Why yoga's not just for girls
Dubai-based Omar Sultani is a yoga instructor at Urban Yoga in Dubai and an ambassador for Lululemon Athletica, the Canadian sportswear brand that opened recently in the region (at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates). He also works full time at a fast-paced finance job at DIFC. Here he gives us tips on why we should be taking up yoga and why why hitting the mat’s not just for the ladies.
1: Increases flexibility: As an athletic person I found I always used to focus on resistance training (weights) and cardio (running). I neglected stretching. Maybe I’d do a lunge or two and call it a day. Your yoga practice is a dedicated hour of stretching per session. If you took one or two classes per week you’ve now spent an hour or two a week stretching. A stretched muscle is stronger and healthier. If you run, play basketball or golf you’ll find not only are you avoiding injuries but your game will improve. Wouldn’t it be great if 10 years from now you’re more flexible than you are today?
2: Improves your mood: Being stretched and limber feels amazing. You’ll notice it after a week of regular practice, I promise. Chronic aches and pains melt away. Also the added benefit of deep breathing is not only detoxifying but relaxing. Breathing is both a conscious and unconscious action. We can mindfully inhale/ exhale, but also we don’t have to think about it (after all, we breathe unconsciously while sleeping). Pranayama (yogic breath control) taps into this unconscious portion of your brain and helps relax and rejuvenate you while clearing out old unconscious baggage we may not even know we’re still carrying.
3: Increases Core Strength and balance: Yoga works on some of your deepest core muscles. The health benefits of this are many. Not only does it feel good to look down and see your wash board abs (yep, yoga can help create a six pack), but your balance and overall strength increases. Resistance training is effective but it doesn’t seem to work the deep core muscles the way yoga postures do. You’ll start feeling new muscles in your abs, back and obliques that you never knew existed. Before you know it you’ll be floating up into handstands, deep back bends and feeling stronger just simply sitting at your desk.
4: Makes you more present: Although there are clear health benefits to yoga (core strengthening and increased flexibility), the yoga practice can serve as a microcosm of your life if you allow it to. I started yoga because I really needed to stretch. It was purely a physical practice. Something strange happened though… the hour of focus and presence, where I had no thoughts of work, relationships, or stresses, started to permeate into my daily life. Issues at work seemed less grave. My relationships began improving. Although anxious thoughts may still creep back into your mind, your yoga practice helps you bring you back to the present moment. It’s still a daily practice,
5: And lastly, there are no rules to yoga: You might be intimidated to try your first class, I know I was. You may think “I’m so inflexible” or “I’ll look ridiculous.” There are no rules to yoga, however if there were one I’d say that it’s “There is no judgement in yoga.” No one is judging you, and hopefully you’re not judging yourself. For an hour let go of ego and judgement. Yogis are also quite warm and welcoming people. They’re dynamic and active. There’s almost always something going on and the community is very inclusive. As a matter of fact, I met my girlfriend and some of my closest friends in yoga class.