Karachi Yogini

Yoga for Life!

Yoga @ T2F- The Second Floor, Karachi May 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized,Yoga @ the Women's Jail,Yoga Class,Yoga In Karachi — yogini786 @ 2:31 pm

The first time I heard of T2F was almost 2 years ago when i moved back to Karachi and my good friend was telling me about this talk she went to over there.  I was intrigued but as fate would have it I never made it to T2F at its original location and instead ended up there last year for the first time to watch a panel discuss “postcolonial” literature.

I went again a few more times for events before a chance conversation at a party that began this whole adventure with T2F.   this march, the day I had quit 2 of my yoga commitments I went out at night to a birthday party.  There  I met someone (who is working on a project related to domestic violence at T2F) and told them the feeling of lightness I had from making the right decision to focus my time on fewer rather than more projects. she said, why don’t you teach yoga at T2F? reluctant to make another commitment of commercial yoga classes…and all the responsibilities that come along with that (marketing, class registration and make up classes UGH…) I said no, its just not what I want to do.

I went home that night and woke up with an idea.  amazing.  What if I did yoga at T2F once a week, drop in, no registration and a very affordable per class rate, and the money would be for women living in the prison (Where I teach yoga once a week).  I called and then emailed Sabeen with my idea, having a very strong feeling that if there would be any place in Karachi where this could work, and that would get “it”, it’s T2F.

Within days, (I LOVE HOW WHEN THE UNIVERSE WANTS SOMETHING TO WORK EVERYTHING FALLS INTO PLACE!) I was teaching my first yoga class at T2F.  And now as 2 months come to a close, and I go for a nice 2 month summer break, I realize how much T2F has given me, and how much it gives all of us in Karachi through its good energy, good intent, and its desire to spread love and positivity.  And now, very naturally, as if I had always been there, I am part of this beautiful process.

Since April 4th almost every class has been filled to the maximum.  The mixed classes have never been so fun.  The men are unassuming, respectful, and gracious. the women are of all ages and enthusiastic.  the first student that walked through the door on april 4th became an instant friend on a day  that I needed one.  The T2F staff became part of my weekly family – Baba who takes care of the space and closing the door and lights at the end of class.  The other staff who help me with the receipts and make us yummy food and drinks after yoga class.  and Marium who has taken up extra responsibilities to organize donations for the children living with their mothers in the prison.

there are little things we all do that create change.  that create positivity.  and as so many spiritual texts have enlightened me: that in each moment there is the potential to embody presence, grace and gratitude.  I see this at T2F.  The sense of community and togetherness that T2F has cultivated with time, patience and good intent transfers into the yoga classes, where the energy is electric and palpable.  like no other class i teach.  really.  and i suspect its because its a beautiful circle of service.  T2F is serving by offering itself and supporting the cause.  its part of my service, and all those who attend class are all contributing time, energy, and money. and the energy we cultivate in the yoga class goes back to the women who need our support, who now know more than perhaps ever before that they are not alone.    and ultimately in both the prison and at T2F experiencing yoga is shifting, changing, and touching people’s lives.

I feel butterfly goodness every time i think of what’s happening in this process and it all started with an honest heartfelt conversation.  and since then even the yoga at the prison has shifted…the most amazing thing that T2F has given me is the feeling of community, the support, and its allowed me to become more soft and more clear about my intent and my capacity to support the women in the prison.  at the prison we have started to pray together and I know their sincere prayers and gratitude reach out to all of us.

So just to update those who have been coming to classes, for those who have donated goods, time and attention, and those who have written checks or given money we have been able to

1) give 100 bottles of roohafza and 1 month worth of hygienic supplies (soap, toothpaste, powder, shampoo) for all the women and children

2) summer clothes for all the kids in the prison

3) weekly popcorn for the kids in the prison

and the practical goods almost hold no comparison to the energetic contribution of all our spirits, even if its just for that 1 breath, that we accept our oneness over our apparent material/physical separation.

thank you all for a beautiful 2 months.  Thanks to T2F for making something happen that I believe dreams are made of.  and most of all thanks to the source of life, the energy that connects all of us, which for me no one word can describe yet so many refer to:)

come join us when you have a free monday evening – classes will begin again in August – wishing you all a summer of relaxation, rest, and joy:)  http://www.t2f.biz/2011/03/?cat=1

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mama… May 22, 2011

Filed under: And the Journey begins...,spirituality,Uncategorized — yogini786 @ 1:45 pm

when Siddharta Gautauma went in search of enlightment, leaving his kingdom, his wife and child, his parents, at the age of 29 he started a journey that has undoubtedly inspired millions of us.  At first he decided to join a group of ascetics and for years tried reaching enlightenment through denying his body (food, pleasure, shelter) and roamed the subcontinent.  At a point of exhaustion he realized that he was no closer to enlightenment after all the self-denial than he had been when he was a prince with all the comforts and pleasures of the worldly life.

