Saudi Arabia’s first female circus performer, trapeze artist, and a certified coach from top European and American institutes, Roa’a Al Sahhaf, has been making waves with her aerial yoga studio business.
Al Sahhaf is 42 with a wealth of physical training and experience under her belt and has gained popularity amongst Saudis, leading her to look to expand and open up more yoga studios across the kingdom.
The country’s first aerial yoga studio opened its doors this March in Jeddah and offers up classes in Pilates, family dance classes, yoga, pole dancing and boxing. Aerial yoga is a great strength and agility building exercise that involves practicing yoga whilst being suspended from within a hammock.
Roa’a Al Sahhaf studied her art in London at The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts and had since been practicing “aerial skills”, but only launched a career with it in 2009. Speaking to Arab News, she stated, “I was the first Saudi female circus performer. Actually, it was my childhood dream to perform in a circus, and thanks to Taif Season it came true in Circo Americano. I started loving aerial arts as a kid, but we did not have gymnastics here so the first time I saw this studio, I pursued it.” At Taif’s recent festival season, Roa’a finally performed with Circo Americano, having not been permitted to do so only a year ago.
Having always had a keen interest and love for all things gymnastics, Al Sahhaf took up pole dancing, and became a certified coach for it in 2012. Introducing the physical sport and aerial arts to Jeddah, she also spoke about how she started out teaching the classes, “I had times where I could not travel, so I wanted to practice it here in my city. I decided to open a studio room in my house, and it worked. It started with family and friends of friends, and little by little gyms and studios began to call and ask me to give classes.” With so much demand for Roa’a’s classes, she now teaches across a number of Jeddah gyms and studios, as well as workshops and tours across Saudi Arabia.
Moving forward, the aerial arts teacher, and mother of 3, hopes to encourage more people to take up an aerialist sport. “I want to engage with the Saudi General Entertainment Authority for more performances and shows done by the studio team. I would love to collaborate with gyms and studio owners around Saudi Arabia to include these types of arts and sports in their gym schedules,” she said.