Karachi Yogini

Yoga for Life!

Be Reiki, Reiki Flow August 29, 2011

my favorite flowers in bali

I arrived in Bali, sleepy and dazed. at immigration, the officer informs me I don’t have any pages left in my passport to put the visa in.  So he points to an office, says go in there and they’ll take care of it.  While waiting for about 20 minutes I am watching the people in the office.  everything seems normal.  then I’m asked to go in the office and suddenly I start to feel attacked.  We can’t put the visa in your passport, its breaking the “rules”, you need to go back to bangkok, why are you here, to teach, to make money.  I start to panic and get upset.  How can I go back, I’m just here for 5 days, my training starts tomorrow.  I keep on asking if I can call the US consulate and they don’t give me the number.  Then he gets up to leave to talk to his boss, and I suddenly realize:  he wants me to give him money.

Despite living in Karachi for most of my life, and traveling to all corners of the world, I have never had an experience like this.  The “bad” cop immigration officer leaves and the “good” one comes back in.  He says he doesn’t want me to have to go back and if there was anything I could do for him, then he could do this for me.  I ask, softly, “you want me to give you money?”

Yes, and gestures to his mouth, sealing his lips.  I start to really lose it now.  My body is full of emotion, hopelessness, confusion, and I start to cry.  How can I bribe someone?  Is this the right thing to do?  I felt like God’s eyes were on me.  And I realized how constantly we are confronted with the struggle to be present.  I told myself, don’t resist, accept this moment and notice your breathe.  Starting to calm down I realize that in that moment I have to give him money.  Ask for forgiveness and pray for him.  Find compassion and though its still hard to access it, at least I was able to step out of the airport, enter Bali, and treat myself to an avocado smoothie.

After that in Happy Bali, what the locals call it, turns out to be the perfect name.  A couple’s paradise, romance seeps from each nook and corner as we drove to the Shangrila (http://www.bali-shangrila.com).  I meet Shauna (also attending the training), an Ontarian Canadian, at the airport as we drive to our destination.  We end up driving to the top of a beautiful mountain and then down to the other side, feeling cool air, seeing beautiful views, and having easy conversation.

julie, allisone, and jill!

As I walk up the steps to my room, I see Julie sitting outside on the balcony.  Julie was in my teachers training program last year at Yandara, with the biggest most loving blue eyes.  I already feel home as I hug her and get ready to go for dinner.  Meet Allisone, my teacher from Yandara next and then Jill, another Mexico reunion.

Dinner starts with delicious pumpkin soup and ends with yummy coconut flan type dessert.   I breathe in the oceans sounds and quietly return to bed.  The next day I’m going to keep a roza and attend Level I reiki training.

I wake up to the sounds of roosters at 4 am.  Have my sehri ready to eat and walk towards the ocean before morning even begins.  Its so quiet.  So soothing.  7:30 I stroll in to yoga class.  just perfect.  the room set up in a circle, the energy of the class led me to a theta wave savasana.

At 9 am, I really start to feel the roza.  I avoid going to the restaurant during meal times, and spend breakfast just relaxing in bed.  10 am we begin our Reiki training and get our attunement.  I am so tired.  My back is hurting, my shoulders are killing, my neck wants to just droop down and I keep on jerking in and out of sleep.  I start to think of some recent memories.  Start to feel guilty and upset about decisions I have made. And after the attunement, one track plays in my mind: “swim in the ocean”.

At lunchtime I spend the afternoon trying to swim in the rocky coral ocean with little success and end up by the pool swimming, tanning and drooling as I nap.  The day floats into the next and I am ready for another roza, and another day of training.  I thought the second day would be easier than the first in terms of not eating and drinking, but it was so much harder.  My body was really feeling deprived of water and yet again somehow I survived as I watched the sunset, anxiously awaiting the moment I could eat my khajur and drink water.

Day 2 I felt the loving Reiki energy in my hands.  I couldn’t believe it.  It is real.  And its just about my intent.  Through that Reiki Flows.  We ended the day with a post dinner Yin Yoga class.  Just incredible.  And I started to feel an open channel of energy in my spine, touched, soothed, and free from pain.

yin yoga, mandala style.

I have no more Reiki rozas to keep I realize as I wake up the next morning.   I have maybe the best breakfast ever and we spend the day reviewing “add-ons” to Reiki, with my favorite being the use of crystals.  Crystals which have organically been part of my personal meditation and self reiki practice for the last year.  Whenever I receive reiki I am easily able to slip into a state of complete reception.  How much has changed in just a short few months. My intent to create the space within myself to receive love, though still a work in progress, has finally started to settle in.

