Ahead of the fifth Yogafest, Louise Emma Clarke speaks to organiser Elaine Kelly to find out what’s on offer this year.
What can we expect from Yogafest this year? Yogafest takes place on Thursday February 19 to Saturday 21 at Dubai Internet City. There will be more than 100 sessions to attend in seven tents, as well as a vegetarian food court. The event is free to attend and aims to raise awareness of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.
You started this event five years ago. What inspired you to create a yoga event in Dubai? Shortly after becoming a yoga teacher in 2010, I read an article about a free event that takes place in Times Square, New York, on June 21, to celebrate the summer solstice, or longest day of the year. I thought it was an amazing idea and decided I could do this in Dubai on December 21 for the winter solstice, or shortest day of the year. I knew Dubai Internet City was the perfect venue to hold such an event – it’s a garden oasis in the heart of the new city. So I approached management and they loved the idea.
How has the event grown? The first event was held in 2010. It was a one-day festival with no sponsors – just eight yoga classes from 7am-5pm. It’s now held over a weekend and last year there were 80 classes and 3,300 attendees. This year, we expect it to be even bigger.
What is new for this year? We have a new learning tent where visitors can find out about a particular topic, ask questions and interact with professionals. In the family tent, we have added hula-hoop classes, laughter yoga, and belly dancing. In the healing zone, Ortho Sports will be offering postural assessments and deep tissue massage.
What should visitors bring with them? A yoga mat, refillable water bottle, blanket and sun cream. We want visitors to spend the entire day at yogafest because there is something happening every hour. And there’s plenty of healthy food to buy, so no one will go hungry. Free. February 19-21, 1pm-7pm. Dubai Internet City, www.yogafest.me
Three new yoga and Pilates classes to try
I-Yoga What is it? Yoga for cyclists. The theory? Cyclists spend a lot of time in an aerodynamic position in their saddle, leading to muscle tightness and a general lack of flexibility. Yoga for Cyclists helps to release the load on the lower back and improve balance as you strengthen and flex muscles that are neglected and those that are overworked. Dhs75 per session. Mon 7pm. The Cycle Hub, Motor City, www.facebook.com/iyogforlife (050 457 5895).
BodyART What is it? A fusion of yoga and Pilates. The theory? Developed by German therapist Robert Steinbacher, BodyART is based on an Eastern approach of treating the entire body as one system, using the principles of Yin and Yang and of the five elements. Great for health and wellbeing, the exercise is also extremely relaxing and boosts the ability to focus. Free for members, free day pass available to non-members to trial the class. Various days and times. Gold’s Gym, various locations including Ibn Battuta Gate, www.goldsgym.ae (800 46 537).
Baby-friendly Pilates What is it? Pilates for mums and their babies. The theory? This new class allows new mums to bring their babies to sessions with them. The classes are run in intimate groups over six consecutive weeks, so you’ll get individual attention while the classes focus on core stability, body positioning, breathing, developing strength, flexibility and fat burning. Dhs540 for a six-week course. Tue 9.30am. Pure Fitness, Impact Studio, Motor City, www.purefitness.com