5 Great Places to Practice Yoga in Dublin

yoga in dublin

5 Great Places to Practice Yoga in Dublin

 

Right so, yoga in Dublin is on the up, the bandwagon (or brightly coloured mat) has caught your eye, and it looks tempting.

I’m not going to be preachy here, I’m just going to lay it out as it is – yoga is great. For mental health, for physical wellbeing, for anyone who has ever struggled with recognising their own worth and needs a bit of coaxing to help them realise that we’re all entitled to live happily and to enjoy the fuck out of life and our bodies.
Why not start now?

Here’s a (very)shortlist of some of my favourite places in Dublin to practice yoga, in no particular order.

1. Yogahub, 27 Camden Place

 

YogaHub-Mindful-Class
(pic: http://www.yogahub.ie)

It makes sense for me to start with the place where I quite literally fell (over) for yoga. A happy accident and surge of caffeine-fueled confidence led me here one blustery day when I was in desperate need of re-centering, and Matt, Jenny and all the staff of Happyfood have yet to see the back of me!
A friendly atmosphere coupled with classes to suit all levels and timetables, a fabulous team of creative teachers and not to mention yummy vegan food for after class at Happyfood, Yogahub  have got a great thing going for themselves. Weekly workshops focus on various aspects of the yoga practice and teacher training courses are also available! Classes do tend to fill up fast so I’d recommend booking ahead. They also organise outdoor yoga in Stephen’s Green/Dartmouth Square during the Summer (header pic above).
Weather depending, obviously!

Rates: Drop-in (Lunchtime) €10.
Drop-in (normal class) €17
Memberships
 Timetable

Website/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

2. Samadhi, Cow’s Lane, Templebar

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Pic: yogamammas.ie

A stone’s throw from Dublin’s cultural hub in the centre of Templebar, Samadhi on Cow’s Lane is a haven amidst the chaos of tourist-clogged cobblestones. Offering a variety of yoga classes from Ashtanga, to Iyengar, Mysore and Kundalini, Samadhi is a great place to try out a new yoga style in a relaxed and friendly environment.
They also run teacher trainings and regular workshops, offer a variety of massages and therapies, have another studio based in Drogheda – and are situated right opposite the Queen of Tarts! Winner!

Rates:
Drop in:
€10-€17 (Depending on class duration)
Memberships/Timetable

Website/ Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

3. YogaDublin, Ranelagh/Dundrum
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These guys have two yoga centres in Dublin, one in Ranelagh and one in Dundrum, handy for ye green-liner Luas folks. Both studios are very well equipped and offer a range of classes of both yoga and pilates, including pregnancy yoga. YogaDublin offers various massage & holistic treatments, stocks a range of Irish products in their reception and facilitate teacher trainings too!!

Rates:
Drop in: €12-€16 (class duration)
Memberships/Passes
Timetable

Website/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

4. Dublin Holistic Centre, South William St.

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(pic: www.dublinholisticcentre.ie)

Home to more than just yoga, the Dublin Holistic Centre on South William Street (above Tropical Popical!) boasts a huge variety of holistic treatments, classes and courses to suit your needs. Between yoga, pilates, reiki, tai chi, acupunture, massages, and much more, you’re sure to find a session that appeals. The yoga studios are beautifully spacious high-ceilinged rooms with hard wooden floors, twinkly lights and all equipment provided.
Check their latest timetable here, and the website for details of the current sessions on offer.

Rates:
Yoga: Drop in €10
Rates/Memberships 

Website/Facebook/Twitter

 

5. The Elbowroom, Stoneybatter
Image result for elbowroom dublin

With a focus on promoting health and wellbeing for all the family, Elbowroom in Stoneybatter hosts a huge variety of classes and workshops, yoga styles and classes. One of the only centrally based yoga studios to offer kids yoga, Elbowroom also provides other kinds of fitness classes such as dance, zumba, and pilates, and holds regular workshops & trainings. This includes continued-education trainings intended for existing yoga teachers/trainees to deepen their practice.

Rates:
Drop in:  €10-€16 (dependant on duration & concession)
Timetable

Website/Facebook/Twitter

What a Month in India Taught Me About Yoga

What a Month in India Taught me About Yoga
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Before I begin I want to make clear that the views expressed here are purely objective and that I’m only going on what I experienced, not an in-depth study or survey.

