Each week, up to 60 ladies arrive at the Richmond Hill, Ontario space with their mats tucked under their arms, ready to stretch and sweat, swapping hijabs and long-sleeves for headbands and tank-tops. “The amount of women that wanted to participate was unbelievable,” says Fatima Jessa, who organized this hot yoga class. Jessa loved the movements, but found the heat too challenging with her head and arms covered. She also thought women in her community would attend a women-only class if they could practice without their religious garments.
After that initial class two months ago, Jessa approached Kris Mukherjee, owner of the Bikram Yoga studio, about offering a weekly male-free class for Muslim women. Many Muslim women seek support and resources to keep active without “losing integrity,” Jessa says. Some who sign up for this yoga class also attend all-female gyms such as Prima Donna Fitness and GoodLife Fitness for Women. Others are members of YMAA, which offers basketball, soccer, golf, hockey and Pilates.