RAK // Residents in Ras Al Khaimah were taught there is more to fitness and well-being than sessions in the gym and salads for lunch – a healthy, clear mind is just as important.
As part of the Al Qasimi Foundation For Policy Research’s community health campaign, members of the public were invited to attend free yoga and meditation classes.
For many who took part, like Nadia ben Amor, it was their first experience of the physical as well as mental form of exercise. The physical education teacher said she was curious to learn more about yoga “to learn more ways to relax”.
“It could be useful for me and it could be something I could even use with my teaching to help my students. It’s good for people to be introduced to physical activity through these kinds of events,” she said.
Emirati English teacher Fatima Al Tenaiji, 29, enjoyed the experience and came away from the hour-long workshop, which included a short yoga series and a 10-minute meditation, feeling relaxed. “It was a nice chance to experience this. I would do this more if it was on a schedule.”
The sessions were held by the foundation’s centres as part of its free monthly classes, which have included archery and cookery.
American Liz Terry delivered the two workshops, which were for women only. The founder of Satya Flow Yoga in Dubai said yoga and meditation is something much needed in the fast-paced, stressful UAE life.
“On a physical level, the more we live in a stressful state in our body, the higher the chance of becoming ill or down the line being susceptible to disease, but the balance of yoga – allowing our bodies to come back to a peaceful state – we can begin to live a more healthy life,” she said.
Events like this are a great way to introduce people to yoga and meditation and break down misconceptions they may have.
“It’s a really cool thing they’re doing here at the foundation,” said Ms Terry. “There’s not much yoga in RAK so it’s great for people to experience what yoga really is. How do you explore that if you only have the internet?
“I like people to feel the physical sensation of their yoga practice, the relaxation of their body and the connection of the breath and physical body. There’s only so much you can convey with words and it’s really only your personal experience that matters.”
Shebeen Fort, 43, from the US, said the emirate needed more of these kinds of events to help bring the community together.
“It’ great not only to learn new things but to meet people with similar interests,” said the housewife who has lived in the UAE for eight years, and in RAK for the past year and a half.
“We probably need a few more things like this in RAK to get people active.
“People can try things at these events they might not usually try. It helps people explore new things and meet new friends, even if they’re not into sports.”