Feature: Yoga gains in popularity in Morocco

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RABAT, July 1 (Xinhua) -- "I started practising yoga about 10 years ago, and I learned it on my own. As time goes by, I found more and more Moroccans who were interested in it. In Casablanca, a friend of mine organizes yoga workshops regularly," Yousra El Ansar, a Moroccan yoga enthusiast, told Xinhua.

Yoga has grown in popularity among Moroccans in the past several years, with various yoga workshops sprouting up in major cities like Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech.

"It started getting popular in Morocco between 2014 and 2015," said Btissam Mssilea, a Moroccan physiotherapist-in-learning and guided meditation instructor.

Before then, yoga was no more than a body exercise preferred by people who have access to Asian culture and could pay more to attend workshops abroad, Mssilea said.

Nowadays, an increasing number of yoga studios have been opened in Morocco, accompanied by international yoga events held across the country. EPIC, a global movement celebrating yoga, held a three-day international yoga festival in Marrakech in June 2019, which has now become the biggest yoga event in the North African country.

"When I arrived here in 2017, many Moroccans said they had never met a male yoga teacher before," Kevin Parker, an American yoga instructor who has lived in Morocco on and off for several years, told Xinhua.

However, things have changed and not just women, there is even an increasing number of male yogis in Morocco, said Parker.

Nowadays, there are about 11 yoga clubs in operation in both the capital Rabat and Marrakech, not to mention the numerous gyms that offer yoga classes in the two cities.

Similar is the case with Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco, which has at least 10 clubs dedicated to yoga as well as numerous gyms of the kind.

Madara Baltina, a certified air yoga and fitness instructor from Latvia, runs air yoga classes weekly in Tamraght and Agadir. There used to be many foreigners from Europe who came for her classes before the outbreak of COVID-19.

"Yoga is still something new for Moroccans. So we try to encourage local people, especially women, to try this, because this technique is very special and unique," Baltina told Xinhua, noting that air yoga is still not so popular as traditional yoga in Morocco.

"Thus, there are endless opportunities for yoga to grow in Morocco, whether it be traditional yoga, fitness, air yoga," she concluded. Enditem

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