Yoga, pregnancy, childbirth and Morocco Part 2

I am finding the dynamics of women in Morocco who are active and want to remain active and healthy during their pregnancies, and doctors who cautiously put many women on bed rest interesting and a bit confusing. I think there must either be some grave conditions that are prevalent here that cause such a strict approach, or simply a contradiction in how pregnancy is viewed and how women’s bodies are viewed compared to the USA. Clearly the cultural differences are intense and dramatic. One childbirth practice that is common to both Morocco and the USA is frequent Cesarean Section Deliveries.

I am totally supportive of women having C sections when there is good reason to have one. But my skepticism comes partially from the historical and present pattern of the medical world not listening to women’s knowledge of their bodies or not believing them when they are providing important information for apt treatment. (See this article). I like to believe that most doctors are constantly working to improve their abilities to keep people alive and well. But, there are still issues that need to be examined both globally scale and within communities regarding the the treatment of mothers during childbirth.

In Morocco, women seem to be thought to be extra feeble when pregnant.  In the USA pregnancy is literally considered a condition as a defect or cancer. It is amazing that the state of gestating a human is considered to be essentially an illness or handicap. This dynamic could easily lay the groundwork for women to be disbelieved or forced into doing something that might not be ideal.There is a well documented historical pattern in occidental medicine of male doctors using their “scientific” knowledge to reduce women’s understanding of their bodies. (Even more so for people and women of color).

Not very long ago, doctors in the USA would put women in a twilight state during birth to avoid extra trauma. My grandmother was an experienced nurse and trusted the wisdom of doctors like it was a second bible. However, when it came time to deliver her second child (my mother), she declined the twilight state; she wanted to be aware of her child’s birth. Her refusal went so far that she said she fought the doctors and resisted, but ultimately the medicine was administered to her and she was put under anyway. It was, they said, for her own good. Most doctors today, I believe, would agree that this was an error in procedure. Women are even usually kept awake during a C section.

Issues with delivery persist even today . While some women in more developed or affluent situations are  rushed into and sometimes request cesarean section deliveries when they might not be advised, in places where women have no access to this procedure may very well die from lack of a life saving C section or suffer from birth injuries like fistulae. (For more information check out the book, Half the Sky which brilliantly postulates that the introduction of a basic cesarean section to a midwife or who ever assists with the birth process in that locality can potentially save thousands of women.) As a developing country where not every citizen has access to health care, Morocco is a place where both dynamics occur: women needing medical intervention and being essentially violated by medical intervention. Neither option is optimal.

my mother, Martha just after I. was born via Cesarean Section in Philadelphia.

In the USA, the C section rate appears to be about 30%.  As I have been doing some research figuring out the rates of C section in Morocco are rather more complex. As a developing country, Morocco has statistically a lower incidence of C sections. That number does not square up with what I hear is happening in Casablanca. A good friend who has lived in Casablanca for a long time and gave birth to her daughter here, told me that she estimates the rate of C-Section births to be in the range of 99.9%. She in among that 99.9% and has only met one woman who was permitted to give birth vaginally. The alarming rates of C-section are also interesting when you consider that bed rest is a common practice. In the USA, the use of bed rest to treat a condition during pregnancy is very rare. I have been frequently told that if I have a choice, I should go to the USA should I get pregnant.

Another friend told me that her doctor would not permit her to continue to attempt her birth naturally simply because if something were to go wrong, she was afraid she would not have the support or resources to maintain the health of mother and child. It is surprising that a doctor would prefer to preform surgery, which can carry any number of risks, than allow perfectly healthy women to labor. The reason this doctor gave is much more comforting than doctors trying to make more money and expidite the birth.

Melinda Erickson, baby Nayara in her belly. Melinda is a Professora of Capoeira, a Yoga and AcroYoga teacher in Charlotte, NC.

Melinda Erickson, baby Nayara in her belly. Melinda is a Professora of Capoeira, a Yoga and AcroYoga teacher in Charlotte, NC.

