tree is that the teachers have their own voice… and lead the class in their own style. This means we don’t have a cookie-cutter class which makes our studio unique.”
Visit the studio
5 Horne St, Elsternwick
Phone: (03) 9532 7418