“I used to have my tea with three teaspoons of sugar. And a cake. I come from a very unhealthy environment,” Natasha Rudatsenko, founder of the new Dryp Sweat Hub, a hot-yoga studio that launched in Dubai’s Orra Marina this weekend, tells me with a laugh.
Today, the Estonian entrepreneur radiates good health, and will happily talk for hours about the benefits of a balanced lifestyle. She moved to Dubai seven years ago, from London, and set up Rawr Yoga in Media City soon after. “At the same time, I started eating very healthily, and wanted to share that with others – I started selling juices and desserts in the studio,” the committed vegan says.
That became a business in itself. Rudatsenko launched Muncherie, an organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free food manufacturing company, and went on to sell her products in places such as Waitrose, Choithrams and Spinneys. "I set up Muncherie in 2015, myself, from my kitchen. I used to deliver desserts in my own car. Jones the Grocer was my first client; I was so excited."
Rudatsenko’s latest venue, Dryp, is an extension of that healthy-living manifesto. Bikram, or hot, yoga is a variation of hatha that involves a standardised series of asanas, or postures, performed in a heated environment. When Jennifer Lopez came to Dubai in November, one of the things she made sure to incorporate into her packed schedule was a Bikram yoga class. And if it’s good enough for J-Lo…
“A lot of conventional doctors will say: ‘Take antibiotics, that’s your answer.’ We say yoga is your answer. When you start to compress your metabolism, when your blood circulation increases, when you get more oxygen into your cells, then your body will start to heal itself,” says Rudatsenko.
The entrance to the new Dryp Sweat Hub is painted in a fetching shade of millennial pink – which is fitting, given that the place is about as on-trend as can be. There is complimentary valet parking, and a selection of drinks and snacks on offer, from fresh coconuts to matcha lattes, all prepared daily in the Dryp kitchen.
The venue offers three classes a day – a classic 90-minute hot-yoga class; a condensed 60-minute version; and hot-yoga sculpt, which combines free weights with cardio and yoga sequencing. Prices start from Dh85 for a single class.
“We all know that exercise is fantastic and when you add heating to that exercise, it allows you to go deeper into your postures. All the benefits increase. You burn a lot of calories in one class, up to 1,000 for a guy and 800 for a girl. You lose weight, tone up and all your muscles are all engaged.
“There are 26 postures and the sequence is designed so cleverly that from A to Z, from your spine, to your lungs, to your muscles, to your ligaments, everything is engaged,” explains Rudatsenko. “Conventional heating can be very suffocating and stuffy, so we use infrared heating, which offers even more health benefits, but is also much easier on you. Infrared doesn’t warm up the actual room – just the body.”
While Bikram has a reputation for being extremely difficult, Rudatsenko insists that anyone can do it, if they put their minds to it. “People have this perception that in order to do yoga, you need to be flexible. This is wrong. In order to do yoga, you just need to start doing yoga. And in order to be flexible, you just need to start doing yoga. This class is absolutely for everyone.”
One of the other criticisms levelled against Bikram is that it can cause the uninitiated to overstretch – that the warmth gives them a false impression of their own flexibility. Rudatsenko gives this theory precisely zero credence. “You won’t be able to overstretch. If you are warm and you don’t feel any pain, you’re good. The body will always tell you when you are pushing it too hard.”
The cardinal rules: drink a lot of water and take it at your own pace. “We are very non-judgemental here,” says Rudatsenko. “If you feel overwhelmed, just sit down or lay down, and drink some water. But try not to leave the room – because when you leave the room, you’ve given up, and we don’t support giving up. Yes, you’re in tough conditions; it’s hot; it’s a 90-minute class, it can get uncomfortable. But you stay.
“What you’ll learn about yourself is that you are actually super-strong,” she adds. “There’s an amazing feeling of achievement.”