What makes yoga so special anyways?

We spoke with local yoga lover and instructor Suzette Garza to find out.

Whether you came across the name while perusing your gym’s class schedule, overheard your friend gushing about how flexible they’ve become, or came across the practice online while investigating exercise trends, we’ve all heard about yoga.img_2313

And while it’s continuously being branded as a miracle sport of some sorts – promising disciples to morph them it into svelte, toned and strong versions of themselves without having to break a sweat on the treadmill – the actual practice of yoga remains far from sport. That’s the message Suzette’s courses have been trying to convey.img_2307

To start: what’s the yoga community in Jeddah like?
The yoga community has been growing rapidly over the last 22 years, since I first started practicing yoga in Saudi Arabia. Right now, there’s a strong yoga movement not just in Jeddah but across the country as well. A new league founded by Nouf Al-Marwaai, called the Arab Yoga Foundation, has popped up recently in an effort to create a solid community.img_2310-copy

How did you personally get into yoga?
When I first moved to Saudi Arabia from the U.S. in 1994, I was faced with a huge culture shock. At the time, women occupied around 2% of the workforce, and arriving to that after working a high-powered job in Washington, D.C. was disheartening for my ambitions to go into careers like law. So, during  the summer of my first year in Saudi, I visited my parents in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida,  and was encouraged to try yoga at a community center by my mom. That marked my introduction to Raja yoga courtesy of my first teacher, Mark Roberts. Yoga transported me to a serene, happy place.  I loved it. I carried on with practicing it, and was encouraged by my husband to start teaching it in Saudi Arabia. And that’s how it all started!img_2311

You mentioned you practice Iyengar yoga. What are the different styles of yoga and what warrants a categorization of this sort?
What’s interesting about yoga is that it predates written history, it’s an oral tradition that relied on communication between the teacher (guru), and the student (sadaka) that withstood the test of time. But yoga, traditionally, is split into five main schools, that in modern times have been watered down to a sport. The true difference between the different types of yoga is not physical, and needs students to delve deeper into the history and spirituality of yoga.img_2312

Do you believe that everyone can find peace through yoga?
I believe that anyone who becomes in touch with the true meaning of yoga can find peace.

The path of the yogi takes you from the external world and can cause unease at first. But, at the end of the day, the mind is a muscle and yoga is a mindfulness-based practice, defined as “the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”. Anyone who approaches the practice right, who allows themselves to penetrate into the deepest layers of their being and find faith, can find peace with yoga.img_2313


Twitter, Shawerma, and Charity

Could this story get more Saudi?

We’ve all heard about the “how many retweets for X” threads, right?

Active tweeters have been able campaign for college admissions (yes, really), Wendy’s nuggets, pets, cancelled exams – just about everything- through achieving a certain number of retweets.

But last night, one man’s quest for retweets in the name of charity went viral on Saudi Twitter.dfgdfg

The tweet, posted by one local Abdulaziz, called upon Shawermer to state the number of retweets he’d need to guarantee a gift of 100 shawermas to be distributed to the local street sweepers.

But, instead of Shawermer naming a price, they offered their 100 sandwiches, no strings attached. This inspired a complete flurry of individuals and companies rushing to do their part, too.cha

The pledged contributions are too many to begin to count. Within the span of a couple of days, promises of pizzas courtesy of restaurants like Domino’s, Maestro Pizza and Pizza Inn to name a few, meal packages, ice cream, water, money, cars for transport courtesy of Careem, telephone charge cards…the list trails along twitter. Your favourite local magazine (that’s us) offered up Umrah and dinner for 100 workers, too! Even the Saudi Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs stepped in to offer its help in streamlining the growing operation.

So, if there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s about the power of the massive numbers in social media that made one man capable of doing so much good.


9 Mother’s Day Ideas For Those Who Forgot

Mother’s day is around the corner March 21st and if you haven’t thought about a special gift for you mama! Here are some things you can do to make your mama feel extra special.

