Yoga is thought to be energising, invigorating and relaxing all at the same time, making it the perfect way to exercise during Ramadan. During the holy month, yoga teacher Iman [Amy] Elsherbiny will be teaching four yoga classes per week in Darb 1718, from Wednesday to Sunday. So if you want to stay fit and supple during the long month of fasting, grab your mat and make your way to old Cairo.
Elsherbiny started practicing yoga 10 years ago. After trying several different styles she settled on Ashtanga yoga, a system that follows a set series of poses and is more rigorous than other forms like Hatha yoga. She travelled many times to India to study with several teachers, and did a teacher training course. Elsherbiny also studied in the centre of Ashtanga in Mysore, India with the grandson of the late master Guru Shri K. Pattahbi Jois, Sharath Rangaswamy, and she continues her studies until today.
Elsherbiny has been teaching yoga for the past five years and has developed special classes for the Ramadan yoga programme in Darb 1718. “Twice a week the classes are right before iftar and the other two days the classes will start around 8.30pm,” Elsherbiny said. “In the classes before iftar I will teach restorative yoga, which includes breathing and techniques to slowly relax into the poses.”
Doing some exercise just before breaking your fast may sound strange, but Elsherbiny explained that “many people experience a rush of energy towards the end of the day.” The relaxing pace of the class also serves as a way to de-stress and stretch, so when it is time to break your fast your body is warmed up and ready for nourishment.
The 8.30pm classes have a different pace, but are still adjusted to Ramadan. “They will not be full-on Ashtanga classes, but will be more energetic than those before iftar,” Elsherbiny said.
Yoga has become popular in Cairo, with more and more people discovering the restorative and strengthening properties of the practice. There are many teachers around town who offer classes in all different yoga styles, so everyone can find the kind that fits them. Elsherbiny teaches regular classes in both Maadi and Zamalek, many early in the morning for those who follow the Ashtanga method.
She also teaches regular workshops in Darb 1718. “We try to have a weekend workshop once a month,” Elsherbiny explained, adding that there are several internationally renowned Ashtanga teachers who are interested to come to Cairo and teach a workshop, but due to the current political situation have postponed their visits.
To ensure you will enjoy the yoga classes during Ramadan Elsherbiny has a few words of advice for those interested: “The classes before Iftar will end shortly before breaking the fast so people can rehydrate soon after the class ends. It is a good idea to first eat something light and follow this with a bigger meal a little later.”
Those interested in the classes after breakfast are advised to make sure they drink water and eat something small and postpone their full iftar until after the yoga practice.