Desperate perhaps, he decided to sit under a tree (now famously called the Bodhi tree) and promised himself that until he finds enlightenment he will not leave that spot.

And this is what arose out of him, the four noble truths, which i remember at times my life seems like a strange movie reel, full of absurd comedy and pain,

1.  life is full of suffering and there is no shame in that

2.  we suffer because we cling to our attachments

3.  there is a way out of suffering (enlightenment is the end of suffering)

4. the way is to follow the eight fold path (the middle path):

1. Right View Wisdom
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech Ethical Conduct
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort Mental Development
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

I sit in the hospital, watch all the people who work there.  The different auras of various doctors and nurses.  The kind of families and patients.  so many of us suffer from something the yogis were concerned with thousands of years a go, an ordinary kind of unhappiness, which we try to cover up with fake smiles, social rituals, attachments.  and so often this ordinary unhappiness manifests itself in a disease or addictions (food, drugs, alcohol)…there are those us who at some point realize that suffering is inevitable in life, that it should not be taken personally (how many of us have asked why me?), and that through acceptance begins the journey out of attachment and worldly illusion, and the personal illusion of the “self”.

then there are those of us who when we suffer cling to those “things” that we feel make us happier.   whats funny is that most of us are both these people at the same time.  its like we experience suffering as schizophrenics – on one end we get it, this is the human condition, and on the other end to cope with it we continually return to the things that we derive escape from.  and this is where addictions start to form.  buddhist pyschology states that we are primarily addicted/attached to the notion of “self”, of the “I”, which is the root to all our suffering.

I watched my mother this week in her hospital bed, craving her cigarettes, her drinks, her paan, her supari, the smallest things in her familiar environment and the immense suffering she experienced because at that moment she couldn’t get any of those things.  and i wondered what would it be for me?  and I also felt the immediate reflex-like reaction inside me: a strong craving to get high, or buy a plane ticket that would help me escape a reality that of course at some level I don’t accept and don’t want.

I want a mother who is not sick.  I have wanted that for as long as I can remember.  I have wanted a mother who would be able to emotionally support me.  I have wanted a mother who is wise spiritually, who can control herself, be at peace, centered. i believe that i deserve a mother like everyone else seems to have. so it is no surprise that there is a rage inside of me that burns like the neighborhoods of karachi, churns out of control when i am confronted consistently with a mother who is none of those things.  and i can feel the sour taste of judgement in my mouth, and the coldness that envelopes my body, and i hear the thought run through my mind over and over…i have no more love left for you.  but then now i know that if my love can run out, then it’s not really love its attachment. because true love is unconditional, boundless, and above all opposites.

so then are all these behaviors really my mother?  i try to remember at those moments, to look through her, to her soul, to the realization that despite what she is showing her soul is as close to God as even the most enlightened being that lived.

and then me, all these behaviors that I try to “correct”, chasing the illusion of a perfect self, fashioned to be the opposite of what I have decided to hate in another person (weakness, dependency, addictions), I find the cruel game of the ego inflict on me an inability to accept myself, to love myself, and to truly believe that someone could love me with all my weaknesses. and all the while I consistently bring into my life what i am most unwilling to confront inside of me.

if my mother is not worthy of my love because her soul, mind and body are suffering, then I also become unworthy of my love. and then i remember why our families have the power to unravel us.  we choose our families before coming into this life so that these relationships can untangle the most unconscious part of ourselves.  if our relationships were just superficial attachments than what would we gain? Like Sheikh Zawia says, that during the times we are “coasting” in life, we are expanding externally, like maybe getting a better house, accumulating wealth, friends, status – but it is the times that we are struggling in life when we expand internally, and then we find our connection to the divine, and realize our true purpose in life.

so with a long spiraling post coming to an end, since the summer of 2009, I have felt my soul stretch like a rubber band at times to encompass the entire universe and at times shrink to the size of a dot. yet somehow my relationship with my mother confounds me, and brings me back to knowing how very human I am.  how very vulnerable i am.  and how far i still have to go on this path.

