DUBAI // The UAE's first Yogafest will offer free yoga and meditation classes from sunrise to sunset at Dubai Internet City today in an effort to get office workers out from behind their desks and stretching their way to health.
The hour-long classes for novice and experienced practitioners will be held in succession at Internet City's outdoor amphitheatre.
Organisers hope it will draw some of the 60,000 people who work in surrounding office buildings out into the fresh air.
"People spend their days hunched over their laptops, and don't breath enough to fill their lungs with air, or stretch to release tensions from their shoulders," said Elaine Kelly, the organiser and yoga instructor.
Ms Kelly, a full-time employee at Microsoft, said she wanted to host the event somewhere green, but also accessible.
Organisers hope to attract up to 2,000 people. Volunteer instructors from eight studios will teach 11 different styles of yoga, including a full-moon yoga class, bikram, yoga dance and budokan, which mixes martial arts and yoga.
The idea was inspired by the US Yogafest in June, when thousands of people gathered in Times Square in New York to do yoga throughout the day and celebrate the summer solstice.
Ms Kelly wanted to bring the idea to Dubai, where the shortest day of the year, winter solstice, is during the nicest weather. The full moon is a welcome coincidence. "The symbols are all there for the circle of life, the sun and the moon," she said.
To ensure the festival focused on the community, Ms Kelly turned down multiple sponsorship offers. "I don't want it to be an event with [freebies] you throw away," she said. "It's about being in the fresh air, enjoying people and learning about yoga."
No participant will walk away empty-handed, however. Everyone will be given a free pass to attend a class at either Zen Yoga, Club Stretch, Chill Spa, or Exhale Ladies Fitness Centre.