  • Flowers! They’re almost cliche, but classic. Make them special by writing her a special note and including her favourite kind of flower –  is she the type to prefer roses or daisies? Now’s the time to find out. If you want to make it extra special, try having each family member write a note on a stem.platelets-1271880_1280
  • Make her breakfast! She’ll love it – we promise.
  • Treat her to a spa day. If you find out you missed that last appointment at her favourite spa, try out a home service spa and have the spa come to her!
    Instagram: My Spa / Violet Spa / Spa To Go 
  • Labour of love – make the little kids in your family do the heavy lifting by singing on camera or drawing up some special artwork to celebrate the occasion.children-learning-1359728_960_720
  • Have her pick! Make her plan the day, or take her out shopping so she can pick out her own gift – after all, she knows her own tastes best.
  • Family love: frame her favourite family photo or recreate a childhood snap. photo-256887_960_720
  • Just say yes to whatever she asks you to do. It will probably be the greatest gift she’s ever had.
  • Personalize some vouchers for her, just little coupons that she can use to redeem your services. You know what she needs you to do more often! Get creative.
  • Treat her extra-special the day before and after, too. Mothers should be appreciated at all times!


Keep it Fun: Staying Fit

Who said the gym had to be mundane?

When it comes to getting fit, many of us are scared off by the prospect of putting in long, dull, hours in the gym. Well, technology’s here, and it’s here to fix that.

Local solutions

Let’s be honest, finding new gadgets can get difficult in Jeddah, but we’ve rounded up a few noteworthy additions to your routine:

NXE’s ActiveSleeve

1Keep your phone handy, right on your arm, while you work out! This might not seem necessary, but sometimes you just want to listen to your own music while getting your cardio in – and a lack of a phone holder can make that pretty impossible.

Find it at iZone, or order it on their online store

Beats Wireless Earphones

2In keeping with our devotion to our own tunes while working out, we’re recommending Beats’ high-power wireless earphones. They’re specifically designed to stay put while you’re on the go, and allow for 12 hours of work on a full charge. Keep that motivation running!

Find it at iZone, or order it on their online store

Smart Rope

smart-ropeThe high-tech answer to the popular form of cardio. Smart rope displays your jump count in mid-air. The gadget will also sync to your phone, Apple Watch or Samsung Gear to allow for live workout data.

Find it with Gizmooz online

‘Withings’ Activity Tracker

withings-pulse-tracker-dp_izoneThis sounds a bit unnecessary, but allow us to elaborate. The teeny, tiny gadget syncs to an app (available on both iPhone and Android), and allows you to keep track of your activity for the day: we’re talking steps taken, calories burned, sleep cycles – everything.

Find it at iZone, or order it on their online store


Eight Women Who Lead Us Forward

Eight Women Who Lead Us Forward.

It’s International Women’s Day, a day that celebrates the lives and efforts of women from all walks of life. It’s a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Here are some Saudi women who are leading with their achievements:

  1. Raha Moharrak

Photo Credit: dubaieye1038.com

Photo Credit: dubaieye1038.com

She’s known all over the world for her brave mountain climbing. Moharrak was the first Saudi woman and one of the young Arabs to climb Mt. Everest at the age of 25. She continues to climb mountains and slay the negative perceptions about Saudi women.

  1. Lubna Olayan

Photograph by Fahad Shadeed

Photograph by Fahad Shadeed

No list is complete without Lubna Olayan. She’s a businesswoman who is leading the corporate world with billions in turnover. She could teach men a thing or two about earning money!

  1. Queen Effat

Photo Credit: effatuniversity.edu.sa

Photo Credit: effatuniversity.edu.sa

The beloved Queen Effat, wife of King Faisal, worked hard to create progress in women’s education. Her years of effort led to the opening of schools for girls and eventually a private university for women named in her honor.

