It’s often said that some of the best therapists are those who have been there themselves – few are in a better position to empathise and offer advice and support than those who’ve known a similar struggle. Assuming that hypothesis holds true, Dubai’s Kaya Peters should see her new workshops fill up fast. A Dutch native, 29-year-old Peters certainly has an alternative approach to wellbeing, using traditional Chinese medicine as a guide for herself and for her clients – something she will be demonstrating during one of her first workshops, at James & Alex Studios on Saturday March 2 and March 9, and from Saturday March 23 will be bi-weekly until the end of June.
‘I’ve been through everything. For me, it was a very, very big struggle,’ Peters begins. ‘I was born with a sickness that stayed with me for a very long time. Since then I’ve been through depression and suffered from a very severe eating disorder – I was bulimic for 15 years. I’ve had my share of challenges.’
And it doesn’t end there: Peters reveals she also battled with her weight, noting that as a child she had ‘a very distorted body image’. ‘I know what it’s like not to take care of yourself, and to not know how to take care of yourself, and I know what it’s like not to love yourself.’ Teaching people to love themselves and their lives will be a starting point for her first two workshops, one of which will focus mainly on yoga, while the other will also feature nutrition.
As a result, she is focusing on people she thinks need her most, starting from the bottom up. ‘People who are already experienced are welcome, but these workshops will really be for beginners. I always focus on people who are just starting to look into a healthier lifestyle, who have the desire but don’t really know where to start.’
She notes that many of the potential clients who approach her have never learned about living and eating healthily, which itself isn’t surprising. However, she is often caught unawares by ignorance in the industry. ‘The other day I had a phone call from a so-called healthy place, which wanted me to do a cooking instruction for fat-free condensed milk. The idea of that being healthy…’ she tails off in disbelief.
Of course, a healthy lifestyle is not all about food choices. In particular, the ‘five elements’ theory of Chinese medicine that Peters follows requires everything to be in balance. ‘It’s not only nutrition, or movement, or herbs, or acupuncture – it’s everything. It’s a holistic approach,’ she explains.
One of the main challenges she has found, specifically in Dubai, is a lack of motivation. ‘I’ve noticed that it seems to be very easy to lose your motivation here. In order to stay motivated you have to surround yourself with equally motivated, inspiring people, and most people here just don’t think they have time.’
Her antidote is a ‘small steps’ approach. ‘I don’t believe in a 180-degree turnaround in days, I believe things go slowly, and that way they will last. I like to teach people the basics: small adjustments, small things you can do on a daily basis, even with a busy life,’ she explains. ‘I’ve been through a lot, and I think that makes me a very compassionate and understanding teacher. Change can only happen when you want it to – it can’t happen because you think you should.’
To learn more from a consultant who might just know your battle as well as you, booking yourself into one of these new workshops could be that first small step.
Yoga on March 2 Dhs350, yoga and health on March 9 Dhs400. James & Alex Studios, Concord Tower, Dubai Media City, www.kayapeters.com (056 212 5878).
More nutrition advice around town
Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre
Personal consultations with Lily Mueller Valkenberg will provide you with a meal plan tailored to your specific needs, as well as advice on how to create or maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Oud Metha (04 335 1200).
Get one-on-one nutritionist advice, or sign up for weekly support group meetings around town.
Various locations, www.goodhabitsuae.com (050 454 2309).
A nutritionist will take you around the supermarket, put together a personalised programme and even teach you how to cook your own healthy meals.
Various locations, www.nutrition-unlocked.com (056 136 6382).