Activities, Health Activities, Healthy Living

Keep Calm and Yoga On: A Chat with Yogi Riyadhis

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By Ayesha Islam

Riyadh just can’t get away from being attached to the terms “slow-paced” “lazy” and “boring” but folks, we have news! This business capital is buzzing with activity and some of us just need to catch a break, so what do the men in town do to relieve all that stress? Why, yoga ofcourse!

Stay fit

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Contrary to popular belief, yoga isn’t just about relaxing and loosening your muscles but it also helps in giving you more energy and flexibility. Studies have shown that yoga helps strengthen your upper-body, lower back and abdominal muscles.

Nick Cash, a British expat living in Riyadh, started going to yoga classes 30 years ago with his college friends out of curiosity although it was hard work in the beginning.

“I’ve avoided lots of injuries now that I am flexible and it has made me more in tune with my heath and body plus it has encouraged me to be more measured in my attitude.”

Worried about your high blood pressure? Have no fear yoga is here! It is a well-known fact that yoga slows the heart rate through breathing techniques that is beneficial for people suffering with heart disease. The ancient practice also helps in lowering your cholesterol level and boosting the immune system. The key is to eat simple and maintain a balanced diet; you will surely reap the full benefits of yoga.

Take a breather

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Stressed? Unable to get a good night’s sleep? Then yoga is the remedy for you. The concentration level required in yoga will allow your problems to melt away as the many breathing techniques are just the right dose you need for mental relaxation.

Tahir Hussain, a yoga instructor in Riyadh, has been teaching since 10 years after taking courses in Pakistan and Canada. He has helped many people with stress related problems through specialized exercises.

“I always tell my students once you do a yoga session, you immediately feel very light and comfortable with your body plus have better digestion and sleep patterns.”

You can say goodbye to the insomnia – around eight weeks of regular yoga will help put your sleep woes to rest. The intense breathing and mental exercises help put your mind to complete rest and voila, you sleep like a baby.

Newfound focus

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Work, balancing your family life, lunch dates with friends, weekly grocery shopping and baqala visits here and there…sometimes it all gets too much. Why can’t you seem to concentrate anymore? The important thing that is lacking is you need to give time to yourself in your routine.

“The most important lesson that yoga teaches a student is you become a more focused person in your daily life – you will see results in a week’s time”, advises Tahir Hussain.

We can all relate to when we are juggling with many different tasks but our mind is somewhere else, which disturbs our efficiency and productivity levels. The different postures that you focus on in yoga in turn allows a person to begin to focus on everything in life.

Goodbye aches and pains

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The best remedy for joint or muscular pains is…take a wild guess? Yes, yoga! Believe it or not, the majority of physiotherapy is taken from yoga techniques.

“Many of my students have benefited from warm up exercises and breathing techniques that allowed them to recover from back and shoulder pain”, said Tahir Hussain.

Sportsmen have taken up yoga as part of their training to cure their injuries, including tennis star Andy Murray and Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs who prolonged his career thanks to yoga.

“What men fail to realize is that there are many strenuous techniques in yoga that help in preventing and curing injuries, many sportsmen have adopted yoga as part of their training”, expressed Nick Cash.

Now get real, men

“In the last 20 to 30 years I have always been a minority as a man in yoga classes”, Nick Cash revealed.

So what is the mystery surrounding why yoga is seen as “unmanly”?

“I think because most men are into competitive sports and see it as not very macho and think it is only about relaxing but some yoga techniques are very strenuous”

He specifically motivated men to take the time out from their hectic work schedule and join his classes.

Tahir Hussain has motivated many men to attend his classes as well as couples but mainly the men don’t show up because he thinks “women are more serious about their well being and health, men are too busy with their work and don’t take the time out”.

But he thinks there is more keen interest in Riyadh after forming a yoga group of 180-members, including expats and Saudi men.

“We had to rent out a space in fitness centers to hold classes which go very expensive, now I am hoping to find a studio where I can teach more men”

Kudos to all the men out there who give time to take care of themselves!

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