Casa Yoga is a choice made by a couple born out of extreme necessity. Alvin Thomas pauses by the house of yoga to know more about the poses and the process.
Yoga takes you into the present moment; the only place where life exists,” reads a quote describing the concomitant of yoga on those who practice the age-old art.
While yoga itself is known to be more than 10,000 years old, do not – not even for a second – think that it has vanished with time.
How can I be so sure of that? Well, standing before me is a couple – Asma Rizvi and Ali al Lawati – who have just effectuated their idea of bringing the art of yoga – better known as a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines – to the masses in the Sultanate and subsequently, to spread the word across the whole globe.
Their goal may sound confounding but the couple is confident in their new startup – Casa Yoga Detox and Wellness – carefully placed in the bowels of Shatti Al Qurum, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. With the striking Arabian Sea as a backdrop, it’s something you must see to believe.
The sea breeze blowing up against your hair, the smell of the freshly watered grass in the dawn and the birds chirping away at each other are something you cannot orchestrate: it’s a scenery painted by Mother Nature herself.
Photo model: Tetyana Boyko
I ask Asma about the benefits of yoga and the road that led to the creation of their wonderful new venture, and she begins with her own experience: “I began yoga by reading books and following each step carefully. The benefits of yoga are what motivated me to start doing yoga.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
“Many people started noticing it in me; they started seeing that my face started glowing,” she explains.
But, as time went by, Asma started getting enveloped into the various stages of life, which slowly threw her ‘chakras’ (cycles) out of position.
That is when the mother of three came up with the idea of opening her own yoga institute.
“Soon after the birth of my third baby I had to undergo another serious surgery. That left me devastated. I couldn’t walk properly or even work peacefully. So I started searching online for yoga classes.”
Her queries online were only answered with posts of “yoga retreats” abroad (and not in the Sultanate).
“And then I thought: If I am in need, then there are other people in need, too. So I started talking with my husband about setting up such an institute here. He was very supportive about it, and so we started planning it out.”
Casa YogaDetox and Wellness opened doors to the public on September 9, 2017, and has seen over 50 registered participants.
“Yoga is very important in today’s life,” Asma points out.
“Just working out or going for a walk isn’t going to cure any of the stresses of your daily life. Yoga can completely heal you from the inside — and not just the body but your mind and spirit also.
“My goal was to bring the people to Oman to do this. But once our roots are stronger, we will start advertising it outside Oman as a Yoga and Detox retreat,” smiles the young entrepreneur.
Talking about why Shatti Al Qurum was chosen as a location for their venture, Ali says: “Oman has beautiful beaches and excellent weather post-October. It is also one of the most peaceful countries in the Middle East.
“Choosing a location wasn’t the easiest part of setting up the business. But when you get a view such as this and facilities such as these, we just wanted to utilise them to the fullest potential. We want to thank Crowne Plaza. It’s perfect for practising yoga.”
Asma has an ulterior motive: bringing Oman to the forefront of yoga in the world.
“In the entire GCC, Oman is the only country where the beaches are untouched. We want to make Oman at the forefront of yoga in the world by showing them of the wonderful facilities that we have to offer,” Asma explains.
Another challenge while setting up the institute was coming up with a logo, says Asma.
“I wanted to avoid any logo that touched religion. I also didn’t want the lotus since it has been overused.
“The ideal logo was the mandala – a symbol representing the universe.”
Casa Yoga Detox and Wellness offers a spacious studio for practising yoga but participants can also head to the private beach or the garden, if need be.
The institute also benefits from the experience of Tetyana Boyko – a well-trained and certified instructor from Ukraine. The yogi has acquired more than 1000 hours of teachers training from India — 200 hundred hours from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, in Bengaluru; and 900 hours from an institute in Mumbai. She is also a level-two Reiki healer.
Asma assures that a second team member is due to join the team: “We are going to have Ayurveda included in our institute. There will also be a certified therapist who will treat the back, neck and face; migraines and other illnesses. This should start within a month.
“Asanas shows different variations in one’s body. Many people who come for their first-time say after the classes that the experience was ‘interesting’ and ‘something new’. It makes you calm in the end; even in the dynamic classes. The calmness is what makes the experience more special,” Tetyana points out.
Casa Yoga roughly translates to “house of Yoga” in Spanish. And, looking at the people practising the art, I’m convinced that it’s more of a home for people to come and relieve their stress than just a house of yoga.