Ninie Ahmad: Off her yoga mat.

Her affirmations of staying optimistic especially when she's (upside) down.

Interview: ‘Getting to know Ninie Ahmad’

with 4 comments

MSN Life & Style speaks to Ninie Ahmad, yoga ambassador for adidas Malaysia.

Ninie Ahmad

By Flora McCraith

Life is a perfect balance for Ninie Ahmad. Together with Azmi Samdjaga, Asia’s most renowned Ashtangi, they’ve opened BEYOGA, a new studio in Damansara Perdana. With more than 200 yoga and Pilates classes on offer monthly, many taught by Ninie herself, she still finds time for a chat with us.

Tell us a little known fact about yourself.

People find it hard to believe that I was not at all flexible until I started yoga 10 years ago. I had always been an athlete and hockey player in school, so I was a pretty strong girl, but I had completely neglected the importance of flexibility. Strength and flexibility are on two very different ends of the health spectrum. To be physically fit, you need both. Yoga makes being both strong and flexible, inside and out – possible.

What made you get into yoga?

I developed asthma when I was 13 years old and it got so serious that I was being hospitalised twice a week until I turned 17. People believe that if you’re born with asthma, you’ll grow out of it as a teenager. But, if like myself, you develop it later in life, it will only get worse. Eventually, my respiratory problem restricted me from furthering my sporting activities, so someone suggested yoga.

I thought it was going to be easy, if not boring, for a sporty girl like me. I was literally dragged to my first class in 1999… IT WAS THE HARDEST WORKOUT I’D HAD IN MY LIFE! I was completely hooked. I started going for classes almost everyday and began to see the huge improvements in my flexibility. Within 6 months, my asthma had actually disappeared and it hasn’t returned to this day. On top of that, I stopped suffering menstrual cramps and found myself much slower to anger.

What fitness and health benefits can a newbie expect to achieve?

Personally, my asthma, gastric problems and migraines subsided after 6 months of regular practice. I had a student who had been trying to conceive for 12 years. Within 3 months of yoga, she was pregnant. Jessica Alba used a breathing technique called Kapalabhati to aid her child birth, instead of using an epidural. The founder of Bikram yoga had been paralysed at 18, but yoga actually helped him walk again! The physical poses and breathing discipline of yoga make us use our own body, mind and breath as a powerful healing machine. It’s so much more effective than expensive medicines and drugs, which aren’t organic to our system.

From a fitness perspective, yoga is the only discipline that incorporates ALL fitness aspects in one workout: strength, endurance, flexibility, cardio, balance and resistance, plus it also offers focus, optimal breath control and lifetime sustainability. Yoga also makes any man a better sportsman as it’s famous for its de-stressing effects and helping you stay focused.

What has been your biggest achievement so far in life, and how has yoga influenced that?

When I was 24, I published Malaysia’s first yoga magazine and was appointed Yoga Ambassador for adidas Malaysia. This year, I launched my dream yoga studio. Today (at only 27-years-old) I can proudly say I have been practicing yoga for 10 years and teaching professionally for the past 8 years.

Beyond these material achievements, I feel that my biggest achievements are being able to say: I am physically and spiritually happy and I continue helping change people’s lives and improved people’s health. Nothing makes me happier than hearing my students say they no longer suffer back pains, seeing them smile at the end of my class and witnessing my students succeed their first unsupported headstand.

What’s next for you?

BEYOGA will be expanding to two include to more branches in KL . I just want every Malaysian to have a taste of good yoga.

How do you deal with difficult people or personalities, or situations?

I live life according to this mantra: whatever you find useful on the yoga mat, apply it to life. I always say the poses are painful and challenging, but whatever doesn’t make you bleed or break bones, only makes you stronger. Difficult people and situations are like a challenging yoga class, it will pass and we will learn something from the experience.

Sell us to BEYOGA.

BEYOGA is run and owned by teachers whose core value is to inspire the public. We want you to know that it’s not just scary postures and intimidating breathing. It is essentially about the comprehension of love, compassion, knowledge and respecting your body. All BEYOGA teachers are Malaysia’s highest accredited teachers from world-renowned yoga schools of Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Anusara and other disciplines of yoga including Pilates.

Who are the inspirational figures in your life?

I admire highly successful personalities and business moguls that are still funny, humble, friendly and honour their own values.  Good leaders attract good energy and good people. I hear Tony Fernandez of Air Asia remembers all his employees’ names and birthdays.

In the yoga industry, I have lots of respect for yoga teachers who do not have to perform scary and out-of-this-world poses just to inspire or gain recognition. Without trying, they shine yogi qualities simply by saying kind words, respecting their own body and everything around them and practicing what they preach.

If it wasn’t for yoga, where do you think you’d be today?

I have always loved writing and drawing. My father used to be the editor for a big newspaper and my mother is still an English lecturer, but they insisted that I studied something other than writing or design. They actually wanted me to go into engineering or medicine!

After highschool, I was torn deciding what to pursue next. Architecture had always been my childhood dream, but I was also being offered a scholarship to study Information Technology. With a heavy heart, I chose the latter for my parents.

As it turns out, I have been able to marry my passion, my tertiary education and what I have always been good at in what I am doing now. I get to work and workout at the same time, I am pretty Internet-savvy for a yoga teacher, I am the architect for my business and I actually design and copywrite almost everything you see in BEYOGA’s website, buntings, posters and press releases.

What does being an ambassador for a brand as prestigious as adidas mean to you?

Being appointed to represent yoga and Malaysia for the biggest sporting brand in the world means the world to me. Some people even see yoga teachers as the highest physical and mental state of human form, so I bear the responsibility of  being ‘the walking example of a yogi’ in everything I say, do and wear, and am living-proof of adidas’ motto that ‘Impossible Is Nothing’.

What is one magic mantra we can all incorporate in our daily life?

Yoga reminds us that, ‘I go forward by going back, go up by going down, go out by going in and get by giving out’ and it allows me to let go of who I have become to be who I really am.

(Source: MSN Life & Style)

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Written by Ninie Ahmad

September 28, 2009 at 12:52 AM

4 Responses

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  1. “…let go of who I have become to be who I really am.”

    This last line really caught my eye. Great interview, by the way (more insights to who Ninie Ahmad is) but this line, this line was the clincher for me. Yoga can be such a transformational experience.

    I know I am such a beginner, re-starting my practice in fact after a year plus of not doing any yoga exercises at all (and most of that just music-choreographed sequences from BodyBalance) but still… there is something about doing a sun salutation or a bow pose or other poses that feels like some part of us is being released and we can give up pretending who we think we need to be, and just, you know, be.

    Life for Beginners

    September 30, 2009 at 10:29 PM

  2. Hi Ninie

    (as part of my gratitude practice)

    I want to say thank you for your writings has been inspiring to me.

    Keep on chasing your dreams (you are living it now!)!

    With positive thoughts & Love

    blueicecube

    October 1, 2009 at 10:58 PM

  3. i am truly inspired by you. words cannot explain my admiration towards your life and what makes you…you. i have been to yoga classes in australia before, and boy was it tough. and then came the transportation troubles and being a student, it did not encourage me to continue. i dearly want to be at peace with my heart, and i need me some yoga.

    Yii Zhu

    October 4, 2009 at 11:44 AM

  4. any branch nearer to KL city?

    beddyboo

    October 9, 2009 at 12:25 AM


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