Karachi Yogini

Yoga for Life!

my two hearts October 29, 2010

i sat today in peace, after only a day of not meditating, i felt immense gratitude for dragging my lazy body out of bed this morning to do what now it is accustomed and loves to do.

a poem inspired by today’s quiet:

there are 2 hearts within me,

a mother and a child

mother is like

a deep blue sea

an infinite horizon

the last few minutes of the sunset

the blanket of stars

the full moon beam

wise eyes

a warm smile

and

arms that hold peace

the child is like

a brave soldier with a tender heart

bold and timid

strong and gentle

adventurous and afraid

soft

naive

and full of innocent love

these two hearts within my heart play together.  sometimes mother holds the childs hand, walking it to the threshold of its fear, while other times the child strokes the mother’s hair, reminding her of the purity of the present moment. in the chakra system the heart is the middle stop in our energy path to the divine.  it is the first chakra where we begin to experience the spiritual and its colors are twofold.  Green and pink.  there are days where I meditate and I can feel the opening of this green web of love, uncovering this beautiful pink that feels so lovely, yet so vulnerable.  it is hard to bring myself here sometimes, but today when a memory arose of me walking out of the subway to my house in Toronto, and when with that memory came the baggage of my past, I decided to stay with it and showered that street corner with beautiful pink rose petals. my mother held my hand, as the child in me timidly began to accept that feeling bittersweet pain in my heart is ok, and part of the process of opening, blooming, and loving myself.

“and all i ask of you, is forever to remember me as loving you”

 

practicing is personal October 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,Yoga Class,Yoga In Karachi — yogini786 @ 11:35 am

 

dancing on the pacific

 

the mornings are something else now.  before they were a time to indulge in as much sleep as I could, pressing the snooze button until i would finally drag myself into the shower and start my day.  now, though i still press the snooze button once sometimes twice, i’m waking up for a different kind of “work”.

my personal practice is evolving and i’m evolving with it.  Today i wondered as I got my toe to point in bird of paradise, why is that these small accomplishments feel like exhilarating victories?  the days seem like one magical drama, where my heart has started to become the witness to my life.

initially when i started my personal practice, it was irregular and on the days that I didn’t have a yoga class to attend. sometimes it was in the morning, sometimes in the evening.  Usually inside.  and some days with a friend at a park near my house.  I would generally do a routine that I had learned in a yoga class that was pretty intense and covered all the basic postures.

then Yandara happened.  Every morning we would start our practice with the same warm up and flow.  But there was something different this time – over the 3 weeks we were encouraged to listen to our bodies, listen to our heart, connect to it and make our yoga practice a dance.  and it feels as if i’m molecularly different because of following those simple yet difficult rules.  everyday begins with the intention to serve, dedicate and practice.  it is a process of self discovery that is linked with a recognition of the power of nature, the universe, and all the energies that surround us.  in some ways i feel like a warrior, training, disciplined, appreciating the structure that my personal practice has brought into my life.  and while i focus with warrior energy, there are moments when i stop to feel the sensations in my body and i feel the opening in my heart.   the very raw and emotional parts of me start to pulse.  and at least for those moments i’m able to recognize them, accept them, and express truth from deep within my soul.

now every morning even if I can’t devote my usual 2 hours, I will not skip on my personal practice or meditation, both outside in the garden with all of natures creepy crawlies.  its become more than a time for me to practice my asanas (poses).  its a time where i get to be myself with a kind of freedom i don’t experience in any other activity except perhaps dancing.  the movement becomes linked to my state of mind, and its hard to know what comes first.  its the simplest expression of the complete integration of our body, mind and soul.  yet not so simple to experience.

“Yoga, after all, is not an escape from life but a way of taking yourself into life’s pulsing heart. It will inevitably lead you to your own vulnerability, to your raw places. But vulnerability also opens the door to love, grace, and the deepest forms of healing. Your vulnerability, scary as it can be, is inseparable from your capacity for intimacy and creativity and love.

Here’s the caveat: The practice of opening to vulnerability is not for wimps. It’s an advanced practice, requiring strength, discernment, and boundaries—all qualities your yoga practice will give you, if you give it time.” – Sally Kempton (http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/2564)

and for this i’ve got all the time in the world!