“I know why familles were created, with all their imperfections. They humanize you. They are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of life is not destroyed.”
Anaïs Nin
 

cover up May 13, 2011

Filed under: And the Journey begins...,spirituality,Uncategorized,Yoga Class — yogini786 @ 1:16 pm

Rachel, a yoga teacher I met in Sri Lanka, had this really amazing thing she’d make us do in class.  When we would have our eyes closed and we were either standing or lying down, she said, “don’t move.  don’t fidget or try to fix anything. for a few breathes just stay with the awkwardness, the imbalance, and feel your body.”

I try to do that in my class and for myself when I practice.  It’s extremely uncomfortable.  You feel like everyone is watching you even when you’re alone.  the temptation to move into your comfort zone is so high that sometimes you just go ahead and do it!  other times, especially now with practice, when I allow myself to feel awkward and uncomfortable in my body, something really subtle and magnificent happens.  I feel free and at the same time for those few breathes i just accept myself with all my imperfections.

what we do on the mat can make us conscious of what we also do off the mat.  there are times i’m at a party and i can feel the discomfort in my body because i’m not sure where and how to be.  that’s when i try to cover it up with moving my body into a position that postures “confidence”. for me its the hip and neck tilt 🙂 but now i have started to experiment…to wait a little bit with that discomfort and allow my body to be comfortable in its awkwardness.  and the more i do that I realize that “the awkwardness” is a state of my mind- it is my mind labeling, defining and judging instead of just BEING.

a few weeks a go i started to spend some time painting.  it had been something i wanted to do for ages.  and today i sat outside in my patio with my canvas ready, paints, brushes and created a usual abstract mush of colors.  but there was something i didn’t like about it.  and so i took a big brush, my favorite color (green) and painted over it!  The simple act of covering up what I didn’t “like” made me realize and smile.  So basically when I don’t like something about myself, I cover it up.  Maybe with an excuse, with a rationalization, or with a SMILE!

what’s funny is that while I was trying to paint over the painting all the colors underneath started to mix with the green. and then it occurred to me, what was I trying to cover up?  Me in all my imperfect glory? and why would I want to do that?

at least i know what to title the painting:)

love and blessings!

FRIDAY NIGHT at 1:49 AM with no regrets:  It is when we realize that when we are naturally who we are that we are infinitely indescribably beautiful.  nothing matters, no illusions of fame, beauty or riches.  it is all one big play.  so then I ask what is the need to cover up what is infinitely more beautiful than I know?  What is the point of being scared of being human?

 

the moment May 10, 2011

Filed under: poetry,spirituality,Uncategorized — yogini786 @ 10:26 pm

try it aloud.


Dancing with the sunset
My body moves like a soft touch

Shadows in my heart
wake to memories

Strong supple beats
pulse through my breath

Listen with me...
 

summer breath… May 7, 2011

Filed under: And the Journey begins...,spirituality,Uncategorized — yogini786 @ 7:56 pm

lazy days.  summer days.  there have been so many in my karachi world.  there is something undeniably exciting about may.  always it seems like something special is about to happen.  despite the sticky humid heat, that I love to complain about, a sense of anticipation builds for the summer.  all the stories, all the plans.  never knowing what will happen next.

summers at one point were filled with late night movie marathons, cooped up in a room with brothers cousins running their silly errands, breezy badminton, stuffy table tennis, epic trivial pursuit games, hours at the movie store, and pepsis lining the room’s circumference.

fast forward 10 years and enter the teen years of planned summer breaks, summer crushes and flings, and the boredom of space!  sleeping through the day, waiting for the day it all starts again, fresh new year where we all get to be together 8 hours a day at school.

then the summers that i wished never ended that i wish i could have captured in a poem so i could read it now and experience the feeling again of my moments of inconsequence.  of my madness.  of constant indescribable story telling.  of fearless freedom.

and now i enter a new turn, a new way to interpret and understand.  summer as sacred, seasons as meaningful passages of change that are universal, natural.  and nothing is boring anymore even the sticky summer days where i am blessed with so much time.  writing, drawing, breathing, all seems like one long delicious day.

i’ve stopped making sense, i know i am in the summer of my dreams.  be it in karachi, india or somewhere else in the world.  it is the summer of my dreams because finally i’m living one sweet sacred breathe at a time.

god bless and grace us with those breathes that so simply quietly, transform and change our lives.

taken by golshan abdmoulaie friend and photographer!