YogiSoc was it was only established last year, but they already have the award of Best New Society under their belt. The goal of YogiSoc this year – according to the society’s Treasurer – is to build a community that both serves as a positive outlet for the stresses of student life and also works at a level which is appropriate for experienced yogis and beginners alike (so that newbies shouldn’t feel intimidated to go along to a session).
The Yoga Workshop promised to showcase different varieties of yoga, featuring 3 classes and a complimentary lunch held at the All Saints Church on North Castle Street. The church served as a great venue for the workshop, as there was little noise to cause distraction from the meditative aspects of the yoga classes. Upon my arrival to the first session, the venue was filled to capacity with people eager to take part.
The first class focused on Vinyasa yoga and stretches designed to open up the hips and shoulders, tone the muscles of the arms and legs, and strengthen the core. This class, taught by Ashley Gierlach, aimed to bring harmony to the mind and body – and it certainly succeeded; afterwards I felt very relaxed and at peace.
The second session, led by Katharine Mikula, started with a warmup that was at a slower pace; it focused on stretches that opened up the chest in preparation for the hearty laughter yoga that was to come later in the hour. The Laughter Yoga session was taught by Jessica Steinberg, who explained that laughter has a multitude of benefits, especially when combined with yogic breathing. At first it seemed that people felt a little awkward at the prospect of stimulating laughter as a physical exercise rather than it naturally occurring; however, over the course of the half hour session, everyone became more relaxed about the concept. This class was definitely bizarre, but I felt very energised and positive at the end of it despite my initial reservations.
For the final class, again taught by Katharine, there was a heavier focus on meditation and breathing exercises which seemed to invoke relaxation in everyone present. I am sure that I heard someone snoring in one of the poses where we had our eyes closed. This class served as the perfect end to the workshop, and everyone left looking calm and content.
What struck me about the event was how professional the teachers were – and how focused they were on understanding the needs of the class, allowing people to go at a pace which was comfortable to them. They offered modifications of both increased and decreased difficulty of certain poses, something which has been ignored in yoga classes I have attended elsewhere.
Leaving the event I felt refreshed and renewed; YogiSoc put on a fantastic day and I am sure to attend classes in the future. I would recommend anyone to pop along and try out one of their three classes a week (information is on the YogiSoc Facebook group) to bring a bit of peace and tranquility into student life.
Emily Rose Pearce
Photo credit: University of St Andrews Yoga Society