12.9.15

Dubai Yoga 2.0

With only three full days available and considering the number of Yoga Studios available in Dubai I made a few choices based on distances, and schedules. For styles of Yoga the options were many  yet once crossed with location and schedule it was necessary to narrow down the choices to Hatha and Yin yoga.I ticked the box for 3 Studios: ZOGA,
ZEN YOGA,  and  URBAN YOGA.
 Distance and location are to be considered priority depending on where your hotel is and where your practice is, you may have to find a comprise also including cost and transportation to the to reach your destination. Taxis are available quite easily in Dubai and fares are simply double or triple the fare by metro. Distances are huge, and timings to reach to destination have to be planned ahead. For instance from Deira City Center where Hotels are cheaper to Dubai Internet City, Business bay, or Dubai Media city it will take approximately one hour by metro. By taxi the same distance will take  a quarter of the time if out of traffic hours which in Dubai increase starting from 3pm, depending on the area.  So plan ahead, choose your practice, and there are plenty of styles to avail for, and expect to pay around just 80AED Dhr equivalent to just less than 30US for 90min practices. Workshops start at 250AED for 3 hours to about 1,000 AED for a week end. Considering the weather and hot dry weather, prepare yourself for water to be available, and also the fact that most studios don't have classes between 2 and 5 pm except for a few or for workshops.Of the three studios I had opted for I could only attend 2   schedule because I really wanted to take a Yin Yoga Workshop on Friday 11/09 at Zen Yoga. After that I could not plan for another class at Zoga. So Zoga was left out from the explorations. Zen Yoga and Urban Yoga have two completely different atmosphere. First of all Zen Yoga is located  at the Ground Floor of the BBC Building, very close to Dubai Media City Metro Station (5 minutes walk)  while Urban Yoga is located at the 37th Floor of the Aspect tower at Business Bay Metro Station (10 Min walk) which in Dubai makes a huge difference. Personally I enjoyed the 'homy' feel of Zen Studio while I also felt that the name Urban Yoga fits the 37th floor quite well: it is indeed an urban skyline of Dubai available from there. It is quite unique. Both studios offer clean and large shower rooms . Yet Urban Studio offers nice towels, shower gel and other amenities for free use, and again the experience is of showering in the sky surrounded by grey blue stone walls and mirrors. Urban Yoga is run by a group of young American yogis; signing for classes for members involves pinning in a digit code on an iPad in the lounge area which also doubles up as a yogi shop with urban Yogi accessories, organic snacks and drinks.
 Unlike Yoga Studios in other parts of Asia, Studios in Dubai offer mats for your practice, no need to carry yours unless you really want to. Wipes are available to wipe out sweat or dirt from the mat after practice.

In terms of practice, both studios offer invaluable experience to beginner, intermediate or advanced practitioners. The menu is varied  with Ashtanga, Hatha, Hot Yoga, Bikram, and Yin, Vinyasa Flow, and Hot Flow, as well as workshops on a large variety of practices. As i really wanted to experience Flying Yoga,  the new practice which seems to have taken great sailing winds in Europe and the US, it does not seem to be available in Dubai. Sure enough it wont take long before someone sets the practice on there too!.

Besides the nice typical Yin Yoga class at Zen Yoga which is great to unwind from long hours sitting at a desk if that is what you do during the day, I attended a Tune Up Balls Hatha Yoga class which turned out to be a core slow flow Hatha practice with a warm-up starter of stimulating acupressure points in various parts of the spinal cord from neck to lower back. Great to release tensions ! Certainly Dubai is a hot hub for anything that is possible to imagine and yoga is no exception. Maybe the more traditional yogi will be tiny inconvenienced by  the use of air Conditioning, though considering the hot dry weather outside reaching 40 degrees in September and over to 45 during some parts of the year, one would easily understand the need for refreshing the air. In my view there would easily be other ways to do so especially in Dubai, where everything seems to be possible. The level of practice, the professionalism and the level of knowledge of teachers, will be difficult to assess for there are many aspects to consider and it also is not a habit for yogis and yoginis to assess each other, rather to experience a practice.    The question then is, did I have fun while taking a class in an unknown environment with teachers i don't know? Yes I did.
 I also noticed a few other things which for me are important maybe because I did learn Yoga in India in a traditional way. Asanas are body mudras, they have names inspired  from the animal world and Indian mythology and it is good practice to use those names. It is the essence of yoga that emerges from the Asanas given in their traditional name. This seems to be a teacher-strength in my view distinguishing him or her from a mere physical exercise instructor. The second point is about anatomy and adjustments Vs long explanations on chakras and emotional release.  Adjustments are key to practice and anatomy must be followed to understand the strength of a pose and the condition of a body. None of those are standards and I like it when teachers take notice of this and acknowledge the fact that each body is different and each day has to be taken as it comes. Long explanations on chakras and why this pose may trigger release is none of the teacher's business.

Last but not least, timing for classes and workshops:punctuality is key for starting and ending a class or a workshop. I noticed that some workshops may end up earlier than planned without any reasons.
 In terms of location, and interior decoration, Zen Yoga is small and has managed to make the most of the small space to provide 2 nice rooms which can accommodate 12 to 24 students respectively. Zen Yoga has lockers and showers but toilets are outside in the corridor of the main building. Two filippinos receptionists will guide the newcomer and will gather your level of practice when signing up for a class while at Urban Yoga management seems to be more diverse. Urban Yoga is set up as a loft on 2 levels and each room can accommodate between 12 to 25 students respectively.  Last point, both studios will require you to fill in a questionnaire and while Zen Yoga Studio is interested in your level of practice, and your health conditions as well as what you are looking for in a class, Urban Yoga  questionnaire is more of a disclaimer about possible injuries, and side effects of your practice.
 Ir really missed exploring ZOGA which seems to have a concept store and cafeteria attached to the Studio. I think it is a nice place to be as well. I enjoyed both studios and both experiences. Dubai Yoga 2.0 you are up to good practice.
 Namaste everyone !