‘What are the differences between practicing yoga in the West and practicing in India?’

This is a question I’ve been asked quite regularly in recent weeks, having embarked on a solo trip with no definitive end on the basis of exploring the ancient practice and contrasting attitudes towards the study of yoga around the world (well in Asia, anyway).
To be honest, I came to India expecting (or maybe hoping) to experience some sort of revelation when it came to my yoga practice, the stories I’ve heard having inspired me to explore the places most attributed with the origins of yoga and somehow find or realise something I haven’t before by immersing myself completely in a strange country and alternative habits, values, and climates. I wanted to really push my boundaries and experience yoga as a lifestyle properly for a little while, embracing new aspects and styles with unfamiliar surroundings and people – places you don’t see on Instagram or enticing Google adverts boasting a luxury yoga retreat and 5-star accommodation. In a way, that’s kind of what happened.
In another way, it’s not. At all.

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It sounds obvious to me now, but the biggest thing I’ve realised since coming to India is that it really doesn’t matter where, when, why, or how you practice – yoga is both universal and intensely personal. Yoga is as unique to each practitioner as their individual height, weight, hair colour, daily nutritional requirements and sleeping patterns. Each person’s practice is their own, no matter where you do it, for how long, or at what intensity.

Or at least it should be.
Strangely, one of the things that brought me to this realisation was attending classes that seemed very impersonal, and I was surprised to find that some of the guided classes I attended in McLeodGanj (Dharamsala, North Indian province of Himachal Pradesh) in particular lacked in creativity. Disappointingly they felt like going through the motions of a standard fitness class in the gym back home. At the same time, I understood the reasons behind these elements of the practice.
After speaking with several yoga-instructor friends and enthusiasts alike, I came to understand that some of the more established Indian yogis (I won’t name names for obvious reasons) have been doing the same ‘routine’ sequence and practice every day for over 40 years. Because of this, it has become almost mechanical in its routine progression, and one could almost argue that anyone who’s attended enough of the classes to learn the routine by heart could in theory also ‘teach’ a class themselves.
I want to be careful how I vocalise this, but the truth is I found that this sameness has both positive & negative aspects.

On the positive side, the benefits of 40 years of consistent Ashtanga practice are blatantly apparent in the physique and steady, controlled way these yogis speak.
It’s also inspiring to see that the practice itself has become a sort of constant for them, in the way that prayer or religious devotion has for the many Buddhist monks and nuns inhabiting the Northern Himachal Pradesh Himalayas. It’s ritualistic, which can be a valuable thing in a modern world that otherwise lacks rituals.

On the negative side, the lack of creative exploration & facilitation for the fluctuations of the body from day to day during these routines flies in the face of one of my own beliefs about the practice of yoga – that it is a way of accepting and appreciating change with ease and grace, being open to and moving with it, instead of resisting.

I cannot help but marvel at the depth, widespread popularity, and general understanding and acceptance of the entire practice of yoga in India. I have already learned to open up and trust myself and those around me more thoroughly than I thought possible.
For me, this is what yoga is all about – opening up (both physically and mentally) and accepting what is. Trusting what you have and that which is constantly in flux around you, instead of creating unnecessary anxiety worrying about things outside of your control. A feeling of harmony in body and mind. Harmony within your place in the world.
This includes change.

Change and evolution are part of who we are, the only two constant reliable elements of life that we can depend on outside of our own minds. Being able to tolerate and adapt to natural and environmental changes is crucial for so many reasons, and it confused me to see some of the yogis upholding a practice that seemed quite stagnant and repetitive, unbending even. Maybe I’m just too used to attending creative classes that adapt and cater for the elements and our bodies – a rainy day class at home in Yogahub Dublin once focused on shoulder and chest-opening poses in response to the week of horrible weather we’d just experienced, hunched over and hurried pacing a necessity with disregard to posture or discomfort.
But it seemed to me that the whole ‘oh she’s gone to do yoga in India’ myth and expectation of self-understanding and epiphany-gaining experience is exactly that – a myth.

This is what I mean by having an evolving practice. India as a country is still evolving; it is a land of extremes. Colours, tastes, wealth, poverty, heat, rain…you name it, India has an extreme to meet it.

