Iconic ashram opens up

WHEN Beacon Yoga Centre opened in Beaconsfield in 1976, the neighbours were a bit worried.

“People would walk across the street to avoid us,” says Shobha Day, a long-term BYC board member.

More than 40 years later the ashram is an alternative mecca, and people flock from across the metro area to attend the centre’s many yoga and meditation classes, courses and workshops.

Indian yogi Swami Venkatesananda was the inspiration for the centre.

“He came to WA in 1961 as a guest of the University of WA to lecture on yoga,” Day says.

Sleepy Perth packed out the talks, and a seed was planted that took 15 years to bear fruit, helped by a local businessman who agreed to be guarantor, buying the half-acre site and heritage home.

• Yoga teachers Chinmaya (orange robe) and Donna Kirkland. Photos by Jenny D’Anger

Many of the founding members are still active, and the property is tied up to prevent it being sold off.

“If it is, the money goes to a charity,” Day says.

Part commune, residents have come and gone, some staying for years, and more recently WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) have put the ashram on the world map.

The hill-top site is well known, but many locals have still to step foot inside, which is why yoga teacher Donna Kirkland established an annual fair day in 2014.

“To reach out to our community to let them know we are here.”

At this year’s fair there’ll be a swag of stalls spread across the leafy gardens and the building’s many nooks and crannies.

Stock up for Christmas with handmade gifts from essential oils and teas to jewellery, Indian textiles, pottery, drums and yoga clothing.

There’s an op shop and a fashion parade, along with live music and fabulous food.

Or get the chance to take part in a variety of yoga practices, including sound yoga and a special kids class.

There’s also massage, Ayurvedic consults, tarot and psychic readings and crystal healing.

The fair is on Saturday, November 4, from 10am to 4pm, at 151 South Street, Beaconsfield.


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