Elaine Kelly is the founder of Yogafest Middle East and a highly qualified and passionate advocate for workplace wellness. With 20 years of Yoga practice, she is also Goodwill Ambassador for Gulf4Good
1. Who is Elaine, apart from the founder of Yogafest , a Yoga teacher and enthusiast?
I am a mother of two amazing sons, a vegetarian and animal lover, dragon boater, Gulf4Good ambassador and ardent environmentalist. I am currently shooting a series of videos to show people how they can reduce waste and be more eco-friendly. I am happiest when surrounded by nature. I get my energy from spending time in beautiful places.
2. How was Elaine Kelly at the age of 5? And what does remain of that girl?
At 5 years of age, I was living in the UK riding my bike and enjoying walks in the countryside with my parents and younger brother. I was raised in a small town in the North and loved going to the local farm for eggs and walks in forests. I thank my father for this gift. I always think of him when I am in nature. He died far too young, when he was 61.
3. Where were you this time of the year 10 years ago?
In May 2007, I was working as the facility manager at the Palm Jebel Ali for Nakheel. It was one of the most challenging jobs of my career. I just became a body pump instructor and started dragon boating.
4. What made you start practicing Yoga?
Stress and curiosity. It was the calm quiet time I gave myself. I was a fitness instructor and gym bunny but yoga gave me a different experience and with time, I was drawn to teaching it.
5. What do you like the most of living in the Middle East, and what was a challenge for you when you first came to the region?
I arrived from the UK in 1994. I had two small children and found myself divorced 6 months later. Deciding to stay was tough but I wanted my sons to be close to their father. It was challenging to make friends as a single parent back then. I found a few women in a similar situation and we became family. I trained as a fitness instructor and managed to negotiation a 5 hour work day job managing DIMC gym so I could still be home for my sons in the afternoons.
6. To which worldwide leader would you like to teach Yoga/Meditation?
Mr. Macron, the new president of France. I think he will need some yoga as he undertakes his massive task of uniting France and keeping the European union going.
7. Which parts of the world do you think will be the next to incorporate Yoga & Meditation in their daily routines?
I have just been approached to take Yogafest to Saudi Arabia. A friend opened the first yoga studio in Riyadh last year – I think the timing is perfect and it is absolutely needed.
8. Which have been the keys of the success of your festival, Yogafest, which is been running now for more than 7 interrupted years?
The key has been to grow organically with the yoga market in the region. Keeping it free has been important to attract lots of attendees and people who might otherwise never have tried yoga. The support has been incredible. I truly believe when you put energy behind something with the right intention, support arrives in many forms. In 2016, I realised I had to ask for help and when I did, it arrived in the form of 4 amazing women. I think every year it just gets better and better. Other festivals have come and gone, but we survived and thrived for 7 years.
9. How do you think that Yoga and Meditation are going to change in the next 20 years?
I think yoga and meditation will become part of our school curriculum and as accepted as brushing our teeth in the morning.
10. Which is the dream yoga class that you would like to teach?
I would love to teach a class in a tree house in Sequoia national park in California, surrounded by enormous red woods, where we can see the birds and monkeys or squirrels, where we could almost touch the clouds and smell nature around us. We would all climb up the tree to arrive and swing down afterwards.
11. Tell us the funniest/weirdest situation that you have experienced in a Yoga Class, either as a teacher or as a student
I have been privileged to lead several retreats and once I was on a diving yoga holiday on a private yacht in the Maldives. We were taken to an island to practise yoga on a pristine white sandy beach. Afterwards, we all went for a snorkel and when we returned everyone said, let’s do water yoga. So, I came up with some moves with our fins and snorkels as we posed in the turquoise waters. We took some crazy photos and fell about laughing as we tried to balance with our fins as the waves pushed us around.
Eliane Kelly is Yoga alliance 200 hour vinyasa flow certified,100 hour vinyasa sequencing with Brahmari Yoga and Body Balance instructor since 2007. She offers private classes, yoga holidays and organise free yoga events to raise funds for Children’s charities around the world