Q&A with the founders of this peaceful paradise
As you may have noticed, we’ve been spending an increasing amount of time up in Sydney as our businesses continue to grow. One my favourite places (both in Sydney and around the world) is Bondi Beach, but I don’t often stay in the area given that many of our meetings are closer to the CBD and most of our visits are a total in-and-out-in-24-hours whirlwind. But a couple of visits ago, I decided to base myself by the beach during a particularly crazy period when I was in desperate need of some nature, tranquility and rejuvenation. My dear friend Zara of Oh My Goodness mentioned that she had been staying with a lovely couple in North Bondi and that they might have a room to spare during my stay. I was already sold on the idea of a few days of sea air in great company, but was even more excited when Zara told me the place I’d be staying at was their newly founded yoga retreat and homely haven, Bondi Yoga House. It was like the world knew exactly what I needed and made it appear at just the right time.
Nestled away just a short walk from the water, Bondi Yoga House is an absolute hidden treasure. It is beautifully renovated striking the perfect balance between modern and homely and is surrounded by lush greenery right from the entrance all the way out to a beautiful backyard area big enough to host some morning yoga outside. The common area downstairs has a big, well-equipped kitchen, communal dining table (where some of us ate together but none were pressured to), and lots of space for class with bean bags and other homely touches. The walls were my favourite part adorned with beautiful lights and a heart-warming pinboard for motivational quotes and letters from visitors. There are several bedrooms and bathrooms all stunningly decorated with white linen, candles, and little welcoming bursts of colour and art in the mix. The whole place hums with positive, calming and restorative energy and once I stepped foot inside, I never wanted to leave. There is a beautiful blend of community but also with the space to allow you to retreat to your own room without any judgment should you wish. And the owners… I mean where do I even start!? Absolute legends!!!
I didn’t know Amanda or Ben before I arrived, but you really don’t need to know them to fall in love with them. Amanda is a born American, next-stop Australian, who has caught the wanderlust itch. Benny is a converted Bondi hipster who still loves to channel his DJ roots and play the decks. They have been together over three years and in that short time they have learned they can live 12 months out of a backpack while travelling the world together, never regret going to a yoga class and laughter is never inappropriate. They fill the house with so much love, light and wonderful stories. They are lovers, best friends and business partners as the founders of Bondi Yoga House. When they aren’t at BYH you can find them at the beach, exchanging laughs with friends over red wine or planning their next adventure! And this weekend in particular, you can find them at Wanderlust 108 in Melbourne (after their great success in Sydney) serving up our Matcha Maiden smoothies!!! Seemed appropriate timing to share my recent Q&A with these beautiful souls – enjoy the read and definitely visit them if you’re ever in Bondi (they have a few retreats coming up so get onto them, people)!
1. Tell us how you ended up as yogis. I hear you were fellow corporates before?
Yes you heard right! We had both been doing yoga for about 2 years before we decided to take up Yoga Teacher Training in Nicaragua. We decided to trade our briefcases for backpacks early 2015 as we left our corporate jobs to travel around the world. Yoga was always something we used as an outlet to improve our physical training, but we soon realised yoga has so many more incredible benefits mentally and spiritually.
2. And tell us about Bondi Yoga House. How did it come about and what is your vision for your beautiful haven?
During our 10 month backpacking adventure, we had a lot of time to reflect on what was important to us. We wanted to create a lifestyle that was centred around five things that we love; Our beautiful dog, the ocean, yoga, food/wine and travel. One day on a beautiful beach in Europe we came up with the concept of Bondi Yoga House. A boutique accommodation experience that combines yoga, delicious healthy meals and the flexibility to explore the best Bondi Beach and Sydney has to offer. We want to provide people with an amazing experience!
3. Having a yoga retreat sounds like an absolute dream – what’s it actually like?
We are totally living the dream! We absolutely LOVE running the retreat – it does have its tough times, like all the dirty work of cleaning the toilets, mopping, endless washing and ironing…oh and did I mention making beds, over and over! All part of running your own accommodation business though.
4. What would your typical day look like?
This is dependent if we have a retreat on at the time. During retreats, our mornings start by teaching yoga either at the beach or at the house. We then put on our Masterchef aprons and whip up a delicious hearty and healthy breakfast for guests, then help them organise any activities they might want to do across the day and ensuring they are having the best experience possible! We then meet back at the house (or beach) for evening yoga. In-between time we are doing all things that involve managing a fun lifestyle business!
On days without guests we normally start with sunrise yoga or bootcamp on the beach, followed by a delicious healthy breakfast and a morning cuddle with our mascot Bondi (Cavoodle dog). Our daily activities change often but we could be doing anything from experimenting in the kitchen with new menu items, meeting with local partners, revamping the website, business development, brainstorming on how we can better the experience for guests and ensuring that the house is up to scratch (theres that cleaning again!) How much time do you have? The list can go on forever!
5. And what about your day on a plate?
On a naughty day or normal? Typically we eat very healthy and cook as much as we can at home! For breakfast we are obsessed with Iggys bread (a bakery in Bronte) and typically have some sort of veggie frittata or fritters with a side of avo on toast! For lunch we normally venture out and around the beaches to taste some of the amazing local menus. When it comes to dinner, if we want to be a bit naughty, our local Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta is our go too! Life is all about balance right?
6. Favourite style of yoga?
Our favourite style of yoga is Rocket Yoga, which was developed by a teacher in San Francisco, Larry Schultz. He was actually the private teacher for a famous rock band in the US (Grateful Dead) and he actually developed this flow for them, hence the title “rock”et, pretty cool hey? Recently though we have a new appreciation for yin yoga and really slowing down and deepening our practice.
7. Favourite places in the world to do yoga?
This is a hard one, as we were fortunate enough to do yoga in some amazing places while we travelled around the world last year. This might sound a bit cliche (only because it is true) but we live in an amazing place and doing yoga down on Bondi Beach at sunrise….pretty hard to beat that!
8. Craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Between the two of us, we have jumped out of planes and ran with the bulls, but last year we decided to hang glide off the cliffs of Rio De Janeiro. It wasn’t until the guide asked us to ran as fast as possible off the cliff did we realise what we had gotten ourselves into.
9. Item in the pantry you can’t live without?
As I (Amanda) reach for that very item now, I would have to say peanut butter. True american coming out there! For Ben it would have to be chilli flakes, he puts it on everything. He even carried it around the world before it exploded all over his backpack!
10. Best tip on getting a bit more zen in our lives?
We all need a bit of zen in our life and recognising your body needs a moment to relax is very important. For us it could be as simple as taking a moment to focus on the present moment. It could be a few minutes where you close your eyes, listen to your breath and let go of any thoughts or feelings. This is something you can do anywhere, on the train, sitting at your desk at work or coming to Bondi Yoga House!!