Karachi Yogini

Yoga for Life!

recovery road November 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,Yoga Class,Yoga In Karachi — yogini786 @ 12:50 pm

these days the recovery process has been on my mind because of things happening in my family.  and its no coincidence that i spend a little bit of my time at a place called The Recovery House every week to teach yoga to clients that are coping with a range of mental health challenges.

a conversation at a cafe over a year a go with a friend led to me passing my resume on to someone who in turn sent my resume to a woman who had been single handedly trying to improve the structure of services for people living in Karachi with mental health challenges such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder etc.

With my previous life (really thats what toronto feels like now!) experience of social work and working in community health centres, I seemed like an ideal candidate for this upcoming facility that S had somehow been able to begin.  I met S , if my memory is correct sometime in October 2009 and we discussed her vision for a recovery centre for people who are so marginalized in our societies that most of us only know of it if someone close to us suffers from a mental illness.  Yet i’ve always had a pretty anti psychiatry perspective on mental illness.  Ekhart Tolle also discusses that the people we call “insane” are actually just verbalizing the many thoughts that we internalize.  This spectrum of madness is a category of fiction, I’m not sure if Foucault actually deconstructs madness in such a way but he does show that we create these labels of difference which translate into how power is distributed in any given society.

so enough intellectual talk, getting back on the road.  I met S and told her that I am done with social work, I am done with working in a clinical setting and helping people within the bio-medical model, even an alternative one.  I offered that I am very passionate about yoga, I’ll be getting my certification by the summer of 2010 and when the program is ready for a yoga teacher to call me.

I arrive from Mexico in late July and in early August find an email in my inbox from S.  She wants to meet, the centre is open, and hiring has begun and she wants me to be part of their team. I find that another person who I have known for years, who I admire and respect more than anyone I know really, has agreed to be the “person in charge” for the centre, now being referred to as The Recovery House.

In all the yoga that I do, for myself, for my students who come to my house, for the women at the jail, teaching yoga at the recovery house has been the most challenging because something within me has been strongly resisting accepting that I should commit to this “job”.  I remember the day before I was sure I was going to go in and tell them that I was ready to leave/quit, I read somewhere that when opportunities present themselves to us we should say YES and trust to see how the process unfolds.

Teaching yoga classes to people who are so real, they yawn when they are tired, they show their distraction, they don’t hide behind any mask of “politeness” or what it means to be a “good” yoga student.  Working with them made me confront my intense desire to have everyone like me, to have everyone be focused and attentive in class.  I found myself losing patience, feeling frustrated, and also lost…not really sure what i should be doing.  and my knee jerk reaction was to run.  More than that though working with these clients made me feel responsible in a way that I hadn’t since leaving behind my clients in Toronto.  And I knew the longer I stayed on here, the more I had to accept my responsibility as a helper on their road to recovery.

I walked into my friend’s office and told her how I was feeling.  I just said it.  I didn’t sugar coat it.  She took it all in.  And then worked with me on how to adjust my schedule so I could feel less “trapped”, less “responsible”.  When I look back now,  it’s amazing how our reactions come from unconscious behavior that we can only understand once we step out of the reaction and begin to watch ourselves.

Somehow I forced my egoic mind to be quiet and stayed close to my original intention that I wanted to teach yoga to the people who need it the most but have the least access to it.

So now 4 months have gone by, and I realized that while i have written about so many of my other experiences on my blog I have left this extremely important part of my practice and teaching out.  And I started to question why it was so that I was reluctant to write about it and reflect on it and I understood finally that it was because I was still not completely committed to the idea of working there and because this was the one place i always felt overwhelmed by.

But now something has shifted.  Not in what i’m doing or even how challenging i continue to find teaching yoga there.  But in fact the change has come because my perception has shifted from thoughts of the future to the present.  Shift from attaching myself to neither pleasant or unpleasant states and just accepting things as they are.  Wow, there is so much peace in that.  And since i’ve started doing that it seems as the peace has become contagious in class.  there is less fidgeting, less distraction, more focus, more fun, more lightness, more energy.  and i’m amazed continuously at the privilege i have to work with people who guide me on how to stay steady on my road to recovery.  all this time I had been focused on my role as a yoga teacher, on what I can provide them, and instead they have taught me so much more about how to be an effective teacher, and how to be present in the moment.

March 2011 – Update – After much deliberation I decided to stop teaching yoga at the Recovery House.  They continue to practice yoga daily with other teachers.  I keep them all in my prayers and heart, grateful for the experience and lessons I learned. 

Thank you Recovery House for creating and nurturing a space where people are given the respect and dignity they deserve.  Read more about them at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/47480/a-room-with-a-view/


feel no pain & chakra cleanse November 17, 2010

Filed under: Chakra Love,Uncategorized,Yoga Class,Yoga In Karachi — yogini786 @ 10:32 pm

Its been an interesting few days…2 days a go I went in the morning to my usual yoga spot in the garden to find a dead crow…feathers everywhere, and other crows picking at the carcass…feeling overwhelmed by the scene I practiced yoga on the patio…and then the next day I finally felt like I could try out a new spot to practice yoga in.

