The new society aims to make Yoga more accessible for students.
Creating a new sports club is never easy at Glasgow University. After navigating Glasgow University Sports Association’s complex affiliation process, the challenge of convincing regular students to select your club over 50 other established bodies determines whether the club will outlast your degree. Nonetheless for those that persevere the sheer adulation and joy of seeing something you have created grow exponentially is enough of a drive to begin the process.
That is exactly what a third-year dentistry student set out to achieve; less than a year later and the Glasgow University Yoga Club (GUYC) is the result. Although yoga classes are run regularly by UofG Sport, this club aims to create a more social atmosphere surrounding yoga, allowing for students of all abilities to experience the activity.
For distance runner Kirsty Dickson - who is now president of the club - yoga provided at first an opportunity for rehabilitation following a knee injury, however, this soon produced alternative benefits. “For me as a first year I struggled a lot with anxiety but yoga allows me to clear my head whilst physically still getting stronger.”
Crucially, the committee noticed a sizable gap in the University’s sport set up for a club. Although classes do run every week, factors such as cost, availability and even having friends to go with may limit the extent to which a student is willing to attend. The club looks to combat all three of these areas, offering a mix of virtual and instructor-led sessions providing multiple opportunities for practice throughout the week. Virtual sessions are included in the £25 membership while those with a professional instructor will cost only a couple of pounds.
Away from the studio, secretary Lindsey Young highlighted the need to create a strong social environment. “One of the best things about clubs is that you can not only have fun training together but can also gain the opportunity of socialising with like-minded people. We’re also trying to get sponsorship from somewhere to have yoga brunches that help promote the mental and physical well-being, compared to the classic sports socials.”
One particular focus for the new committee is inclusivity. Although a predominantly female club, men are more than welcome as yoga can provide real benefits for all. Likewise, sessions will be run for all abilities together as the instructors can easily adapt positions and moves quickly to allow for all attendees to participate fully. This will help maintain the community aspect of the club, avoiding any divide between beginners and the more experienced.
Interest in the club is already high. The newly created Facebook page already boasts 300 likes while 99 students registered interest at the recent Refreshers’ Fayre; far exceeding any other club’s total. Coming soon is the club’s launch event, allowing for interested students to learn more about how the club will run, as well as trying out some of the sessions on offer – keep an eye on their social media to confirm dates.
One of the yoga club’s advantages is its ability to appeal to students already competing in other activities. Most of the committee remain active members of their original sports and see the two as working together. As Dickson explains: “yoga originally for me was about injury prevention and improving my flexibility. Over time it’s aided my running, reducing tightness and I’ll now recover quicker as well.”
Despite the overwhelming interest, the process to create the club has been challenging. After jumping through GUSA’s many and varied hoops required to become officially affiliated, the committee still need to make one final presentation to the GUSA Council before a probationary offer can be accepted.
Unsurprisingly there are proposals being considered to make the whole process of applying for GUSA affiliation easier; given the sheer workload required it has no doubt put off some students from pursuing this avenue or choosing instead to affiliate to the SRC who have a more straightforward application procedure.
Nonetheless, given the expected success of the yoga club, both remain optimistic about securing affiliation in the future. As the club develops, it is hoped they will branch out from the current Ashtanga style of yoga into other forms of the practice. Likewise, plans are in place to run one-off workshops focusing on a particular skill such as handstands which will help reach a wider group of students around the University.
For what started as a simple idea in September, the strides being made by the yoga club have been incredible to witness. With a driven president and committee, they have the potential very quickly to become one of GUSA’s most popular clubs by promoting a unique lifestyle and level of inclusivity difficult for traditional club sports to offer. Although some finer details still require refinement, expect to see GUYC develop rapidly into a mainstay of the Glasgow University active lifestyle.