Dubai: Dr Mariam Ketait is an Emirati family medicine specialist who hands out “happiness prescription”, thanks to her holistic approach to well-being.
On the eve of the fifth International Day of Yoga, Dr Mariam visited Gulf News office to share how yoga and meditation have been an integral part of her life and career for the past 21 years.
“I started practicing yoga after I finished school. I was only 16 then,” she said.
Because of her high achievement at school, she said she was accepted in to a medical school from where she graduated at the age of 21.
“When I was in med school, I was also doing my course for getting a private pilot’s license. I was also a teenager with a change in environment ... my school and friends had changed and it was time to learn how to be a woman and a leader in my own way.”
For balancing the avalanche of all these changes in life, Dr Mariam said, yoga helped her.
“It helped me maintain my balance. In my career, and in my personal life, it is helping me overcome difficulties.”
Her first yoga teacher, an Indian, then providing personal training at Wafi Mall, taught her hatha yoga, the physical practices of which are designed to align and calm body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.
Gradually, Dr Mariam developed interest in other yoga and meditation forms. She has been deeply influenced by kundalini yoga, which has also been embraced by A-listers across the world.
This stream of yoga is said to provide energy healing using movements, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, such as Sat Nam, meaning “truth is my identity” with an aim to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.
With masters in quality in health care and various alternative healing certifications including theta healing, spiritual response therapy, pranic healing and access consciousness, Dr Mariam is now all set to be a certified teacher in Kundalini Yoga within months.
It [yoga] helped me maintain my balance. In my career, and in my personal life, it is helping me overcome difficulties.
Currently working with the federal government, Dr Mariam firmly believes in the ideology that “you are a spiritual being in a human body”, as envisaged by Yogi Bhajan — Harbhajan Singh Kalsa, who propagated Kundalini Yoga in the West.
Dr Mariam conducts community yoga sessions and workshops at different organisations, holds meditation courses titled Happiness Prescription and one-on-one sessions with individuals.
“My approach to a healthy lifestyle starts from your thoughts, because healthy thoughts lead to healthy states of being. Our bodies do respond to our thought patterns and emotional behaviours. Yoga and meditation help bring your spiritual knowledge and awareness to your physical body,” said Dr Mariam who also designed a meditation chair called ‘Alrowaiha’ to help people find a space to rest, reconnect with the rhythms of life and let go of the past.
Family medicine involves biological, psychological and social medicine, she pointed out. “A lot of it has to do with meditation, breathing and physical activities. I found out that a lot of people benefit when their therapy is combined with breathing, meditation and asanas.”
“When you breathe and meditate, your body is focused on one particular thing. You get a disease where you have a lack of positive energy. With breath work, you can direct positive energy to the affected area in your body ... connect with it and start the healing process. Emotions lead to chemical reactions and hormonal changes ... To get to the beginning of that path is what yoga has been doing for me and my clients.”
Dr Mariam believes in the concept of “ebb and flow” to reflect how we can deal with the various tides of life by flowing in harmony with our inner wellbeing to achieve health.
“As Hippocrates said, natural forces within us are the true healers of disease. If we don’t have a positive attitude and belief, the medicines we take won’t have the full impact on our body.”
She narrated how her patients and clients have benefitted with her holistic therapy.
“I have seen my patients with blood pressure and depression getting great relief. I have seen a lot of thyroid patients benefitting holistically. So many people with back injuries, muscle problems and weight loss issues have benefited. It just helps the body to respond better to the medication.”
Dr Mariam is extremely happy about the wider acceptance that yoga and meditation are receiving across the world. “When I travel, I don’t stop my class. Whether it is in Turkey, Russia or Italy, I Google and I see at least 10 yoga studios nearby.”