Avoiding extremes and finding balance has been part of my own yogic journey, and I found the almost extreme lifestyle and all-or-nothing vibe of several of the yoga studios and gurus I attended to be somewhat overwhelming and contradictory in their message. That being said, there were several teachers that were more supple in their ideologies and achieved a more rational balance between the unchanging ritual & the realities of a living daily practise, so I can’t be too generalistic here either.

My point in writing this was to express what I’ve learnt, and to disprove the theory that yoga can only be learned correctly or experienced fully by travelling to India. I’m guilty of harbouring beliefs such as this, although deep down I sort of knew the truth for what it is – that yoga is accessible anywhere, to anyone, and in whatever capacity you have to experience it and your own body. Even on a balcony in a tiny hostel in Sri Lanka where the cleaning lady tries to sweep crumbs and dust from within an inch of the mat around you. I’m still practicing. I’m still moving. Evolving, changing. And that’s ok too.

 

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10 Ways to Practice Yoga in the Office

Ok, so your office doesn’t exactly include being able to ‘quit the day job’ and fulfill your lifelong dream of becoming a yoga instructor yet on the list of holiday options. That’s ok. These things take time, (and money!). We all know what it’s like to sit uncomfortably at a desk for hours at a time, secure in the knowledge that next month’s rent will be payable, yet physically itching to drop to downward dog and stretch out that spine on the office rug after hours staring at a screen. As we learn in yoga, finding a middle ground is key, and if you really can’t wait for your 6pm Vinyasa class or escape for a quick lunchtime flow at Yogahub, we’ve compiled a list of 7 subtle yet effective ways to get your yoga on as you tick through your daily tasks.

 

  1. Sit up Straight
    It may sound simple – and it is. Ensuring your spine does not round and become accustomed to curving over your coffee cup and keyboard is vital to maintain a good posture and core. Uncross your legs. Simply adjust your sit bones and belly to an alert and attentive posture, and peel your shoulders back whenever you notice a curvature. Practice balanced and strong breathing, like in Tadasana. This will make sure you maintain focus, and lessen anxiety, allowing you to meet deadlines as required. You’ll also feel and look more confident! Post-it notes can be a helpful reminder to ‘sit up’ whenever your attention wanders to the walls or floor or ceiling…anywhere away from your work!
  2. Side Stretch
    Last I checked it was a perfectly acceptable office activity to have a little stretch now and then – now all you have to do is practice mindful breath awareness as you do it! On a deep inhale, raise both arms above your head. You can remain in a seated position, with your back and shoulders straight. Touch the palms together, and hold for 5 breaths. Alternate between leaning to the left and right to experience a stretch in both sides, holding each side for an equal number of breaths.
  3. Chair Pose
    It’s called ‘Chair Pose’ for a reason! Sitting straight and comfortably with your two hands on your thighs, take several deep breaths. You can even close your eyes if it’s particularly busy today – achieving calm in the chaos of a stressful office environment is no easy feat. Raise hands above head, and using the strength in your legs, lift the sit bones several inches from your seat, maintaining the ‘seated’ posture as you hover for 5 breaths.
  4. Seated Cat-Cow
    While you may lack the floor space and general social confidence to complete a round of cat-cows by the printer machine, simply peeling your shoulders back and down on an inhale, and rounding your spine to suck your bellybutton in the direction of your spine on an exhale several times is a great way to compensate. Make sure you begin sitting up straight and breathe slowly! This pose is great for alignment and re-configuring your entire system after a stressful meeting.
  5. Seated Twist
    What’s that behind you?? To the left? Hmm, not sure. How about to the right? This one is easy to do subtly, but don’t forget to focus on your breath! It’s easy to get carried away in the physicality of yoga, and an environment like an office space makes it extra hard to focus on the interior, most important and beneficial side of the pracitce. Twist from below the waist, letting your head follow your spine and remain on each side for several breaths.
  6. Forward Bend
    Depending on the understanding of your co-workers this pose is more easily accessible for some than others. Of course, you could always just pretend to have something in your shoe! With feet shoulder-width apart from a standing position, slowly bend forwards from the waist on a long exhale. Don’t force your hands to touch the floor, rather let them rest comfortably wherever they reach naturally, and remain here for several breaths. Exit the pose in a similarly controlled and mindful fashion.
  7. Tabletop Shoulder Opener
    Using the actual top of your table or desk, scoot your chair back several inches so that your arms can stretch out straight, palms still on the desk. Drop head down between the arms and hold for several breaths, ensuring the rest of your torso remains in line and legs are uncrossed. If anyone asks, just say you lost something under the desk!
  8. Aeroplane Safety Pose
    I’m not quite sure what the actual name of this pose is, but it looks like the seated forward fold from your chair that’s instructed on aeroplanes to assume should the plane get into any difficulty! Widen legs and drop slowly from the lower back and hips until your torso is resting on your legs, head hanging towards the floor. Several breaths here could serve as your new go-to pose for any panicked or stressful situations!
  9. Pranyama and Meditation
    Remember, ‘to practice yoga’ does not merely mean working through a successful flow of asanas and feeling like you’ve completed a great workout. There is much more to an active and authentic yoga practice than physically challenging yourself to a pose you’ve never done before. In this sense, an office environment can actually be the ideal location to practice breathing and pranyama techniques you’ve learned in class. If nothing else, it is certainly the environment in which they may become necessary at short notice – stressful situations and work-related anxiety hits even the most practiced yogis at times, and it is important to be able to take 5-10 minutes break from work, not necessarily from your desk, but to just breathe. Close your eyes and practice “4-2-6” breathing, or quietly work through a round of Kapal Bahti as your colleagues quabble over who’s going to pick up this week’s lotto numbers.
  10. Practice Gratitude
    This can be as simple as saying ‘thank you’ to the new intern who’s just dropped off your coffee, or more meditative as you calmly remind yourself to appreciate the job you have for the funding it provides you to live, to travel, and to attend yoga classes! Whenever it becomes too much, remind yourself of this, and be thankful for all the little things. Thank your body for being a healthy and functioning vessle by nourishing it at lunchtime, and ensuring your continued growth and focus!

