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Arabs Abroad – Rima Rabbath

Reem Al-Gharabally

July 1, 2015

If you plan to attend Rima Rabbath’s yoga class at the Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York City, you better turn up early to get a spot. The granddaughter of Edmond Rabbath, the acclaimed Lebanese jurist and writer, is one of New York City’s most popular yoga teachers with an average class size of 70 people every time she teaches.

Her regulars say, despite the large numbers, she has the uncanny ability to remember everyone’s name and we wondered if she has a special trick. She laughs and says in her characteristically husky voice, “I don’t think of myself as someone who has a visual memory, but when someone tells me their name I very sincerely and genuinely try to be present at least for the moment they are giving me their name and it somehow gets recorded in my memory.”

She considers herself one of the luckiest yoga teachers in the world because many of the people in her class are regulars who attend up to four times a week. She adds, “There is nothing like walking into a class at the Jivamukti Yoga center in New York City and knowing almost everyone there and the energy that emanates from 76 people not minding having no space between the mats because they understand the only space they need is within themselves.”

She admits she has never read any of her famous grandfather’s books. Edmond Rabbath is well known for his writings on Pan-Arab unity and one of the architects and commentators of the Lebanese constitution.

“He lived on the ground floor of the building where I grew up – politics and intellectual discussion and books were very much part of the environment. I have some of his books in French and in Arabic but they are very dense.”

Despite her family’s intellectual credentials Rima was drawn to sports and played competitive tennis for most of her teenage years, the discipline from which she says she applied to her yoga practice later in life.

She has lived in New York City for the past 20 years, first working as a marketing consultant with Colgate-Palmolive until she discovered yoga. Her destiny unfolded and she stepped into her role as one of the city’s most sought after yoga teachers.

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