Interest: The Yoga Center Kuwait

Two of my sisters and I  have been planning a project over the past year to open a yoga center in Kuwait.  Catering strictly to women, June 1st 2013 was our first official day of operation after a long year of planning, construction and interviewing for instructors.  Still awestruck by the fact that we are now open for service, my initial impulse was that yesterday was a hell of a day, a mixture of sheer joy and excitement, especially in seeing women of all ages and backgrounds coming to support us and showing their interest in this ancient practice of yoga.  To me, it was sensational.

The Yoga Center Kuwait is located in Kuwait City offering several kinds of yoga for women. Unfortunately, Kuwait law imposes segregation between genders in all businesses that involve a form of exercise, unless the business itself belongs to or is adjacent to a hotel.  In this case, a license for a mixed gym can be granted.  Without getting into the hypocrisy of such a law, this is an element of Kuwait we either have to adapt to or change (requiring a time and effort by many, amongst other things.)  If step one is to introduce the lifestyle of yoga one gender at a time, then so be it, as we understood that there were already patches of exposure to the practice sporadically throughout Kuwait, mainly through individual interests and personal sessions.  Combining the chance to work with my sisters and for us to consolidate our mutual admiration for the discipline we all had a history with, the idea was to create an inviting environment and service for all things yoga.  Yoga has many benefits, whether in the mind or the body, but it also comes with many misconceptions and preconceived generalizations.  Some may think that you have to be a Buddhist to be a yogi, but that is not true, as yoga has evolved from ancient traditional practices in India to the shores of the western world where it is now a popular and hip lifestyle.  To me, what we want to offer is the simplification of yoga, in the novice’s application of it, in the understanding we may have of it, in the vitality of its construct, in that feeling, in that achievement, in that relaxation, in that reflection.  Yoga may have a certain foundation and a history, but for each one of us it should have no rules.  In a purely scientific view we can look at it to better understanding the human brain, the effects of actually breathing, the mechanics of anatomy and the counter mechanisms of the human body in states of balance, muscle memory and focus.  Other views may skew towards meditation, destressing, or an actual momentary awakening of the senses when we force ourselves to actually reconnect with what is truly ours and put the static noise to sleep albeit for a little while.  The noise from the street, the noise in our heads, the constant noise of today’s speedy global world, slowly fading as it becomes the sound of breathing, the sound of silence.  The message is that whatever it is, it’s ok.  Whatever yoga may be to you, whatever the belief, it is ok.  The overarching fact is that yoga is about loving and accepting our differences as humans and coming together to relax and unwind from everyday life, and what better way to do so than by starting with thinking clearly and feeling great yourself.  Yoga takes time and patience, and the results (mind and body) are usually secondary to the fact that by yoga we are really changing the way we live.

I took this picture below in my home studio with a friend who volunteers to model for our center.  She sits on my late father’s vintage book trunk reading my favorite book of Richard Feynman.  She also wears specialized yoga clothes available at the store at The Yoga Center Kuwait.


Interest: Taibah Al-Ibrahim ‎طيبة الإبراهيم

Back in 2005, a few months after it was announced that women can both vote and run in elections, Taibah took the chance to run in her district in the up coming elections in 2006. Her platform was the separation of state and religion to the shock of many people at the time. Brushed aside and discredited for her views during the elections, what Ms. Al-Ibrahim achieved in her stance was opening the door for some of the tolerance of differing views we have today. Even though she knew she would not win, she knew that her message had been heard. She is one of my idols, one of the few Kuwaiti females with fearless courage to express her views openly, relentlessly and without censor. In my opinion, she is the female version of Christopher Hitchens, but in a much milder manner. I wish I had the chance to get to know her more before she passed away in 2011. This is the only picture I took of her during the election campaign and the internet has no images at all.

  عندما حصلت المرأة الكويتية على حقوقها في التصويت والانتخاب في عام 2005، اختارت طيبة الإبراهيم الترشّح في أول انتخابات تشريعية للمرأة بحماس انعكس على رسالتها التي حملت شعار فصل الدين عن الدولة والتي كانت بمثابة الصدمة للمجتمع آنذاك. ورغم كل ردود الفعل السلبية التي أثارتها الحملة، لم تكترث طيبة بل استمرت بنفس الجرأة بما يشير أنها لم تنوي الفوز بمقعد المجلس بقدر رغبتها بكسر الاحتكار الثقافي للتيارات الدينية. تفوقت طيبة بشجاعتها ووعيها على مجتمع لا زال يعالج مشاكل اليوم بحلول الأمس. في رأيي، طيبة الإبراهيم قد تكون المثال الكويتي الأقرب لكريستوفر هيتشنز، وإن كان الاختلاف في النمط والطابع موجود. لم تسنح لي الفرصة للتعرف عليها قبل أن ترحل بكل هدوء عن عالمنا الذي هو بأمس الحاجة لمن هو في طرازها

 حاولت أن أجد لها صورة مناسبة من أرشيف الإنترنت دون جدوى، لذا أرفق هنا الصورة الوحيدة لدي والتي أخذتها أثناء حملتها الانتخابية في عام ٢٠٠٦