 

There are many other adaptations to help you maintain your practice and focus in the office, especially with the emergence of Chair Yoga in recent years and the variety of simple stretches and twists that can be practiced from a seated position. Though they may not provide a full body stretch and sense of invigoration that a full practice will, they at least will help you get through the day in the office without tensing up too much and will definitely help maintain your flexibility and strength.

Alternatively there are also now many yoga studios and independent teachers offering corporate yoga classes to groups of workers in offices in their area- why not suggest it to your colleagues and organise your favourite yoga teacher to come to you?

On Finding Calm in the Chaos – How Yoga Can Help in Managing Anxiety

 

A sweeping, dangerously powerful wind.
Big waves in the sea so strong they steal the sunglasses from your head.
Very loud, thumping music.
Crowded Saturday-streets, and flashing lights everywhere as night falls and you suddenly find yourself alone in your head; alone with your thoughts.

 Quick! Run! The bar! The fridge! The gym! ANYWHERE to escape spending time with this egotistical and self-centered, ugly body I’ve found myself inhabiting.

 Hold it right there. Breathe.
Look around.
Sure, it’s chaotic. The outside; everyone rushing to be here or there, meet so and so for dinner or drinks to discuss where they went for dinner and drinks with him or her or what’s the latest on THAT guy and how’s your mother doing and what about those politicians, eh? Sorry I have to dash I’m not too drunk I just can’t be around all these people and all the thoughts in my head at the same time because I end up spinning around before we even start to dance and then I look in the mirror and remember what I should have worn instead and also have to do tomorrow and where the hell is my purse and what is that guy staring at my hair must be a mess and dear GOD please just get me out of here.

So leave.
It’s ok to leave. It’s ok to stay. It’s ok to think these things, and feel that way.

I’ve been on both sides of this situation – I’ve been the one to leave and run away from my problems, finding other ways to forget about and ignore them, and, more recently, I’ve been the one to stay and push through. To remain where I am, and work through the unbalancing extremes of thoughts and emotions that send my head reeling and wobbling on a regular basis.

In yoga, what do you do if a pose makes you wobble?

You do your best to straighten the hell back up, is what you do. You push down through your feet, and certify your stance; your position; your space in the world.
Because it is yours.
It’s about the only thing we don’t have to pay for in this world – our bodies. It’s an involuntary, but rent-free location, that we somehow have to figure out how to stand up straight in, and learn to navigate through whatever environment we find ourselves.
It’s not an easy task. Don’t listen to anyone who pretends it is, or who pretends they’ve never struggled. Because every single person does.

