Yoga has been Zelmaré’s lifestyle for many years. After a successful modelling career, she was fascinated by the healing benefits of yoga and related therapies. She completed her over 500hrs of yoga certification training course and also Pre and Postnatal certification, various meditation courses and SMR therapies.
Zelmare has involved herself in bringing awareness to women’s health and healing for the physical, mental and emotional body. A mother of 3 children she has learnt the art of successfully applying various practices of yoga not only in her lifestyle but also to her students from various backgrounds. She is also a founder of Yoga Therapy UAE where she works to bring the benefits of yoga to everyone.
Those who wish to follow Zelmare’s classes can practice with her at the yoga video platform www.yogafromtheheart.live Asana journal interviewed Zelmare about her yoga journey.
1. Why do you think physical and mental fitness is important for women? What is your view on how women can best prioritise this?
A women takes on many roles in today’s day and age. A women can be a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur or employee and sometimes all of the above. You can therefore see how easy it is for a women to lose or substitute her identity for others. I promote physical and mental fitness as a method to center women and help them stay true to themselves, stay strong and confident and very importantly, calm. I would suggest setting aside at least 20 minutes per day for physical activity and as little as 5 minutes per day for meditation or pranayama practice. For me, it’s the easiest to complete my routine as soon as I wake up, a 5 minute morning Meditation and 30 minute Hatha Yoga Practice and again at the end my day. Just before bedtime I suggest relaxing Yin Yoga and Pranayama. My advice: Set an alarm and as soon as it rings dive right in, don’t wait, because as much as you want to believe the world will fall apart without you managing it, it will go on…and it needs the best version of you to make it better.
2. As a mother, a yoga therapist – how do you manage your time to stay fit and what activities do you do to stay fit?
Well, I am lucky, because my work is very physical, so I basically work and practice at the same time. I teach Yoga, Pilates, Functional Fitness and Sound Healing. As a Mother I do feel guilty, at times, when I leave my children at home so often, especially as I teach during the prime morning and evening hours when I should be feeding or bathing them.
Therefore, I try to keep my lunch time free to spend undivided time with them, no phone, no work; even if it is one hour I fully dedicate to them. Come to think of it, I asked my Master Yogananth this question before, on how to maintain a self -practice when teaching so much. Master explained that when teaching I can always incorporate an aspect of self-practice for the day; teach what I want to practice too.
3. During this current pandemic people are dealing with many challenges, what is your advice on how women can best take care of themselves and their loved ones?
Women are by nature caretakers and I feel that our role during the pandemic is to keep the family close knit and together. This pandemic reminds me of the way I grew up; at home, safe under our Mother’s (and Grandmother’s) wing. This is a good time to return to basics, cook organic home-made meals, spend more time with family and less time socializing outside, connect more with nature through walks, gardening, etc. Women pay more attention detail (sorry boys) and are very protective by nature, so, when you and your family do go out women will definitely make sure that your hands are extra clean, mask is properly worn and notice harm even before it arrives. Ladies, it’s time to nurture.
4. Yoga for women – share with us when and why you started your practice, what is your overall experience and how you would recommend yoga as a regular activity for women?
I started Yoga in London, 2012, after a life changing event, tragedy be it, that caused me to feel very displaced. Yoga helped me to discover new strengths and a sense of calm and control over my life again. In 2015 I moved to Hong Kong and enrolled in the 200 hour YTT program with Andiappan International Yoga Academy with Master Yogananth, because I wanted to have a deeper understanding of why Yoga is so life changing. I fell even deeper in love with my new life as yogi and wanted to learn more in depth about the therapy side of Yoga. So, I also completed the Yoga Therapy Certification and haven’t looked back since. Upon returning to the UAE in 2017, I decided to work with women, partly because I am married to an Emirati man and life here remains till date quite segregated and otherwise because I, as an ageing women, realized certain changes that I wanted to help others deal with. Being pregnant and becoming a Mother was a major shift for me, that came with good and bad experiences and I wanted to dedicate my teachings to help other women through their “shifts” too.
5. What advice do you have for women regarding food and nutrition to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle?
I wish I can sugar coat this, but I am not as healthy as I wish. I believe that it’s healthier to eat plant based and my advice to maintain good health is to eat a great amount of dark green veggies, fruits with less sugars like berries, currants, pears and green apples.
