Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow have been making yoga seem cool for the past several years but the spiritual, physical and mental practice has been inspiring people around the world for over 5,000 years.
Last December, the UN General Assembly announced that 21st June would be International Yoga Day, following a call by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi.
Since the declaration, 175 nations – including the UAE – have backed the initiative.
In celebration of the day, we speak to local yoga instructors to find out what the practice means to them and why you should give yoga a go.
Sasha Quince is a freelance yoga instructor and founder of Let’s Go Yoga. She says:
“Yoga is a holistic healing experience to move the body in sync with the breath, while you learn to still the mind and draw it into the present to achieve inner bliss, peace, focus and happiness.
“This ancient practice has been proven to boost concentration, improve stress and anxiety and calm the central nervous system. Yoga and mindfulness meditation help us become aware of the emotional baggage we carry and teach us how to use the breath to de-stress. Yoga gives you flexibility of mind and body, increases strength and endurance, detoxes and awakens you to a new perspective, where you transition from auto pilot to living with a clear and vibrant state of mind.”
Sasha will be hosting a vinyasa yoga session dedicated to presence and mindfulness. 21 June. AED 65. Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara. 7.15pm – 8.15pm. Contact: www.letsgoyogame.com
Natasha Enriquez is a freelance yoga and Pilates instructor at Vogue Fitness. She says:
“It is a rewarding experience to teach at a Crossfit Gym – obviously everyone attending my classes is used to very challenging workouts, so everyone is ready to give it their all!”
“I love to see how my students re-connect with themselves. This can happen on a physical and/or spiritual level. For many students, the physical side of their practice enables them to slowly open up and allow the spiritual side to manifest.”
Bijumon Philip is a Yoga Instructor at Art of Living. He says:
“Yoga not only keeps the body fit, it also uplifts the spirit; increases creativity, enthusiasm and intelligence and strengthens your personality. It’s a way of life. By doing yoga, you become calm, focused and friendly and with this calm disposition you can spread happiness.”
The Art of Living Abu Dhabi will host a health awareness programme called Yoga – Spirit of Unity on 13 June. AED 5. Abu Dhabi City Golf Club, Al Mushrif. 7pm-9pm. Contact: 050 814 0855.
Xia Jiang is a freelance yoga instructor. She says:
“To me, yoga is about a union of body, mind and spirit; the solid foundation for a happier and more fulfilling life. Yoga has become my way of living.
“The benefits include a strong and flexible body, calm mind, clear vision, confidence, self-acceptance and compassion. You learn to enjoy life’s flow – most importantly, you feel a lot happier.”
Contact: Search for Beach Yoga Abu Dhabi on Facebook.
Andreas Bothner is a freelance yoga instructor at Bodytree Studio. He says:
“Yoga, if practised consistently, can be a life transforming practice for our physiology, allowing us to feel stronger, pain free, more energetic and alert. At the same time it can bring peace and happiness into our lives on a mental and emotional level.
“I find that I am able to deal with the hurdles in life much better, I sleep better and I am rarely sick.
“I love the fact that I don’t need expensive equipment or have to go to a special place to practise.
“The hardest thing about doing yoga is to start. The secret is to make the commitment and find a class that you enjoy. You will also meet other yogis and make new friends.”
Join Andreas’ yoga synergy workshop on 26th June for AED 200 or the ashtanga pop up on 3rd July for AED 90. Contact: www.bodytreestudio.com