Best of the Maldives: Personal Yoga Mats – Joali

Joali - yoga mats

Another way to perk yourself up in the morning is a bit of sunrise salutation. But why trudge all the over to the fitness centre, jetty or beach where the resort is leading a session when you can have do your own practice in the privacy and convenience of your own villa. That is why Joali provides personal yoga mats in each of its villas for guests to use. Complete with carrying strap if you want to take them to some special spot on the island you spied ad thought it would be particular soothing and inspiring.

Best of the Maldives Online: Yoga Instagram – Jessica Olie

In addition to having the world’s first underwater yoga session, Hurawalhi also secured one of the world’s best yoga Instagrammer, Jessica Olie. Her collection of Maldives shots are some of the best yoga post shots I have come across (and that is quite a competitive category in the atoll photo anthology). Here are a collection of some of the most stunning…

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Anantara Dhigu - 5

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) Anantara Dhigu 1

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Anantara Dhigu - 7

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Anantara Dhigu - 10

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - 3

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - 5

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - 6

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - 9

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Givaavaru - 2

Best of the Maldives: Underwater Yoga – Hurawalhi

 

No joke this time (or this time), but Hurawalhi really did do underwater yoga in a world’s first:

  • “Jessica promises the 1-hour vinyasa flow to provide physical and mental rewards, with captivating views of fish around you as you move from one pose to the next bringing you even closer to a state of the zen-like state of mind.”

The one hour Vinyasa flow session was conducted by Jessica Olie (who frankly has one of the best yoga Instagram feeds…stay tuned for more on that).

Hurawalhi - Jessica Ollie underwater yoga

World Underwater Yoga Championships

World Underwater Yoga Chamionships 1 - April Fools

The Maldives has long been synonymous with honeymoon romance and spectacular reef diving. In recent years, it has established itself as a world class center for other things like Michelin star cuisine and top flight surfing attracting top talent to its shores. Its natural tranquillity has also turned it into a bit of a yoga haven. No premium resort is complete without sunrise and sunset yoga sessions for the guests. And its uniquely placid, reef-sheltered lagoons have afforded yet another opportunity for such Asanas practice – Underwater Yoga. So much so that the International Federation of Floatational Yoga (IFFY) are hosting their annual World Yoga Championships in the Maldives today. They are being hosted by the resort Apreelfulshi Spa and Villas.  Below are a few snaps from the early qualification rounds.

Above and below, a top contenders in the Ladies Levitating Lotus (Heat 1)…

World Underwater Yoga Chamionships 5 - April Fools

While below an entry in the Men’s Seafloor category warms up for his heat (Quarterfinal-FInal)…

World Underwater Yoga Chamionships 2 - April Fools

The shallow lagoons of the Maldives provide an ideal venue for the popular Semi-Submerged Padmasana (Semi-FInal round)…

World Underwater Yoga Chamionships 6 - April Fools

A number of demonstration workshops were also featured for aspiring fans attending the event. Below one of the master classes is led by an underwater guru…

World Underwater Yoga Chamionships 4 - April Fools

World Underwater Yoga Chamionships 3 - April Fools

Namaste #1!  Go team!  Winning!

Best of the Maldives: Yoga – Taj Exotica

Taj Exotica - yoga pavillion

My first ever outdoor yoga session in my life was in the Maldives. I had been introduced to the discipline back during my West Africa travels with one lesson in Togo, but then it was 25 years later when Lori and I did the sunrise yoga at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. I’m not quite an avid practitioner though Lori and I have a weekly lesson. Lori is well into it, has done some special yoga retreats and did several yoga sessions during our last Maldives tour. I always check out the resort spa and scan the treatments and classes on offer in every visit. And I have never come across the range of yoga sessions offered by Taj Exotica.

Taj features and over water yoga and meditation pavilion (see photo above) as well as two breath-taking over-water couple spa suites and the Heat, Hydro and Relaxation Pavilion, with its welcoming sauna, generous relaxation deck and waterbeds.

We have been studying yoga for over a year now and no two sessions are the same. I’m regularly surprised by the entirely new collection of poses that our teacher Vivian Campbell introduces to us each week. Yoga seems to have no end to the variety of not just poses, but also different styles and technique variations. Taj reflects the diversity of this ancient art with its own equally diverse menu of sessions…

  • Asana, Prananyama, Mudara, Banda
    • Balanced – 90 minutes
    • Advanced – 90 minutes
    • Abhilaya – 60 minutes
    • Advanced Surya Namaskar – 60 minute
    • Gentle – 60 minutes
    • Dynamic – 60 minutes
    • Pranayama – 60 minutes
  • ·Shatkarma
    • Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana – 90 minutes
    • Kunjal Kriya – 55 minutes
    • Jala Neti – 45 minutes
  • Meditation
    • Yoga Nidra – 25 minutes
    • Yoga Nidra Advanced – 50 minutes
    • Hirdayakasha Dharana – 50 minutes
    • Ajapa Japa – 50 minutes
    • Antar Mouna – 40 minutes

Yoga is almost like music in a way; there’s no end to it.” – Sting

Best of the Maldives: Yoga Finish – Thudufushi

Thudufushi - yoga finish

I always have thought that the best part of yoga was “Savasana” (ie. “Corpse Pose”). Completely relaxing at the end of a hard session with the aroma of some essential oil. That was until I did a session at Thudufushi.