  1. Princess Deena Al Juhani

Photo Credit: thisisglamorous.com

Photo Credit: thisisglamorous.com

Her take on fashion is a stunning blend of bold and classy. She’s also the editor in chief of Vogue Arabia, and our role model on everything to do with fashion.

  1. Haifa Al Mansour

Photo Credit: thedissolve.com

Photo Credit: thedissolve.com

She set the tone for women’s participating in the emerging film industry of the Kingdom. Thanks to her, women realized they could work around the rules to create their films. Mansour’s latest project is “A Storm in the Stars”, a film about the relationship between Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and how it influenced their daughter Mary Shelley’s groundbreaking novel “Frankenstein”.

  1. Raja Alem

Photo Credit: thetanjara.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: thetanjara.blogspot.com

If you’re a local writer, you probably look up to Raja Alem, one of the most popular Saudi writers today. She won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for her novel “The Dove’s Necklace”. She continues to inspire writers with her amazing representation of Saudi in literature.

  1. Hanadi Al Hindi

Photo Credit: mvslim.com

Photo Credit: mvslim.com

It’s been 12 years since Hanadi Al Hindi became the first Saudi female pilot. She continues to soar high and defy expectations. She’s someone who represents that women can achieve anything.

  1. Mishaal Al Shemimry

Photo Credit: mishaalashemimry.com

Photo Credit: mishaalashemimry.com

She’s a Saudi pioneer in rocket science. She’s the president and CEO of Mishaal Aerospace in Miami. NASA sponsored her master’s degree in aerospace engineering at her alma mater, Florida Institute of Technology.


NASA Discovers 7 Earth-Sized Planets

Science buffs: this one’s for you!

On February 22, NASA announced the discovery of an entire system of 7 Earth-sized planets orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 star. The discovery came courtesy of its Spitzer telescope, which routinely observes the star that is described as an ultra-cool dwarf.

Even more exciting is the fact that three of those planets appear to be habitable. They are said to occupy the “Goldilocks Zone” – the area that is neither too hot, nor too cold for the existence of liquid water, the basis for life as we know it! NASA notes that while all seven of those planets could have liquid water, the aforementioned three have the highest possibility.

At 40 light-years away, the system is considered to be relatively near to us.

It’s almost enough to make us forget about Pluto leaving us in limbo.


A Week of Firsts for Saudi Women

It was quiet, but monumental.

In this past week, three Saudi women have ascended to the very top of the Kingdom’s finance field – no easy feat in an economy where the workforce’s female contribution is 22%.

Saudi’s stock exchange Tadawul appointed Sarah Al-Suhaimi as chair on Thursday, making her the chair of the largest bourse in the Middle East. She is expected to continue holding her position as the CEO of NCB Capital, NCB’s investment banking branch and KSA’s largest asset management.untitled-1

SAMBA Financial Group and ANB also appointed women to high offices this week. Rania Nashar was named chief executive officer of SAMBA on Sunday and Latifa Al-Sabhan chief financial officer of ANB on Tuesday.

This moves in parallel with Vision 2030’s goal of increasing the female participation percentage to 30%.


You might want to ditch your travel plans now

#SaadinSaudi highlights the beauty of Saudi Arabia.

Lebanese photographer Saad Ghossoub has been traveling the country on his mission to capture its oft-hidden beauty. So, we sat down with him to discuss the ambitious project!

What pushed you to get into photography and start this project?
Well, photography was a childhood passion of mine that I pursued throughout university and made my full-time job. I work in Saudi very often, and I tend to have a lot of free time between shoots. This project is basically a way to capitalize on all this free time; this is a huge country that’s not well documented and I wanted to change that.

What’s your favourite project so far?
Honestly, I’d say this is my favourite project. It’s completely self-created and self-led. It’s a product of  my own vision, own work, and own time.

Of all the sites you’ve visited so far, which one is your favourite?
My favourite city would have to be Al-`Ula, it’s home to incredible rock formations and Mada’in Saleh. As a whole, though, the Northern part of Saudi Arabia, and the cities near the Jordanian border like Tabuk, have captured my heart.

