15 Feb Meet dr Sarah, the yoga instructor at the PALAIS AMANI
Dr Sarah, The Yoga Instructor at The Palais Amani
Meet Dr Sarah Mliyahe MD, RYT- 200h, a 26-year-old Yoga instructor and psychiatry resident, born and raised here in Fez, Morocco. Sarah joined the Palais Amani Team as a Yoga Teacher in December 2019.
“How long have you been practicing yoga?” asks Loubna, the Experience Coordinator at The Palais Amani:
Sarah: I have been practicing yoga for about 9 years now. It all started when I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love for the first time, I became interested in the world of spirituality, meditation and Hindu philosophy. I was intrigued then, and the more I learned about Yoga, the more I was hooked!
Loubna: How did you get started as a Yoga Instructor?
Sarah: In medical school I used to take part in university events and medical conferences, and I was the go to person when a yoga or meditation session was needed to help relax the lecturers or the attendees. One day, I thought to myself, since I’m so passionate about Yoga and I absolutely love sharing it, why not take a step toward becoming a certified teacher. And I did, and the rest is history!
Loubna: What type of yoga do you teach?
“In both my personal practice and my teaching methodology, I absolutely believe in two things: the importance and necessity of anatomical alignment, and the fact that the physical postures are not the end goal, but just a means for overall wellbeing and spiritual development. Hence I teach any type of yoga (although my classes tend to be more dynamic), as long as the postures and the flow of the class are anatomically correct, and the student is encouraged to truly allow the practice to heal and transform them”, Sarah says.
“Can you remember your first yoga session?”asks Loubna:
Sarah: The first time I practiced, I just laid a mat and stretched. I didn’t have the luxury of finding a local yoga teacher at the time, so I mostly taught myself. First class I ever taught: Simcup (A national medical competition) held at Oujda in 2017.
What’s your favorite part about being a Yoga Instructor?
If I had to name just one, I think it’s when a student asks me a question that shows they are actually taking the time to understand themselves and their journey, and they are allowing the practice to do its “magic” instead of viewing it as just a workout. Maybe it’s the doctor in me, but I absolutely love answering questions and explaining yogic concepts.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of this job?
At the beginning of a class the student trusts you with their physical, emotional and energy bodies, and I think the most challenging part of being a yoga teacher is to not break that trust.
It’s both a privilege and an immense responsibility to be able to hold a safe and accepting space for the student.
Loubna: What has yoga done for you as a person?
“Yoga has elevated my life in so many ways, physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It has helped me so much both as a practitioner and a teacher. But Yoga is also a lot like that sincere friend that makes you uncomfortable when they tell you the truth about yourself without sugar-coating it. I promise it will transform you, if you let it.” Answers Sarah.
Loubna: Do you associate yoga with Medicine?
Sarah: Yoga (and Ayurveda) are both ancient healing practices that modern medicine can greatly benefit from. I am a firm believer in integrative medicine, the use of both conventional medicine and other more holistic practices to truly heal the body and mind.
As a doctor, do you believe that Yoga could be also an alternative form of healing and medicine?, says Loubna:
Sarah: Alternative? Maybe in some cases, especially in preventive medicine. But in my experience, once disease occurs, the best thing to do is to combine both approaches (modern medicine and holistic practices) under the supervision of a trained medical professional. This way we are not just healing the symptom, but the whole system.
Loubna: Do you believe that yoga a way of life or a way to exercise and meditate?
Dr Sarah: I think yoga is whatever the practitioner needs it to be at that time. If a person just needs a daily escape, or a low impact form of exercise, it’s great! If one is interested in pursuing it as a way of life, awesome! Yoga is a journey, and we all have to begin somewhere.
Loubna: Yoga has survived for thousands of years, and it is still picking up momentum, as it’s becoming stronger in the world, and in Morocco precisely. More people in Morocco are shifting nowadays to Yoga and it is now a popular way of seeking wellbeing. So, for you as a young Moroccan Yoga Instructor, how can you relate the ancient Moroccan aspects and culture with practicing yoga?
Sarah: I couldn’t be more thrilled to see yoga picking up momentum in Morocco! I think every country has its own version of traditional medicine and their ancient beliefs and culture, and Morocco is no exception. I am particularly interested in the similarities between Yoga (chakra colors, kundalini energy, chanting) and the Gnawa culture of Morocco. I still have to find answers to my questions, but when I do I’ll share!
Loubna: What would you advise the yoga beginners?
Sarah: Come to the mat with an open mind! You will feel better after one class, and you will begin to feel transformed after many classes. Yoga truly heals if you let it.