Getting Grounded: A Former Flight Attendant Finds Health & Balance Through Yoga Teaching + A Tre
Originally from the Czech Republic, Sarka Apperloo landed in Dubai four years ago for a job as a flight attendant. When health issues arose that began to affect her frequent travels, she began to reassess her choice of work--and found both relief and a new calling when she began to study yoga. Now a RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance, she's a teacher at Dubai's Yoga Yacht, leading classes on the teak deck of an authentic traditional Arabic Dhow in the peace and quiet near Dubai Creek Park. Learn more about her yoga journey, and scroll to the end as she leads us through one of her favorite postures.
Can you talk a little about what brought you to the practice and how you've embraced it in your life?
Before becoming a yoga teacher, I was cabin crew for almost 4 years. Despite the fact that I loved my job and the ability to travel from place to place very fast, it destroyed my health. I couldn't cope with changing time zones, jet lags, the lack of sleep, not enough rest and I used to be sick all the time. It was so demotivating, I felt very low and didn't know how to uplift my mood anymore. By the time I couldn't fly because of my health issue, I realized there are yoga classes in the same building as I lived. I never went for a yoga class before and was quite hesitant to attend, because Im not a fan of any kind of group classes. But since I entered the room, I was truly surprised by the amazing positive vibes and energy in the air. The class atmosphere was different from any other I attended before. During the class I had a somehow extremely calm feeling inside me, it felt like I was out of the room. I started to keep coming back every time I could. At the end of my flying career I was diagnosed with chronic hives and decided to change my job and become a yoga teacher.
What was it like to train in India?
I did both my trainings (200 and 300hrs) in India for a reason, because yoga itself is coming from India, so I wanted to get as close to the roots as possible. I was keen to be captured by the spirit of India with everything what it brings, however it wasn't easy. My first training was in a yoga campus close to Arambol Beach, Goa. The weather was extremely hot and humid. We practiced in an open shala 6x per a week. The day started at 6:30am and finished at 7pm. Our accommodation was very, very simple. Sometimes no warm shower and sometimes no water at all. Insects inside the room was a daily occurrence (spiders, cockroaches). Wifi was only available in certain parts of our campus. We practiced around 4 hours of yoga daily. Almost every one of us was struggling with belly issues because of the poor hygiene from our kitchen. I lost at least 3 kilos [6-1/2 lbs] there. Goa itself is a beautiful part of India, nice beaches, green scenery and different people coming from all over the world.
My 2nd training was in Dharamshala, in the Himalayas. The weather was completely different, very chilly mornings and rain showers all the time. Just the typical unpredictable weather in the mountains. The schedule of the training was similar. In Dharamshala we had more issues with electricity black outs. Sometimes for almost the whole day. Because Dharamshala is high up in the mountains (2352 m), the altitude over there was another challenge for me, I felt quite often dizzy and light headed. This place is also the current home for the Dalai Lama, he flew there after escaping from Tibet. I went to see his house a couple of times and was very lucky that I had a chance to attend one of his regular readings in Dharamshala. To see him from close by means a lot to me. He is a real spiritual leader with incredible energy.
I'm not sure which training was harder for me. Both were very important events in my life. You are pushed out of your comfort zone because of everything you have to face. You are meeting inspiring new people as your colleagues in your training and creating a special connection with them.
The reason why you are living in simple accommodations, eating not very varied food and having a strict routine is giving you more time to realize that you don't need a lot in your life and all those things you normally have around are just disturbing you and shifting your focus. Less things around you, less distractions. More time to focus on how you feel inside you, what are your thoughts and where you want to move with your life.
How have you seen your practice transform over the years?
Of course by having the proper knowledge as a teacher, you are more thinking about yoga in general and it's giving you more reason to discover individual poses. You are getting better by regular practicing, you can go deeper in postures, stay longer, you are becoming more flexible and your mind is more focused and oriented on yoga. You are not distracted as easily as at the beginning of your yoga journey.
What led you to Dubai and to teach at the Yoga Yacht?
I came to Dubai to work as cabin crew and because I love this city, I decided to stay to continue to teach yoga here. Yoga Yacht, located in the Dubai creek has a unique position, it's surrounded by water and the whole place, with its harbor, is very, very quiet. We are practicing on the upper deck, from where you have an amazing view. Our classes are in the morning or in the afternoon. I personally love that fresh breeze during the morning while watching the sun rise over Dubai.
When you’re not practicing yoga, what else do you enjoy?
I do love any kind of sports. I'm a fan of running, cycling, roller blading, jogging and the gym. Despite all this I also like to read books, watch a good movie, spend time with my beloved husband and travel around the world.
Favorite crystal and why:
As being born as Sagittarius my favorite crystal is Topaz because of his unique color and because it enhances creative self-expression and promotes spirituality.
Best advice you've ever gotten: Take it easy.
Favorite book: The Secret by R. Byrne
What’s your favorite scent?
Vanilla. It just reminds me of something from my childhood. I can’t figure out what it is so maybe I am somehow driven by the mystery behind the scent.
If you were to choose a yoga pose that’s had the most meaning for you, what would it be?
The Tree Pose, because this pose is about keeping balance, you can project it into everything in your life. To have balance is the key point for being happy and having a good life. I find this pose extremely playful, where you can portray your current mood. If you feel like you are having a busy day, you can stay still with your hands in the prayer mudra. If you feel like being cheeky and your day is missing a little bit of variety and action, you can swing your hands around, as a tree in a strong breeze or try to close your eyes. By finding a balance in the tree pose you are finding a balance within your soul, mind and your life.
What parts of the body does this pose particularly focus on?
Feet, legs, spine, core, chest and arms.
Stand tall with your feet together and reach your arms straight up overhead.
Take few deep long breaths. Start to listen to your body.
Tighten your core as you slide your right foot up to rest on your left calf or pull it higher to rest on your inner thigh. Avoid placing your foot on the inside of your knee.
Hold as still as possible for as long as you need and breathe slowly.
Use your imagination and try to think about your life. Are things in balance? How is your mood today? Do you feel like a strong tree standing on the top of the hill or like a small one being hidden in the middle of the forest.
Stay still and try to think about how you feel. When you feel like changing a side, simply switch for the other one.
More from Sarka:
Follow her on Instagram: @sharqi.yoga
Book a class: https://www.sharqi.yoga
Check back next week for her mini travel guide to Dubai.