I always remember something i read about how even in our yoga class we get used to a certain spot, and we like to always practice there…so much so sometimes if another student takes your spot unknowingly you even feel irritated…i had always been like that…i found myself attracted to a certain area in the yoga room and in my personal practice I had been cultivating a similar preoccupation about practicing yoga everyday in the same spot.  Because its outside my gardener had politely mentioned that I should sometimes shift around…so long story short yesterday the memory of the crow got me to do it.  I moved to another part of the garden and guess what, even changed the direction of my mat:)

while all this is going on I’ve been listening to the Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle and everyday before I sleep I listen to a little bit more of him.  and everyday I am inspired, and transformed by his words. Tolle says that there is no pain in the present moment…no pain in the now.  it is in the past or the future, and being stuck in this time bound consciousness collectively causes all our insanity.  and today, i woke up from deep slumber, the book had been playing in the background, and I was drifting in and out of snoozing, when I heard, make the intention to not create anymore pain for yourself…it sounds simple but it is quite a radical thought…and he’s right…never had i considered that I have the power to make an intention so transformative…no more pain…and he continued…that you will only get here when you are truly fed up of suffering, and the only route to no pain is presence…

so with that profound intention I want to take you through a chakra cleanse…feel your being in your body…bring your attention to the base of your spine. feel the moment.  ground your body in the earth and listen to your breath and while sitting cross-legged move your body in circles.  send the vast power of the moment to your root chakra.

let the energy travel up to your lower belly and allow yourself to feel the pulse of your life there, the sacral chakra.  I like to imagine a seed in the pit of my belly…feel its oneness with everything that is alive…the wind, the grass, the mat:)  I lie down on my back and do the reclined big toe poses.  feel the hips open and release emotion.  i keep vigilant with my thoughts, and return to watching myself, and feeling my body.

solar plexus chakra…i’ve been feeling this chakra a lot this week…i think it is because of the shift in temperature, the navel is where you can build internal heat.  I started first with holding some planks…allowing the body to start pulsing, breathing, and get the heart beat to move faster.  soon i shift into a modified boat and then a beautiful eagle legs (or twisted root) twist.  when i twist I can access the moment in a special way feeling the release of the spine, I’ve always loved twists…sigh…let out an audible one…and let that internal sun shine bright…

heart chakra…transitioning to my stomach through a brief childs pose…i decide  to do a series of mini cobras and then finally lift my heart into a full cobra…continuing to lengthen my lower back feeling

my legs pull back…making space…there is nothing like this intention to bring you in the moment during an asana…when in any pose…create space in your body…space that needs to be cultivated, understood, and breathed in to.  I move on to 2 bows, and then finish with a camel.  then i sit to feel the heart, and instinctively my fingers join in gyana mudra and I start to dance with my arms…my body is starting to feel surreal now…intuitively moving from the heart…

throat chakra…moving into a fish…and then shoulder stand…staying a while in both of these poses…feeling the jalabandha (chin lock) and the same seed from the pit of my belly somehow seems to be here.  I am starting to feel good.  I massage my spine after plow…and then roll up to do a crow…effortlessly lifting my feet off the ground and focusing on my third eye chakra

now my mind is not making stories, the thoughts have taken a vacation, and i’m just moving into the side crow, scissored legs and then dropping my head on the ground to practice a fallen angel…I feel like my legs are floating in the sky…and then i lift up to attempt a handstand, to finish with my forearm stand practice…

fallen angel (it's not me!)

crown centre…settle into a headstand…for a few minutes…i keep on creating space in the back by widening my shoulders and grounding into the earth…it feels like i have come full circle…

after resting in child’s pose…i sit up to finish the cleanse with floating my arms over my head and then back down…i can feel my aura now…its energy is tangible…its beautiful…bright and light…and fun:)  its been a while since I realized this simplicity, this presence that I have access to every moment I am in the now…thank you Ekhart Tolle…thank you mother earth..


pray & love November 8, 2010

Filed under: inspiring books,spirituality,Uncategorized — yogini786 @ 10:19 pm

This is the third post i’ve started in the past week.  somehow something is not sitting well with me.  I keep on trying to find an explanation – its the weather, its my allergies, its PMS, its the junk food.  And then today I watched the second half of Eat Pray Love, when Elizabeth Gilbert (the main character) comes to India and is told by her friend, Richard from Texas:

” if you love him, then love him. if you miss him, then miss him. every time you think of him send him light and love and then drop it.”

I got that advice a while back and it helped a great deal, but somehow I forgot the essence of it – that whatever you’re feeling let yourself feel it.  don’t run, don’t escape, don’t “explain” it.  just be what you feel.

many parts of the film struck me, just as the book had, and when it finished I felt a sense of community, that somehow I’m not alone, and that in fact none of us are alone in struggling with relationships and with love.  but i seem to have gone through a shift recently, changing from what I thought was familiar to connecting with what is actually more familiar.  Elizabeth leaves India with the simple truth that God lives inside of me, as me. And all this time I had forgotten that.  That I had been running away from the most difficult, most “Aisha” parts of me, trying to better them, work on them, “explain” them, understand them, instead of just being them.

And what is this me? that’s the question that’s hard to figure out in the pursuit of emptying my mind, letting go of my ego (or my false self) and finding balance, what is this “me” that is eternal and natural? and I already know that i’m not going to get any answers thinking about it.  I just have to let it go, surrender, and also accept that this is where i’m at, that I still don’t know what I know, and i’m still navigating my rebirth.

another quote comes to my mind from Peaceful Warrior,

“are you out of your mind?”

“it’s taken me a lifetime of practice to get out of my mind”.

I know surely that I am still stuck deeply in my thoughts, and my attachment to my thoughts.  I want to be free of them and I don’t want to fill emptiness with “stuff” but just sit with that space inside of me and let it grow, grow like love blooms in the spring.

“Practice practice practice, and all is coming.” – Pattabhi Jois