When you step inside the Yoga 213 studio on Swan St, Richmond, the feeling of happiness is instant. As you enter you are first greeted by a large bright yellow staircase (it’s basically a stairway to yoga bliss heaven!) and once you reach the top you are welcomed with Sammy’s infectious smile and lots of bright funky features – including an unbelievable portrait of Hip-Hop legend Notorious BIG.
We’re so pleased to welcome Sammy Veall the gorgeous owner of Yoga 213 and the undeniable Hip Hop Yoga Queen in Melbourne to the TWOSIX Community and for her enthusiasm to share her story – it will warm your heart and inspire your every sense.
We sat down with Sammy to talk all things life, yoga, travel, music and her precious pup Tilly.
Sammy, can you tell us a little about your journey to discovering yoga?
When I was younger I was in search of happiness. I travelled to Sydney, New York and LA to live by myself, chasing an acting career that instead of giving me what I thought it should – happiness – was leaving me empty. It was in between my trip to New York and LA that I had an accident that triggered a change in my life and led me to find yoga. I was burnt very badly at a farm party in Deniliquin when I was 21 and now have 3rd-degree burns to 35% of my body. I arrived in LA to give acting one last shot about 8 months after the accident, and instead I stumbled into a Hip Hop yoga class at Steve Ross’ studio Maha Yoga. My whole world opened up and I finally felt that surge of happiness that I had been looking for. It was the combination of music, yoga and the open atmosphere that made me fall in love.
What part has yoga played in your life?
A huge, huge part. It keeps me sane, keeps me healthy, constantly reminds me to live in the present moment and most importantly to love and be happy with the body and mind that I have.
Tell us about your gorgeous studio? What was the motivation behind opening your own space?
I am in love with our new Richmond studio, I spend every day in it with my dog Tilly doing emails, sending apparel orders, teaching yoga and practicing yoga. The natural light from the arch windows and the sense of being up high and away from everything is incredible. It’s a bit bigger than South Yarra and has better features like floorboards, showers, and a black New York style glass partition glass wall that you can peer out of into the sky whilst practicing yoga. It’s really something else. We are going to be sticking around in Richmond for a good 10 years now, so that in itself is very comforting.
If Yoga 213 were a person, how would you describe them?
Welcoming, fun, cheeky, sexy, free spirited and happy.
The bright yellow staircase as you walk into the studio is just divine and really does set the mood for the whole studio. Can you tell us about the studio’s design?
As we were moving into pretty much the middle of the North and the South, we wanted to create a space that welcomed both cultures. The studio is sophisticated and well designed without being intimidating. We wanted to keep the whole vibe we had going in South Yarra but upgrade it. The yellow stairs are based around our ‘To be Happy’ vibe, as the colour yellow is a very happy and calming colour. The black doors and black strip lighting give off a sexy and sleek vibe while the white washed floorboards and masses of greenery give it a beach house vibe, making it more relaxed. I was helped out by the boys at Wildhen Design, who are very clever with interiors.
Yoga is very much “having its moment” Are you worried the key elements and philosophy in yoga will get lost within this new age of yoga practice?
Yoga is actually becoming more traditional now in my eyes. When Yoga came over from the East, it was turned into this very serious and competitive practice that was very intimidating for people. Now the real underlying nature of Yoga is starting to come back through, which is happiness. And that’s what we have tried to create at 213. A safe place for people ‘to be happy’.
What feelings and experiences do you want students to gain from spending time with you at Yoga 213?
Freedom, self-love, happiness and confidence.
What’s the perfect playlist for a Hip Hop Yoga class at 213?
Lots of old school Hip Hop and R’n’B. The tracks that remind you of your year 12 formal where you were dancing wearing something really embarrassing, just loving life! Notorious BIG, Mase, Kanye West, Nas, Destiny’s Child, Jay-Z, Ja Rule, R Kelly, Usher and Busta Rhymes.
One piece of advice you would give to your 16 year-old-self…
Be comfortable and proud of who you are.
What keeps you going on a tough day?
My dog Tilly.
What are 3 of your favourite yoga poses?
Downward Dog I love, really grounding and feels great on the legs. Side plank – makes me feel strong. And lastly Pigeon Pose, I could stay here for hours. Because of my accident, this pose is really important for me to keep my scars stretched out.
And lastly, do you have a favourite quote or life philosophy?
TO BE HAPPY – this came from my Grandpa who passed it onto my Dad who then passed it onto me. I got it tattooed under my right arm when I was 18, and I have based all my 213 businesses around it. Whenever I would call my Dad and ask him a life question whether it was about uni, work, a boyfriend he would always respond with “In the end all that’s important is… to be happy.” And I would then know the answer myself. My dad is the greatest.
Studio: Level 1, 97 Swan Street, Richmond 3121
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