We ended the night with a huge bonfire on the beach, burning away our fears, throwing into it all the things we need help letting go of:  and I released my fears of abandonment, rejection and that I will spend my life alone.  I came again to realize that I cannot know the future and I cannot control it.  I can just be where I am this moment, present, establishing and accomplishing my divine purpose on this earth.  and I know simply it is to heal.  to heal, to support, to encourage and find myself over and over again in the arms of loving embraces.

Hono Pono Pono – Hawaiian – Please forgive me.  I love you. Thank you.

Allisone told us that on our second day together and it kept on ringing in my mind.  I had so much to ask for forgiveness for with my roller coaster year.  And just the words, hono pono pono, so softly roll off the tongue.  Life can be so simple if we just choose to step into the grace of loving energy.  What stops us from healing ourselves?  What keeps us trapped in our patterns, our “samskaras”, our unconscious behavior?

I found comfort each night as I read Deepak Chopras, Life after Death, realizing the incredible unity behind the multi-verse, and the multitude of choices we have present to us in every moment.  I understood what energy it is that Reiki harnesses.  And I realized the potential we all have to be reborn, every moment, every breathe to be what we thought we could never be.  To live in a way that we never dreamed possible.  And mostly I felt how this life of mine is a continuation of something much greater than what I can comprehend.  Is part of a process that will unfold as my soul matures and my consciousness expands.  That what is ahead of me is not something to fear, that it is already written while it is being unwritten.

When I was born and saw the light

I was no stranger to this world.

Something inscrutable, shapeless, and without words

Appeared in the form of my mother.

So when I die, the same unknown will appear again

As ever known to me.

And because I love this life

I will love death as well.

– Rabindranath Tagore


Shriya & sacred August 20, 2011

When I was 21 I entered a memorable phase of my life.  I let all caution go to the wind and lived in the moment.  with no brakes, I found myself in another universe, and there I met this incredibly beautiful, smart, kind, and artistic girl: Shriya.

It was a Holi party at McGill and a huge group of us had gone.  As usual we had made a mess of ourselves and continued to celebrate long after the party ended at the infamous apartment building on university road.

That was the first night I met Shriya, and now almost 10 years later, with 5 years of distance between us, we are still somehow intimately tied.

I really thought I would be seeing Shriya this past summer, and when my India plan didn’t work out, as much as I was disappointed about Yoga training, I was more upset that I wouldn’t be able to spend time with Shri. When I remember Shriya, its as if she is above earth.  She floats, she is just who she is, no excuses, at all times.

We had a bit of random email exchange yesterday, sharing poems about our old broken-hearts, and at the end of it Shri suggested:

want to start a writing exchange ? we pick a word / theme each month and write about it on a blog??

the word sacred had been on my mind for a number of reasons, and I suggested it for our first word/theme.  and so here I go:)

sacred seems like a pretty obvious word.  it’s something that we hold of value, of spiritual value. that catch all phrase of things that money can’t buy.  and I wondered what is sacred to me?

(official dictionary definitions: devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated; entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.; pertaining to or connected with religion ( opposed to secular  or profane): sacred music; sacred books; reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object: a morning hour sacred to study; regarded with reverence: the sacred memory of a dead hero)

and over and over again it came that my relationships are sacred.  with myself, my friends (near or far), my family, my nieces and nephews, my students, my colleagues, employers, everyone who I am connected to on a day to day basis are treasures that I can never say thank you enough for. the hardest thing is to instill that sense of sacred in relationships that I take most for granted – like my parents, my siblings and my oldest friends.

nature is sacred.  green, yellow, blue, brown, and more.  colors that envelope and embrace me every day.  the peace in a reckless breeze, the showering of rain on land, the empty clear sky full of stars at night.  brilliant sun and luminous moon.  amazes me how disconnected I was for so long from nature.  and now how I search, seek, crave it every moment.  living in karachi pushes me to find nature in the strangest of corners, sometimes in a tree hanging over a balcony.  sometimes in the dispersed clouds, or on the streets where flowers grow on walls.  when I feel really lost, really scared, and really broken it is truly nature which fills my heart.

I wrote a poem, the first time I encountered sacred in nature. It feels like decades a go but it was only 2 years back in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


courtesy nina naqvi - Puerto Rico 2009

I had my hand let go,
But the rainforest saved me.
I walked in circles,
Filling lives with duplicities.
And then the rainforest saved me.

And as I finish this post, more and more things come to mind.  Books, writing, knowledge, listening and learning, animals, food, and finally and perhaps ultimately each breathe is sacred.  if only we could live our lives with the presence to remember that.   no matter how I try to avoid it, I can’t help but feel lost when even in Ramzan, the month that is most sacred to Muslims, 50 people die in Karachi in one day.  Bless you Karachi, for now all my prayers rest with those who are hurting and suffering.  Sacred Karachi my heart sends you peace.