Get some fats in too, through avocados, chick peas, nuts, olive & coconut oils and keep detoxing with lemon & ginger drinks, herbal teas and drink more water than you probably want to. Staying hydrated is age defying! Lastly, let’s speak about those carbs and let’s be honest… I can’s stay away! A healthy portion of potatoes, brown rice and healthy grains is a great way to fuel the body with consistent energy release and aid digestion (unless gluten intolerant of course). Last tip, please eat a block of dark chocolate every day for some “happy endorphins”.
6. Yoga is broader than simple asanas, can you share your experience to other aspects of your yoga practice – such as meditation and pranayama? How have you benefited form these aspects and what recommendations do you have for women to help them start practicing?
Yoga is simply more than I can put into words. Asanas is a way to enhance an energy flow through the body, yes, but it remains physical and earthly. Pranayama and Meditation are means to connect with the Cosmic energy and help us to mentally and emotionally gain more clarity and calm.
Days when I wake up and meditate I am more productive and organized, I tackle stressful situation with a controlled demeanor and I just get way more done in a productive way. In turn, meditation before bedtime helps my mental volume to decrease and condense to a restful mind which reflects in my body too. If you have never tried meditation and pranayama before then make it easy and try this technique: Focus on a point, inhale and exhale your eyes closed. Invite your awareness to settle in the center of your mind and invite thoughts to float by like white clouds in a crystal blue sky. Notice your thoughts, without becoming attached. Draw your breath deep into whole abdomen and feel your belly button rise and fall with inand – exhalations. Now simply keep reminding yourself of what you are doing. “I am inhaling. I am exhaling” or “I am expanding. I am contracting”. Do this for one minute, five minutes, thirty minutes… however long you can manage today and simply observe without expectation or judgment.
7. As a Mother, what is the best advice you can share to encourage other Mothers to prioritize their health and wellness? Any key lessons you have learned which you can share to inspire and motivate other Mothers?
It is vital to stay healthy and fit as a Mother, because we have to put up with little balls of energy children all day and night and we do not want to burn out. So take care of your own wellbeing in order to give the best care to your loved ones. You are the center of your households’ gravity, take that time to reset so that everyone around you soak up your balanced and happy energy too. Yoga is an amazing way to balance, center and stay fit, but walks, a swim, a jog or any other means of physical activity can help you to maintain good health and eliminate life threatening diseases like diabetes, cancer, depression and hypertension too.
I have learnt that I cannot give my kids or husband what they expect out of a mother or wife when I am warn and tired or not taking care of my well-being, even the way I look, as changes the way I feel and more importantly how they feel about me. So do take that moment for and stay healthy and functional, because your family needs you to be that anker.
8. Do you consider yoga a life-long practice? How have you seen your practice grow and evolve – and what tips do you have for new practitioners?
Yoga is definitely a life – long journey. Each practice helps my body and mind to evolve physically and energetically. Those times when I neglect my practice I feel imbalanced, I may become moody, short tempered, maybe my jeans won’t fit anymore or worse, my asthma would return in full force. Consistent Yoga practice is the key to 360 degrees of wellness and it’s the perfect supplementary discipline to add to your existing workout or selfcare routines too.
9. Can you share your perspectives on inner beauty and outer beauty?
I love this question, but I am going to struggle to answer it. Remember when I said previously that looking good is important too? I feel that it is AS important to take care of your outside body temple, than what it is to care of your inner being. Inner beauty and care evidently make its mark on your physical appearance. When you feel tired you are bound to look tired, when you feel angry you will look angry… trust me… finding a space of inner beauty and peace inside of yourself will reflect on the outside. Start making the change on the inside. Think beautiful thoughts, see the beauty in every situation, see the good traits in people before judging them upon the bad. Then, start speaking positively, start giving complements, visit beautiful places and you will not only feel different, but also look different.
10. Any places you frequently visit or have visited before that are special and have connected with you deeply?
I travelled to Maldives for my birthday and was reminded again by the simplicity and beauty of nature. The stillness and vastness of the ocean reminds me of our eternal beings.
The fact that I can dive into clear blues at any point and be surrounded by a whole other ecosystem is profound. The most breathtaking sunsets in arrays of pink, purple and orange brings a sense of gratefulness for each day and appreciation for the Devine. And somehow, my favourite part, is the star filled night sky and Mother Moon that always brings me sweet memories and connection to those who lived before me and those who are yet to come. I love these islands because it makes me feel connected to self, nature, the unseen Devine. Oh, and of course I have endless hours for my Yoga Practice while the soft “sshhh” of the ocean drifts me deeper into self.