Yoga for Arabic-Speaking Women

With hectic lives little attention gets paid to not just the body’s need for better diet, detox and exercise but also for the mind to stop a minute and recharge. Now adapted for Arabic-speaking women in London, a new Yoga class aims to help. Mary Schnorrenberg is a Yoga trainer who wants to encourage especially the more hesitant or shy of Arab women to attend her sessions beginning next month August at the Evolve Wellness Centre, South Kensington.

Schnorrenberg said: “Arab women have exceptionally busy minds - or ‘Monkey’ minds as we call it in Yoga- because they don’t get much quality me-time from all that working, cooking, cleaning, shopping, drinking coffee, getting to the hairdresser or beautician and looking after their families. Yoga can help them find the stillness and strength by going internally to quieten the mind through the breathing techniques and flowing physical poses. So instead of human do-ing, they learn to be human be-ing again.”

Although the ancient practice of Yoga that originated in India had some religious Hindu and Buddhist aspects, over time is has been tailored for different needs and transformed into many various schools. In all, it is agreed to be one of the most wonderful ways to align the body's posture as well as being an excellent method of detoxifying the bloodstream and lymphatic system, whilst the physical poses work to gently build strength, tone and flexibility in a safe, controlled environment.

Schnorrenberg has already seen the powerful and positive effects of Yoga on Arab women when she was in Dahab, South Sinai and met with Egyptian and Bedouin women. It all started innocently when one cheeky lady called Noura arranged for her friends to secretly meet during Friday prayers and invited Mary to teach them at the local centre that turned out to be very popular and fun.

She said: “I saw how it really moved them and I must say there is something strikingly similar between Muslim prayer and the Yogic sun salutation; both seem to be aligned as a way of greeting God or greeting the sun. So I am hoping that London-based Arab women who may have considered doing Yoga but feel intimidated by the unknown or scared to go to a studio, that they should try it. Firstly, I will be teaching it in Arabic and secondly, it will be for just likeminded women, relaxed and down to earth.”

Born and brought up in Australia with an Egyptian mother and German father, the 33 year-old Schnorrenberg’s Yoga journey began at 21 years old, when accidentally her Body-pump class at a gym was cancelled and she checked the timetable which read Yoga. Curious, she gave it a try, loved it and realised that the joy received on the mat transferred into most other areas of her life off the mat and giving her a better awareness, acceptance of herself and others.

She went on to train as an instructor through a RYS registered school Sunra Yoga in Dahab, Egypt and more recently completed a pregnancy teacher-training course with Yogamama LTD in Putney, London. The latter means she can now support pre and post-natal women in her Yoga classes. After qualifying, she also taught at the Oxford House in Bethnal Green for six months as well as her work in Egypt.

To clarify on a certain point, she said: “Please be reassured that Yoga does not conflict with any religion. It does have it spiritual elements but that is completely up to the individual if they want to look at it through that angle or just view it as a wonderful way to release and transform negative emotions; whilst building tone, strength and flexibility in body and mind, like running, aerobics or other exercise. All my classes are taught with attention, grace and humour, hopefully to leave you calm, centred and energised. I hope to see you on the mat soon!

Schnorrenberg currently runs classes at the ELISE Centre in Dalston, focusing on a Vinyasa style on Wednesdays and where soon she will also begin a Yoga for cyclists!

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