Aia Faham has movie star good looks and a positive outlook to match. Her insatiable passion for Yoga is well documented in her beautiful Instagram account. This humble yogi has a bit of hero as she doles out some pretty practical advice on life in general. We at Cairo gyms decided it was definitely time to find out a little more about Aia the Alexandrian beauty.
Q1 – What awakened your passion for yoga?
It may be encouraging to know, that at first, Aia didn’t take to the physical side of Yoga. After her first class in 2012 she felt weak, inflexible and overwhelmed, although she felt like she didn’t belong to the physical practice something awakened in her and she sought to learn more about the spiritual aspect.
This led her to search online about mediation and mindfulness. It is at this juncture in her life, while studying in Washington DC that she came across the Peace Revolution an organization that was to be instrumental in shaping her life and passion for yoga and meditation.
Q2 – You´ve racked up 500 hours of teacher training. That is no small feat – could you tell us where and how you studied?
After an initial 42 day online course with the Peace Revolution, Aia applied for a fellowship at a residential mediation and self-development program. She was the first person from the MENA to be accepted and in June 2013 she travelled to Thailand to attend and volunteer in what was to be a transformative experience.
It is important to note that Aia was still not yet drawn to the physical side of yoga, her initial attraction was purely to the mindfulness and the spiritual side of yoga, today this transcends her philosophy to yoga and life in general. Compared to your run of the mill yogi Aia is unique, her equal emphasis on both the spiritual and physical transcends every aspect of her, something she is passionate to instill in her clients as it has a very real carry over into the way we live our life.
After this true milestone in her life, Aia pursued this career with rigor. She continued to work with the Peace Revolution, organizing and assisting in retreats in Thailand and Turkey. She returned to Thailand a third time to become a certified mediation instructor and although she still felt inadequate, her interest in the physical side of yoga was piqued. She decided to befriend her fear. She worked on alignment and technique, step by step with consistent effort she found strength, stamina and flexibility and she began to improve.
Aia began to attend classes and to retreats culminating in her 2015, 200 hour teaching training (TT) in India, never one to settle Aia started to feel capable to really embrace the physical side of yoga and she started Lala land adding a further 500 hours in 2018, in Paramanand Institute of Yoga Sciences and Research and a further 200 hours TT in Varkala, Kerala India.
This extensive TT is notable but what really stands out again is Aia´s ability to mesh together the different genres of yoga, integrating it with a mindfulness that radiates positivity, acceptance and a total absence of judgement.
Q3- What tips would you give to other woman who might feel insecure about taking up yoga?
As a yoga instructor that doesn’t take herself too seriously, in her own words she started from less than zero and yet today she is a hero that makes it look all so seamless. She is eager to convey that could be you too – yoga is for everyone, no one should feel intimidated.
Find the right class for you and the right teacher. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, its about continunity, the postures look different on everyone, it’s a journey, and if we were all mentally and physically strong we wouldn’t need Yoga. Yoga, she says: ´has the capacity to create miracles in your life´, and when she says it you really believe it.
Q4- What or who helps motivate you and create the consistent habits required for success?
Aia makes no bones about the fact she used to be a very different person. She would sleep late, eat processed food and smoked. What helped her was being more mindful of how she felt, with time she adopted the actions, thoughts and feelings that brought her closer to her goals.
She isn’t dictatorial in her approach she simply states it’s a matter of trial and error. If you don’t try, how will you know what makes you feel good? It’s a gradual process as you become aware of serves you and what doesn’t you will edit your lifestyle accordingly.
Q5 – Do you exclusively dedicate yourself to yoga or, so you do any other type of training?
Aia keeps herself busy, with her full-time job as the founder of LaLa Land, a mindfulness, meditation and yoga organization. However, yes, at times she plays with different types of exercise.
She mentions Zumba and Aero Yoga and also touches upon how she has at times used weightlifting as an accessory to her yoga. She felt she needed more strength and attended this gym for this purpose.
Q6 – Do you follow a nutrition plan or any principles?
Aia underscores mindfulness in many aspects of life and extends that to nutrition too. She doesn’t prescribe a vegan or even vegetarian diet, instead she says: try and see how you feel. The example she cites is if you eat something and afterwards you feel perhaps that food isn’t right for your constitution. If, on the other hand, you feel energic and lighter after eating certain foods go with it. It is only by being in tune with your body and how it responds to what you eat that you can successfully rework your diet to feel your absolute best.
Q7 – What are your favorite yoga positions?
Aia talks about yoga with such a passion it´s hard not to want to take it up after hearing the impact it’s had on her life. She is keen to state that yoga is so much more than the postures. It about flowing, dancing with your breath, gratitude and making it your own, adjusting the practice to suit your life. She does however name some of her favorite postures to practice: downward dog, pigeon, and mermaid.
Q8 – Where can we find you if we want to attend one of your classes?
Everywhere! Close your eyes and I’m energetically with you.
Aia´s response, although light hearted, probably resonates with her clientele, if you are lucky enough to be her student or spend time with her you can evoke her sense of calm and positivity at any time.
However, getting nitty gritty: Aia is based in Alexandria although she is starting to provide classes in Cairo (Zamalek). She doesn’t offer drop in classes as she prefers to provide a more holistic immersion to yoga, conveying both the physical and philosophy of yoga.
This month has central theme, postures, alignment and philosophy are covered, and students are provided with take away manuals and expected to perform home practice. Over the course of the interview it becomes patently clear that Aia doesn’t do anything by halves!
She also offers frequent domestic retreats in locations such as Siwa and Nuweiba and for the more adventerous international retreats in Bali, India and Zanzibar.
And there is also an opportunity to take private sessions for individuals that wish to deepen their practice, or those with unique requirements such as back pain or mental stress.
Q9 – What are your goals moving forward?
On a personal level Aia wishes to keep on learning something new on a daily basis as well as to continue dedicate her life to serving people and helping them witness positive changes, allowing them to unveil the person they always wanted to see using the tools and teachings of yoga.
Her other goal for this year is the pull off the largest group yoga session in the Middle East, March 2019, this sounds like an absolute must. It’s a free event to be held at the pyramids. Aia describes the unbelievable vibe, collective energy
Q10 – What would be your top tips for anyone struggling to adopt a healthy lifestyle?
Don’t strive for perfection, it places an unnecessary pressure on you – just favor healthy choices. Instead of focusing on the negative focus on building healthy habits, and gradually increasing them.
She cites smoking as an example, people often ask can I do yoga if I smoke? Remember Aia is completely lacking in judgment so for her of course you can take up yoga if your smoke, it’s about building on the positive aspects and gradually shifting to increasing the positive things in your life.
Cairo Gyms thanks Aia for a very thorough interview and taking the time to really enlighten us about Yoga and how is much more than the postures we see on Instagram.