As most great things in life, my yoga journey started by mere coincidence. It was out of curiosity and with a strong desire to do something different than just going to the gym – I just felt out of place in most group fitness classes! A few unfortunate experiences with different yoga teachers kept me away from it for some months, in an effort to try and find a different style or a different studio and give it another chance..over and over again. After taking a short course on free-diving in Thailand in 2007, I felt fascinated by pranayamas and found a great yoga teacher close to my workplace, with whom I ended up practicing consistently for over 10 months. It was however in the Maldives, in the most postcard-like-setting that one can imagine, that I had my first Kundalini Yoga class. This class was enough to hook me forever and made me consider on the possibilities of changing my life and becoming a Yoga Teacher.
And so it happened! I started the Level 1 Teacher Training of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan which focuses only on self-development. At the time, I was still not mentally prepared to change my corporate career as an Human Resource Manager at an Investment Bank. The thought of living in the Middle East and becoming a Yoga teacher had never crossed my mind! Again, it was destiny that made my husband feel attracted to working in the UAE, make us consider moving here and call this amazing city our home. This move brought me the opportunity to reset my life. While planning the move, one day I sat down and asked myself: “If I were to to start again and choose to do anything possible, what would I want to do? What would I focus my life on in the years to come?”. The answer came in the form of a life mission of fully dedicating my skills and knowledge to others, supporting their growth and awareness, through Coaching and through Yoga.
While supporting my family’s integration in this new country, I started teaching regular classes at a local Spa studio, studying different styles of yoga, and became professionally certified as a Coach.
How did it change the way I think and view life? “Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self” (quote from the Bhagavad Gita) and Kundalini Yoga is known as the Yoga of Awareness, meaning that I believe to have gained a different way of looking at life, a different and new perspective. It became more easy to accept “what is” instead of always wanting to change what I thought not to be right, enabling me to question ‘who am I to be “right”?’ and finding my truth. A new awareness of my impact in other people’s life through this incredible wisdom and without preaching it, but rather sharing what I have learnt and how it served me, and actually living it on a daily basis. Learning compassion through service taught me the humility and humbleness that we are all in a different journey and that kindness is the universal language that will bring us together, even when we have opposite views or goals.
Living by the Yamas and Nyamas is not an easy task. We can do our best and for that we need a constant awareness of our impact, our actions, our language, our thoughts and behaviours – towards others and the towards the self. What Yoga also changed in me is the way I take care of myself, of my body, and the respect I now have for “the only place you have to live” (Jin Rohn), being it through exercise, nutrition, rest or a healthy self-talk.
Back in 2014, Kundalini Yoga was far from being the type of yoga most people in Abu Dhabi were looking for, there was a big buzz around Bikram and other mainstream types of yoga. I decided to go mainstream to find my name in the market and read about Vinyasa Flow and the connection between breath and movement immediately resonated with me. So, without ever trying a Vinyasa class, I registered for a 200 hour training in Indonesia, Bali. After having practiced for a few years, I wanted to progress and so studied another 300 hours through Yoga Therapy. Recently, Yin Yoga came into my path and I studied 150 hours with two different teachers in Abu Dhabi. Being a Mom of 2, I also studied Kid’s Yoga as I am passionate about planting the seed of yoga in the little ones! My personal practice includes mainly Kundalini Yoga kriyas and Meditations, but also Yin and advanced Vinyasa classes, which I love to experience in group sessions as well as on my own. In Kundalini Yoga it is common to have a 40 days Sadhana (morning practice) for self-development, as 40 days is the number of days that takes to break any negative habit that blocks us from the possible expansion through a Kriya or Mantra. Therefore, I am constantly practicing a kriya or a meditation with the purpose of enriching my path for 40 days or more.
My favourite quotes… there is one that is resonating more with me recently: “the opposite of being active in yoga is not being passive. It’s being receptive.” – by Cyndi Lee
During my classes, I like to invite students to connect with their breath, to explore their movements and to experience their moment in the mat, in a way that they may take that experience off their mats and reflect it on their daily lives – mainly when life becomes automatic and we are not even able to notice our breathing patterns… this quote is that type of invitation. When can we, in our lives, become receptive instead of passive? What will that open up for us? What does being active mean in our lives? What adds and what rests?
These are the type of inquiry that you can expect in my classes – a way to make the yoga experience last after the class ends.
My first yoga tip is to smile! Smiling opens your nostrils and brings in more oxygen into your system, for example, when you smile while doing Breath of Fire! Smile not only because you’ll look better, but because you will actually feel better! Know that it is scientifically proven that smiling enhances happiness. Hugging also does that! And if you cannot hug someone you love, hug yourself! You need at least 20 hugs a day to kick in happiness in your life – start with yourself!
Yoga is the consistency that you bring into your practice, to show up every day for whatever length and whatever practice. Put your alarm clock 5-7 minutes earlier tomorrow and practice 3-5 minutes of anything: witness the sunrise, flower contemplation, candle gazing, any pranayama, self-hugging, sufi grind, mindfully preparing yourself a cup of tea – anything! Yoga is not only making poses on your mat – yoga is life as it happens!
Lots of love,