 The asanas in yoga are merely a physical manifestation of our mental state – I know if I’ve had a particularly off-day or feel unusually anxious about something, my yoga practice is weaker than normal and I tend to wobble and lean and shake quite a bit more than usual. Because I have succumbed to the external chaos. I have assimilated it into my body, a place that has been created and cultivated for singular, simpler, and more straightforward thoughts, with no consideration for the external chaos that may or may not happen on any given day. I’ve let it in.

When we consider how many things in life are uncontrollable by our own bodies and minds – the weather, the financial state of the country, the popularity of a bar or restaurant or public place from which we suddenly want to hide, to list but a few, it’s remarkable how blurred the lines can become when we start thinking we have influence over more than just ourselves.

In taking control of our own inner situation, we are taking responsibility for the little space we inhabit on earth. Sure, we may not have asked for it, but we are here now regardless, and may as well make the most of it.

 My yoga mat has travelled with me, and shown me that it doesn’t matter where I find myself; chaotic, over-populated, noise-polluted city, or tranquil, isolated and balmy beach miles from anywhere – I am always, always within myself, and returning there is the only way to truly find this ‘peace of mind’ or satisfaction we so often seek in all the wrong places. Yoga serves as a reminder of this. A healthy, lighthearted little poke in the back that injects a sense of calmness into even the most uncontrollable and chaotic situations.

 Things don’t have to be so complicated.
Breathe. Just breathe. And Be. Even just that is more than anybody has ever asked of you.

Baile Átha Cliath

A middle aged woman shamelessly pouts for a selfie
 As she sits alone outside Butler’s;
 A fleeting insight into the Dublin of today,
 Broken buskers saluting wealthy suits and the hurried.

The invisible homeless.
 The ghosts who wander into coffee shops, where they’re sure they lost a euro,
 while college students scrounge to buy a pint for 6.
 A winding path where the people flow like veins
 Pulsing through the streets that never change.

It is the people who keep the city.
 The people, the flow;
 The unreliable bus service disrupting scheduled meals,
 Low blood sugars fueling angry drivers, and
 A haste to get everywhere before the next shower bursts.

The infectious desire to travel,
 As tourists stare in awe at doors you’ve never noticed before,
 Experiencing your city as a pin on a map
 -Where you’ve never pinned it at all.

Rooftops between the canal and the river;
 A refuge from the Georgian mansions that remain
 Stubborn in their depth, reluctant to relate to the redbrick-terraced hipsters
 That craftily have cycled their way to the forefront of the ‘culture’.

You jaywalk; a term on erasmus from America as we try it out across O’Connell bridge,
 The space between the Heineken building and the island in the middle a no-man’s land as you feel you’re
 Traversing the centre of Ireland.

The centre of my world;
 For up until today it is all I have known.
 A metal spike with no function seeing all
 While you see yourself in it’s base, longing in vain to catch a glimpse from the top,
 To be privy to a view it has been constructed to prevent.

All too soon I will be gone;
 Shunning the gloom of Winter in Dublin,
 Missing only the familiar; I will acclimatize again.
 To write, to learn, to build understanding –
 To glean from another city the self this one has given me.

Excess is Easy – Yogahub Dublin, and the Benefits of Regular Practice

A poem I wrote here early last month inspired by the changes I’ve experienced through regular yoga practice has led me to further explain my new obsession with yoga!

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Excess is Easy 

Excess is easy. That much I know for sure. Too much, too little, too often. It is one of the easiest things to let ourselves indulge in the safety of the extremities. It takes courage, balance and practice to remain upright in the midst of it all, and stay grounded in the middle of chaos. Being aware that there will always be limitations, and things we cannot do – yet along with these limitations will be good things; positive and progressive possibilities with every new movement.

Yoga and the Yogahub in particular have helped me achieve some of the balance required to walk along the narrow space between these extremes I used to bounce between.
Already on my way through a slow but steady recovery, a regular, daily yoga practice added into my daily routine proved the missing link between the confused streams of thoughts that raced through my head on a daily basis. The breath being added back into my conscious flow of thought aided to bring me back to the now, to the moment of what is happening as I speak, as I write, as I sit here.

It reminded me that it is ok to occupy the space I have been given on this earth, within the often disagreeable walls of my body. It is ok, and perfectly acceptable to be myself, to be in my own skin, and to allow myself to enjoy being within it, even if I’m not always it’s biggest fan.
The Yogahub provides a healthy and friendly atmosphere for me to learn all of this, and to relearn it as required – because balance is not something you can achieve once and expect to be able to attain again at the click of a finger. Even though it is always fairly accessible, there is a constant upkeep and awareness required to maintain it – much like the physical balance required to ride a bike.

