What have I learnt from living in Kuwait for a year?
I have learnt where it is for a start! I have to admit that I had no idea where it was when I was first asked about the job and I never thought I would live in the Middle East.
One of my biggest lessons was the difference in culture in regards to exercise approach.
Exercise classes in the Middle East is a newer concept than in the West. I noticed the focus on appearance and lack of interest of the emotional effects of exercise. You might wonder why the focus is this way, considering that the culture and main religion requires women to be largely covered in loose fitting clothing and prayer is an important daily practise; but is it isn’t all burkas and hiding in tents, these women do get dressed up in current trends and love to feel good about their bodies- Too right!
So, my personal confusion came from the fact that I was working in a yoga studio and the women wanted to do cardio (insert frustrated face).
I was teaching barre everyday, which I did add a little bit of cardio to but adding cardio to yoga and Pilates… Nope! Not in my training or inline with my beliefs!
So instead I set out to teach these women the importance of gaining control of movement and moving with intent and stability through a mind-body connection. It wasn’t easy, it took months of determination but I soon started to get lots of ‘thank you’s and I’ve been told I even changed some people’s lives! So of course it’s been hugely worth while to me.
What I have found in the Middle Eastern world, is that people here like to move fast and get through class as quickly as possible. Which isn’t what Pilates or yoga is about! So I have learnt to be extremely strict and highlight education on observation and moving with control, connecting to the breath and being mindful of each movement. Being strict isn’t naturally in my character, so it felt uncomfortable at first, but it’s definitely helped me to become a better teacher.
One saying here that is used regularly is ‘Inshallah’ which means ‘God willing’ and it is used before you do something or before something happens. I have noticed in class, I’ll explain and direct movement and then the girls will say ‘Inshallah’. I used to think that meant, ‘Okay, I’ll try and if God allows, I will do it well’. Now I realise that it is mostly used in an Okay, I’ll kind of do it but I can’t be bothered to do it properly right now’ kind of way!! So now I laugh and and say “no cheating”! If they use ‘Inshallah’ before a movement; I simply say “La!” which means ‘No!’.
And personal lessons?
As far as personal accomplishments or lessons, I have made some incredible friends and my health is the best it has been in years. The social culture is very different to the life I am used to and with being constantly tired from my hefty work schedule, there was no distraction from social events and I focused on myself and my work, I’ve accomplished a lot and I’m excited for this next stage.
What will I do now?
I’ve launched Catch The Yogi and I am about to start a Vipassana (silent meditation) in West Java, then I’m moving to Bali and really focusing on teaching internationally with my Catch The Yogi side kick- Meghan.
Updates soon. Catch me if you can! 😉