One Moroccan woman was aghast when I told her considering the prevalance of C sections here,  I would personally prefer to give birth in the USA. Her opinion of the care for women here in Morocco is quite high. It was the first time someone had encouraged me to attempt pregancy/birth in Morocco. Then, I learned that her father is an OB/GYN. She also pointed out that giving birth here is much less expensive than it is in the USA. She is absolutely right. According to the International Federation of Health Plans, delivery alone costs an average $10,000 in the US, while a Caesarean delivery costs over $15,000. (BBC article). Interestingly, at a birth center, the cost of a low risk birth averages around one third the cost of birth in a hospital. It also seems entirely possible that Doctors in Morocco prefer to put women under the knife instead of allowing them to birth naturally because they can then charge more money and move on more quickly to the next patient.  It appears that doctors have forgotten that Cesarean Section is major surgery.

“Frequently there is more Danger from the Physician, than from the Distemper … but sometimes notwithstanding the Male Practice, Nature gets the better of the Doctor, and the Patient recovers.” Dr. Douglass, a physician from the 18th century.

Douglass was referring to Male Practice as opposed to the practice of primarily female healers in the United States who predate the establishment of Medicine in many areas of the US.While this quote discusses the fatality rate of colonial surgery, there are still risks to surgery today. When this is true, why make a healthy woman undergo surgery when she is delivering a healthy baby?

The risks of Cesarean Section include:

  • Infection.
  • Heavy blood loss.
  • A blood clot in the legs or lungs.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and severe headache after the delivery (related to anesthesia and the abdominal procedure).
  • Bowel problems, such as constipation or when the intestines stop moving waste material normally (ileus).
  • Injury to another organ (such as the bladder). This can occur during surgery.
  • Maternal death (very rare). About 2 in 100,000 cesareans result in maternal death.1

Cesarean risks for the infant include:

Medical care for pregnant women at this juncture seems like food that is over abundant and rotting in one place while populations starve in another. I can respect that doctors everywhere must do their best to keep mother and child safe and healthy in the delivery process and during pregnancy. I am not a doctor and am not an expert in any way, however, as a woman who can choose where she will give birth (and in that I am extremely privileged), I feel better that I can choose a natural method if possible, and have medical help if needed.

It would benefit us as a global community to entertain a real discussion of how we view pregnancy, how that view of pregnancy relates to the biological reality, how to best support and treat pregnant women, and how to make medical care available for women who need it regardless of economic/geographic/socio-political restrictions. We must get past this system of distrusting women and dictating  what is for their own good and actually use our knowledge to support the natural process.


Creating a safe space for Sadhana

I was just looking at a great website  you should check it out. I am really glad media like this exist. This website and some great articles there have gotten me thinking about how welcoming the studios I work in make space for students and for teachers. Making a safe space in the yoga classroom is so very crucial to the process. So, I want to start off by voicing my “skinny girl” support of “fat yoga”. Before you start telling me how unhealthy obesity is, you can save your breath, I agree a healthy lifestyle is crucial to EVERYONE. However, being healthy does not mean being skinny.

Do you remember the first time you said something awful about someone else and realised it? I must have been about ten or eleven; just beginning to care about what people thought about how I looked. I saw a girl who I thought was ugly and I said something mean about her to my mother. I didn’t ridicule her, she was several meters away, and I think it was the first time I said something like that on purpose. I was usually the kid who got teased, not the kid who teased. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but it stemmed from my own fear of not being accepted: being unattractive, uninteresting, uncool, you know, all those things pre-teen girls worry about. (Which is not to dismiss the importance of those things to a young person’s mind). My mother turned to me sternly and said:

“That was not fair, she cannot help the way she looks. How would you feel if someone said something like that about you?” When she said that, I remembered how often I heard my mother criticise herself, or saw her navigating her own feelings about her body. I knew how awfully painful it was to watch her feel so bad for absolutely no reason. I was ashamed at myself and frankly relieved that my mom told me I was under no circumstances to speak of anyone in that way, whatever mean thought might appear in my head. Her reproach felt so true. I also realised that if I had had the urge to say something awful about another girl’s appearance, she probably heard those things from a multitude of other people. I then thought about how hurtful that must be for her, to be judged based on her appearance. If it is unacceptable to judge people based on color, or height, or gender, nose prominence, finger nail length or ear lobe shape, than it most certainly MUST be unacceptable to judge people based on their weight. I relate this story because this lesson really should be something we teach our children and learn as children. Yet, somehow, the world of westernised yoga insists on clinging to exclusivity and prejudice.