In the monthly unlimited membership I took out at the beginning of September with the Yogahub, I not only found this kind of strong balance in daily practice and attending classes, but it was a stable balance. Stable enough to maintain for a prolonged period of time.The variety of classes available, styles and flexible timetable really allowed me to personalise my practice and accomodate for all levels and intensities, to suit how I was feeling on a given day. Each friendly face glows with a welcoming smile as you step foot inside the doors, whether for a random drop-in class or a scheduled flow, the delicious HappyFood vegan and vegetarian café providing the perfect pre or post – class fuel to help your body move through the hour.

I’ve realised during my month with the Yogahub that yoga teaches me not to rush ahead – to remain calm and to accept what is happening when it does. There is no use in constantly casting your gaze forwards, anticipating anxiously things that are beyond your control. The one thing within my control is my own body – not even my mind is always controllable. With yoga, my focus is shifted back to the physical power which resides within my body, and the very fact that I was bringing this body on a daily trip in to the city centre to the Yogahub was enough to begin the positive reactions within, and aid me to maintain a comfortable and healthy distance from all extremities I used to reside in.

The people at the Yogahub eminate this contentedness and oneness with the world, hippie-style ‘tree-hugger’ labels really not being necessary or applicable in this sense – it’s just a truly calming place. The huge variety of yoga styles means that everyone is catered for, no matter what level, and each class welcomes newcomers with open arms (or elbows, knees, hips, legs, whatever you’re stretching into at the moment!!).

 In moving my body, and staying with it as it goes, I have grown more accepting of both it’s limitations and it’s strengths. I appreciate what it does for me, and I work daily toward improving it so it can bring me where I want to go, and move me all the different ways I want to move, difficult poses and balance included.

It will always be an ongoing thing – constant maintanance and awareness is what is needed, and the Yogahub has given me the strength to accept that I will need to maintain this. It requires effort and practice, yet each time now that I return to the mat and begin my practice, I feel the benefits mentally before even beginning to move.

The extremities are always going to be there, and I may not always be able to avoiding brushing off them from time to time. Instead of shying away from them and fearing the downs and bad days however, I try now to embrace them for what they are, and allow them to serve as a foundation on which to start rebuilding a new day, a new practice, and new movement. We’re only human, and I feel that limiting yourself too much in anything inevitably leads to an equalising swoop in the opposite direction, as your mind and body try to balance things out. In maintaining as level a field as possible for as long as possible, the breadth of that level is strengthened, and makes it easier to stand on.

It’s probably a good thing that the monthly membership limited me to one class per day though, as there were days where I wanted to stay and do more! On these days I had to pull myself up on the urge and remind myself that excess also comes in the form of good things. Finding and maintaining this balance is how I have come to be where I am now, and I am looking forward (but not too far!) to re-commencing my practice with the Yogahub as soon as I return home from travelling.

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Statue of The Buddha at the Royal Palace of Cambodia

#onlypositivevibes

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On The Benefits of Yoga….What I Have Learned

I can’t begin to describe the effects a regular yoga practice has had on me in the past few months. It’s been remarkable, and I’ve felt the strength in every aspect and element of both my mind and body. I may eventually lengthen this out into a detailed post of exactly the ins and out of how and why I feel it has aided me so much, but for now take just a few verses, and try not to get thrown off by the cheesyness…

‘On The Benefits of Yoga…What I Have Learned”

It makes no sense
That being where we are at this moment;
Right here and now,
Should take practice.
But it does.

Yoga teaches me not to rush ahead.
The meeting will come. Lunch will happen.
There will always be the threat of rain,
Even as we salute the sun rising hopefully
Over the arched back of beyond.

Anticipating is an anxious act
– Putting on the dog’s lead as you see a larger one approach.
Yet up, down, sideways, or around,
We cannot escape this moment.
Nor would I want to.

I have learned to occupy my space,
Exhaling into the changes underfoot.
A warrior standing her ground,
Even when the earth itself shakes and cracks,
The trees swaying and casting away leaves
That never served them much at all.

In a binding contract,
My feet have cemented my place here,
A far call from the apprehensive steps
I used to take to my own kitchen.

