Chiara balancing on a beam (holy crap!) in Sydney, Australia.

“Let’s get one thing straight. Yoga saved me. At a time when my life was in turmoil, I turned to Yoga to calm my mind, relax my body and remind me that I am worthy. I was good at Yoga. Thanks to a background in gymnastics, I could contort my limbs and hold complex inversions, but the relative ease which flowed throughout my practice ended the moment I would step off my mat.

Chiara, founder of a new style of yoga: Noga Sydney in Australia.

Whilst in class I stood out for my deep forward folds or un-assisted handstands, but out of class, I felt in my own mind that I stood out for reasons less favorable. I didn’t look like the other Yogis. I didn’t dress, speak or hold myself like them, and despite returning to the same studio 4-5 times every week, I’d built very few friendships. I realized I felt incredibly uneasy in studios; as though I didn’t belong.

Eager to turn this around and find acceptance, I made a conscious effort to engage more in conversations before and after class, but I felt like I had very little to contribute. I knew nothing of energy healers, reiki or “aligning my chakras” and my efforts to express curiosity were met with disdain. Was it possible that something I’d fallen so deeply for didn’t want me back?

Unwilling to accept that, I studied and studied; everything from the ancient scripts to the LuluLemon back catalogues and hundreds of hours and credit card transactions later, I finally began to feel as though I’d found a place in the Yoga community.

But, I’d lost myself. I barely recognized the girl staring back at me from the mirrors in class. She looked sad. She looked vacant. She wasn’t me.

Chiara, founder of Noga Sydney (Auatralia) sitting in front of a mural.

Still not yet ready to throw in my Yoga towel, I decided to try a new studio. Dressed head to toe in my “best” (AKA most expensive) activewear, I strolled into the lobby with an air of fake confidence, desperate to make a good impression. I barely made it past the front door. “This is a sacred space. You can’t wear those in here”  said the studio manager.

She was glaring down at my (albeit slightly grubby) Air Max 1s with utter disgust. She wanted me to take my sneakers off, but instead, they turned right back around and ran out the door.

“This world just wasn’t for me” I told myself. I wanted to live in a world where I could wear whatever I wanted, move however felt good and speak or even sing in class if a good song came on. I could never get the hang of chanting in Sanskrit but boy, could I find happiness in the lyrics of my favorite songs. Isn’t that what Yoga is ultimately all about? Finding contentment? I wanted to have this place of expression not only for myself, but for others who may not connect with certain studios out there like me.

Chiara, founder of a new style of yoga: Noga Sydney is in dancers pose.

Soon after this realization, I moved my life from London to Australia, which was a dream I’d always had and I felt it was the perfect opportunity to start afresh and begin building my vision of a new way to approach Yoga. If I didn’t fit into the Yoga world I’d been exposed to thus far, I’d just have to find a way for it to fit into mine instead. My aim was to create a Yoga style that was inclusive and fun and would resonate with others who’d had similar experiences to me.

Like with any new venture, I undertook some market research but instead of talking to Yogis about what they loved about Yoga, I reached out to people who didn’t currently take part in Yoga to understand what was behind their “why not”. ‘It’s too slow’, ‘it’s too expensive’ and ‘it’s too spiritual’ were strong recurring themes and I felt I had an answer to all of it.

My answer was Noga.

Chiara, founder of a new style of yoga: Noga Sydney in Australia.

Noga is a new approach to Yoga which focuses on the stretching and strengthening benefits of practice without taking itself too seriously. So, our mantra is: Modern Music, Faster Flow, Zero Ohms. We flow to the likes of Drake, Rihanna, DJ Khaled and friends, and classes are very affordable and friendly.

By far, my proudest moment has been observing how our “Nogi’s” interacted with one another at the Official Noga Launch Class yesterday morning at the Sydney Eye Tower. We’d created an atmosphere of openness in which new friendships and connections could thrive. I’m super excited to continue building this community and welcoming people into the wonders of Yoga, regardless of their experience, spiritual beliefs or choice of footwear.” – Chiara

Noga Yoga has its grand opening May 31st!! Check out their Instagram or their tickets page for the next class.

Posted by:theselfstories

Our purpose is to provide yoga practitioners the opportunity to share their stories as they realize and live in the infinite benefits of the physical asana practice of yoga, meditation and self inquiry. We aspire to expose others to, and inspire them to believe that they too, can live fuller, more freeing and empowered lives.

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