Read Shriya’s!:  Thought Sketching – Shriya Malhotra




clean slate & resetting the dial August 11, 2011

Filed under: And the Journey begins...,spirituality,Uncategorized — yogini786 @ 2:05 pm

So its a number that for years while you’re in your teens, in your twenties, which looms in front of you: 30.  After 30 it seems like that everything will be different. maybe you’ll grow an extra toe, start complaining about body aches, and need a routine to stay alert and awake.

so granted i’ve been 30 for 24 hours and 9 minutes exactly as I start this blog, I already feel like i have some things figured out now that I didn’t just a few months a go.  Leading up to 30, the anticipation building, the reflection of a decade settling in. 29.  wow.  what a year.  at times i was a 21 year old doing absolutely crazy things, and other times I was as ancient as this multi-verse, meditating on the mountains.

most overwhelmingly, I feel, thank god I’m 30.  thank god that I’ve made it so far and survived a decade of university, work, bad boyfriends, strange friendships, intense crazy partying, madness, rage, family dysfunction, and so so much more.  and yet i’ve also survived a decade of intense love, friendship, gratitude, rebirth, transformation, and joy.  and its ended on a note that is as perfect as the morning song of the birds in my garden.

what i look forward to most is the freshness of turning the dial back to zero.  “No Baggage” status in my 30’s, leaving all the stuff I don’t need behind, and taking with me all that is good, loving and necessary (including some of the hard life lessons).

some wisdom i take with me to my 30’s:

  • that there is no way to be anything but yourself.  the sooner you embrace it,  the sooner you can bring into light the parts of you that you are least willing to confront the better life will taste, feel, smell, look and sound. and in the journey to being yourself, its good to remember what a friend told me recently, “Aisha (substitute your own name), you are one of the humans too.” 🙂
  • love and forgive.  love and forgive.  love and forgive.  even it feels like forgiveness will never come.  even if it feels like love will never be born again.  keep on trying, because one day, without expecting it, it will happen and you will never be the same again.
  • live from the heart.  so many thoughts, so many decisions, so many contradictions, so many paths ending in dead-ends.  but the path of the heart, even when it leads you down a difficult road, you will always be able to make peace with your decisions.
  • always try to keep your heart and intentions pure.  sleeping at night is a luxury, and a necessity, that can be vanquished if you deliberately hurt, manipulate or disrespect yourself and others.  at the same end, don’t stay a victim if someone has hurt you.  accept what’s happened and let that person be your teacher.  replaying our own stories of how we were let down also keeps us up at night.  (refer to love and forgive)
  • nothing lasts forever.  everything is changing always.  when in good times or in bad times, remember that “now its like this”.  in good times, remind yourself so that you can appreciate every delicious moment of joy and happiness.  and in bad times, remind yourself, not so you can deny what’s happening, but accept that it won’t be that way forever.

there’s a beautiful new song der lagi lekin (it’s taken me time but…) whose opening lines have been swimming in my head.  maybe 30 is not so late to realize some essential ingredients to good living.  excited for what’s in store for hopefully another decade of living, learning, and being foolish and wise all at once.  much love to all of you for your support, love, and friendships.

bound angle. (c) Zeeshan Haider

Der Lagi Lekin – Zindagi na Milegi Dubara

Der lagi lekin maine ab hai jeena seekh liya
Jaise bhi ho’n din maine ab hai jeena seekh liya
Ab maine ye jaana hai, khushi hai kya, gham kya..
Dono hi, do pal ki hai ruttein
Na yeh thehre na rukein
Zindagi do rangon se bane
Ab roothe, ab mane
Yehi toh hai, yehi toh hai, yahaan

It took time, but I learnt to live,
however be the days, I have learnt to live,
now I have known this, what’s happiness and what’s sorrow
both are weathers of two moments
neither they wait nor stay
life gets made of two colors,
now angry, now placated,
this, this is here..



time after time August 5, 2011

moon sighting in karachi

on the 4th day of Ramzan, I already feel like fasting is the regular way to be.  no eating, no drinking for 14+ hours of the day.  waking up in what feels like the middle of the night, to eat and then pray at dawn, just to try and toss back to sleep again.

I have an easy Ramzan schedule in terms of work. Most days I get to sleep in past 10 am, and am just spending a lot of time reading the Quran, working on my university classes, and keeping up with my yoga & meditation practice.