Not so long ago a fellow yoga teacher and friend who was visiting me from the UK and I walked into a yoga studio where I was teaching. She and I had met in University where we were dancing together, and she was continuing her work as a dancer and choreographer in London. She is also a voluptuous woman who is in great shape. I introduced her to the studio owner as my friend who is also a yoga teacher. “Oh,” he said, “really?” as he looked her up and down. I was horrified and wanting him to realise that he was being ridiculous responded. “yes, she is amazing!” (and it’s true, she is). When we were alone in the changing room she commented about the interaction, we were both totally shocked at this rude and utterly inappropriate moment. I apologised for him. I felt responsible as she was my guest and also dismayed that one yoga teacher and owner of a space for yoga would be so quick to pass judgement on anther teacher. How can the studio be a safe space if we don’t affirm that our teachers come in all packages? How can we allow our students to be at ease if we are not tolerant of every body?

We all pass judgement on each other. We do this daily. We are all a bit racist/sexist/homophbic/agist/you name it ist/ic. Humans like to categorize and our cultural context has an impact, weather we like to think it does or not. The whole point of a yoga practice is to liberate one’s self from the shackles of “reality” in its most mundane form. It is to clear the way for wholeness, to reconnect our subtle self, our thoughts, our souls, to our bodies. How can we possibly do that if we do not examine our own issues as teachers and allow ourselves to see beyond what the web of cultural context dictates?

Here are some ways I believe we can cultivate a safe space for our students to practice and teachers to transmit and grow.

  1. Make the studio space open and warm to everyone who walks in the door, whatever their state when they arrive. Including fellow students. Including yourself. Teach and act in a way that helps students to feel better about themselves, not worse.Yoga students come in every shape, size, color, and background. Our job as teachers is to facilitate growth for all students. Sometimes yoga students become yoga teachers, therefor, yoga teachers also come in every shape, size, color, and background. Not all yoga teachers are skinny white girls, as more and more people are pointing out. Not all yoga teachers can do inversions. Not all yoga teachers have a perfect bill of health mentally or physically. We come to yoga because we are broken, and that experience of being broken makes us better teachers.
  2. Teach with love. It sounds super corny, I know. It was one of the best pieces of advice I got from a fellow teacher who was much more experienced and much wiser than I. I had just started teaching in an elementary school, and he said, you have to love them, especially the troublemakers. They can sense bull shit, so never bull shit them, but you have to teach with love. If a student is irritating you, and yes, yoga teachers can become irritated too, that student is your new teacher. This irritation is either pointing out something you must conquer in yourself or helping you to become a better teacher. Be kind to all your students.
  3.  Pay attention to signs of eating disorders and don’t feed the fire.  I do not compliment people on loosing weight, nor do I comment on gaining weight. I tell people when they seem happy, or glowing. I tell them they are beautiful and radiant. I praise them for asking questions. I am not being mean by not recognising how hard a student tries to “get healthy”, I would rather see them attain full health regardless of size.
  4. Be aware of students boundaries, some times students really don’t want to be/can’t handle being touched in adjustments or in savasana. If a student has experienced significant trauma, certain imagery or touch can trigger a host of emotions and memories. This article has some great pointers about that, but generally it is a good idea to ask before you touch, and respect a student’s right to decline physical contact. Also, encourage, but don’t force someone to go further in a pose than they are ready to attempt.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” You are on a journey, just like everyone else. There will be times when you don’t know what to do, say or don’t have an answer to a question. Be honest. Use what you know to provide pertinent information, and otherwise tell the truth and then GO DO RESEARCH. It is amazing what you can learn with a simple google search. This is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you are willing to grow.

I may add things to this list, maybe you can think of some that I didn’t think of. Have a great weekend.

Yogini’s guide to Casablanca for tourists part 2

*Dress Code * Vegetarians * Language *Taxis * Kids*

I started putting this in the first post, then I realised it might be better just to make a part 2. Just some details about how to be in Casa when you are here. I also added information about a hotel I have stayed in and like and about the beach on the first post so check it out if you didn’t catch it.
Dress Code and other good to know – for women

You may have learned this already, but just so you aren’t nervous (I know the western media is not the best resource when it comes to what you can expect in a Muslim country), in big cities like Casablanca, you can wear whatever you want.

