Day in the life: A yogi you can relate to

After a successful career in advertising in cities such as Melbourne, Amsterdam and Dubai, New Zealand-born Vanessa Dolan decided to quit corporate life in August last year to start a yoga business. Anessa Yoga, which will be launched in a few weeks, is a subscription-based service offering videos online. The 44-year-old moved to the UAE in 2010 and lives in Downtown Dubai.


I wake up at 6am no matter what time I go to bed. I have coffee with coconut milk and go through my social media pages. I then head to the gym for a personal workout, or I give a corporate or private yoga class. Regardless, I’m always doing some form of exercise at this time.


I eat breakfast – a shake of organic almond oil, some fruit and spinach. I don’t follow a set diet, but I try not to eat processed food and I like to have organic produce whenever it’s available and not crazily expensive.


I start work. This varies, but it’s usually something relating to the website or material for my social media sites. My huge dining room table is my desk, and it’s completely covered with yoga books, business cards and manuals. I like to listen to music while I work. I did try working from cafes but I find home is best for me. I overlook the Burj Khalifa, so I have one of the best views in Downtown Dubai.


We’ve finished filming the initial videos that will be on the website, so we’re firmly in the post-production stage. It’s taking a lot of time, as I have to check every video. For example, I check that the voice-over has been put in the right place. Once the initial changes are done, I go through each video again to ensure it is perfect. The hardest part of my day is listening to my own voice. I decided to set up this business after realising there are few yoga subscription services that are not US-centric. I got into yoga a few years ago after pulling the muscles in my neck. I tried to supplement my studio practice with online videos, but I couldn’t relate to the teachers – they were all ultra-thin and super flexible. I wanted something that was more relevant to me, as I’m just your average woman who wants to keep fit. I realised that there must be millions of women out there like me, which was when the idea for Anessa Yoga was born.


I’m really hungry so I have a lunch of sourdough bread with avocado, smoked salmon, tomatoes and hummus. Sometimes I’ll also head out to Social House in Dubai Mall; I love their fresh vegetable juices.


I work on blog posts for the website. I read a lot of other yoga or health websites to learn more about different types of yoga and how people perceive the practice. But I want my blog to be relevant to Dubai and our lifestyle here, which is what I’m aiming for with my posts.


I draw up classes for private clients, who all practise yoga for different reasons. One is a competitive cyclist, for example, so I’ll design a class based on what his cycling activity is for the week. I have a lady who just wants to get fit – she wants strong arms and strong abs – so I design something different for her. Another client likes to run marathons, so his classes focus on legs. I turned my second bedroom into a yoga studio, so I do all my private classes there. It’s a serene, calming and comfortable place.


My private classes begin. I teach most nights and sometimes have two sessions in the evening, so I’ll start at 5pm on those days. The transition from the corporate world to being your own boss requires a huge shift in mindset. The pros include making all the decisions – but that’s also a con. The good part is making time for the things that are important to you, such as keeping fit and eating healthy food.


The classes are done so it’s time to make dinner. I make something quick – grilled seafood or chicken – and once a week I indulge in a piece of steak.


I watch a movie now because you should wait two hours between eating and going to bed. I’m usually in bed reading by 10pm and asleep by about 10.30pm.

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Share This Post