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


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!


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).