The scales in my head finding
Balance atop arms stronger than ever before;
A crow flying high over the gorge of
Mental anguish, supporting itself through
the turbulent, turbulent clouds to land lightly on the other side.

In the knowledge that each bend, twist,
and long stretch in the road is actually progressing me forward,
Refusing to look behind
Refusing to waver.

This is where I am now,
This is what I need.
This day, this second, this letter, this space,
I hear now louder than ever.

Namasté.

The Secret of 61 – Dublin’s Stop on the Subway

Foodswings Reviews

Platform 61 – South William Street

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Barely a subway stop away from St. Stephen’s Green, your ticket to Platform 61 is finally here as the newly-opened underground kitchen cooks up some of the tastiest grub South of the city, providing a service worthy of the VIPs catered for at the elusive ‘Platform 61’ on the New York subway for which it is named. They don’t take Leap Cards, but you’re sure to be warmly welcomed on arrival!

Reserved for presidents and art-enthusiasts lucky enough to be on the guestlist for one of Andy Warhol’s famous ‘underground parties’, the story of the secret platform beneath New York’s  Waldorf Astoria Hotel is a treat in itself to listen to, the various Warhol quotes around the walls and abstract banana signposts in the bathroom reminding you at regular intervals that there is more to this restaurant than meets the eye.

 As you enter through golden doors reminiscent of 1960s New York elevators and decor Don Draper (Mad Men) would be proud of, you can’t help but feel slightly disorientated as the black marble walls mirror one another, making great use of a small space yet still succeeding in coming across extremely classy.

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Only in it’s third week of business here in Dublin, there was no sign of any maintenance work or staff ‘only learning’ the ropes, and the service ran smooth and punctual from one course to the next. A mixture of options on the menu caught my eye as we debated over what direction to take, eventually settling on the ‘Italian Mozzarella and Tomato’ dish and the ‘Shrimp Gambas’ to start. I’m a fan of small menus as it minimalises decisions, but to be fair everything looked very good and we weren’t disappointed, each dish being served promptly and proving realistic portion-sizes, unlike many of the new food-stops that have sprung up recently around Dublin.

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 The steak was sampled, as was the Superfood Salad with added chicken, and although prices slightly outreached that of the average commuter dinner it was made up for in taste and quality, the sweet potato fries on the side adding a delicious kick and nice reminder that eating out doesn’t always have to mean greasy, unhealthy & unnecessary indulgence.

 Our munching on the shrimp and subsequent pomegranate seeds in my Superfood Salad was accompanied by an absolutely killer playlist in the background, the likes of Alt-J and Foals providing the icing on top of the dessert that we were too full to order, though in hindsight I would have liked to try the Flourless Nut Brownie.

The lunch and brunch menus also looked incredible, the ‘Stun Bun’ in particular catching my eye, a ‘grilled chicken fillet on a brioche bun with guacamole, tomato, onion, baby gem and homemade tomato relish served with spicy potato wedges’. Due to it being still in the early stages of the restaurant opening, however, the waiter informed me that they had yet to start serving this menu, instead focusing for now on the dinner options. I will definitely be back to sample a Stun Bun when they do!!

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A glass or two of Chilean White wine and a house speciality beer cocktail later (a delicious concoction of Luxembourg-brewed beer, lime and apple juice) the whole experience was over too soon as we had to leave to catch the next train home.

Navigating our way out to the world back above ground it was easy to see how Platform 61 would go unnotticed, a haven glowing golden down below one of the busiest streets for bars and restaurants in the city.

Overall we were extremely pleased with the experience, and will definitely be recommending the service for anyone wishing to be transported back in time as they chow down on great food, the journey from starters right through to a final farewell complimentary glass of wine proving comfortable and enjoyable, in a stimulating and artistic environment.

 ‘Mind the Gap’ and be wary of the steep steps on the way out of the platform – especially if you’ve sampled some of the beer cocktails!!

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Useful links:

Platform 61 on Facebook
Platform 61 on Twitter (@Platform61)
Platform 61 website

Friday

A middle aged woman shamelessly pouts for a selfie
As she sits alone outside Butler’s;
A fleeting insight into the Dublin of today,
Broken buskers saluting wealthy suits and the hurried.

