For thousands of years, yoga was studied and practised almost exclusively by men. So how has it acquired such a female-centric reputation? Louise Emma Clarke finds out where the boys can get back in the game.
Despite millennia of being a predominantly male pursuit, the mid-twentieth century saw glamorous stars such as Greta Garbo and Marilyn Monroe transform yoga’s reputation into a more feminine health and fitness discipline. But according to Noura El-Imam, founder of Dubai-based Yogalates Bliss, the gender gap in the city is balancing, with men discovering the benefits of her classes. We caught up with Noura and a couple of her regular clients to find out more…
Why do you think more men are taking up yoga and Pilates?
It seems to be in line with the rise of the fitness movement across the UAE – from cycling to marathons, triathlons to running clubs, CrossFit competitions to skydiving and so on. Yoga and Pilates aid both recovery and promise full performance at upcoming races, with less chance of injury.
So what is ‘Yogalates Bliss’?
The one-hour sessions we run are a head-to-toe workout that combine the best of yoga and Pilates. They are held on a private outdoor terrace.
What are the benefits?
Apart from the obvious benefit of stress release, Yogalates helps to stabilise and condition muscles that are overused in exercise, while helping to re-align the spine. The practice significantly helps to release hip flexor tightness, lower back pain and ITB (Iliotibial band) syndrome, which is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. By working on mobility, overall strength and flexibility, with a deeper focus in building core stability and back care therapeutics, our clients can function smoothly on the athletic front, plus
sit behind a desk or at the wheel of a car all day and experience less build-up of tension around the joints and muscles.
Dhs70 per session or Dhs500 for a package of ten classes. Mon and Wed, 7.15pm. Fraser Suites, Al Sufouh, www.yogalatesblissindubai.com (050 328 9642).
Men that stretch
Greg Aslangul: ‘I’m originally from London and I’ve been working in Media City for the past three years. Having experienced long-term issues with my lower back, I was recommended to try Yogalates as a means to strengthen my core. Over a year later, my back is far better than ever and my posture has significantly improved. As well as the physical benefits, I have found it really helps me to unwind after a stressful day at work.’
Shereef Zaghloul: ‘I train in martial arts, which is not yoga’s closest cousin – or so I thought – until my lack of flexibility caused multiple injuries. Following my trainer’s advice, I decided to try it – after all, Joseph Pilates was a professional boxer among other things. Fitting classes twice a week in my already busy training schedule and a full-time job seemed impossible, but I noticed massive progress from the first session – better flexibility, balance, range of motion and even better muscle recovery in between other high intensity training sessions.’
Three to try
Yoga for cyclists
Keen cyclist? I-Yog’s Yoga for Cyclists class helps to ease the load on your lower back and improve balance.
Dhs75 per session. Monday, 7pm. Ongoing. The Cycle Hub, Motor City, www.facebook.com/iyogforlife (050 457 5895)
Men are in regular attendance at the Friday morning Air Acro Yoga sessions, which teach strength, flow, flight, acrobatic principles, and transitions.
Dhs50. Ongoing. Friday, 10am. Gate 1, Zabeel Park, www.openairyoga.com (050 735 9683)
Strength and core
Perfect for athletes, who are typically very strong in areas specific to their sport and weaker in others.
Dhs80 per session. Various times. Aspect Tower, Downtown Dubai, www.urbanyoga.ae