Top 10 Inspirational Yoginis in Hijab

Do you need to be flexible to yoga? Do you need to be superfit or super lean to perform headstand and all those difficult-looking poses? The answer to all is NO. We are featuring yoginis in hijab across the globe and their lovely journey in yoga. With a common love in yoga, these 10 inspiring ladies from different ages and backgrounds share why they embark into yoga,  where they get their training from, their routines and their personal views on how yoga has benefited them.

For newbies and those who wanted to try yoga, you can learn from these strong and beautiful ladies. Just follow their instagram and nashatadotcom’s instagram for tips and updates.

YOGA IN HIJAB

Brunei ] [ Indonesia ] [ Malaysia ] [ Singapore ] [ United Arab Emirates ] [ USA ]

  • UAE : Nura Arabi
  • Brunei: YogaWithAmani
  • Indonesia : Lola Shariff
  • Indonesia : ErziYoga
  • Malaysia : Najwa
  • Malaysia : Nadia
  • Malaysia : Rita Rahayu
  • Singapore : Nura
  • Singapore : Farah
  • USA : Yasmin Essa

BRUNEI

Amani A. Muntassir, 30 @yogawithamani

~ Yoga is for everyone for all ages and different body types. You just have to start somewhere

Amani is a full time Biology teacher and part time yoga instructor in Brunei. She started yoga back in 2006 during her university days, where she set up a yoga club. Yoga is her way to release stress and she finds yoga to be different than other sports.  To her yoga eliminates all sense of competitiveness and comparing with others, while she focuses on herself, my own practice.

After completing 200 hour yoga training at Ubud Bali in December 2014, Amani teaches yoga. She is also a prenatal yoga teacher. Despite her busy schedule as a teacher, Amani teaches yoga three times a week at the studio. Other than teaching, she enjoys performing the yin style yoga and sometimes vinyasa or stronger yoga routines. Now, she joins her favourite international teachers online as ways to improve her routine.

AMANI IN FAVOURITE POSE : HEADSTAND

Amani in Favourite Pose : HeadStand

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INDONESIA

Lola Shariff, 39 @lolashariff

~ Yoga makes Lola happy and strong, and most of all to her, it is a never ending journey.

A self taught yogini initially, Lola started yoga when she had lower back pain in 2014. She joined yoga classes a year later and found improvements in her practice since, especially alignments. Lola works as a freelance subtitler, and she balances her time by attending classes twice a week at least, except weekends. She enjoys hatha, iyengar, power yoga, sometimes swing yoga and ashtanga. She practices backbends and handstands frequently at home.

LOLA IN FAVOURITE POSE : HANDSTAND

LolaShariff in Favourite Pose : HeadStand

Erzi, 31 @erziyoga

~ Yoga enfolded via Technology

A mother residing in Jakarta started yoga 3 and a half years ago when her sister took her to join a private yoga class. Since then, Erzi and friends have private yoga classes at sister’s house.

Yoga is a not a high impact activity and is an enjoyable journey. Despite gentle movement on a mat, yoga can make one sweat and build one’s energy, explains Erzi. To Erzi, yoga teaches her to breathe well and stay calm and relaxed in any conditions. Even though she has been learning yoga for more than 3 years, she still attends yoga classes at a studio and private yoga class once a week with her sister.

ERZI LOVES MEDITATION

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She starts her practice with meditation, minus chanting. To her, meditation connects her breathing with mind and that helps her improve her routines. She would then stretch her neck, arms, sides of my body, spine and continue to Sun Salutation A for 8-10 rounds before continuing to my peak pose of the day.

She advises other sisters to learn yoga online like Youtube, if there is no studio closeby. She shares that some of the well-known yoga teachers online has some beginner tips about how to get onto your mat while others have classes for beginners to intermediate level. She also finds instagram as a good channel to learn yoga.