Lori and I did a session there (offered daily for free). Lori has gotten me into doing yoga in a private session each week. I’ve always preferred “lazy yoga”, aka Thai Massage, where the focus of the treatment is on muscle stretching (in a variety of contorted moves), but you just lie back and relax. My joints have always been a bit tight with all my weight training for sports and now getting older. But Lori insists I practice the yoga because she “doesn’t want to be putting my shoes and socks on for me in my old(er) age”.

Thudufushi holds their yoga sessions right outside their Serena Spa. And at the end of each session, the therapists come out and provide a final, soothing bit of stretching and massaging. Above, spa therapists Nantin and Narcy are working on Lori and Claudia Galeazzi , our yoga instructor.

Namazzzzzste!

Best of the Maldives: Dive Yoga – Constance Halaveli

Halaveli - dive yoga

Yoga enhances the whole person – mind and spirit. But some poses can be particularly effective at helping certain parts of the body. Each week, our yoga teacher asks us what is hurting and what we want to focus on. Sometimes a tender back will call for a few extra twists and Child Poses. She worked on our hips and arms to get us ready for the golf course in the spring.

One of the most apropos yoga specialisations have been offered by Constance Halaveli – dive yoga. Diving is about body control. Slow and deliberate movements are the focus for both yoga and diving.

But perhaps most of all is the breathing. Yoga turns this autonomic routine in a mindful practice. A scuba diving is all about the breathing. Breath control not only regulates how long you get to stay under water (making your oxygen last longer), but it actually controls your movement in the water. Take a deep breath filling your lungs with air and your increasingly buoyant body will slowly rise. Exhale, and your body will sink again.

The resort describes the programme…

“TGI Diving , DBI, Constance Halaveli Resort and Spa & Katy Appleton team up to offer you an unique adventure to the magical Maldives. Many people would say that the Maldives offers the best diving on the planet, so we are taking apple yoga to the North Ari Atoll for a remarkable combination of underwater discovery and yoga designed especially for diving. We have designed packages to suit all levels of ability and experience – for both diving and yoga. You will be able to join us for just one session or the entire week, it’s up to you! You will experience all that the Constance Halaveli Island has to offer while enjoying daily yoga practices and sublime diving in this piece of paradise.”

For a slightly less aesthetic portrayal of what the dive+yoga combo might be like and a bit of cheeky chakra, Dive Plus on Maafushi posted this pic of their own offering…

Maafushi - dive yoga

Best of the Maldives: Aerial Yoga – Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu - aerial yoga

 

 

Instead of a yoga matt, Laamu introduces the yoga hammock. How Maldives!

“Aerial yoga is fast becoming the hottest trend in the world of yoga, bringing together stretching, breathing and meditation with gymnastics and aerial arts. Now available at Six Senses Laamu, it uses a hammock, made of a soft and supple parachute-silk fabric, which is suspended from the ceiling and used to support the body weight during a sequence of postures. Aerial yoga shares the mind-body connection principles of the traditional yoga practice, while the weightlessness helps remove compression from the spine and opens up joints, leading to stress and tension release. Additional benefits include muscle strengthening and lengthening, low impact cardiovascular conditioning, increased mobility, deeper body awareness and self-esteem…Performed in a sequential flow to music…classes incorporate levitating meditation, zero-compression inversions, sun salutations, floating savasana and joint opening moves…Certified by Ay Fly Training, the resort’s Yoga Teacher Elle Fernandes is a pro when it comes to tailoring classes to individual needs.”

This description includes one of the most lyrical phrases I have come across (in a world where mellifluous rhapsody is commonplace): “levitating meditation, zero-compression inversions, sun salutations, floating savasana.” Yes, I’ll have some of that, please.

Group classes are $35 per person while private classes are $85 per person.

Popular poses, I would imagine, include the Crane, the Eagle, the Feathered Peacock, the Heron, and the King Pigeon.

Best of the Maldives: Aqua Yoga – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - aqua yoga 1

Bouncing around in the water takes a more controlled, purposeful and therapeutic dimension at Park Hyatt Hadahaa. Their Vidhun Spa offers its own special Aqua Yoga programme.

The developer and teacher of this innovative activity is spa yoga teacher Deeksha (see photos). Like many activities (especially those that involve a bit of pain and effort), her charisma and energy mutes the discomfort and difficulty. She personally turns the pool into an effervescent jacuzzi of can-do with her bubbly personality.

Water is such an immersive part of the Maldives experience, I love it when resorts take activities into the water. The cool and refreshing water provides a crisp contrast to the soothing heat of the ever present sunshine. But when it comes to yoga, the aqueous venue provides extra benefits. First, the natural buoyancy of your body in water facilitates a whole range of yoga moves for a beginner that would require guru level balance and proficiency to achieve standing on land. Secondly, water provides a natural source of resistance. Instead of bands or other devices to provide strength building resistance, Deeksha has devised a number of gentle movements in the water where the water itself is your resistance.

The whole concept does raise the potential for an entirely new range of yoga moves…

  • Downward Facing Dogfish
  • Dolphin Plank
  • Eagle Ray Pose
  • Half Frogfish

 

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - aqua yoga 2

 

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - aqua yoga 3