 That said, you should be aware that what you wear may attract more attention than you desire. A good rule of thumb is layers, and try to keep your shoulders and knees covered. You do NOT need to cover your head, which you will figure out the moment you arrive. Not all Moroccan women cover their heads. You will most likely have some…admirers/irritations no matter what, weather it is men cat calling you or following you on foot, sometimes in their cars. Best thing to do is to ignore them, they are like kindergarteners who think that negative attention is at least attention so I should keep going. If you get really frustrated with a guy following you a useful word to know in Darija – Moroccan Arabic – is ma (like “mat” with out the “t”) lik (pronounced like “lick”) and it is said like one word (which I think it is) m3alik I think is how you actually spell it. This literally means what is wrong with you. Say it angrily and firmly, usually they go away. Again, best practice is ignore first.

Should you goto another city, know that in the North, especially in smaller cities, the people tend to be more traditional. You might want to dress a little bit more conservatively. When we visit family in a small city called Beni Mellal I dress much more conservatively, long pants, long skirts, loose shirts, no clevage. In Marrakech, especially in the Medina where most tourists like to be, I don’t hesitate to wear a tank top, there are simply so many tourists that I don’t stick out even with my light skin reflecting the light in their faces.

I usually keep a big scarf with me even if I am in a tank top because then I can quickly cover up if I am feeling uncomfortable .

You will be fine. 🙂


The best Moroccan food has meat. Sad, but true. If you eat fish, there are awesome fish tagines available a lot of the time. Couscous is often made with smen, which is rancid butter, not unlike ghee. Loubia is a white bean stew usually with a tomato base, and in my experience is Veggie/Vegan friendly. Rafissa is a delicious lentil stew, but it is made with chicken. If you are a flexible vegetarian, you can get away with eating around the chicken then chow down. It has mesemmen in it which is a delicious crepe. Mezze type dishes are often veggie friendly. Zalouk is an eggplant dish which is super yummy. You can often find vegetarian options at hotels and hostels. I have found them not to be super filling. Often, there are corner stores and folks selling freshly roasted almonds, if you need a little more heft in your tummy those are a great way to feel satiated.



Many people here speak English. Almost all speak French. If you go North you will find that Spanish is way more prevalent than French. Moroccan Arabic is very different from Standard Arabic. People are generally very friendly and happy to help if they can.


It is the LAW that red taxis put on the meter for you. You can make a deal with them about the fare, and it is normal for them to charge a surcharge if you have a heavy bag. Taxi fares start at 2 dirhams during the day and 3 at night and then the meter runs from there. The minimum fare for a red taxi during the day is 7.50 MAD and at night is 10 MAD. If the cab driver did not turn on the meter, just point and smile and ask them to please turn it on. If you want to be charitable, these guys aren’t getting a lot of money from their work, you can be generous, but that is up to you. Tipping taxi drivers is not a normal practice here, and sometimes it has blown up in my face. Occasionally if you give them more they then think they can get more out of you. 😦 You will most likely have a difficult/horrific cab experience, just think of it as an adventure and congrats, you have now truly experienced Casablanca in all its glory!!!! Hopefully you will only have sweet and kind drivers, they are out there and are a real joy to ride with.

Red taxis can take up to 3 adults. You will most likely share a cab with others going in your direction. Don’t be surprised or upset, it is ok.

One thing I love about Moroccan society is how chill people are with their kids. If a mother thinks you look trustworthy, you may have a child thrust into your arms while she runs to the bathroom. It is ok to interact with children, in a Moroccan home it is usually expected.

Some kids on the street are selling things, you do not have to buy them, you can if you want.

Once again thanks for reading, and I hope you found this helpful!

Kayla Ankeny, SahajaSoma

Yogini’s guide to Casablanca – for tourists

Let me be frank, Casablanca is not the “best” city in Morocco for tourists. It is very much a working city. It is home to one of the most important ports in Africa, and is a major centre of commerce for Northern Africa. Casablanca is home to over 4 million people (it was 4 million in 2012). There is constant construction and new business ventures being launched here. Indeed, when you arrive in this famous and bustling city (which, should you travel by plane to Morocco you very well may), you will likely notice that the magic you imagined of Morocco and the romance of the famous film are far from apparent. IMG_4475 So, before you go writing off Casablanca and continue on to your next destination for your Moroccan adventure, check out these highlights. You may find that the magic of this city is that it is a diamond in the rough. (Come on ’90’s kids, you feel me?)