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MALAYSIA

Najwa / Wawa, 31 @najwa.bulat

~ Learn from a qualified and professional instructors 

Najwa started yoga 17 years ago at a tender age of 14. She started yoga to improve asthmatic condition. Now, a Fitness & Yoga Instructor, Najwa finds yoga important to keep her improve body strength, maintain a lean body and to keep healthy & flexible. Most of all, the breathing techniques help cure her asthmatic problem.

Being a qualified Hatha Yoga Tutor from Slimhealth Aerobic & Dance Studio and a fitness instructor, Najwa’s routine is colorful. She urges beginners to learn from a qualified and professional instructor to reap the benefits of yoga so that you can get a lean, curvy and fit body.

NAJWA KEEPS A COLORFUL ROUTINE

Najwa

Here’s Najwa’s colorful routines that combines yoga with other types of workout:

1) Hatha Yoga
2) Body Weight Training
3) High Intensity Workout
4) Weight Training
5) Cardio Workout (Boxing+Aerobic+ Dance)

Nadiah Mohaizi, 36 @nadie_omgoing

~ You will be fascinated by what your body can do, and it comes a reminder to care for her body – a gift from Allah 

An engineer by profession, and certified yoga instructor, Nadiah started yoga to loose pregnancy weight. Yoga fits the need as she wanted something she could practice at home. She also finds yoga as a good weight training exercise as you’d need to do planks, lunges, inversion, and arm balances which are important for women to increase stamina and metabolism. To Nadia, yoga is not about the asanas (poses), but the journey into achieving them and to remain calm through proper breathing in maintaining poses. Keeping calm is important in her hectic daily life. Till today, she is fascinated by what her body can do and it serves as a reminder for her to care for her body – a gift from Allah.

NADIAH IN FAVOURITE POSE : forearm stand

nadiah 2

Like Erzi and Amani, Nadiah also uses technology to learn yoga at beginning stage. After which, she attended  Atilia freeyogafit class at KLCC. She took teacher training at MAYI to be a certified yoga instructor and now she practices Ashtanga at Mysoreroom KL in Binjai 8. She trains every other day for 10 minutes and suggests newbies to practice safe and find a good teacher to help with alignment and postures.

Rita Rahayu Omar, 41 @ritarahayuomar

~ Yoga is not a destination…it is a journey that enriches you every step of the way.

RITA feels happy when she is upside down

rita4

A mother of 4, a lactation consultant and an serial entrepreneur, Rita started yoga in 2011 when she was living abroad as an expat wife. At that time she had just lost her baby, and despite having support from husband and children she felt rather lost and depressed. She read a lot about yoga and was intrigued by it further after hearing friends talk about it. Soon, she hired a personal yoga instructor who came 5 days a week.

Rita emphasizes the importance of breathing techniques; the techniques that help achieve relaxation, mental clarity and eliminates stress , fatigues, depression and anxiety. She felt better and healthier after a few sessions and after 3 months into yoga, she was pregnant again and she continued to do yoga throughout her pregnancy. Her 4th baby is a peaceful, happy, yoga baby. He’s always wanting to practice yoga with Rita whenever he sees the mat!

Despite her busy schedule running her businesses Bebe Sachi and The KembaRA, Rita yoga at least once a day either in the morning or everning. She likes inversion poses because of its many health benefits. Among others it helps supply blood to brain, build your core strength and balance to our body.

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SINGAPORE

Nura Ahmad, 25 @yogawithnura

~ a fitness goal that became a self-growth and self-discovery journey

Nura started learning yoga at a young age of 17. She wanted to improve athletic performance and saw progressive results in stamina running long distance despite having asthma. She survived colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome in 2012.

