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If you are as keen on yoga as you are on fresh salads, Zoga is for you. This minimalist yoga studio and café is a peaceful retreat for frazzled urbanites in Downtown Dubai.
Situated in a cosy corner of South Ridge, the luxurious residential apartment complex developed by Emaar, the studio is cut off from the hustle and bustle of Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard and The Dubai Mall. Access to the 2,000-square-foot studio is through a one-way lane, and in a way, its location makes it a hidden gem. Kamelia Salimi, the Iranian born, Canada-raised owner of Zoga, says she was fortunate to find this location as it fitted perfectly with what she had envisaged for the studio.
Salimi's love for all things yoga and Zen, which inspired the name of the studio, developed after she moved to Dubai in 2009 to look for a job as an engineer. ''I had heard a lot about Dubai and wanted to work in its booming real estate industry,'' she says.
''However, the market [was experiencing a] downturn and jobs were few and far between. I was with a construction company for a year and started looking for another job when it ran into financial trouble.
''It was during this challenging time that yoga came to my rescue. I tried a session for the first time in a studio environment and was hooked. It was relaxing and wonderful, but even then I just saw it as a good way to stay fit.''
Salimi says her connection to yoga deepened during her stint with Emirates on a Marriott project. ''I worked on-site and was surrounded by contractors, workers and architects, and it was an environment that was dusty and not optimal for my health. I was stressed and yoga kept me focused and relaxed through it all. So when I was done with the project I decided to set up a yoga studio, as construction didn't have the same appeal for me any more.''
Salimi worked hard at finding the right location and supervised everything from the design to fit-outs and interiors to create her dream project. ''I travelled extensively before setting up,'' she says. ''I went to studios in New York, Hong Kong and Europe and chose elements that I liked and incorporated them into Zoga. Its design is an extension of my personality — understated, warm and comforting; it invites rather than intimidates people.
''The idea behind adding a café and juice bar was to give people the opportunity to grab a healthy drink or salad after class. It's a grab-and go concept and extremely popular with guests.''
Around 700 sq ft of the studio is devoted to the café, reception and retail area, which stocks yoga gear and accessories. The café serves delicious fair trade and organic coffee, crisp, fresh salads and an array of smoothies that range from the popular Green Goddess and Morning Sun to Seeds of Change and Pineapple Express, prepared fresh every morning. There are also little doggie treats.
Zoga has two studios, one of which hosts hot yoga and hot Pilates classes. These are quite unique as are the Budo Flow yoga and chakra balancing sessions. Zoga also offers vinyasa, ashtanga and yin yoga classes for beginners and regular practitioners. Classes are held at 7.30am and 10am, and then from 6.30-9.30pm. The studio has around ten teachers, and meditation as well as and pre- and post-natal yoga sessions are also offered.
''The vinyasa and hot yoga classes are very popular with our clients,'' says Salimi. ''I think people are becoming more aware of the importance of having balance in their lives. Eating healthy, staying fit and stress relief are now important.
''I want Zoga to be an [integral] part of my clients' lives, a second home or a place where they can escape to and enjoy an hour of yoga or relaxation to offset their busy lives.''
Salimi also plans to host workshops and teacher training programmes regularly. ''I intend to invite international teachers to come and do workshops at Zoga [soon],'' she says. ''Our first anniversary is in October and I am excited about what the future holds.''
Zoga Yoga Café is located in Building 6, South Ridge, Downtown Dubai. It is open from 7am–10pm Sunday to Thursday and 8am–10pm on Friday and Saturday.
Find another hidden gem for your inner strength at Life'n One
Source: Neesha C. Salian, Special to Property Weekly