Dec 2nd, 2021, 01:55 PM

Yoga At AUP

By Giulia Camilla Giordo
Image credit: Unsplash/Eneko Uruñela
Why is there no Yoga Club at AUP?

Yoga consists of spiritual, mental, and physical practices. It originated in Ancient India but is practised around the world. With its globality, it has been adapted into many different styles with the most popular being Vinyasa Yoga and Hatha Yoga. Many yoga teachers integrate their lessons with important principles such as kindness, truthfulness, and self-discipline. Several studies have found that yoga can help improve cardiovascular health, flexibility, balance, and overall quality of life. In randomized comparisons, yoga fared nearly as well as any anti-depressant drug, particularly imipramine. Additionally, Yogasana-based therapy alone also reduced depression.

In a time where mental health is so fragile, why won’t AUP create a Yoga Club? 

So far this semester, the Take-Care club at AUP has held five sessions of ‘Yoga Meetups’ in the Combes building at AUP. The first one took place on the 19th of October and the others continue to take place every Tuesday.  All these sessions were taught by Alyssa Gauk, a graduate student at AUP. Gauk is a certified 500-hour yoga instructor originating from Canada. The events are all supplied with yoga mats from AUP, as well as candles and music provided by Alyssa Gauk to set the atmosphere. Every meeting is set for all levels of yoga where Gauk makes sure that everyone is comfortable by encouraging people not to do certain poses if they aren't able to. Throughout the sessions, she repeats positive affirmations for the participants to reflect on. 

Image credit: Giulia Giordo

Gauk came to Paris right before the COVID-19 outbreak with the intent to teach yoga at a studio but unfortunately was halted due to the pandemic. Wanting to do something with her life, she decided to pursue a Masters in Global Communication at AUP. 

Even before arriving on campus, she contacted Ashkan Shalbaf, the director of the Physical Activities Office. She “went around in circles” with multiple emails exchanged about the possibility of creating a Yoga Club. In the end, Gauk was told that there was already an existing Yoga Club. This club is what appears when you search for "Yoga" on the AUP Engage page but consists of online group paid classes. According to Gauk, many people don't have enough to pay for a yoga class or don't have the motivation to do so especially if it is online. 

When Gauk proposed to offer free in-person yoga sessions, she was directed to Alexandra Dvorchak and the Take-Care Club. Thus, the sessions that have taken place have been under the Take-Care Club. The students are unable to find Gauk's yoga events unless they search for the Take-Care club or are members of the club. Rather, the goal is to have an actual Yoga Club associated with her events, so that sessions can be conducted and found more efficiently.  

Image credit: AUP Campus Labs Engage Page

It is unclear how many people need to be interested to start a club. A sample survey of 30 AUP students showed a high interest in trying yoga so Gauk remains hopeful she can start a club. Half of the sample population said that they had never done yoga before and the other half had. Gauk hopes that by next semester, she can, "create a Yoga Club welcoming everyone with any or no experience with multiple sessions a week."