Pause. Breathe.

Meditation has been such an integral part of my life that I can’t imagine living without it,” says Khawla, a Dubai-based holistic wellness expert and certified yoga instructor. As an Emirati teenager, she chanced upon Hatha yoga at a time when wellness studios and instructors weren’t prevalent in the city.

The study of yogic scriptures, and body and mind practices became an anchor that rooted her throughout life. But even though the physical practice was re- warding, something still seemed to be missing. She remained on the lookout for tools to help deal with the inevitable challenges of developing a higher sense of consciousness.

This experience led to a life-changing moment in Khawla’s quest for methods to grow and understand her sense of self, as she came across Kundalini yoga. “In my very first class, while chanting and stretching into different postures, I could feel myself reaching into deep parts of my being that I hadn’t yet discov- ered. It helped me process all the complex feelings that lay under the surface and opened up my heart.”

The full potential of the practice soon became apparent to her—Kundalini yoga was what she had been searching for. 20 years later, she claims, “I feel even more passionate about experiencing life through the yogic lens and helping others experience this incredible consciousness.” She describes yoga as “a wonderful way of uniting the body and soul, and is integral to the path of kindness and compassion.”

Kundalini yoga uses sound, breath and posture to develop spiritual aware- ness by freeing the ‘Kundalini’ energy within the person. As a Muslim, Khawla was excited to discover that this life force located at the base of the spine is activated during salaah, the Islamic prayers.

To fully master some- thing, you have to teach it. The innate longing that we feel as humans to crack our hearts open is what creates the devotion.

She then decided to train as a Kundalini yoga teacher. “To fully master some- thing, you have to teach it. The innate longing that we feel as humans to crack our hearts open is what creates the devotion,” she shares. For her, it’s all about empathy, humanity, kindness and freeing the self to be a better human being— the basic tenets of the faith she grew up practicing.

With the concept of wellbeing taking on a whole new meaning since the COVID-19 pandemic, Khawla greatly credits the digital realm and the age of technology for her evolving practice. From building a strong community of women, who come together as mentors, teachers and clients through the practice of Kundalini yoga, to acquiring certifications and taking teacher training modules, the digital world has been crucial in her journey.

The array of online platforms has also enabled wellness to be accessible to all. “The new era is all about the balance of the mind and body, leisure and responsibilities, and on- and off-screen time,” she concludes.


Photography by Aasiya Jagadeesh; Follow @Khawla_bin_thani on Instagram.