It might be a bit challenging getting there, but once you walk into Karma Yoga, located high above Sheikh Zayed Road on the 33rd floor of Marina Plaza, all will be forgotten. The studio, which opened in April, was due to debut in the location more than a year earlier. Beset by the typical building delays in Dubai, a temporary spot in Al Barari filled in the gap for almost a year. The wait was worth it: once inside the feeling can only be described as “ahhhhh.” In addition to funky hanging woven chairs, natural wood accents and furnishings, there is a a tree, comfy cushions, lots of windows and big wooden swinging doors into three spacious studios – all inspired and handpicked after the owners’ trips to Bali.
After offering free classes on Saturdays over the summer, Karma Yoga is now full steam ahead, with a full roster of stretchy workouts – including yoga, Pilates and barre – as well as lots of energy, reiki and chakra sessions, should that be what you desire. (No showers though, sad face.) If you are lucky you will encounter the owners’ gorgeous white Lab Lila – who obviously loves downward dog but is also reportedly a vinyasa fan.
So what’s it like to open and operate the largest yoga studio in a city known for the largest everything? Studio director Benedicte Alice Hertwig – a 500-plus-hour trained teacher from Norway – answered our questions.
What was important to you in designing the Karma Yoga space in Dubai Marina? The thoughts of setting up a studio started several years back, when the co-founder was intensifying her daily yoga practice. As her passion for yoga amplified she was feeling unpleased with existing yoga studios that did not possess a vibe of tranquility or spirituality. Hence the concept of Karma Yoga was born, where yogis can unwind, connect and share positive energy in a space that teleports you to the heavenly island of Bali.
What do you see as the biggest need in Dubai when it comes to yoga, barre and pilates? Well, frankly speaking, there are currently in Dubai more yoga, barre and Pilates studios than the actual available demand. We believe that the biggest need would be quality.
Is Karma Yoga really the “largest yoga studio in Dubai”… And Is bigger better? As a matter of fact, Karma Yoga’s space measures 4,500 square feet, that is the largest out of other available yoga studios in Dubai. However, the purpose behind bigger is not correlated with better. Karma Yoga is a studio and gallery with statues, temples and artistic carvings collected by our second co-founder, who travels across East Asia in pursuit of valuable artifacts. Hence the need for such a large space.
How have you seen Dubai’s yoga scene change and grow? Thanks to the Dubai government’s initiatives in promoting wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle, we are starting to see the yoga scene transforming from a physical activity to a lifestyle and state of being, starting from eating habits to herbal treatments and mental exercises.
How much more challenging is it to operate in an Instagram era? Actually, it is very challenging indeed due to the vast amount of posts every second making it difficult to keep up with. Nevertheless, we are keeping our students updated about our upcoming classes, workshops, trainings and special events.
Do you allow phones in class? We encourage students to maintain shanti vibes during class and to keep mobiles in lockers, as this is a precious time for yogis to focus on their mind and body.