NURA ACTIVE IN YOGA @ 6 MONTHS of PREGNANcy

Currently 6 months pregnant with her first baby, Nura finds pranayama (breathing techniques) and a quiet 15 minutes mindfulness shapes her to be better version of herself, discovering  weakness and grounding herself from pride.  She dedicates 3-4 times weekly of prenatal, hatha and restorative yoga while committing herself to do house chores. A committed fitness entrepreneur at @fitness4muslimah and a certified yoga trainer (Ashtanga & Hatha), Kids Yoga teacher and Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga teacher, she advises other sisters to just show up on the mat, no matter how you feel that day.

Nura loves all yoga poses and always balance her flows with standing poses for concentration and balance, twists poses for internal detoxification and help keep irritable bowel syndrome at bay, hip openers, backbends aka heart openers which helps her a lot in strengthening interpersonal relationship with students and loved ones. She loves arm balances such as crow, eight angle and headstands for core and grow her upper body strength after spending almost half of her years building endurance in lower torso for athletic performance in school.

Farah Lyna, 31 @farah.yuj

~ Yoga is non-competitive, so there is no need to feel pressured or exert yourself in a pose.

From running to yoga, Farah, now a yoga teacher, started attending yoga classes 9 years ago and only looked into yoga seriously in 2013. Yoga became a regular practice when her scoliosis started to cause numbness on left leg.She received training from Tirisula Yoga in Singapore.

Farah starts her morning training with some pranayama (yoga breathing exercises), followed by a few rounds Sun Salutations and simple stretches like forward folds, backbends, twists and a headstand. She tries to do  Ashtanga practice at least once a week.

To Farah, everyone has a unique body type and it’s important to work within own physical limits. Farah echos other yoginis reminders that with regular practice & patience, our body will get used to the routines. Yoga is a journey of self-discovery.

SELF DISCOVERY THROUGH YOGA

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Nura Arabi @_iChallenger

~ You won’t understand the gain that is waiting for you until you try it and judge from experience.

Nura Arabi, like other sisters in fitness found love in yoga. Nura is a physical education and health teacher and she teaches swimming and Zumba and she writes about  fitness. She started yoga in 2015 and practices twice a week since. She started learning yoga at a Yoga center, after which she learn via youtube videos at time of convenience.

To Nura, yoga is a good way to get deep into herself as it teaches patience, body awareness and improves muscular and mental strength.

Nura Arabi in Favourite Pose : Tripod Headstand

Nura Arabi in Favourite Pose : Tripod Headstand

USA

Yasmin Essa HC, AADP, 27 @ wellnesswithyasmin.com & @yasminessa

~ Yoga is an artistic form of expression
Yasmin started yoga when she was a senior in high school and has been into fitness since. She was the first female student trainer at Montclair State University, but it was after college her love for yoga grew. Yoga helps reduce pain she has on her back due to  idiopathic scoliosis.

After going to classes at studios over the years, Yasmin is now a self-taught yogini and a board certified Holistic Health Coach. She keeps her routine interesting combining different types of workout activities. She does a lot of strength training, some HIIT for cardio, and yoga for flexibility and lengthening all of which she shares on instagram

YASMIN GRADUATED FROM THE Institute for Integrative Nutrition

yasmin essa

Yasmin enjoys flowing from downward dog to plank to upward dog to child’s pose as it warms her body up for a more rigorous workout, or to stretch out.

She reminds newbies not to compare yourself with others and to focus on being most present in your own body, mind, and soul.

Chelsea, Wellness Blogger @ MuslimahHealthy.com

~ You can never  get bored with yoga

Chelsea started yoga in May, 2015 when she was traveling a lot and didn’t have access to a gym. She fell in love with it so much that decided to start a full-time practice. Chelsea finds there is always something to work towards whether it is more advanced poses, building strength/flexibility, or working on form and technique. A self taught and self-motivated person, Chelsea constantly progress and keeps pushing herself to get better and better in yoga.

She practices the Ashtanga yoga method, memorizes a sequence of poses and practices every day. Once she feels she has mastered a certain set of poses, she would move on add more into her routine until she eventually memorizes the entire Ashtanga sequence – around 40 poses. Like many of the other yoginis, Chelsea really love inversions and arm-balances because of the core and shoulder work she gets. Her favorites would have to be the forearm stand, handstand  and backbend.

