Steal It! The Australian Yoga Secret We're Obsessing Over

mbg Contributor By Leigh Weingus
mbg Contributor
Leigh Weingus is a New York City based freelance journalist writing about health, wellness, feminism, entertainment, personal finance, and more. She received her bachelor’s in English and Communication from the University of California, Davis.

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When I meet people from Australia, I'm often blown away by their happy, radiant vibes. They definitely have something figured out that I don't, but what is it?

As a fitness editor, I have to wonder: Do their sunny, sparkly vibes have something to do with their workout routines? Are they on the same steady stream of barre, boot camps, boxing, yoga, and treadmills as we are in the United States? Not quite. "We're a pretty diverse bunch when it comes to exercise, but being outdoors whenever possible is a pretty big theme," Leanne Gerich, manager of Stretch Yoga in Brisbane, Australia, told me.

If you, too, aspire to exercise like an Australian, here's what you need to know.

Inside the Australian yoga scene.

People are crazy for downward-facing dog in Australia, too. But according to Leanne, Australians don't view yoga as a crucial part of their workout routine.

"While there aren't as many studios as the USA, Canada, and the U.K., the studios that do exist are generally very high quality," says Leanne. "Australians tend to be a bit more relaxed than people from other countries, so even though you do get the 'die-hard yogis' who practice every day, most people do about two or three classes per week. We tend to have quite active and outdoor-based lifestyles (beautiful scenery and near perfect weather helps!), so yoga is often a complement to other forms of exercise."

Laura Ellis, a crystal healer who has lived in both Australia and New York, adds that when it comes to yoga, many of them prefer to simply to it in their backyards. "The weather is just so beautiful, and we all have gardens, so nothing quite beats doing a pose or two under the lemon tree with your dog sitting nearby."

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Taking advantage of the great outdoors.

In Australia, gyms aren't nearly as popular as outdoor exercise. Most cities are right on the ocean, making walks and runs along the beach popular, along with surfing, SUP yoga, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, and team sports. "One huge difference I've noticed between exercise in Australia and America is how after high school and college, Australians continue to play team sports," says Leanne. "Both competitively and recreationally. You can be playing mixed netball with a group of friends after work or be part of a competitive soccer league. Playing organized teams sports is a huge part of the Australian culture."

Leanne adds that the combination of moderate weather conditions and a beautiful landscape make regular outdoor workouts difficult to pass up. "We're blessed with amazing sunshine and very moderate winters, so getting active outdoors is generally something you can do most days," she says.

Only in Australia.

Thanks to its unique variety of wildlife and produce, Australia also has a few unique workouts. Leanne told me that there's a strength-training jumping program called Kangoo Jumps modeled after—you guessed it—kangaroos, a waterless boat race, and a watermelon festival where you can ski on melons.

"A bunch of my friends would get awesome workouts shearing sheep, and we used to pick fruit that was awesome for your biceps," adds Laura.

"Clearly we have a pretty unique sense of humor here," says Leanne. "Most Aussies are up for anything!"

Certainly sounds like it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm packing my bags and moving to Australia—or at least taking my next workout inspiration from down under.

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