 

a year later… October 13, 2010

Filed under: Yoga @ the Women's Jail,Yoga In Karachi — yogini786 @ 8:58 pm

It’s been a long time since I posted about teaching yoga at the jail – and its mainly because since I started this blog the yoga has been on a hiatus.  Now officially for 2 weeks I have restarted the yoga program.  It had dwindled to 3 women and I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the “non” yoga stuff I was doing for the women and their children while we were on a break. I had been debating if I should continue  with the program.  Or if I should get some help.

I felt reluctant and did not really “want” to go today.  I was greeted with the customary smiles and hellos.  With warmth and genuine happiness.  It always recharges my battery, and I had brought new mats today for women who had said that they would join last week. But based on the last few weeks I did not expect much, in fact I thought that the mats would go to waste.

And something happened today, suddenly my class went from 3 to 10 women, and as the class continued more women came to join.  Even if it was for just today’s class, something shifted, I felt it as I taught the women the Tai Chi inspired warm up from Yandara, and then simple sun salutations.  But it is always the moment after we get out of shavasana and we all sit with our hands in prayer as we close the class that I feel that connection – that connection to them and to God, to the earth, wind, water and sky.  It is as if in that one moment we are all the same, yet many bodies breathing and thinking .   Sometimes I get this same feeling after teaching my regular classes, but the connection with the women at the jail is special.  It is this desire to access freedom from within, to liberate in a way that inspires, moves and lifts me outside of myself.  I know it is their strength, their incredible compassion that I feel at the end of the class.  And in so many ways their gratitude.  And we just return and lift that gratitude to the one who deserves it, who allows me the chance to give, and through giving receive so much more.

10 women today, let’s see how next week goes.  Flowing with the intention that these women will begin their own practice, continue it wherever they go, and always remember the power of their breathe and prayer to access hope, freedom and love.

PS – It’s been a year since I started teaching yoga at the jail!

 

being a teenager again & the 4 noble truths October 8, 2010

That’s what my dermatologist has been telling me for the past 2 months as I continue to break down in his office after weeks of coping with acne that i never had before in my life.  It started with a small irritation on my skin a few months back and over the weeks began to flare up consistently into pimples!  pimples that i ironically never experienced as a teenager.

Feeling like this trial will never end, doing all the things that i’m supposed to, I had begun to spiral in emotional despair over the way my skin is looking.  I had just spent 2 hours in my dermatologists office, having a pity party, angry, emotional, and behaving like a spoilt child. A few hours had passed and I had to prepare for a class that I was teaching on Psychology, for which I had assigned chapters from “Buddhist Psychology” by Caroline Brazier.

I began to read through the first chapter,

Dukkha – the first noble truth – “Whoever we are, we cannot avoid painful experiences. We become sick, we get disappointed, and we lose people we love. We do not get what we want, and we die.  This was the Buddha’s first understanding. More than this, though, these things are not shameful.”

Dukkha Samudaya – the second noble truth – “When we encounter dukkha, responses arise in us. This response has emotional energy.” Buddha describes this energy as a “thirst”. “We seek to assauge it with distractions. Although we might use the energy by acting to improve the situation we are in, we often feel powerless.”

“So a first step in releasing ourselves from our compulsive patterns of behaviour is to master the ability to find stillness in a place of suffering. Although our impulses may all be towards doing something to distract ourselves, we need to learn to stop and just be with the feeling of dukkha, suffering.”

I couldn’t have read this chapter at a better time.  Stuck in my self-prison where I identified so strongly with my once clear skin, that the minute it started to get out of my control I began to do everything I could to take it back to what it was.  I was consumed with it and depressed by it.  But I didn’t want to face those feelings, I just wanted to pretend that I was feeling nothing and coping just fine.  That night, after reading the wise teachings of Buddha I decided to do what I had been distracting myself from: sit with the feeling of dukkha.  what exactly about having these break outs was making me feel this way about myself?  I started with closing my eyes and facing the painful emotions in my heart, the despair, the frustration and I realized that I connected my skin with my self-worth.  That I won’t be lovable if my skin isn’t clear.  How incredibly insane that is I only realized once I confronted it.  I also confronted the realization that everything is impermanent and that I had to encounter this world with whatever I had in the moment, not what I had in the past.  Seems so small and insignificant but we all get caught up in these cycles of dukkha.  Not realizing that our responses to something we dislike or something that gives us pain, distress, is conditioned and rooted deeply into this idea of a “self”.

Yet , like Buddha said, we can release ourselves from the cycle of dukkha. this is the third noble truth-nirodha- the way to face dukkha is to let of the object to which the thirst has become attached to.

