x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 October 2017

Bend me shape me

This month's Dubai Yoga and Music Festival is packed with all sorts of yoga classes, including hatha, vinyasa, rocket yoga and bhakti asana.

The second Dubai Yoga and Music Festival, which takes place this weekend, offers three days of yoga classes, mass meditations, music, a marketplace, children’s activities and more. Courtesy Dubai Yoga and Music Festival
The second Dubai Yoga and Music Festival, which takes place this weekend, offers three days of yoga classes, mass meditations, music, a marketplace, children’s activities and more. Courtesy Dubai Yoga and Music Festival

Angela Pashayan, a bhakti Yoga instructor from the US, started the Dubai Yoga and Music Festival with her event partner Ryan Noronha last year as a way of bringing yoga and music together for peace. Running from Thursday to Saturday at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, this year’s festival will offer another packed programme of yoga classes, including hatha, vinyasa, rocket yoga and bhakti asana, among others.

The unique types of yoga being taught during the festival make this an interesting addition to any enthusiast’s calendar, but Pashayan makes it clear that the festival doesn’t cater only to hardcore yogis.

Something for everyone

“One of the main ideas for the festival was to offer something to the non-yogi,” explains Pashayan. “Our exhibit and main stage area are open to the public for only Dh35. People can come and shop at the stalls while learning about the benefits of yoga from our free stage forum discussions. Don’t know about yoga? You can ask questions at these open classes and stand at the back of any yoga class you want to see what it looks like in action,” she says.

This year, more than 50 classes will take place over the three days, and for Dh500 you can buy yourself an advance pass and have full access to the festival for its duration. But it’s not just classes that are on offer. During the event, you can also expect live shows, magic, a group art canvas, mass meditation, crystal healing and a marketplace.

With close to 200 people attending the inaugural event last year, almost 300 yoga enthusiasts are expected to attend the second edition. Pashayan says that the variety of the event’s programme is what makes it special. “The class offerings are varied. Our discussion classes include meditation, theta healing [a technique that focuses on thought and prayer], nutrition and yoga therapy. And lastly, the entertainment includes everything from magicians to live interviews to our closing Dubai drumming circle,” says Pashayan.

Dance in a trance

One item on the programme that may grab your attention is the Friday-night trance groove. You will be forgiven for assuming that this doesn’t quite fit in with the yoga theme of the festival. However, according to Pashayan it’s just another way of expressing your individuality.

“A trance groove is just a time to let it all go and move your body as a form of self-expressing,” she says.

So where does the music part of the festival’s title come into play?

According to Pashayan, music is the international language of love, peace, compassion and understanding, and “its vibrations bring everyone together. That’s why we open with a gong bath by Erika Lesci and close with a crystal-bowl concert by Simonanada. The rest of the musical line-up is kept top secret until just before the opening,” she says.

Odaka yoga

One type of yoga that will be on offer during the festival that you may not have heard of before is odaka yoga. Roberto Milletti, its founder, has been featured in Om Yoga magazine in the UK as one of the three world leaders in new contemporary forms of yoga, and will be leading an odaka class at this year’s festival. Odaka incorporates martial arts, Zen and traditional yoga postures, and is known for its flowing style.

“I lead the class through a ‘liquid’ yoga approach,” explains Milletti, who will be attending the festival for the first time. “Each wave-like move helps you overcome barriers or limiting beliefs, and emotional flexibility opens students up to endless possibilities for both body and mind,” he explains. “The motto is ‘We are not here to do yoga, we are here to become yoga.’ Yoga is a lifestyle, energy in motion, a total idea – both on and off the mat.”

Some of last year’s attendees are looking forward to the next edition. Amrit Chand, an Indian business owner, took part in the inaugural event as a way of creating more awareness about alternative therapy and holistic healing. “It was a great festival,” says Chand. “The intention of getting people together to create more awareness about yoga and music is truly commendable. The highlight for me was the drumming circle at the very end. The festival was well organised and I’m looking forward to meeting more like-minded individuals at this year’s event.”

• A three-day advance pass costs Dh500; a one-day pass costs Dh460. Visit www.dubaiyogafest.com

artslife@thenational.ae