While there are more than a dozen yoga studios in Dubai, including Club Stretch and The Yoga Room, catering to devotees of the hardcore practice Ashtanga. Abu Dhabi only offers one studio, BodyTree. A pool of free-agent instructors is making the most of Abu Dhabi’s shortfall. Without ties to a specific venue, they are taking to hotel beaches, gymnasiums, community centers and elsewhere to help the populace get its fix of downward dogs and warrior poses.
One of these is Jennifer Stewart, a 29-year-old American who came to Abu Dhabi in 2011. With a full certification from the US, she teaches 12 hours of group classes a week at various spots throughout the city, including the St Regis Hotel on Saadiyat Island and the Eastern Mangroves hotel on Salam Street, as well as some private schooling.
“It would be awesome if we had another yoga studio, as I think a bit of friendly competition wouldn’t hurt,” she says. “It raises the standards. If you have at least two [studios], you have to compete against someone. And we do owe it to the community to bring the standard of yoga up in Abu Dhabi.”