India-born Diana Azavedo, the founder of Radiance of Yoga, has turned her passion into a business
Week in the Life: Dubai-based yogini well positioned to benefit
Originally from the country that gave yoga to the world and in this case a daughter to a yogini, India-born Diana Azavedo, 34, had all the fundamentals to educate others on the centuries-old physical philosophy. Instead, she initially chose the corporate path, working for Emaar for five years, handling property transfers and unit handovers, although still teaching yoga part-time in Dubai. Loyal clients and supportive feedback eventually gave her the impetus to start her own brand Radiance of Yoga. Here, Ms Azavedo tells The National what a typical work week entails for the entrepreneurial yogini.
After the two-day weekend of conducting the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Zen Yoga, Dubai Media City, this is my morning of much deserved rest. It is quite the contrary to most people gearing up for the start of the week. I usually spend the morning cleaning my home and thereby practicing Saucha [a concept of internal and external cleansing in yogic philosophy]. As the day passes, I turn on some soothing meditation music and practice an hour and half of Yin yoga. This is especially helpful to calm my mind and set the mood for the week ahead. In the evening, I head out to Zen Yoga, Meadows Town Centre branch, for a Hatha flow, mixed-level class starting at 7pm. I arrive early to catch up with new comers and regular attendees who have become friends over the past few years. This lasts about an hour and 15 minutes.
I start my day bright and early at 6am to head out for my 7am class at a private home overlooking the ocean. The view of the sunrise from there is spectacular and a great motivation for the hour-long class. Private sessions give students the opportunity to grow and progress in their personal practice, and I can sequence the flow tailored to a student’s needs and areas of interest. Some people prefer one-on-one session so they can schedule according to their convenience. Then I rush to ZenYoga at Umm Suqeim for a 9am class. Mondays are also dedicated to administrative work for my yoga retreats. The upcoming one is a ‘Yoga Holiday in Italy’ from August 19 to 25. I already have a few bookings, which is very promising. My idea for hosting global and local yoga retreats is to bring like-minded people together where we can spend four to five days at an exotic destination in an environment to learn more about ourselves, make new friends, immerse into a new culture, and of course, enhance our practice. Evenings are dedicated to private home classes. I have a fairly calming close to the day with nighttime meditation for myself.
It is again an early start with a private class at 7.30am, followed by ladies-only session at ZenYoga in Meadows at 9am. This is one of my favourite classes to teach, the ladies have been with me for a couple of years. I know most of them and the vibe is always vibrant and energetic. In the afternoon I set some time for an intensive vinyasa session to challenge my personal practice. The beauty of yoga’s physical poses is they can be challenging yet rewarding if practised with dedication. In the evening, I make my way to a private class at 5pm and then back to Zen studio in Meadows for a 7pm Hatha flow. I pay attention to returning students to help them achieve consistency, which is key towards building strength and flexibility in the body and mind.
Now mid-week, this day is scheduled to prepare for the teacher training programme, which is a foundational RYT 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training, internationally recognised under the Yoga Alliance and REPs UAE [a public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of exercise instructors in the UAE]. I have a mix of courses running on weekends and weekdays during the year. The course is meticulously planned to cover the essentials of yoga - philosophy, anatomy and safe physical practise. It has been very successful for those who want to become a teacher but do not have the time due to family or work commitments to take a month to go to another country. Many students work during the week and dedicate their weekends to the training. The weekday course is more suited for people who have flexible timings during the week and can attend the 9am to 2pm classes over two months. I am presently preparing for another 200-hour training batch starting on April 8 and there are two more courses starting in September.
It is a busy day with private classes all through the morning. On Thursdays, I usually set up meetings with partners or potential collaborators. I also set some time aside to look at all the enquiries received for sessions. Lately there have been many corporate queries, who usually invite me to instruct a yoga session at their events. The rest of the day is to relax and unwind, may be a dinner with a friend or a movie, or a walk on the beach.
Friday and Saturday
These are my full working days, teaching the 200-hour course at Zen. We start at 7.30am with meditation, and carry on with the rest of the day until 4pm. My evenings are spent assessing assignments handed in or in preparation for the next day’s activities at the training.