San Francisco airport unveils yoga room for travellers

Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:06am EST

(Reuters) - Just cleared airport security and in need of a little deep breathing and stretching relaxation?

San Francisco Airport has opened what it calls a first of its kind yoga room, and while it's not quite a mountaintop in Tibet, airport officials say the low lights, and soothing blue walls aim to afford travellers, stressed out or sanguine, an oasis of calm in which to flex, twist and decompress.

"As far as we know it's the first (yoga room) at an airport anywhere in the world," said Michael C. McCarron, director of community affairs for the airport.

He said the idea for the room, in the newly refurbished Terminal 2, came from a passenger suggestion at an open house. It joins the Berman reflection room, a space intended for silence and meditation located before Terminal 2 security.

Airport Director John L. Martin called the room, which opened last week, "another leap forward in providing our travellers the opportunity and space to relax and decompress on their own terms."

The architects, Gensler Design, set the lights low and warm in contrast to the light, bright concourse, according to a statement, and a floating wall was constructed to symbolize "a buoyant spirit and enlightened mind. "

Large felt-constructed rocks will be installed in the Spring in a nod to the Zen gardens of Japan.

John Walsh, duty manager at San Francisco Airport, said the room is already attracting its share of travelling yogis, many equipped with their own props.

"I've seen people using it. They do yoga," Walsh said. "We have mats, but some people actually bring their own." There are also folding chairs, popular in many senior yoga sessions. So far there are no plans to hold classes.

Located just past security, it's a particular draw for people with time to kill before their flight, Walsh said.

Santa Monica-based yoga teacher Tamal Dodge believes the yoga room at the airport will be the first of many yoga spaces to be attached to airports and public transportation venues.

"How amazing will it be to stretch out and meditate before you get on a plane for a 12-hour flight," said Dodge, who is featured in the "Element: Hatha & Flow Yoga for Beginners" DVD.

"You are now given the opportunity to really relax and prepare your body for something as taxing as sitting in an airplane seat for hours on end," he said.

Airport yogis are directed to their room by the usual method-- the pictograph: this one of a figure seated in full lotus position.

(Reporting by Dorene Internicola; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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