Yoga students and practitioners in Melbourne’s inner south might already be familiar with the Russia-born Masha Gorodilova. In 2015, she co-founded Armadale’s Happy Melon with the goal of demystifying meditation, combining the practice with yoga, Pilates and fitness. She stepped away from it five years ago to have children – her son Andrei and later a daughter, Sofia – but she continued to teach yoga through private and online lessons.

Opening a new studio wasn’t part of the plan – until she and her partner stumbled upon a “For Lease” sign in the backstreets of South Yarra while walking their dog.

“I thought, ‘This is a beautiful window,’” says Gorodilova. “It was an Aboriginal art gallery, so it had lots of beautiful art on the walls – you can still see some of the hooks for hanging art on our walls now.”

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Where most yoga studios have a reception area and separate studio spaces, Within Retreat is simply one room. “I wanted to simplify it,” she tells Broadsheet. “My mantra is no questions asked.”

In the centre of the room is a frosted glass wall covered in black lines resembling wood grain, and in the middle of the wall are large sliding doors made from the trunk of a single 80-year-old tree.

When Gorodilova took over the space, the architect’s only request was that she keep – and take care of – the door, so the team moved it to the back of the room, where it now leads to a resting area, with storage for props and refreshments, and the bathrooms.

Back in the main room, Gorodilova and her team teach three styles of yoga. There’s strong – a dynamic class with a fast pace; gentle, a slower style that focuses on body awareness; and yin, a restorative practice where poses are held for longer and more props are incorporated. The heat is cranked up for the first two, while yin classes are held at room temperature.

Looking around, there are plenty of familiar faces from studios Gorodilova taught at over the years, but the community has steadily grown as more newcomers entered the fold.

“I found that the group here [are] quite open; they try a lot and they’re curious. Once you start doing yoga … something inside your body, your heart, your mind opens up, and you become very vulnerable. It’s vulnerable to move this way.”

Within Retreat
18 Wilson Street, South Yarra
0458 557 959

Hours:
Mon to Sat 6am–8pm
Sun 9am–8pm

withinretreat.com.au