This past Friday I attended a type of event which is far too rare in UAE – a Yogathon. The event invited yogis and yoga-newbies alike to complete 108 sun salutations together at the base of the famous Burj Khalifa, as a fundraiser for the Dubai Autism Centre.
I’m always keen to participate in any yoga event I can so I was thrilled to see this one scheduled on my day off and for such a good cause as well. Friday morning I made the trek to Dubai and met up with my friend and all-time favourite yoga teacher Liz Terry to get our bend on. It was great to see the turn out really was a mix of experience levels, and also that it became a big family event. I have to admit though, I was a wee bit nervous about completing the 108 sun salutations (the event was scheduled for 3 hours!).
While quite simple in execution, I actually really love sun salutations – especially first thing in the morning. Not only does it get your blood flowing but they also get all the kinks out of your muscles and your back. So why 108 sun salutations? Well, apparently the number 108 has long been considered a sacred number. There’s always something to learn in yoga. 🙂
The first hour was hot – about 35C – but we soon got into a rhythm and despite the lumpy grass, it was an incredible location. I felt so grateful for every breath I took as I stretched up to the bright blue sky and the towering Burj Khalifa – the 108 salutations flew by quickly.
Two days later, I feel like I could use another Yogathon – or at least a class – to stretch my tender muscles. But I know I’ll be there next year, doing it all over again. Om.
One of the reasons I wanted to live in Dubai is that it is the ideal hub for any travel in the Middle East, as well as Asia and Europe. My first year here I was completely consumed with work and did not travel at all so I’ve since made it my mission to remedy that. Last November I went to Kathmandu, Nepal for a 3-day weekend, in December I was in Cannes for work for a week and did a side trip to Monaco for the weekend, and in January I jetted to Doha, Qatar for the weekend.
But the most impactful was my trip to Goa, India last weekend – just a 3 hour direct flight from Dubai – where I spent 3 nights and 4 days at Lotus Yoga Retreat. I would like to say that India really is Incredible and that I saw all the sights but I did not. I barely ventured more than 100 metres away from the retreat. I found that when I arrived, all of the long hours and stress from the last year surfaced and my body just wanted rest. I could hardly stay awake for the first two days and anyone who knows me, knows that sleep does not come easily.
I stayed in an amazing little hut on the beach where the sound of waves crashing would lull me to sleep. In the morning, everyone would wander to the main hut where we could have juice and fruit before the first yoga session at 8:30 a.m. in the Ocean Shala The 90-minute classes always went by so quickly and while the stunning view of the sun rising over the water was slightly distracting, it also lent a powerful sense of calm, serenity and clarity. Our yoga instructors varied with every class and it was interesting to get a mix of teaching styles. The yoga itself was not as challenging as I expected – everyone’s ability ranged from complete beginner to my level of experience – however it was the first time I have ever slowed down long enough to really look deeper than the physical aspect of yoga. Some of our teachers were light and funny and had us giggling through the session while others lead us through amazing meditations and others still started a session by having us lie on our backs hugging our knees to our chests and telling ourselves “I love you” – because really, when was the last time you said that to yourself?
After yoga, I would have to make the difficult decision of where to nap – hut, hammock or beach. Yummy brunch of salads, eggs, tofu curries and the like was served from 11-12:00 p.m., tea and biscuits in the afternoon and then the second yoga session from 4:30-6:00 p.m. Our days were our own – almost everyone stayed nearby resting, reading, swimming or sunning. Because most people were staying from 2 weeks to one month, I was one of the few going to every class. It was very flexible and free, not nearly the regimented program I expected it to be.
Over the weekend, I also read a book that I had picked up about a year ago but just wasn’t ready to read. It is called The Power and is the follow-up to The Secret. I think I’m the only person on the planet who had not read one or both of these books but if you are like me, to summarize they are about the Law of Attraction. Simply put, positive or negative thoughts can bring positive or negative results. Regardless of your own perspective, I think the world needs a lot more positive energy and I look forward to contributing heaps of it!
All in all, it was a quick weekend away but I felt like a whole new person when I returned. Refreshed and re-energized, I’m looking forward to taking on every wonderful opportunity that comes my way!
Thank you to each one of you who support me and love me from near and far – know that you’re always in my thoughts.