Cairo offers dozens of yoga classes and teachers, finding the right place and teacher to suit your needs is a matter of personal taste. When we met Mariam Sobhy and visited her intimate center, Beit Mariam, we could sense the difference. Cozy and personal, Beit Mariam makes a person feel at home and connected to a sense of purpose. Cairo West Magazine wanted to learn more about what sets it apart from the rest.
Beginnings of a New Life
After spending her adult working life in the corporate world of banking and telecommunications, Sobhy felt the push to do something more fulfilling. Wanting to spend more time with her son and feeling the need to ignite her passion for life, she attended an Ashtanga yoga class on a lark with her friend. A former ballerina, she thought practice would be a piece of cake. Sobhy was intimidated by the difficulty of the class and the physical challenge, prompting her to attend different classes, determined to learn. Additionally, she dedicated time to self-study and home practice and began reading widely into the philosophy and spirituality behind yoga. After receiving her teaching training in Thailand, and later on completing a degree in the philosophy and history of yoga at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, she decided to leave corporate life behind and dedicate herself to sharing her knowledge of yoga with others.
How Beit Mariam is Different
Beit Mariam is founded on the idea that teaching yoga shouldn’t be a business, it should be about helping people to grow spirituality and overcome struggles in life. It is an open space for anyone wanting to work on his or her spiritual journey. Classes on offer vary from different types of yoga, meditation, life coaching, Reiki practitioner courses, sound healing, and more. Different practitioners offer classes on a rotating basis, and come from all walks of life. Some offer their sessions for free, such as Sufi Meditation led by Rania Bedeir once a week. Although there are fixed prices for classes, money transactions are not a primary focus; a black box sits by the door for those who can afford it. If not, visitors can pay as little or as much as they would like.
Faith and Flexibility
“Through my practice, I have reached a place where deep down in my heart, I am going to do the best I can and offer whatever I have with the real intention inside my heart … and the fruit of the action or the journey will come,” says Sobhy. This faith and flexibility is what makes Beit Mariam unique. When the focus on buying group classes, or dealing with price hikes and rigid timetables is lifted, the person can really focus on getting the maximum benefit out of their yoga practice and improving their lifestyle and mindset. For example, after attending an introductory practice session, there is an opportunity for visitors to drop in and practice their Ashtanga yoga under Sobhy’s supervision and guidance for as little or as long as they like from 7 am to 11 am 5 days a week. This allows freedom from adhering to a rigid timetable and the ability to develop their practice at their own pace.
In addition to strengthening the body through physically demanding methods of yoga like Ashtanga, there is balance available through practice like Yin yoga. A lot calmer and slower, Yin yoga poses are held for 5 to 8 minutes, this type of yoga works on the deep connective tissues not the muscles.
What becomes apparent is that Beit Mariam works to shift the focus away from only physical achievements in yoga practice, and draws far more attention to working on the inside rather than perfecting poses and growing leaner. “A lot of people come to yoga class to look a certain way, but as much as the physical side of yoga is an important aspect, it’s only 10% of the story,” says Sobhy.
Tel: 0100 118 8660