Karachi Yogini

Yoga for Life!

Praying in Hyde Park May 31, 2010

Filed under: And the Journey begins...,spirituality — yogini786 @ 7:36 pm

I arrived last night in London after a 10 hour journey from Karachi and when I got out at the airport it felt like I had never traveled before to the West. I guess this year has been so transformative that i’m seeing everything with a new set of eyes, a new sense of awareness.  Waiting for me at arrival was a man holding a sign with my name…  my friend, Nadia, had arranged the pick up, an Afghani taxi driver, who calls everyone darling:)  The sun was just setting and I was itching to have a smoke!  My lighter had been taken in Karachi airport so I had to wait until my final destination to have one! 

Seeing Nadia, as always is amazing.  She is one of the few people I know who has this contagious energy, always smiling with fun just written all over her face.  We went upstairs to her typical to London, tiny studio apartment, with a double bed bunk.  She told me she was worried about her cousin, Abbas, a journalist for Gulf News, who had left yesterday on Freedom Fotilla, a ship taking aid to Gaza.  Israel had issued warnings that they were going to block this ship from reaching Gaza.  

We woke up this morning to the news that the ship Abbas is on was attacked by the Israeli army and 16 people have been killed.  To now we have no news from Abbas, but have heard that the ship will be docking in Israeli shores shortly.  Hoping and praying for his safety we started our day by walking to Hyde Park.  Thinking in my mind that London meant the Caribbean I only came with tanks and tracks, yet the cold numbing breeze reminded me that I should have checked the weather before leaving!  

Nadia and I went through a short yoga routine and then we sat down to meditate and pray.  I find that whenever something is on my mind, and I am stressed, praying helps me focus and channel my energy to a positive place.  So we prayed for Abbas.  For God to protect him and give him strength.  To send him our love and patience.   If you’re reading this take a moment to think of all the people who are on that boat and send them your love and prayers.  May we hear of their safety soon.  



Update: Heard from Abbas on Monday night – he is safely returning to Dubai.  http://gulfnews.com/news/region/palestinian-territories/gulf-news-reporter-abbas-to-be-deported-tuesday-1.635236


Tuning in… May 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,Yoga @ the Women's Jail — yogini786 @ 12:12 am

So it all started one random day I was sitting with my good friend, and my first yoga student (or should I say guinea pig!) talking as usual about how yoga has helped me so much.  But I felt that I needed to share yoga with people who really can’t afford to go to classes and also people who would really benefit from practicing…in conversation the idea of the central prison for women in Karachi came up…my friend asked would I be ok with going to a place like that?

Immediately I had a flashback of my first visit to Sojourn House in Toronto.  A rehabilitation shelter for homeless men with addictions.  After going there not once but many times I didn’t think any place could intimidate me!

Ofcourse I said, though a part of me was nervous – was I ready to do this?  Did I even know what kind of Yoga to do?  I thought it would take months before the actual logistics would work out, but to my surprise after my first contact with the retired Judge (who runs the legal aid office adjacent to the women’s and young men’s jail) I started classes exactly 1 week later.   This was now, hard to believe, 8 months a go!

I did not know what to expect and really did not have a lot of time to prepare but I knew that I just had to let it all happen organically and from my heart.  There were close to 80 women, 20 children, half Pakistani, half foreign.  My first class was a circus with 20 women in it, and about 30 watching.  The kids who could walk and talk were excitedly running around! Women who were watching, passed comments, talked, and made lots of noise.  But thanks to the wagon full of social work group skills I had learned I knew that this was just a test.  And in the end I knew I had passed with my broken Urdu and all:)

Weeks and months have gone by and now these women and their children have become a part of my life. A part of the answer which I was so desperately searching for.   And every week they give me something to smile about, a new story to share, and a new lesson to learn, while giving me a consistent dose of inspiration.  Amazingly though every person I have come into contact with at the jail has repeatedly asked me the SAME question:  Hum paiyt kasay kum karsak te hain?? (How do I get rid of the flab on my stomach?) Ha ha!

