Stress, anxiety and weakened immune systems are familiar afflictions to the third level student. While the widespread student regimen of pints, Cadbury products and Strepsils may treat the symptoms, a 5,000 year-old Indian practice may offer a cure. Yoga, originating in Northern India under ancient Hindu religious teachings, arrived in the west in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It didn’t gain popularity, however, until a yoga studio was opened in Hollywood in 1947, providing the celebrity endorsement essential to igniting the trend .
Yoga is often translated from the original Sanskrit as “to join” or “to yoke,” usually referring to the union of the body and mind. Though there are many variations and styles of yoga, the foundations of a yoga practice consist of the physical postures (asana), breath work (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana).
Today, yoga is especially popular in the west as a means of treating the anxiety and stress induced by the (lack of) work-life balance resultant of the capitalist mentality of contemporary society. Further, the western preoccupation with physical fitness seen in the 1900s and 2000s may explain the emphasis on the physical aspects of yoga (asana) characteristic of the Power Yoga-based styles common in the west.
Medical research has indicated that a consistent yoga practice can improve mental focus and immune health as well as reduce stress and anxiety. While the aforementioned doses of alcoholic drinks, chocolate treats and cold medications may offer a more immediate gratification and, upon initial calculations, appear to be more cost-effective than a yoga studio membership, investing in a yoga routine is likely to provide a longer-term health solution.
For students under stress, aggrieved by a restrictive student budget and/or seeking 60 to 90 minutes of relaxation, below are a few of Dublin’s affordable yoga options.
Located in Smithfield on Dublin’s north side, The Elbow Room aims to make yoga accessible to everyone. The studio offers classes for beginners, children, pregnant women, and mothers with their babies as well as classes in Hatha (a gentle sequence of basic yoga poses), Vinyasa (a fluid sequence of poses pairing postures with breath), Ashtanga (a more rigorous set sequence of poses that matches postures with breath), Iyengar (an alignment-focus method which may involve yoga props such as blocks, blankets, chairs, straps and bolsters), and restorative yoga (a sequence of passive postures intended to promote relaxation that also utilises props). While the standard drop-in rate is €15-16 (depending on the duration of the class), The Elbow Room offers Community Classes with Student (€10) and unwaged (€8) drop-in rates.
On Dublin’s south side, Yoga Dublin Ranelagh and Yoga Dublin Dundrum offer yoga classes in Ashtanga, Hatha, Yin (a series of passive poses held up to 3 to 5 minutes designed to loosen connective tissue surrounding the joints to facilitate greater ease during meditation), Vinyasa and restorative yoga. They also offer a range of other popular fitness classes (e.g., Pilates, Zumba and Ballet-Barre). The standard drop-in rate is €16 with student and unwaged discounts at €12 per class.
Join fellow yoga and meditation practitioners in a more informal setting with a wider (and often unconventional), array of styles (e.g., ‘Laughter Yoga’). Classes and Meetups listed on the site may be free, donation-only or set-price, and often take place in alternative rental spaces (e.g., university classrooms, outside or in the Friends Meeting House for Quakers on Eustace Street, to name a few).
As another alternative to the traditional studio class (and at much less of a cost), the donation-only Outdoor Yoga class was founded in 2007 in association with The Yoga Hub. Taking place in various parks throughout Dublin, the yoga classes cater to students at any skill level and all proceeds are donated to charity. Though these classes are weather-contingent (which, in Dublin, translates into an unreliable yoga practice), the classes are inexpensive and accompanied by vitamin D and positive societal implications.