An ever-growing number of gyms, studios and private instructors are competing for a share of Dubai’s yoga market – but where should hardcore devotees go to feel the burn, or beginners head for some gentle, encouraging instruction? We share our favourite classes around town.
Friends of Yoga Free, open-air yoga sessions are held around the city both in the morning and evening. Founder Madhavan started Friends of Yoga in the early ’90s (today it boasts an impressive 25,000+ members). Classes are taught by volunteer yoga teachers and you can expect lots of the usual stretching and asanas, with a focus on controlled breathing (pranayama) and meditation. It’s a more relaxed vibe in comparison to other classes around the city, and you can take things at your own pace and ability. We like. Free, Daily 5:30am or 7:30pm. Locations include Deira, Zabeel, The Gardens, Bur Dubai, Rashidiya and International City. Visit www.friendsofyogaglobal.org for more info.
Bikram yoga While the 26 yoga poses involved are similar to other traditional yoga styles, what sets Bikram apart is the fact that it’s ideally practiced in a room that’s heated to over 40°C (with an ideal humidity of 40 per cent). Arrive early to get used to the steamy temperatures. There’s a lot of stretching and balancing and, while even the simplest of poses can seem difficult in this rather extreme setting, it does help you detoxify (sweat it out, baby) and improve your blood circulation. The first class is always hard, but it does get easier – promise! Dhs70 for one one-hour session, Dhs700 for a month of unlimited classes. Daily 7am-9pm. See www.clubstretch.ae for a schedule.
Yogalates Bliss Held in an outdoor space overlooking the sea, perfect for calming the mind, Noura’s yogalates class is best described with a dreamy, breathless ‘wonderful’. A friendly but small and focused class, you can take the challenge level as far as you like without pressure. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, which helps if you’re just starting out. Dhs70 per session. Dhs500 for 10. Mon 7.15-pm-8.15pm, Wed 6.30pm-7.30pm. Seventh floor, Fraser Suites, Sheikh Zayed Road (050 328 9642).
Most encouraging teacher
Michelle at Zen Yoga It would be too easy to say that the Hatha Yoga classes at Zen Yoga leave you calm (they do); since most yoga classes boast this. What makes this one different is that the varied ability class really works – those at the top are pushed, beginners are catered to, and everyone learns something new. The perfect pace – taking you from basic poses to more complex stances – and chilled out vibe of the class is totally down to the near flawless teaching style of Michelle, and the fact that the class is busy, but not oversubscribed. Dhs75, Mon 8.15pm, Zen Yoga, Building 10 (BBC Building), Dubai Media City (04 367 0435).
Full Moon Yoga, Madinat Jumeirah If you’ve got a back garden, this is something you could do once a month in the privacy of your own home (providing you know a yoga routine); otherwise, head down to the beach at Madinat Jumeirah at dusk for a truly serene experience. As the instructor leads the class, classical music plays quietly, mingling with the waves in the background. We defy anyone not to get goosebumps during the cool down. Dhs99 per person. From 7.30pm. The next sessions will be held on Thursday 8 March and Friday 6 April. Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6818).
Two to try: Quirky classes around town
5Rhythms Wave Dance Though dance and not yoga, the meditative healing element will leave you with that same fresh, Zen feeling at the end of the class. Not only does this one involve ‘dancing to invigorating ecstatic music’, but it’s also instructed via Skype by certified teachers in Europe. Call ahead if you’re interested in attending the class, as newcomers need a short introduction and numbers need to be confirmed before each class. Dhs80. 7.45pm-9pm. Chill Spa Lounge, Al Shatha Tower, Dubai Media City, firstname.lastname@example.org (050 450 9595).
Acro yoga An unusual blend of acrobatics, Thai massage and yoga this discipline is one of the most interesting we’ve encountered of late – and certainly not one of the easiest to master at an advanced level. Free – donations given to charity. From 10am (arrive 15 minutes before the class). Bouncy castle area near gate 2, Safa Park, Jumeirah, email@example.com (050 735 9683).