It was footballer Ryan Giggs who made yoga ‘okay for guys’ when he released his self-titled fitness DVD, hailing the ancient spiritual practice as key to prolonging his Manchester United career. In one fell sun salutation, this ‘man’s man’ had made it far more than just what many snootily observed as a bit of bending and breathing; it is now an integral part of any health-conscious individual’s life, both the physical and mental.
But what discipline is best for you? We asked Dina Ghandour, owner of yogi boutique yApparel in Jumeirah, to explain the benefits of five of the most common forms found in Dubai.
A brand of hot yoga founded by Bikram Choudhary, you can expect to break a classic Dubai summer sweat as you practice a set sequence of 26 poses in a room set to a breezy 40˚C. The heat allows for both detoxification and lengthening of muscles, and there’s no doubt you’ll leave feeling great. Just be sure to replenish by drinking lots of water after class.
Where to do it: Rawr Yoga, Concord Tower, Dubai Media City, www.rawryoga.com (04 423 2808).
A more traditional form of yoga, Ashtanga emerged from a city in India called Mysore – which is now the name commonly used and listed on class schedules to denote the style. Class takes the form of a series of sequences taught and memorised with the goal of attaining a daily self-practice routine without verbal instruction. You can stumble in at any point during the two-hour Mysore-style block to find some students on their first poses, while others already rolling up their mats. It’s great for both experts and beginners alike.
Where to do it: Yoga Room, Cluster Y, Swiss Towers, JLT www.yogaroom.ae (05 0518 9966)
Partner up, guys, because you need a buddy for this convergence of yoga and acrobatics. Think yoga poses, but suspended. Trust and patience are both cultivated in Acro Yoga classes, but you’ll also leave with a renewed sense of thrill and confidence knowing you just lifted your 70kg partner with your own two feet. Or hands.
Where to do it: Phoenix Rising, various locations, www.phoenix-rising.me (no number).
Founded by two New York artists, Jivamukti classes blend physical practice with spiritual enlightenment – bringing back certain aspects that were forgotten as yoga became mainstream. Transition from sun salutations and inversions to the soundtrack of indie pop tunes, while getting hands-on assistance to help your practice reach its full potential, before finishing off with a private meditation session. This is holistic yoga in its purest form.
Where to do it: Jivamukti with Dina, personal consultations available, www.jivamuktiwithdina.com (no number).
If your exercise regime usually involves a more cardio-intense workout, then Vinyasa is a great yoga practice to try first. Comprising a flowing style of yoga that links the breath with movement, Vinyasa serves as a strength-training process, helping build lean muscle across your whole body. You’ll focus on inhaling and exhaling as you move from one pose to the next, so don’t expect to stay in one position for long. Just breathe in, out, and go with the flow.
Where to do it: Zen Yoga, Building No. 10 (BBC building), Dubai Media City, www.yoga.ae (04 367 0435). Other locations: Jumeirah Town Centre, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 2933); Town Centre Shopping Mall, Springs 14 (04 422 4643).