Beach yoga in Dubai

Mum-of-two Tanja Peters hits a beach yoga class to bend back in shape

A friend of mine told me once about Full Moon Yoga on the beach, and it sounded so tempting. Then, recently, Talise Spa started a beach yoga class that runs every Monday so I thought I’d give it a go. It gives me peace of mind once a week away from a busy life. That hour at the beach, concentrating only on proper inhaling and stretching and letting your mind wander – it’s fab!

Do you need experience?
I would say it’s better if you’ve already done a few yoga classes, because the session is quite tiring and a lot of the postures are done from a headstand position. I’m not quite there yet! [laughs] Although it’s not as difficult as it sounds, particularly as Rene, our teacher, is fantastic and shows us the breathing techniques and postures at the side and helps us out if we’re having any problems.

Is it quite energetic?
I certainly feel like I’ve worked out! Every Monday I feel that my stiff bones and joints are getting softer and more flexible. My favourite pose is the Cobra, because it gives a powerful stretch to my whole body. And the brilliant thing is my back is totally relaxed and my neck too. Usually I am so tense in that area from carrying my baby, but breathing and stretching is like a miracle for me.

Sounds idyllic!
It is! Every week I look forward so much to this one hour of ‘me’ time – something I rarely get. Usually my life is so hectic, rushing from school and nursery to my desk at work, back to the house and to playdates, back to the kitchen to prepare dinner and then off for a shower and bedtime! To escape for this one hour of Zen makes me appreciate living in Dubai. If I were back home in Germany, the best I could hope for would be a jog through a foggy forest! Here, I’m breathing outside near the water, stretching and exercising and sitting under a wonderful palm tree, watching the sun go down in front of the Burj Al Arab. It’s just perfect!
Fancy giving it a go? Classes run every Monday at 6.30pm and cost Dhs80 for a one-off session or Dhs600 for 10. Talise Spa, Al Qasr Hotel (04 366 6818)

Mum about town

Mum of five, Claire Calvey ponders parenting school

I read with interest recently that a university in Ajman is offering a four year bachelors degree in ‘the mothering profession’, a course which claims to cover everything from women’s rights to pedicures. The course aims to ‘prepare women to be good mothers through academic and vocational training’.

This begs the question: what makes a good mother and can it be taught? It also assumes there is consensus on what is considered ‘good mothering’ or rather ‘good parenting’ (there are two parents in most cases after all.)

There are many schools of thought on parenting, from the baby-led techniques of Doctor William Sears to the militant Gina Ford with her ‘controlled crying’ approach. But can a theoretical model ever prepare you for the arrival of a baby or is gut-instinct, love and a good dose of common-sense more useful?

My early days of motherhood were fraught with self-doubt and anxiety and I subjected my elder sister to several phone calls a day with questions such as ‘do I need to change the baby’s nappy every time she pees?’ (‘No, you’d go through several dozen a day if you did’) to ‘she just rolled off the sofa and her nose is bleeding... do I need to go to A&E?’ (‘No, clean her nose and give her a bottle and a cuddle’).

But those days were also filled with absolute wonder, amazement and utter joy as I discovered my daughter, what motherhood meant and, corny as it sounds, who I was. I still think back to that time, nine years later, with a warm feeling and count it as one of the most magical and formative times of my life. My husband and I gazed on with awe and amazement at each new development, each smile, each milestone. We knew nothing about babies but we coped and she thrived. And although I recently gave birth to my fifth baby, I can honestly say I’m still learning.

So would I be a better mother had I spent four years studying mothering first? Perhaps. It may have saved me a lot of trial and error over the years, not to mention my astronomical phone bill. What would I do differently? Oh, lots of things: try harder to establish boundaries; be stricter about bed-time; introduce fruit and vegetables earlier on; have more confidence in myself and not apologise for only being a stay-at-home mum. What advice would I give to a new mother? Easy: Remember that the baby is yours; don’t be afraid of it; trust your instincts. The ultimate aim, regardless of your approach, is a happy and well-behaved child and love goes a long way towards achieving this goal. And degree or no degree, that’s really all you need to know.

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