I take time to pray and reflect everyday.  But something about Ramzan is especially unique.  Yesterday, after iftar (when we open our fast at sunset) my sister in law and I were talking about faith.  She was saying how that now is the only time she can “force” her kids (7 & 10) to go to the mosque and inculcate the desire in them to fast, even though she thinks they are too young, so that it becomes a part of their lives and they continue to fast as adults.

Most people I have met who fast, started very young (in their teens) and continue to do it as adults.  This in no way means that most of the people I know don’t undertake fasting and Ramzan as a particularly spiritual quest.  But it got me thinking about my own journey here.

I was never forced to pray or fast.  In fact, my parents tried to get me to read the Quran in Arabic but by 12 I had in my style stubbornly walked away from the task – with good reason (I still think it is good reason) that if I can’t understand it why should I read it? Sweet Valley High on the other hand seemed like a much better option to me.

Yet, there was always spirit in our lives.  There was the festivity of Eid, the togetherness at iftar, the aazan (call for prayer) 5 times a day.  And Ramzan was my favorite month of the year.  Especially because it was almost 30 days of no alcohol in the house.  And Ramzan Eid because I would be gifted with envelopes filled with fresh crisp money 🙂

somewhere around the age of 11 I started to question it all, along with so many other things.  And I had 2 friends that I explored these questions about God with.  By the time I turned 15, God, as far i could see, didn’t exist.  In fact, I was angry at God.

For years I stayed stuck in my anger, and fueled my disbelief.  And so many times when life handed me challenges through my mother’s addictions, or my own, or broken relationships I repeatedly turned to drugs, alcohol, and reckless behavior to help myself.

3 years a go (feels like ancient history), it was Ramzan and I was living in Toronto.  My workplace was full of Muslims, and I saw something really special after a long time.  I wanted to fast.  I had never had that urge before.  So I tried.  I fasted for 4 days and then my body gave up.  And my ex-husband said to me, “oh god, for a moment I got scared that you were turning Muslim on me.”

Within 6 weeks of that day, our relationship, built on years of togetherness, a marriage contract, a mortgage, and countless other unwritten commitments began to end.

And somehow, I wish I could remember what or who it was that guided me, I started to pray.  I had never learned how to pray properly so I went on YouTube and searched for Azan.  I just listened to the Azan a few times and felt so comforted.  I tried to pray and then rested my eyes after a long time.

Slowly I started to pray whenever I felt that overwhelming feeling of loss and fear.  At work I would stop and pray.  I would wake up and pray.  All with my Iphone speakers in my ears while listening and following the namaz on YouTube.

My cousin came to visit me on a cold December’s day in Toronto, 2008.  I had come home from work and she was there holding me at the end of what must have been a torturous crying session.  She said, hold the Quran, ask for guidance and open it, and read whatever comes up on that page.

Surah Baqarah, verse 216:  “Fighting is ordained for you, even though it be hateful to you; but it may well be that you a hate a thing the while it is good for you, and it may well be that you love a thing the while it is bad for you: and God knows, whereas you do not know.”

I will never forget the strange peace that followed reading those lines.  That was it.  My ex and I used to fight so much.  We loved each other, no doubt, but it was so hard to live together.  Suddenly, maybe, just maybe, there was something I didn’t know and I slowly started to surrender myself to a higher power.

I wish that I could say that after that everything was easy and I let go.  But it wasn’t and I didn’t.  In fact, the months following reading that passage, I resisted my reality with a vengeance.  I became depressed, suicidal, and again turned to my reliable friends: drugs and alcohol.

My first Ramzan back in Karachi, I didn’t even try to keep one roza.  I was praying but I wasn’t ready yet.  And then last year, after coming home from Yandara, something shifted.  I realized that I could give up eating and drinking for God, because God is what gives me life, my breath.  God had graced me with forgiveness, healing and gifts that are too many to mention and too majestic to comprehend. In fact, I understood that fasting in the name of God was a privilege, such a small hardship to endure when faced with the awe of the perfectly woven tapestry that is my life.

This time around, its more familiar to fast, but not any less meaningful.  In fact, the kind of year I’ve had its amazing to me that again I’ve come back to God.  Almost 2 months of sobriety behind me, no cigarettes, and no parties I am feeling a strange kind of clarity, peace and joy.  I also have attracted what seems like the perfect environment to develop further on my path.  And anything seems possible.

A few months back in a mindfulness group that I was attending, someone there explained, “La illaha il lala” (There is no God but God) in a way that perfectly sums up my journey.  She said, that one must first not know God to know God.  That we must experience the opposite, the negation, before we experience the affirmation.  And wow, am I thankful for each little bit of experience that helped me get to where I am today.

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving, it doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.
Inscribed on Rumi’s shrine in Konya, Turkey.