I Did This Immersive Yoga Thing

W1LL’s modern approach to the ancient practice of yoga extends beyond its online platform into its immersive studios, and a second has now opened in St Leonards.

From roof to floor, the new space – the first is in Surry Hills – is painted black and dimly lit, except for a screen spanning an entire wall where cinematic visuals of sunrises, waves and nature keep pace with your practice.

“The idea was built when I become frustrated [with] trying to find studios where I could enjoy the whole experience. I couldn’t find a studio that was the style I was looking for,” says founder Jacinta McDonnell.

Visual cues are key to McDonnell’s approach, but music is the true measure of a good yoga studio, she says.

Developed with the help of an in-house DJ and production team, each W1LL workout is carefully soundtracked, with music ranging from eclectic soundscapes to slow acoustic songs.

McDonnell has curated playlists to help guide the tempo and energy level of each class.

“Our senior instructors start with the music and build the sequencing for the season around this. The sequences are produced to pair the right moods and movements to the beat and rhythm of the practice,” she says.

Imagine a deep red sun rising from beneath the clouds to the sound of cellos as you downward dog. Work through your flow to tropical melodies, and sink into your final relaxation to the sound of monotonous synths. The right music certainly makes the plank pose go that little bit faster.

McDonnell already has a number of other successful fitness ventures; W1LL Surry Hills was formerly Urban Yoga, and she co-founded 24-hour gym franchise Anytime Fitness.

One of her goal’s with W1LL was to make yoga more accessible, and its instructors rarely use traditional names for poses or reference Sanskrit during practice.

“While we have great respect for the traditional names and philosophies for yoga, it can be a barrier for many people [who might not] resonate with them – making the whole experience intimidating,” says McDonnell.

Classes rarely stretch beyond the 45-minute mark, so they’re easy to fit into a busy schedule.

McDonnell also funnels 10 per cent of profits from fees, memberships, events and products into the Human Kind Project, a not-for-profit she established in 2015, which supports on-ground projects to end poverty, and promote education, gender equality and sustainable innovation in countries such as Malawi.

Original source: Broadsheet