It’s hard to believe there is anyone else based in the UAE with more experience and knowledge in teaching yoga than Sumit Manav.
About to embark on his PhD later this year – one of the subjects he’s considering exploring is how affirmations can change the brain – the 37-year-old has amassed six years of education in sport science, yoga and human consciousness and 10,000 hours of teacher training.
That’s why classes at one of his four Lifestyle Yoga studios in Dubai are an entirely different experience than many of the city’s enthusiasts might be used to. First-timers go to the beginner class for a few weeks, to prepare. There is always a meditation session, because, as Manav puts it: “there is no yoga without meditation”.
“We also give them the work, what you have to do when you leave for home, what to do when you leave for work,” he says. “It’s a whole lifestyle, not just yoga, that can bring a transformation.”
Advanced students can experience Manav’s Yogina class, which combines stamina, mindfulness and a mind-boggling 99 postures in one very sweaty hour. As one of his students writes on his studio’s website: “Lifestyle yoga is different from those classes I have attended before. They are making sure you actually do yoga.”
Manav, who will expand the concept he brought from India to the UAE when he opens studios in the United Kingdom and Germany next year, was introduced to yoga when his mother sent him to a month-long camp at an ashram when he was 14.
With so much experience under his belt, Manav struggles to understand something that is increasingly common in the yoga industry: graduates from just one 200-hour training, setting up as teachers. “[In those] 200 hours, you’re only learning that one style – 200 hours are surely not enough to understand the body.”
Each yoga pose has a science behind it and each posture plays with a certain part of the body, explains Manav, who hopes teachers understand that properly teaching yoga requires continuous training and a career-long dedication.