If you are at the Helsinki Airport, you might want to visit their 24-hour “Yoga Gate” studio which is located near gate 30. Offering passengers yoga classes that help them relax and take the stress out of travel, this is one of the airport’s initiatives to serve 20 million passengers annually by 2020. Helsinki isn’t the first airport to offer such services. Chicago O’Hare and San Francisco International Airports also offer similar services, both named “Yoga Room,” while the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s “Yoga Studio” is a popular traveler stop-over. All these studios are offered free.
Yoga Gate classes are conducted in “Kainuu,” a recently-opened relaxation space that was designed by TravelLab and opened by Finavia, Finland’s state-owned civil aviation authority. The studio’s relaxing ambiance comes from the outdoor theme and atmosphere of the Kainuu region of Finland. Finavia previously conducted short test-runs with 20-minute classes of Yoga and Pilates, and now the facility has been officially launched.
The National Institutes of Health have conducted research that proves the many physiological and psychological benefits of yoga and meditation. Yoga is thought to have originated many thousands of years ago, and is attributed to the god Shiva in Hindu scriptures such as the Shiv Puran. It is famously codified by Patanjali in his book, “The Yoga Sutras.”
The lounge has been equipped with ergonomic chairs fabricated from wind-felled wood and singing deadwood. Forest sounds resonate in the background from a sound installation named Finnish Forest Frequencies. It was put together by sound designer and artist Kirsi Ihalainen. The new sound technology is designed to resonate at the frequency of the Deadwood hanging from the ceiling. “We want to create services and spaces at the airport where passengers can relax and momentarily transport themselves away from the hectic airport atmosphere. The forest is an important recreational location for us Finns and part of our national identity. At the same time, we will make Finland known to our international passengers,” says Ville Haapasaari, Finavia’s Helsinki Airport director.
“You can and you should touch the deadwood, since the vibration and the smell of the deadwood transport you directly to the centre of natural environment. The forest sounds combined with furniture made from Finnish natural materials bring a piece of Finland to the airport”, says Ihalainen.