Founder of Ashtanga Dubai, Nea transited to the Yoga path from a corporate PR Account Director role more than 10 years ago. She is also a devoted Yoga philosophy student and committed teacher to the Mysore-Style.
1. Tell us who is Nea with 5 adjectives
Optimistic, Enthusiastic, Pragmatic, Tenacious, Independent
2. Which was your profession before being a Yoga Teacher?
I worked in PR for 10 years. I was an account director at an international agency, specialising in technology PR.
3. How did you fall in love with yoga? And why did you choose Ashtanga?
I practised yoga sporadically in my early twenties, but I never had a consistent practice. When I was 28, I took a break from the expat party lifestyle I had been leading in HK and starting practising yoga every day. I signed up to a big yoga gym Planet Yoga and went every morning, but it was the Ashtanga classes I enjoyed the most. After practising Ashtanga I felt so alive and vibrant. I found the method very powerful, resulting in huge transformational shifts very quickly. I decided to commit to the Ashtanga method and very soon after that traveled to Mysore, India to study at the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI). Practising Ashtanga served as an entry point into studying a range of spiritual traditions, philosophies and meditation techniques. The subject area is vast!
4. Which are the origins of Ashtanga Dubai? Why was it created?
As an authorised teacher of KPJAYI, I have a responsibility to continue to teach Ashtanga Yoga following the traditional method of teaching. This means teaching students one-on-one, as individuals and progressing them through the sequence step-by-step, mastering one asana before moving onto the next. This style of teaching is commonly called “Mysore-style” and it’s a wonderful method that empowers the student to take responsibility for their own yoga practice, by memorising the sequence and moving at their own pace, ensuring the benefits that come from breath and movement synchronisation. I opened Ashtanga Yoga Dubai 3.5 years ago, as a yoga school that focuses teaching Ashtanga yoga in this way.
5. Which have been the biggest changes in your life over the last 5 years?
On the surface of things, lots of big changes but at the core of things the last five years have really been a continuation and deepening of the focus of the years proceeding. I’ve been teaching Ashtanga full-time since 2009, however I used to been more of a travelling teacher without a fixed address apart from a couple of years in Japan. From 2006 to 2012 I was fairly transient spending a lot of time in India and other parts of Asia. When I moved to Dubai in 2013 I instantly felt a connection to the city and decided it was the place I wanted to be. So I’ve continued to teach Ashtanga, however this time in one city and have enjoyed developing long-term relationships with students and seeing how the practice can be a support through different life stages. I also married two years ago which further intensified the gratifying feeling of “settling down”.
6. What´s your other passion/s beyond yoga?
Yoga is the lens through which I view the world. It shapes and permeates everything I do. I spend 1.5 hours a day on my own asana practice. three – five hours a day teaching yoga, which I consider an extension of my practice, and for the rest of the time I’m putting into practice the lessons. I’m a voracious reader, and devour yoga philosophy books but I also like history, autobiographies and some fiction. I also love textiles and travel and this has led me to start a second business, Oni Earth-Kind Fabrics, designing 100% organic cotton bedspreads handmade in India.
7. If you had all the money to make it a reality, where, how and to whom would you like to teach a yoga class?
Interesting question. I love what we have at the moment at Ashtanga Yoga Dubai, it’s a wonderful community of students. We’ll be expanding classes soon to teach teenagers which I feel really passionate about. As Ashtanga is such as healing practice, I would like to run community classes specifically for cancer survivors. So these things are all possible and I am sure will happen in good time.
8. Tell us the funniest situation that happened in your yoga classes (either as a teacher or as a student!)
My husband is normally a source of amusement in my classes. I have to pretend to be serious, leading the classes, when sometimes, like when he falls on his head from bakasana I just want to burst out laughing. I can seem pretty serious most of the time, but people who know me well, know my humour is a bit offbeat!
Nea is currently teaching traditional Mysore-style classes daily in Dubai , from 6:30-10am. From August Ashtanga Yoga Dubai will also start evening classes from 6:30-8pm. You can learn more here: