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Practising Ashtanga Yoga in the UAE has many health benefits. Stress is a daily problem for many people in Dubai & Abu Dhabi so how can practising Ashtanga Yoga help?

Personal Trainer Q & A Category: Yoga & Pilates

Personal Trainer Q & A Contributor: Gisella

Stress is a part of many peoples lives - especially in today's fast paced world - take some time out for yourself and feel the benefits of yoga.

Although many people seem to deal with stress without even thinking about it some of us get to the point where stress becomes too much which can results in health problems. Although it’s best to tackle the cause of stress in the UAE there are ways in which we can get some relief. Regularly practising Ashtanga Yoga in Dubai or Abu Dhabi is a popular way to relax, wind down and get some ‘me time’ – Of course there are so many other health benefits to yoga.

Professional Yoga personal trainer in Abu Dhabi Gisella provides some great tips and ideas in the question and answer session on how you too can benefit from practising yoga, either at your home or as part of a group yoga class in the UAE.

  • Nearly everyone has heard of Yoga in one form or another but for people in the UAE who are new to Yoga can you explain what Ashtanga Yoga is and how it differs from other forms of Yoga?

    Ashtanga or Power Yoga as it is sometimes referred to in the UAE is a modern day form of classical Indian Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is Sanskrit for ‘eight limbs’ of which Asana (poses), Pranayama (breathing exercises) makeup two of the eight.  A Yogi following Ashtanga tries to live their life according to the eight limbs. It is rare that anyone gets enlightened in a modern world, but it’s something to aim for. Yoga is not just a physical exercise it is a way of life for a practitioner wanting more. In Western society it is used more in the physical sense.

     

    yoga for fitness personal training in Dubai and Abu DhabiThe eight limbs are as follows;

    Yama – Social code, how we interact with others, how others perceive us.

    Niyama – Personal code, how we treat, look after ourselves.

    Asana – Physical.

    Pranayama – Control of breath.

    Pratyahara – Sense withdrawal.

    Dharana – Concentration.

    Dhyana – Meditation

    Samadhi – Enlightenment.

     

    In Asana (poses), there are six series of sequences. Each series increases in difficulty. Asana from the Primary series are the easiest and most popular poses taught. Compared to other styles of Yoga, Ashtanga is a fluid flow, which focuses largely on breath as you move from one pose to the next. Ashtanga can be fast paced and physically challenging so when starting out it is best to seek the advice and guidance of a professional yoga trainer or teacher in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

  • Many forms of Yoga and meditation can be used to help reduce stress. How does Ashtanga Yoga help with reducing stress both in physical form and mentally?

    Ashtanga helps to reduce stress physically and mentally through the use of breath (pranayama). With each asana (pose) there is a focus on breath during movement, increasing the oxygen flow through our bodies healing the mind and balancing the positive and negative energies within us. Most asana are healing, relieving stress as we stretch and breath, leaving us feeling calm and content at the end of our practice.

  • Is Ashtanga Yoga suitable for people with little or no previous Yoga training experience?

    In the UAE, Asthanga can be adapted to suit people with little or no Yoga training. The use of props is encouraged to assist with more difficult poses and there are many variations to certain asanas, ensuring the student is still benefitting from a satisfying and complete practice.

  • As an Ashtanga Yoga personal trainer in Abu Dhabi can you provide some examples of Yoga postures and short meditations that can help to reduce stress?

    A short meditation can be for 2-5 minutes depending on time available, 5 minutes is best. The simplest form of meditation is breath focus, the aim of meditation is not to make our minds blank, but to not focus on thought, to let our thoughts pass us by without adding any attachment to them.

    For example, sitting in a comfortable cross legged position, counting each inhalation and each exhalation, inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3 and so on up to 10 breaths and restart. Each breath is the same length making sure there is no holding of the breath. Inevitably we can lose focus and start to drift. This is quite normal, so we just start again from Inhale 1, exhale 2 etc.

    Balasana – (child’s pose) is a restful pose used to rest our body and mind in between more challenging asana. Balasana stretches the hips and spine, relieving tension in the back, neck and shoulders, which are parts of our body that hold a lot of tension, when we’re stressed. Whilst in Balasana we focus on our breath, calming our mind and relaxing with each exhalation.

    Salamba Sirsasana – (headstand). For beginners this can be done against a wall. By reversing the blood flow and focusing on our breath this pose can help ease anxiety and stress.

    Sun Salutations – which are part of every Ashtanga sequence, are usually practised at the beginning and a great way of invigorating the most tired of bodies, making us feel awake, happy and supercharged. By practising between 3-11 Sun Salutations every day, not only is it good for our fitness, but for calming our mind and a great way to meditate as we are focused on our breath and each movement we are making.

  • Do you think Ashtanga Yoga is suitable for any age group or are there precautions, the elderly or prenatal for example?

    Pilates Personal Trainers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

    Ashtanga yoga is suitable for people of any age in the UAE as sequences can be adapted for injuries and variations to poses can be made through the use of props. Props are a great way of deepening poses and reaching your full potential. Ashtanga can also be practised if you are pregnant with the use of props especially during the second and third trimester – if you are pregnant it is wise to use the services of a professional yoga trainer in Abu Dhabi or Dubai to ensure your posture is correct. Bolsters and cushions are largely used with gentle stretching. There are some poses that are not advised at all during pregnancy for obvious reasons. However, it’s a great way to relieve lower back pain during pregnancy and helps prepare the mother for birth. I would not advise Ashtanga when pregnant if you have no Yoga experience.

Gisella - Personal Trainer & Yoga Instructor - Abu Dhabi - UAE

Gisella is a qualified and experienced yoga personal trainer and class teacher based in Abu Dhabi. She specialised in Ashtanga Yoga (Flow Yoga) for 1-2-1 sessions at your home or group classes with friends.

You can view Gisella’s full Abu Dhabi personal trainer profile by clicking the link below.

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