Yoga and its rise in popularity in Jordan

Members of Namaste Zone practice yoga poses in this undated photo. (Photo: Handout from Namaste Zone)
Everyone knows how important exercise is to overall health. Unfortunately, with the current pandemic and the regular hustle of everyday live, it can be difficult to incorporate physical activity into your everyday life. اضافة اعلان

Despite this, there are alternatives to physical fitness that do not require much equipment or time. Yoga is a great solution and comes with many unique health benefits. It is an ancient form of exercise that dates back 5,000 years and originated in India. The practice focuses on strength, flexibility, and breathing in order to improve both physical and mental well-being.

One of its great aspects is its range in complexity. Yoga can be as simple as meditation, breathing, and easy stretches, to more complex postures and movements with breathing techniques for the more dedicated. 

Depending on your level of commitment and dedication to the practice, yoga can be a healthy activity that also encompasses areas of philosophy.

What is Yoga?

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means “union” or “to join.”

The term itself refers to the union of the body, mind, and spirit.

The practice of yoga in its very essence, is the exercise of facilitating this union. Although the roots of yoga are based in Hinduism, modern applications of the practice needs no religious affiliation, but instead an emphasis on spirituality.

Within yoga there are six different branches, Hatha yoga is the more internationally recognized and widely practiced. Hatha yoga is the physical and mental branch that focuses on priming the body and the mind.

Yoga in Jordan

Within the past decade, Jordan has experienced a growth in yoga practitioners and awareness, largely due to one individual. Farah Qudsi is the owner of Namaste Zone and Jordan’s first master instructor. 

Farah told Jordan News that she started her young adult life studying animation but always had a passion for fitness. She eventually decided to pursue her passion and delve into the world of physical fitness.

Along the way, she discovered the world of yoga and fell in love with the practice. 

In 2013, her newfound passion took her to the Himalayas in India, where she studied the art, inevitably becoming a certified instructor. Upon returning to Jordan, she took notice of the lack of studios and opened Namaste Zone in 2015.

In its early years, her studio had roughly 30 daily practitioners, but she felt as though her passion was becoming too commercial.

Farah decided it was best to close the doors of her large studio and instead open a smaller and cozier studio for her more dedicated students.

With this shift, Namaste Zone also became the first yoga school in Jordan and produces more than 70 certified instructors yearly. 

With the exception of the past two years, she has continuously improved and expanded her knowledge of yoga by returning to India and Nepal twice a year.

To date she has taken six courses in yoga and is now a master instructor. 

Namaste Zone has developed many different programs to appeal to a larger demographic and attract new people. Although the age demographic for her regular classes tends to be ages 18 to early 40s, she also provides individualized lessons for seniors that help them specifically with simpler stretches and an emphasis on joint health. 

Similarly, she also works with individuals in need of rehabilitation. Those who have recently undergone surgery or have a previous injury, especially a joint injury, stand to benefit from yoga as a regular movement and specialized rotational exercise.

Furthermore, Farah works with many companies such as Etihad, Zain, Umniah, and more. She calls this practice “corporate yoga” which is designed to help employees improve their physical and mental health while at work.

She went on to explain that employees who have desk jobs spanning eight hours tend to struggle with pain in their back, neck, and shoulders. 

As a result, she developed simple stretches that work to help move the affected joints and ultimately reduce pain.

Additionally, she incorporates breathing exercises to help reduces stress, tension, and anxiety associated with work.

The lessons are meant to help the employees at work to better control their physical and mental wellness.

Farah also has programs designed for those who are more dedicated and enjoy the outdoors. She calls these programs retreats, and they take place typically three times a year for 2 to 3 days. 

These retreats involve a trip to forested areas on the outskirts of Amman, as well as trips to Wadi Rum. The combination of both nature and yoga is said to better improve the mental and spiritual aspects of the exercise. 

For outdoor activities inside of Amman, she also hosts a program that incorporates cardio into yoga.

Every Tuesday in the summer, the group will do 30 minutes of cardio, typically running but also walking, followed by 1 hour of yoga. Unfortunately, the program has been temporarily put on hold due to COVID-19, but she hopes to continue it soon. 

Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has many health benefits when it comes to physical and mental wellness. Many people are often referred to yoga instructors by their health professionals. It is known to be extremely beneficial for the treatment of arthritis due to the stretching.

Many studies on the benefits of yoga show that it improves many aspects of daily life such as balance, sleep disturbances, stress, and overall quality of life. 

Improving balance can reduce the risk of injuries due to falls.

Regular yoga is also shown to aid with other health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and general aches and pains.

It is also known to significantly increase moods and help with depression and anxiety.

In some of those studies, evidence may suggest that yoga can be better than regular exercise in some ways. It is shown to be a safe, simple, and effective way to increase your physical activity. 

Potential Risks

Yoga is a mild exercise and generally considered to be safe.

There are little risks associated with yoga mostly stemming from a lack of preparation.

This can sometimes result in muscle strains and joint sprains.

Generally, when starting any new activity, it is important to take it step by step and start simple. 

For example, people with arthritis should take a more mellow and gradual approach to yoga. Beginners should always avoid the more difficult poses and try to pace themselves as much as possible.

It is also important to note that yoga does not replace traditional medicine and simply acts as an aid to help you live a healthier and more wholesome life. 

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