x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Meet Abu Dhabi's independent yoga teachers

An introduction to some of the yoga teachers offering classes in and around Abu Dhabi - outside of the traditional studio setting.

Jennifer Stewart

Originally from Tennessee, the 29-year-old Stewart previously worked as a TV producer in Los Angeles for the E! channel before heading to Abu Dhabi when her husband Joseph found a job here.

She now teaches classes at numerous hotels including the Eastern Mangroves hotel and the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort.

Her preference for faster, more energetic yoga is what she believes keeps students coming back.

"Some people love the more meditative, slower type of yoga. But I try and stay clear of stuff that doesn't feel quite right," she says. "When I got here, I was looking for other classes around but couldn't really find any. So my husband, said: 'If you can't find the classes you like, why don't you teach the kind of yoga you enjoy yourself?'"

Email jenstewart06@gmail.com for details

Debbie Kochanczyk

Kochanczyk is a stalwart of the UAE's yoga scene, with almost a decade of teaching experience under her belt.

The 55-year-old Briton first moved here in 2003 with her oil worker husband. After discovering yoga, and noticing a void in qualified teachers, she went about acquiring her Yoga Alliance teaching certificates.

"I think I'm successful because I'm accessible. I'm not a young, lithe person who can go into backbends easily. I've raised children, I've been around for a while. But I really have a passion for yoga and that rubs off on my class."

Call the Hiltonia Beach Club on 02 692 4324 for details

Sasha Quince

The 29-year-old Indian-Canadian first took up yoga five years ago while working in media sales. "I really wanted something to calm my mind at the end of a stressful day," she says

Eventually, she realised that teaching yoga was her vocation, so, in 2011, she quit her day job and launched her own company Let's Go Yoga. Now, she teaches at the Rocco Forte and One To One hotels.

"I try to get across to them [students] that if they're consistent with their practice it will totally change their lives," she says.

Visit www.letsgoyoga.net for more

Laila Dajani

The Palestinian-Croatian Dajani trained to be a schoolteacher before ditching the classroom for the yoga mat in 2007. Now she runs the Yoga Juice company, which works as an umbrella organisation for other freelance instructors.

She used to organise the sessions on the Corniche public beach and has recently started running Vinyasa Flow and Yin yoga classes at Sila Tower in Sowwah Square on Al Maryah Island.

"They have a great new yoga space out there," says the 33-year-old. "The city is growing and changing, so I'm confident that we will get more spaces like this and more yoga studios anytime soon."

Visit www.theyogajuice.com for more information

Neli Hristova

The 34-year-old moved to Abu Dhabi from Bulgaria to further her career in banking and found herself turning to yoga to alleviate the intense pressures of the job. So, in 2011, she quit the bank to impart her passion for yoga to others.

"Yoga has helped me become so much more calm and balanced than before," she says.

She has become one of the big hitters in the capital's yoga scene, running her classes in places such as the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Al Wahda Grand Millennium and Fit Studio in Muroor. Hristova is currently out of the country bot other teachers are picking up her classes.

Visit www.anaadiyoga.com or search for Raw Yoga Abu Dhabi on www.meetup.com