TAKING time to calm the mind and body, to just be still in ancient meditation, need not be an epic process, community experts say.
Long-time yoga instructor Tracey Hargreaves said it was about regularly making a little time to keep building and feeling benefits from practising. Ms Hargreaves first started yoga as a university student in New South Wales and got more serious while living in London.
At the time, yoga was something Ms Hargreaves could practise at home and while travelling while trying to squeeze in classes when she could.
A secondary teacher-by-trade, Ms Hargreaves set up a studio now known as Absolute Yoga and Pilates, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this weekend. What started as classes after school with a handful of people has transformed into complementary classes in Pilates and barre and a new online streaming platform.
Ms Hargreaves said demand has boomed but, as life was getting busier and busier, her approach was to be as flexible as possible.
It doesn't have to be a big, epic thing. It's better to do a little rather than feeling bad for missing out and end up feeling crap and run-downTracey Hargreaves, Absolute Yoga and Pilates
Studio celebrations come this weekend as Victoria's Falun Dafa Association adopts a similar mindset. A free Falun Gong meditation workshop in Lucas on Saturday afternoon aims to introduce people to its practice they could take home or develop in a group.
Ms Hargreaves said most who tapped into her online classes lived outside of town or struggled to make it to class.
"People now are getting busier. We have 45 minute classes (in the studio) and they're really for people to fit in before work. But we have 10-minute meditations online," Ms Hargreaves said.
"It doesn't have to be a big, epic thing. It's better to do a little rather than feeling bad for missing out and end up feeling crap and run-down."
Ms Hargreaves said demand and awareness for yoga had boomed since her return to Ballarat.
Taking the plunge to leave school and start a studio for Ms Hargreaves was a big move and required persistence. Some nights, she would be the only one in the studio but remained consistent should others feel the need to join in.
Fire ravaged Ms Hargreaves' Grenville Street studio, atop the Plaster Fun House, in February 2014. But Ms Hargreaves said it was like a blessing in disguise, despite being on maternity leave at the time.
Community members would offer space to keep classes going, warm summer weather allowed for some classes at the lake, and when the Peel Street site was found, it felt more like home. It also offered the chance to expand.
"We added Pilates after the fire...it was probably more popular than yoga back in the day," Ms Hargreaves said.
"One reason I started Pilates was because I felt there was something missing. Yoga relies on deep core strength, which ancient Indian practice had from people sitting on the floor. There is a lot of low-level core strength involved that we don't have in Western society from sitting at desks all day.
"...I noticed how much stronger I felt in myself."
Popular dance-inspired barre classes followed in a second smaller studio next door.
As the studio and classes have evolved, Ms Hargreaves has also seen a chance to speak up amid a growing body positivity movement. Ms Hargreaves said yoga and other exercise was promoted in the fitness industry with skimpily dressed, skinny women posing on social media.
She said it was most important people felt comfortable, physically and mentally, in modifying poses to best fit their body and break down self-conscious feelings.
Falun Gong is a Chinese practice drawing on meditation and exercises, controversially outlawed in China two decades ago. Victorian Falun Dafa Association member Lucy Liu said many Chinese persisted for the perceived health benefits and people could often be found practising in streets or in community parks.
Ms Liu said the practice was based on the principles of truth, compassion and forbearance.
"It's not just about health in body, but also healthy minds...Not only are we showing exercises but we're showing people how to be a kinder person in workplace, family and society. There's a peaceful, positive energy," Ms Liu said.
"If people want we have (ongoing) workshop on the benefits but interested people can do it themselves at home."
Falun Dafa's free meditation workshop is at Lucas Community Hub (next to Wilson's) on Saturday, 1.30-4.30pm.
Absolute Yoga and Pilates is celebrating its 10th birthday at the studio on Sunday from 2pm. There will also be an exhibition of yoga instructor Steve Sedgwick's art. More details: Absolute Yoga and Pilates Ballarat on Facebook.
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