Sina Stieding heads to Maadi's Zen Space to find balance, healing and soul cleansing thanks to their multitude of holistic, non-medical therapies from reiki and meditation to yoga and Thai Chi...
On a bright and pretty street in Maadi, hidden behind a few trees of the Degla district, a curious little place has become a fountain of energy. Zen Space, the place for all Cairenes to find balance in meditation, yoga and healing, invited us to give their beautiful place a try, where we got to experience everything from Access Bar Healing to Akhanda Yoga which cleansed our body and soul. With a name like Zen Space, our expectations had us hope for a relaxed afternoon. Instead, we learned the true meaning of zen as we walked out of the idyllic apartment a few hours later.
The first step into the cosy apartment tells Zen Space's striking story. Sometimes, a step inside is all you need to know you’re in a good place. Despite the fact that Zen Space is supposed to cleanse your soul, align your spirit and recharge your positivity batteries, the beautifully scented corridors and gorgeously furnished rooms form the perfect environment in which we saw ourselves recuperate from smog, noise and everyday stress. No, we were not going to get a massage (although Zen Space does offer Thai Massage services) or sleep in a king size bed (although our healing sessions had us in such trance it can only be compared to sleeping). Instead, we were sampling the classes and services of this alternative approach to healing: healing from the inside!
Abir Yehia, co-founder of Zen Space, discovered the Zen way of life on one of her trips to India. Learning from numerous Yoga specialist abroad, she soon came to realise that escaping your mind and finding an alternative way to happiness beside the chase for earthly gains is an essential skill she would like for the stressed and hassled crowds of Cairo to explore. Adapting a spiritual name, Shakineh, the dream of Zen Space had been born. Together with her friend Karim Shoukry and a team of many other enthusiasts in holistic healing, her apartment in Maadi naturally evolved into a hub of energy for the rest of Cairo to enjoy. Soon, the crowds came with problems of every nature, looking for a natural solution.
What Yehia and Shoukry created is truly a fountain of everything attributed to emotional, spiritual and physical healing. People recovering from stress, emotional pain, or even physical pain find a source of therapy at Zen Space. And this process towards a more balanced and positive life is not administered by a psychiatrist but the holistic healing powers of Ahmed Osman or Noha Ghoname who practice reiki, stone healing or access bar healing. On top of that, services include Yin and Akhanda Yoga, group meditations, Thai Chi and Five Elements Dancing Classes. If you are as lost as we were, we will enlighten you about what each of them are and what we experienced both during and after giving them a try at Zen Space.
Our Zen day started with a session of Yin Yoga with Angie. Without using too many different motions, Yin Yoga is the perfect tool to get in a deep state of meditation. Holding each of the not too challenging poses for up to five minutes, Yin Yoga helps to ground oneself, focus on breathing and “align the spirit,” as Shoukry explains it. And indeed, in the one hour session we learn all the relevant poses that allow us to practice yoga and meditation on a daily basis from the comfort of our own homes. In fact it is the team’s objective to educate its clients about the different types of opening the inner eye and demonstrate how transformative a lifestyle of focusing on your energies can be. At Yin Yoga, the stretching of the ligaments allows for energies to flow in the best way and prevents injuries and increases flexibility at the same time.
Although Yoga is used as a tool of meditation rather that physical fitness at Zen Space, all poses come with the obvious side effect of a more healthy life. More flexibility, more energy, and the general benefits of meditation are equally a part of Akhanda Yoga, the traditional form of Yoga which is practiced in Ashrams in India. In our Akhandra class, we learn the more challenging poses who are “opening up our chakras,” according to Ahmed Osman, our instructor. The main target is to acquire a spiritual balance. Chanting mantras and bending our bodies, we find ourselves in a state of extreme relaxation after. The poses are easy enough to make breathing the priority. Meanwhile, we are beginning to get the hang of this “focusing on our body and what it is saying to us” thing.
Osman also offers us a stone healing and reiki session in which we are to experience a cleansing of our aura. Everyday life stains our aura, and we let negativity affect the way our aura reflects. In the stone healing class, numerous stones are placed on chakras on our body. A chakra, according to Osman, is the place on which your body responds to a certain problem you might have. The seven main chakras each respond to either communication, emotion or your brain. As a result, the stones are charged with positive energy and deliberately chosen and placed to have a positive effect on your body. At the same time, Osman practices Reiki in which negative energies are expelled from our spirit and healing can take place from the inside. No medicine, no operations, just positive energies that heal such chronic and common diseases such as stress, loss and negativity. “Surely cancer isn’t regularly cured using positive energy,” Shoukry telly us, “but positivity and focusing on what your body needs and wants are a good place to start for a better life.”
And indeed, we wake up from the healing session (yes, we fell asleep because that’s what happens when you’re thoroughly relaxed) feeling rejuvenated and more at ease. Outside Zen Space a group of guys playing loud Shaabi music can’t break our relaxation. This must be the Zen everybody keeps talking about. The first session, Osman says, doesn’t necessary perform any miracles, however, upon arriving at my house that night, my roommates are asked me if I went on a vacation. Whatever it was Osman did with those stones and his chanting, it definitely had a purifying effect on the aura which we imagine must be shining in a bright gold right now.
Noha Ghoname and her Access Bars technique is also on the schedule, so we head back into the beautifully decorated room, full of candles and good vibes, and lie down to have Ghoname softly touch 32 different pressure points around our skull, each representing different points of our brain. Ghoname gives us the permission to fall asleep but after the earlier nap, we doubt it is possible. Thirty minutes later I wake up, completely unaware of how much time has gone by and what happened. Scared I was being rude, Ghoname assures us that this deep phase of relaxation is more than just sleep: it’s the mind taking a break. Our brain doesn’t even do that at night. Completely revitalised and with a certain acceptance about living in the here and now, we find out what other things Zen Space has up their sleeves that we weren’t able to sample.
One of the most visited events Zen Space offers is the Sufi Night in which Sufis share their wisdom with the attendees and their advice to achieving inner balance and, you guessed it, a zen state of mind. But classes at Zen Space also include Five Elements Dancing where attendees are trying to reconnect with Earth via movements and companionship. Of course, for those who need quick release, there is also a massage therapist who offers Thai Massage. It seems that Zen Space has all bases covered for those of us who are stressed, strained and caught up in our earthy matters that are filling us with negativity. Zen Space vows to transform your life. You learn how to accept the here and now, look to the past and future without fear and regret and surrounding yourself with positive energies. With a cleansed aura we embrace the rest of the day, with positivity becoming the centew of the days to follow.
Find out more about Zen Space here.