There is a new yoga studio and holistic healing centre in town and founder Jawaher Al Fardan, gives us an insight into the wonders of Niya Yoga which is set to take everyone on a ride of health and wellbeing…
Tell us a little bit about your background and connection with yoga?
I’m a yoga teacher, holistic health advocate and wellness entrepreneur. I first started exploring these ideas five years ago when I was studying mental health and wellbeing at university in London. I studied the correlation between unhealthy lifestyles and mental illness and unhappiness and realised that this is an area that’s really worth exploring. I started experimenting with different types of fitness – running, martial arts, CrossFit, spin, and everything in between! I dabbled with pescetarianism, vegetarianism, and finally raw and veganism… and back. I found what worked for me and came to understand that although there’s definitely no one size fits all, similar principles do apply to us all. When I found yoga, this notion was highlighted to me even more. I decided to train as a yoga teacher and was fortunate enough to study with some incredible teachers in India, Bali and LA. I’ve explored vinyasa, hatha, tantra yoga and meditation and completed over 500 hours of training.
What brought you to open a yoga centre in Doha?
In Qatar, sometimes it can be difficult to be healthy. Social gatherings tend to revolve around large meals- which actually should only be an occasional thing, rather than part of the everyday. Having had the opportunity to travel and study abroad, I’ve seen how different countries and cultures approach health and fitness in different ways. In fact, we don’t have to be more Indian or Balinese to explore our deeper well being: we can be whatever we are, with simply a new intention, or Niya. I want to share these ideas and everything I’ve learnt with the country I grew up in. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and have always been taught the importance of giving back. I see this as my service – my way to help, to heal.
How do you think yoga is viewed in Qatar and the region?
Our understanding of yoga in Qatar is changing rapidly. People are realising that it’s a practice that can work for everyone, no matter your age, nationality, or fitness level. It’s an exciting time in the Middle East as these ideas of wellness are spreading and I’m thrilled that I’m opening Niya Yoga and am part of this movement.
What can we expect from Niya Yoga?
The studio will offer over 35 yoga classes a week, workshops with international teachers, wellness weekends, teacher training programmes and so much more! We’re creating a space where you can just be as you are – no judgement, no expectations. The studio is a community: together, we can explore, learn, and connect with ourselves and others. We take what works for us, and leave the rest. Most importantly, we are TRUE to ourselves and our purest niyas (intentions).
Besides yoga, what else do you get involved in?
I am excited to also be opening Evergreen Organics, Qatar’s first fully vegan cafe, next door to Niya Yoga. We want to nourish people from the inside out. I also like to constantly switch it up with physical activity and fitness, so I’ve helped set up the Nike run club here, I keep my training constant and varied. There are a few other projects that will be coming soon!
For those who’ve never taken a yoga session, what would you advise?
Try not to compare yourself to anyone else in the class – remember that even those advanced looking people doing crazy poses were beginners once too! Be patient and give yourself time – yoga is a journey of discovery.
What does the future hold for Jawaher Al Fardan?
I want to keep learning and keep sharing. I have so many ideas – watch this space!