Here are the fun and interesting things I like to do with my friends when the come to visit me in Casablanca.

  1.  Yoga!!!!! There are two great yoga studios I personally recommend, and one you might even be able to stay at! Yogablanca is a charming yoga studio situated in the heart of Gautier. It specialises in Kundalini, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha and Pre-natal Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates. Forgot your mat? Don’t IMG_7360worry, you can use a mat for free, and savour licorice Yogi Tea after class and chat with the teachers and students almost all of whom speak English. Om Yoga is a much larger studio situated near the beach. It is in an old villa and they occasionally have rooms to rent to students/travelers. This studio offers Aerial Yoga, Ashtanga, Bikram, Yin, Hatha, Pilates, Floor Barre and a wealth of other classes. They also have massage and facials available, I’m told there is also a juice bar in the works. This studio also functions as a retreat centre should you wish to hold a yoga event in Casablanca. 🙂
  2. Touristy things!!!!!! Casablanca’s Medina (old city) is not the most exciting as medinas go. You won’t feel like you stepped into 1001 Nights or the Bible as you will in Marrakech or Fes, but it is interesting in its modernity. This Medina is not just made for YOU, it is a working
    and vibrant market place. You will find souvenirs and traditional crafts and apothecaries right night to a guy selling lingerie. I love to bring friends here just to feel it out. You should also check out the Mosque Hassan II.  It is the only mosque a non muslim can visit in Morocco, and you should take advantage of the opportunity. There are tours that are not expensive in most major languages.Even if you can’t make the tour schedule work for you, go walk around and just see the outside. You won’t regret it.
    The last touristy place I recommend is The Habbous, this is where you should shop and explore. You will feel like you stepped into another time. It is clean, quiet and safe. This “medina” was made to appeal to tourists. It is also right next to the king’s palace. While in the Habbous you should check out Pâtisserie Bennis Habousthey make the best baklava I’ve had in Casa. Sample and take some back to your hotel. 😉 I didn’t put this on the map, but there is also a fantastic Museum of Jewish History a good friend of mine, Yona does tours there. To find out more information, click here. It can be hard to find, but if you get in touch with Yona or the Museum you should be fine.
  3. Yummy food – If you want to taste amazing Moroccan food in a beautiful place, you must head to Sqala, breakfast, lunch and dinner are all a real treat. Their juices are also quite good. Sqala is a former fort on the coast of the atlantic. It is right near the Medina. A trip to Casablanca would not be complete without stopping by Rick’s Café. Rick’s is a special spot for me. It is pretty quiet, not too smokey and very relaxing. While it was not around during World War II, the décor was carefully researched and chosen by the owner to be appropriate for that era. The food at Rick’s is pretty good, and the drinks are quite enjoyable. (I often just go to Ricks for a drink after dinner, the drinks come with olives and almonds to snack on). If you want to go to a bar that was around during WWII and probably saw the sorts of events from the famous movie, Casablanca, you should take a jaunt over to Le Titan.
    Le Titan is a very down to earth spot for a cheap beer, they have some nice snacks. It is very easy to make friends at Titan, as it is one of the bars where artists and intellectuals like to hang. Another great hangout for  is La Cigale this spot is quite close to Yogablanca. La cigale is owned by an older gentleman who, as my friend Kenza describes is a real Moroccan grandpa. He likes to sit out in the morning with his arabic newspaper, and he often welcomes his guests with a warm smile. Like Titan, the beer is cheap, food is ok, it might get smokey but the music is always great and the vibe is enjoyable. Once again this is a great place to be surrounded by some of Casablanca’s most interesting folks.
  4. Entertainment – there are a number of clubs to goto, but I am focusing on what love about my adopted city. L’étoile du Plazza is the only place in Casa I know of that has traditional music played live every night. Usually it is Gnaoua, sometimes it is Arabic, either way, feast your ears and have a drink. You must eat with your drink here. Check the video above if you don’t know what Gnaoua is, this is a pretty calm song, but it is a nice one.
  5. Hammam – I didn’t put this on the map either, but you should goto Hammam, a steam bath and scrub, before you leave Morocco. I like to goto Bain Gautier. It is just north of Yogablanca on Jean Jaures, and it is clean and the service is pretty good. You will leave feeling so clean. If you are in a hotel, you can always ask them for recommendations. Gautier is about 70 MAD for gommage, the scrub, and it is clean but not fancy.
  6. Surfing and the beach – The beach in Casablanca is often very crowded. Ladies, you can wear your bikini, be ready to ignore interested men asking you for your number or “just trying to talk”. Go with a friend if you can. Also, there are numerous beach clubs where you can pay to have a little more privacy, plus access to a pool and showers. If you have access to a car you can take a quick trip to Bouznika or Dar Bouazza. These beaches tend to be cleaner and less crowded. There are surf schools along the Corniche in Casa. I haven’t tried any of them, my hubby and I usually go with friends to Jack’s Surf School in Dar Bouazza. I like Jack’s a lot and it appears to be very popular. I have friends who go surfing in Casablanca and enjoy themselves, so give it a try! the prices are reasonable and the teachers are friendly in my experience. I hope to update this soon with more info regarding surfing.