“typically, as a person faces affliction, a feeling response occurs. The person shrinks away from distress, falling into patterns of distraction and escape. The pain of dukkha feels shameful as well as unpleasant. The person tries to hide. If he or she can be supported to face the pain at this point, however rather than dispersing it, the possibility of transformation occurs. The person breaks out of habitual patterns of behavior which have a limiting or dulling effect, and frees energy to live more fully and usefully.” Ameen!

Finally, I arrived at this cross road that night, while I faced the difficult feelings inside of me.  I started to question things that I thought I had put to rest, but that had come back to the surface. This is conditioning.  We keep on returning to the same patterns & feelings.  Mine were centered around a feeling of not being lovable, of being imperfect and ashamed of that imperfection.  I began to understand that the only way out of my suffering was to let go of my attachment to what i once had, in this case clear skin, and just accept what I had in the moment.  at the same time realize the impermanence of my “self”, and to encounter that impermanence with courage and dignity.

So then I finally reached Buddha’s fourth noble truth – the eightfold path.  This truth outlines the spiritual path, one that I am destined to tread in this life.   “Right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right samadhi (state of clear meditative mind).

There are two elements to this spiritual path – one that reminds me of what Kabir Helmenski wrote about love.  That we can also attain love through the fruits of love.  One can train on this spiritual path that Buddha has laid out, and by working on all the different elements of the 8 fold path, achieving one will give the conditions for the others to arise.  “training involves harnessing energy and directing it in positive directions rather than frittering it away on distractions. The elements in the eightfold path are each concerned with positive application.”

So thank you Caroline for coming to my rescue with your wise reflections on Buddha’s teachings, and letting me experiment on myself with Buddhist psychology.  Realizing suffering is inevitable, but I have the choice to opt out of further suffering, or “optional suffering”, break free from a conditioned pattern, and throughout learn and unlock mysteries in my heart.

Om Gate, Para Gate, Para Som Gata, Bodhi Svaha, let go, let go, to the love light of your soul. (Heather Noyes)

 

pop pop October 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — yogini786 @ 11:45 am

Welcome to 1990.  I don’t know how real this memory is, like most of my childhood ones, but I do remember the frequent excitement and anticipation of fresh popcorn late at night while watching movies with my family.  We used to be 7, my three older brothers, my two older cousins (also boys) and me.  The littlest I always got stuck with running around to get what the boys wanted.  Ok and sometimes what I also wanted!

I remember the patter of my small feet, the feeling of being this tiny skinny thing, usually in a summer dress, or one of the boys big t-shirts, crazy messy hair and full of energy.  Minus being tiny and the small feet not much has changed 20 years later.

My aunt, my phupi, has lived with us all our lives.  She is a surrogate parent, and sometimes more than that to all of us.  For years we grew up on her delicious cooking, and demanded her to make us popcorn late at night during our movie marathons.  Somehow I never remember her making a face or being angry with what now I realize is a pretty insane request – 2 AM fresh popcorn please – and lets remember its 1990 – no microwaves!

Its 2010, and recently while I was in Mexico, I had fresh popcorn again, non microwave packaged popcorn after what felt like decades.  It was delicious.  Everyone at the training would eat a normal portion and I would over eat, hoarding as much of the popcorn as I could.  It took me back to these delicious memories of my childhood where each moment really was full, nothing about the future really worried me, and nothing about the past really mattered enough.

20 years later, I asked my phupi, (we all call her Appa), who is now MashAllah 70 years old, to make me some popcorn as a snack.  The setting has changed, there are no more brothers, or cousins, there is just me and my parents and 10 pm is now my late night :).  We begin our popcorn adventure.  And for the first time I actually watched her make it.  Take a pot, melt some butter and put some salt.  Mix it up and then add these tiny dried corn kernels.  Hold the lid down so no air gets in.  (you can use a pressure cooker or make do like we did with just a regular pot).  And after a few minutes, you start hearing the familiar pop….pop…poppppp…we peeked in to see and of course the popcorn had started to burn!

Alas, 20 years later its hard to get it perfect the first time around though the ones that survived still tasted so good! What fun to not sit in front of the microwave, absorbing radioactive rays while you watch the minute dial go down. instead take those same few minutes and watch how a small rough, tough, kernel  can transform into a fluffy, one of a kind,  (and tasty) white flower, just by adding pressure, heat, and some buttery love.

Pop Pop Pop!