The invisible homeless.
The ghosts who wander into coffee shops, where they’re sure they lost a euro, while college students scrounge to buy a pint for 6.
A winding path where the people flow like veins
Pulsing through the streets that never change.

It is the people who keep the city.
The people, the flow;
The unreliable bus service disrupting scheduled meals,
Low blood sugars fueling angry drivers, and
A haste to get everywhere before the next shower bursts.

The infectious desire to travel,
As tourists stare in awe at doors you’ve never noticed before,
Experiencing your city as a pin on a map
-Where you’ve never pinned it at all.

Rooftops between the canal and the river;
A refuge from the Georgian mansions that remain
Stubborn in their depth, reluctant to relate to the redbrick-terraced hipsters
That craftily have cycled their way to the forefront of the ‘culture’.

 You jaywalk; a term on erasmus from America as we try it out across O’Connell bridge,
The space between the Heineken building and the island in the middle a no-man’s land as you feel you’re
Traversing the centre of Ireland.

 The centre of my world;
For up until today it is all I have known.
A metal spike with no function seeing all
While you see yourself in it’s base, longing in vain to catch a glimpse from the top,
To be privy to a view it has been constructed to prevent.

 All too soon I will be gone;
Shunning the gloom of Winter in Dublin,
Missing only the familiar; I will acclimatize again.
To write, to learn, to build understanding –
To glean from another city the self this one has given me.

The Good Food Store!

Foodswings Reviews – The Good Food Store

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 This is actually not my first trip to The Good Food Store, but it’s the first time I’ve sat in, which I feel gives me a lot more credibility to write about the place accurately.

I got free cake with a coffee I bought last week, which I’m only seeing now that I’ve started following them on social media was being given out because it was the ‘2 year anniversary’ of their first store in Ballsbridge opening. Sweet.
This branch itself on South Great George’s Street still has the woodshavings and empty-box feel of a place that is just coming to terms with the fact that it’s long narrow interior has been bustling with activity since a rather- rushed opening – the place is extremely busy!
With their homemade selection of delicious organic salads, soups, hot pots and sandwiches, for anyone working in or around the area The Good Food Store is an absolute must-try for a quick steal of a lunch. The salads come in 2 sizes, and prices are based on weight, but really the taste of the sweet potato, spinach and cashew nut, and also the roasted veg mix concoctions will have you willing to throw your hard-earned fiver at the friendly and helpful staff behind the counter. Alternatively you can choose to fill a sandwich, roll, wrap or bap with whatever you fancy, a small hot-meat counter ensuring the freshest of cuts and marinated chicken breasts. A great selection of homemade cakes and bread also draw the eye as you debate over what goodness to indulge in, the deliciously soft chocolate fudge cake I tasted last week glistening enticingly at me as I glanced over them.

 If yelling at the friendly cashier to ‘take my money!!’ doesn’t do the trick, you can busy yourself while you queue by studying the amazing selection of organic health foods and fresh produce stocked along the walls that they also supply. Nut butters, vitamins, fresh fruit and veg, and not to mention a great selection of vegetarian and vegan products, The Good Food Store is really exactly what it says on the tin – and more, because a great deal of the brands on sale are Irish.

Being my nosy self I commented as I sat at the makeshift table area down at the back, only 3 chairs facing the deli in a bar-like setting – ‘This place would do brilliantly as a café!”
The waitress who heard me turned and smiled, saying there are definitely plans in the pipeline to expand, and that where I was currently sat was merely a provisional layout while things took off.

This knowledge delighted me, not only the fact that I was now privy to it, but the thought of coming here for a lunchdate and actually sitting in a more open-plan, chill interior surrounded by such freshness, feel-good people and products made me extremely excited, and I made sure to take a glance over the menu options again as I left to plan ahead for my next visit.
The Ariosa coffee blend used also proved delicious, another homegrown brand, and I left feeling altogether more balanced; a happy tummy filled with ‘Good Food’ proving the key to a less stressful and more productive afternoon.

Literally my only qualm being the fact that there are only a few bar-stool seats offered as a ‘sit-in’ option having been debunked and deemed a temporary issue, I couldn’t recommend a trip to The Good Food Store more highly.
Prices range from the small salad box right up to the larger filled-sandwich options, but really if you come to a place like this it’s quality you’re after, and the delivery of that quality is more satisfying than anything!

Useful links:

The Good Food Store on Facebook
The Good Food Store on Twitter
The Good Food Store