Places to stay

I am sadly not an expert about this, beyond Om Yoga, I only have one other place that I can recommend. The Hôtel Bellerive is on the corniche. It is quiet, calm, and has a beautiful view of the Atlantic. It is also very affordable in my opinion. There is something quite lovely about escaping the cacophony of the city to wake up to a unencumbered view of the ocean. Breakfast is included, there is also free Wifi.

  I found the staff kind and helpful. I came to this hotel after a horrific night in another hotel in the center of Casa that was filthy (even though it looked clean it stank and the couches had holes from cigarettes in them) and I am pretty sure is a spot where men take hookers. So, I was relieved to find a spot as clean and relaxing as Bellerive.


Great, you say, how do I get there? If it is sunny you might be able to walk around the Medina to some of the places close to there, but your best bet is to take a red taxi (aka petit taxi). Here are some more directions for places that are harder to find.

  • Yogablanca – take a red taxi to Boulevard d’Anfa, ask them to goto the KFC. Walk down the little street/alley to the left of the KFC and you will see at the end of the street Yoka Sushi, Yogablanca is on the third floor of that building.
  • Om Yoga – take a red taxi to the Megarama in Anfa. You will see a roundabout walk on the Boulevard Atlantique away from the Megarama (Movie theater) and at the first street take a left. There should be a store called Villa Antalya there. Once again take the first left and follow rue Golfe du Comores as it winds, Om will be on your right about half way down the street.
  • The Medina – take a red taxi to the Medina, if they want more specifics say Bab Marraksh.
  • The Habbous – this one can be a pain to get to. Once again red taxi to the Habbous, but be aware the driver might not want to go there just because it will take him a while. Good luck, it is worth it.
  • Rick’s Café – Ask for Sour Jdid if they don’t know where it is by name
  • L’étoile du plazza is right near the Hippodrome, so ask for that, they might know it or be able to help you when you get there. This isn’t hard to find.
  • Le Titan  is at 20000, 33 Boulevard Hassan Seghir, Casablanca 20000, Morocco, you can take a cab to Marché Central it is near there.
  • La Cigale is right near the Parc La Ligue Arabe, but most cab drivers know it as Parc Yasmina. This is the address: 10, bd Brahim Roudani, Sidi Belyout 20000, Morocco

After Casa

Frankly, the best is yet to come. Casa Voyageurs has trains that goto most major cities. If you only have a week, I would either do Fes or Marrakech. As a general rule of thumb for Morocco either explore the north or the south, unless you are renting a car or have a few weeks to adventure. I know, it doesn’t look that big, but it is. If you go someplace where you need to take a bus, remember that the bus will have to travel to multiple cities and may not be able to take one of the not so numerous highways. Take a train if you can. Know that bus drivers will stop for lengthy breaks and won’t come looking for you to let you know that they finished their lunch or dinner, so be aware of which bus is yours and when your driver is heading back to it. If you want to party, goto Marrakech, the energy is insane. If you want a more spiritual experience, check out Fes, it is a really special city. I highly recommend Funky Fes hostel.

Bon Voyage!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment!!!!!

Kayla Ankeny, SahajaSoma