Amid a drive for people to adopt healthier and more active lifestyles, the first Qatari-owned yoga studios and Doha’s inaugural vegan cafe are set to open to the public in June.
Final works are underway at Niya Yoga and adjacent Evergreen Organics’ premises in Qanat Quartier on The Pearl-Qatar, ahead of a planned opening date around the start of Ramadan, according to founder Jawaher Al Fardan.
Once it opens, the yoga center will have two studios for general classes, which can be combined to create a single space for large group classes, as well as a room for private tuition.
Al Fardan plans to run around 35 classes a week, teaching around two or three herself, and attracting a mix of regular, local teachers as well as hosting visiting yoga specialists from abroad for guest workshops and teacher training sessions.
The styles of yoga on offer will be mixed, but reflecting Al Fardan’s own preference for Vinyasa and pranayama breathing techniques, she said.
“Our classes will have a stronger focus on the breath, reconnecting with the self. There will be some classes which have very little movement at all,” Al Fardan added.
Al Fardan, 25, initially had the idea of setting up a gym in Qatar, but after training as a yoga teacher in Los Angeles, Bali and India she returned to Qatar in late 2014 and set up a health consultancy, focusing on general wellness through nutrition and exercise before spotting a venue for the studio.
“I was out walking on the Pearl when I found a perfect location, overlooking the sea, and I thought, ‘This is my yoga studio.’ It just went from there,” she said.
Qatar’s first fully vegan café, Evergreen Organics, will also open next door to Niya (which means ‘intention’) Yoga. It is founded by Al Fardan and Ghanim Al Sulaiti, a tunnel engineer for Qatar Rail and avid marathon runner who became vegan approximately three years ago.
The cafe will be open throughout the day, serving juices as well as full meals for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, using locally-grown, organic produce.
Al Sulaiti and Al Fardan were at this year’s Qatar International Food Festival to promote the new venture and lead cooking classes.
While at the festival, they also served up vegan snacks to visitors including Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani and Martha Stewart.
Meanwhile, Al Sulaiti visits schools around the country to encourage pupils to eat healthily.
— Ghanim 🌱 (@GhanimAlSulaiti) April 5, 2016
Al Fardan said she hopes that the new ventures will provide a healthier alternative to socializing in Qatar.
“It is about finding a way to live that’s fun, enjoyable, sociable, so we can improve our health and well-being – that’s why we are doing this.
“In LA, my socializing revolved around going to spin classes. There were so many ways there to be healthy. Here, there weren’t that many options available so we wanted to change that,” she added.