This week a new student joined the class and she almost did the crow on the first try! Its interesting to see the change just in the first hour and I’ve sort of developed a sense for those who will continue with the practice and those who won’t.  From being a little tough, self-conscious, at times even half joking, the women who join become soft, vulnerable, strong, and hopeful by the end of class.  It’s not always easy I have to confess.  Feel like the outpouring comes from so many women for so many things that as one person I can’t fulfill.  So if you are inspired, and want to give something, remember these women at the jail.  You can even donate a yoga mat its only 675 rs (around $7.50).


Cleansing your Chakras May 20, 2010

Filed under: Chakra Love,Yoga Class — yogini786 @ 5:19 pm

So what is a chakra?  All my life I had thought in terms of energy and I thought I was crazy so I kept it to myself.  Then one day last year I got my first introduction to this whole amazing way of looking at our body, our soul, and our mind.

Suddenly I had a vocabulary to go with my feelings!  Thanks to my cousin who got me an Iphone application called the Chakra deck and again to my guinea pig first students I started this journey of working through yoga to cleanse our chakras.

A chakra, very simply, is a wheel of energy . They begin from  the base of our spine and move on to the top of our head.  Most agree that there are 7 major chakras, which are now my most intimate friends. I know their colors, their sounds, their fears, and strengths.  I also know through the Anatomy of the Spirit, what lessons we need to learn from them. The goal is to have balance within and between our chakras.  Over time some become severely blocked, while others expand.  With our chakras out of balance we can’t really feel healthy, happy and alive and our ability to make decisions that are positive for us and those around us is greatly affected.

So today my lovely friend, L, came to my yoga class.  I think I’m due for my monthly period so my body was exhausted and negative emotions and thoughts were clouding over since the morning.  I was really not feeling up to teaching a class but in walked L and it seemed like it may be just the 2 of us today.  So she had been wanting to do a chakra cleanse and I hadn’t done a class like that in a long long while so I thought why not?

Another one of my advanced students walked in 10 minutes late.  So we got into the flow.  First going through 5 Surya Namaskar A’s then 3 B’s with a few balance poses we got all nice and sweaty.

Coming to the floor we started with the base of our spine the root chakra:

color – red.  feeling safe, grounded, and secure.

body rolls in a seated position, starting from our left side, imagine the red energy from the earth flowing into your body.  let go of all of your fears about your physical safety.  fears about money and the future.  accept everyone in your life just as they are.

(remember to take 2-3 breathes between each exercise either in comfortable seated position or child’s pose just observing how you feel and how that particular chakra feels)

sacral chakra:

color – orange.  feeling positive about our sexuality and creativity.

camel pose.  visualize the chakra 4 inches above the base of your spine.  let go of any negative feelings you have towards others and negative feelings about relationships.  let go of any shame.  honor everyone in your life.

navel chakra:

color – yellow.  our self-esteem, personality, our personal power and also where our core strength lies

boat pose.  feel like the sun lives in your stomach.  feel its rays flow through your body.  let go of any negative thoughts you have about yourself.  any insecurities replace them with positive thoughts, love and kindness.  be gentle with yourself.  feel that powerful energy move through you.  Honor yourself so you can learn to love.

heart chakra:

color – green.  love, forgiveness, selflessness, compassion

twist (while lying down is my favorite way).  feel your heart centre open up.  let the energy flow through to your finger tips.  imagine the colors of leaves and grass moving through your body.  let go of anyone or anything that has hurt you in the past.  send love to all the difficult things you have in life.  love is the only divine emotion we feel.

throat chakra:

color – blue. truth, honesty, communication, willpower

shoulder stand, the queen of all yoga poses.  focus your energy on your throat centre.  let go of anything you said or someone said to you that hurt you.  submit your will to the will of the universe.  let it be your source of faith.  feel your body balance.

third eye chakra:

color – indigo. intuition, instinct, knowing the unknown.

kneeling yoga mudra.  press your forehead into the mat.  feel the energy between your eyebrows.  trust yourself, your inner voice. always seek the truth.

