x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Take a deep breath and give Ashtanga yoga a go

One of the latest additions to the UAE's yoga scene is Yoga Room, Dubai's first studio dedicated to the practice of Ashtanga yoga.

Nea Ferrier helps out a participant at the Yoga Room, Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
Nea Ferrier helps out a participant at the Yoga Room, Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National

One of the latest additions to Dubai’s growing yoga scene – from Bikram to swing – is Yoga Room in Jumeirah Lake Towers, the city’s first studio dedicated to Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga was developed by Pattabhi Jois in the Indian city of Mysore and is said to be a modern form of classical Indian yoga.

Joumana Saber, the managing director and a teacher at Yoga Room, first started practising while studying in Montreal and soon abandoned her old, hard-core gym routine for Ashtanga yoga. On returning to Dubai, she taught Ashtanga for a while before deciding to open a dedicated studio.

The result was the Yoga Room. Launched in January last year, it is the only studio in the -Middle East on the list of authorised Ashtanga centres.

“I wanted to recreate the sanctuary that was my yoga school in Montreal,” Saber explains. “Dubai didn’t have a studio that was dedicated to Ashtanga; I wanted to honour it because it has made me a better person – I wanted to share that with everyone.”

One unique aspect of Ashtanga is the concept of Mysore classes, where one-on-one instruction is offered in a group setting. Each student is given a routine according to their strengths and abilities. Yoga Room claims to be the only school in the region offering this style of instruction.

Nea Ferrier, a teacher at Yoga Room, explains the benefits of practising Ashtanga in a Mysore class. “It is all about linking breathing with movement,” she says. “Everybody’s breathing pattern is unique and you can practise at your own pace. I work with each student, teaching a new posture or offering a tip on how to move the body. Somebody who is strong can be shown new postures quickly, while someone with an injury can be taught but with modifications.”

Ferrier says that a key feature of Ashtanga is Vinyasa, which means that for every posture, there’s a corresponding breathing pattern. It also “enables you to generate body heat, not through the room being artificially heated but through your own breathing”.

Students coming out of an Ashtanga class are a testament to this – many of them are as sweaty as those emerging from a Bikram yoga session, which is conducted in a heated room.

Laura Hickford, a personal trainer in her 20s, started attending Mysore classes at the Yoga Room about three months ago. She practises six mornings a week and agrees that this style of teaching is both dynamic and physically challenging.

“You go through the postures and focus on your breathing,” Hickford explains. “This leads to self-awareness. It has given me a sense of inner calm. I am healthier and fitter than I used to be. I’m improving with every session.”

The benefits

Increases flexibility and stamina

Helps release stress

Helps maintain a healthy metabolism, digestive system and respiratory system

Regulates blood pressure and balances the hormones in your body

For more information on Yoga Room, visit www.yogaroom.ae


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