As a yoga instructor, studio owner and father of two, Chris Wilson of Yoke Yoga rides the line of balance each day, whether this includes indulging in a surf on the Victorian coast or shedding a few tears while watching ‘The Voice’. On the sheepskin rug in his light-filled yoga studio in Torquay, we talk to Chris about how he yokes together each of the disparate elements that make up his life, and how his daily yoga practice helps him to keep “smiling at tensions in the water”.
Do you have a morning routine?
Yes, this varies a little, however typically I’ll practice 10-20 mins pranayama (breathing exercises), sit for 20 minutes, and as much asana as I can before the kids wake up.
One of the virtues of yoga is the ability to take the time to listen to every creak or song within your body. Tell us how your morning rituals differ depending on how you and your body feels?
Great question! As you practice more you do become more sensitive to the subtle tensions and sensations in the body. This also comes with some perspective from the sensations, to have feelings but not be ‘hooked’ on feelings. But I think it’s important to move with the specific feelings/sensations that are occurring in each moment. Each morning my practice is similar, however the fine tuning or micro movements are specific to what’s happening with the new feelings arising.
Image above courtesy of Yoke Yoga
Your studio in Torquay has an instinctual sense of calm and light, like a reflection of the inner state that yoga draws you into. What was important for you when creating the aesthetic for the studio and filling it with the objects that you have?
Thanks for that, it does have a lovely feel to the space. We worked with Folk Architects (my brother’s firm) for the initial design and my wife Arabella is a guru at bringing a warmth with the finishing touches and lovely objects. The initial intention was to create a welcoming feel, one that feels safe and encourages yogis to chat before and after class.
You love to surf – how do your yoga practice and surfing harmonise each other?
It’s not something I’ve thought about that much to be honest. However they they do seem to help each other out – I think yoga keeps you more supple which makes surfing feel better, and surfing is a lovely time to practice presence, listening, tuning in and smiling at tensions in the water – all aspects of the yoga practice.
surfing is a lovely time to practice presence, listening, tuning in and smiling at tensions in the water
Image above courtesy of Yoke Yoga
As a father, how has your yoga practice supported you, and how has it changed over the thirteen years that you’ve been practicing it?
Being a dad and husband is a large part of the learning as a yogi. There are many little challenges that pop up each day, these help me see the fogginess of my own perception of how things are happening. Practicing yoga helps clear the fog – to loosen the grumpiness in challenging situations, ultimately this helps me be more loving with the family. In terms of how my practice has changed over the years…well at the moment it’s new each day, I still feel like a beginner and I’m grateful for this. I would say my physical practice has become a lot more gentle in the last couple of years, I’ve been particularly interested in pranayama and meditation.
Being a dad and husband is a large part of the learning as a yogi. There are many little challenges that pop up each day, these help me see the fogginess of my own perception of how things are happening. Practicing yoga helps clear the fog – to loosen the grumpiness in challenging situations
What is the ideology behind Yoke Yoga that makes it a departure from other yoga studios?
We initially set up Yoke not to be in competition with other studios, but to promote and elevate good yoga as a whole. Our vision is ‘to facilitate, inspire and promote powerful yoga taught from the heart. To provide a vehicle that lifts the spirits of all and celebrates our inherent oneness’. It’s a cosy, loving feeling in the studios and we put a lot of resources into nourishing the broader community as well as building the quality of teaching. As a business the three key areas we focus on are: world class teacher trainings, powerful healing retreats, and rocking yoga classes.
What would you say is one your vices in life?
I’m sure I’ve got loads of them. There’s a part of me that disagrees with watching too much TV, but then I love watching something like The Voice, It’s one of those times when the tears just seem to well up!
What is your bedtime routine?
Chat with my wife Bells about the day, read a book for a little while, some yoga nidra or a little bed meditation.