She reminds other sisters not to be afraid about not being flexible enough or skinny enough and they are not important. Yoga is for absolutely everyone and it is a progression. Chelsea does many other types of workouts and finds yoga great workout. She actually needs to keep a sweat rag next to her mat during practice!

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What are you waiting for girls? Just get onto the mat and go through the beautiful journey of yoga. You can get a lot of help from these inspiring yogonis!

To outdoor or not ? Effects of Exercising in Poor Air Quality

Exercise for fitness, for a better health.

But when exercising is a big part of you, then, you’d exercise anyways, irregardless what form they are.
I love being outdoor, out in the nature. Exercising with the presence of nature keeps me energized.

When I travel, I look at the air quality where I am at, as I am concerned about my health. I get light headache and my eyes get itchy easily when I am exposed to air pollution. Due to recent longer period of haze in South East Asia, I am now indoor bound. Sad, but exercise must go on.

Here’s some info I collated from various sources about the effect of exercising in poor air quality.

SHORT TERM EFFECTS

  1. BMC Psychiatry
    “Exposure to high levels of haze particles may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat in healthy individuals.  Such irritation resolves on its own in most cases.Haze particles can affect the heart and lungs, especially in people who already have chronic heart or lung disease e.g. asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or heart failure.”
    In another study, “A total of 298 participants returned the completed study questionnaire. The respondents reported a mean number of 4.03 physical symptoms (S.D. = 2.6). The five most common physical symptoms include mouth or throat discomfort (68.8%), nose discomfort (64.1%), eye discomfort (60.7%), headache (50.3%) and breathing difficulty (40.3%). ” The participants also experienced mild psychological stress but not to the extent of acute stress reaction syndrome.  from  

LONG TERM EFFECTS

  1. Singapore Health Promotion Board
    “Studies have shown that persons living overseas with continuous exposure over several years to high ambient pollution from fine particles (i.e. particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5); particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres), may have a higher risk of (i) cardiovascular effects, such as heart attacks, (ii) reduced lung development, as well as (iii) the development of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, in children.”

  2. The Journal of Epidemeology & Community Health
    “Outdoor physical activity, however, can expose people to air pollutants (particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen oxides) that may negatively influence physical activity  and lead to adverse health problems such as cardiopulmonary or respiratory disease and other diseases, including lung cancer. For example, in a national cross-sectional study, increased air pollution is found to be associated with reduced leisure-time physical activity among American adults,14 while other studies in the USA and Europe have found that people with asthma who walked in polluted air exhibited a significant decline in their lung function, children who played multiple sports in high-ozone communities were at increased risk for asthma, and the health benefits for physically active people living in highwalkable neighbourhoods were compromised by the effects of air pollution exposure.”
  3. Public Health Watch
    “Besides the direct physical effects of breathing in harmful air — which include asthma, cardiovascular disease and even cancer — studies also show that exposure to air pollution increases the risk for a host of mental health problems ranging from suicide and schizophrenia to ADHD and autism.
    Of particular concern is fine particle air pollution, which is implicated as the causal agent in many of these adverse health conditions. Found in smoke and haze from car exhausts, burning wood and power plants, fine particle air pollution is defined as particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter (PM2.5).
    This form of air pollution is a major health concern, as small particles can easily pass through the throat and nose and get deep into the lungs, causing major health problems.”

Know the risks when you exercise in poor air quality as studies show it can affect you physically and psychologically. You can resort to indoor activities like indoor swimming, zumba, aerobics and working out in the gym. It is not the same as working out outdoors, but our lung and hearts are sensitive organs that we need to care for. If only we can get readings from our lungs and hearts on state of health, perhaps we can workout more outdoors, enjoy physical activities and care for ourselves.