crown chakra:

color – purple or white.  connection to the divine, spirituality, highest source of energy.

headstand.  the king of all yoga poses. feel all the energy collecting at the top of your head.  let go of any negative thoughts about religion, about faith, any anger towards God or the divine.  live in the present moment. feel bliss as soon as you connect to this centre.

aura: mix of all your beautiful colors.

there is an energy field around us that extends few feet beyond our bodies.  the best way for me to describe what an aura is how you feel when someone walks into a room.  a person who may have a large positive aura will make you feel good as soon as you meet them.  and a person who has a small constricted aura with dark areas will make you feel like, hmmm there’s something I don’t like about this person.  In fact auras are how we connect with others.  Its how we communicate who we are at an energetic level, and we all have the ability to read auras.  It is part of our instinctive behaviors.  And this instinct protects us.

So cleaning our chakras leads to an overall cleanse of our aura.  making it brighter, lighter, and depending on how you feel it may even feel like you are expanding your aura.

Aura Cleanse

I love this exercise where you sit down comfortably, stretch your arms to the side, lifting your arms to meet over your head and then bring them back down to the ground.  Repeat this for at least a minute and you start feeling this energy build up in your chest, shoulders and back.  Imagine this energy like electricity moving from out of your fingertips and energizing your aura.  when you’re done interlace your fingers and stretch them above your head.  then bring your hands down.  interlace your fingers behind your back and fold forward.

Now its time for Shavasana (Corpse’s Pose)! Lying down just relax your body and mind.  Revisit the chakra (s) that you felt low energy in  – send your breathe there to energize them and ask for help to balance and heal them. Spend at least 7 minutes just absorbing what your body and mind has done.

Waking yourself up gently come to a seated prayer position – thank yourself for your practice and believe in your power to heal yourself.  Slowly open your eyes.

Because this routine works at a deep level to cleanse your energy it may bring things out such as difficult memories, so make sure you are kind to yourself.  It’s a process so whatever is coming up is totally ok, in a way I think it is our way of letting go of whatever we were holding on to in the various chakras. Anytime it gets too overwhelming remember things change every moment – so this too will pass.

Love & Peace!


Namaste! Salaam! Khushamadeed! May 18, 2010

Filed under: And the Journey begins...,poetry,Yoga In Karachi — yogini786 @ 1:26 pm

My first post.  I’m actually doing something I thought i’d never do and i’m still a little scared to start.

Let go.  That is the first thing I learned from yoga.  So here I am letting go of another fear. People reading my thoughts and ideas without me being able to see their expression!

In a few weeks I’ll be traveling to Mexico to start a new chapter in my journey since I found yoga.  Yet I wanted to start this blog by paying tribute to my city, my blog name, and the way in which Karachi made me into a yogini:)

I’ve lived many lives.  I’ve felt that for as long as I can remember.  And there is something about this life, being from Karachi, that makes everything so much more interesting.

I left home for 10 years, knowing in my heart i’d be back one day, but always trying to control and plan it in a way that would make sense.  I had a husband, a mortgage, a job, benefits, a whole life in another universe but I could never escape the ties I felt to the only place I felt at home: Karachi.

Karachi came back to me in the most unexpected of ways and in a tormented year of pain and unanswered questions.  I was scared.  So scared that I couldn’t think anything but how do I turn back time.

But this city just turned me inside out once again.  It amazed me with its madness, it introduced me to its quirkiness, and I fell in love.  Yet, falling in love again with Karachi only happened because of an incredible gift from God: yoga.

I couldn’t start a blog without giving this city the credit it deserves.  For being my friend. For being more than a place where I live but a place where I find the mysteries of life unravel just to ravel up again once more.

This city has only given me

I breathe in its massiveness
I swim in its crowded corners
I laugh in its neverending breeze

This city of my dreams
of my constant interrogation of life
of the quietness between heartbeats
and the cacophany of my mind

peace within and without where
This city leads me
to a God unknown
living in each space of reality

I trudge, trip and fall
Loving all my wounds
This city embraces me.