I must say, the Eastern region – near the Iraqi border – and the South have remained largely uncharted by me, so that answer could change!

Would you say this experience refreshed your perspective on the Kingdom as a whole?
You know, an experience like this is special in the way it takes you away from the stresses of everyday life. This project has allowed me to truly appreciate how vast and beautiful this country is, and how welcoming and incredibly hospitable the people are.

What do you want to come out of this project?
I’m working on creating exhibitions to showcase my work in those undocumented parts of Saudi Arabia. Ideally, a book would come out of this as well.

Based out of his Instagram, where he also actively contributed to his hashtag #SaadinSaudi, this photographer’s dedication to the sights of Saudi is impressive.

So, I’m guessing I’ll be seeing a lot of you around town this summer?


The New Black

After years of clean lines and solid colors reigning supreme in the world of fashion, maximalism has regained momentum. Though initially launched to the masses in the 2016-era fashion weeks, the trend has now begun to phase out minimalism more rapidly, showing momentum beyond the catwalk and on the sidewalk.

But it can be tough to master the cornerstones of this new trend: colour and pattern are no easy feat to coordinate. Here are a few tips on how to stay on trend while avoiding clashing with, well, everything.

Pattern Mixing

pattern-mixingThe key in mixing two patterns, I would say, is to make sure that one of them remains more muted: think black and white or deeper shades. For an even bolder look, I also find that matching the base colours of one piece with either the base or accent colours of the other, rather than matching accent colours with accent colours, makes for more a more successful endeavor.
Cop out: you can try a visually interesting, all-over pattern or a patterned co-ord to (boldly) err on the side of caution.


texturizeTo elevate an otherwise simple ensemble to the status of a maximalist one, apply the cardinal rule: more is more. Don’t be afraid to pick up pieces with fringe, fur detailing and bold embroidery! Contrast creates visual interest. Note: mesh and feathers (yes, feathers) were aplenty on the catwalks of Milan’s fashion week.
Cop out: if you prefer to keep it simple, the culprits can be your accessories, shoes, or bags.


colour-blockingColour-blocking relies on the layering of (often plain) fabrics in order to create a simplistic contrast. This may sound like just clothes, but we’ve been trained to believe that a colourful article of clothing can only be paired with either: denim, black, or white. But ‘tis the season for deep greens and bright oranges (together in one!).


monochromeNo longer used to refer to varying shades of black & white: this is talk of one colour unified across the entire outfit. That’s an all-denim/all-yellow/all-whatever-you-want ensemble waiting to be worn. Note: bright yellow is pretty popular this season.


Saudi Comic Con in Jeddah – Day 2

Another day, another adventure!

This time around, we ventured into the female section, where women were allowed to forgo their abayas for intricate cosplays in changing rooms set up for that purpose. An incredible set of “special effects makeup” artists were on-hand and ready to go, offering insight into what goes on behind the scenes of some of our favourite movies.

Speaking with the women themselves proved general approval. “I love the fact that we’re being provided a space where we can be as big a part of the Comic Con experience as anyone else”, one cosplayer quipped.

And, as a matter of fact, they were!

The women’s cosplay competition proved exceptionally popular, with the venue quickly reaching capacity while Ash from Pokemon took center stage to lead the crowd into a chant of the Arabic theme song.

The rest of the day saw Giancarlo Esposito, also known as Gus Fring of Breaking Bad fame, hosting a panel and sitting down with us for a few words. He highlighted his surprisingly extensive experience in Saudi Arabia (did you know that he’s visited us multiple times?), and offered some choice words on Saudi Comic Con: “you know, firsts only happen once!

A walk through the Artist Alley punctuated the night with a celebration of local artists displaying their incredible work, brought to life by the continuing transformation of the BMW robot and recurring Marvel shows.

But now, we must rest. This whole fighting crime, trying to save the world business gets tiring.