Yoga is one of Karachi’s fastest-growing fitness trends and it’s not hard to work out why. Weight loss, toned muscles and a relaxed mind are just a few of the benefits of yoga. Amafah Muneezah Mubashir, model, graphic designer, and certified yoga teacher, believes that yoga has something to offer for everybody. She started practicing yoga two years ago and quickly fell in love with the practice.
About a year ago, Amafah started thinking about what the next step in her journey should be. Looking to quit her job, Amafah decided that she wanted to pursue yoga as a profession.
“And I told everyone at work, ok next year you’re going to see me in the mountains in Nepal or at some beach in Greece, but I’ll be somewhere learning yoga.”
After extensive research, Amafah found a well-known school for yoga teachers and in July of this year, travelled to Thailand where she studied yoga for a month. Her training involved an intense routine. Her days would start at 6 a.m. with meditation during sunrise followed by over 12 hours of various classes designed to teach yoga practice and theory. Now a certified teacher, Amafah is set to start teaching yoga this month at MUV Base.
The central principles of yoga
Amafah first fell in love with yoga because of it’s philosophy. She explains that yoga is not about self-harm. You don’t have to push yourself beyond your limits when going into postures. You are encouraged to do what feels good. Practicing yoga is also not about competition.
“It’s not about who runs the fastest, it isn’t a race,” explains Amafah.
Yoga is a private practice that you do for yourself, at your own pace and there’s no need to compare yourself with other people.
One of the basic principles of yoga is ahimsa, meaning non-violence. Ahimsa is meant to be practiced in any situation, not only towards others but also towards yourself. It encourages you to show kindness to your body, which could mean not eating five chocolate bars in a row, and your mind, which could mean deciding to distance yourself from people who make you feel bad.
Yoga and internal health
Practicing yoga involves various postures, called asanas, which help tone the body. However, as Amafah points out, yoga aims to go much deeper than just physical appearance. Asanas are designed to improve your body’s functioning. They affect internal organs, blood circulation and the respiratory system, amongst other things. For example, postures which tone your abs are, in fact, designed to improve digestion.
Yoga and lifestyle changes
People commonly believe that yoga isn’t very effective for weight loss. However, if practiced correctly, yoga can help in losing weight. For best results, it is important to follow a healthier lifestyle, as with any exercise regime. This doesn’t mean dieting excessively, but you need to follow a balanced diet.
“You need to listen to your body: what it’s saying when you’re eating certain things, what it’s saying when you’re practicing certain routines,” says Amafah.
The aim is to make good sacrifices for yourself, such as replacing coke with water, so that you can go deeper into your postures. As your lifestyle improves, your skin will begin to glow, your hair will become healthier and your will body will also become more lean. The weight that you lose with yoga stays off in the long run and you don’t have to worry about putting it back on if you stop practicing.
Yoga for the mind and spirit
Yoga also nourishes your mind. Meditation goes hand-in-hand with the asanas. When you meditate, you clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing. Breathing affects the body and there are various forms of breathing. For example, breathing from the right nostril helps your body to cool down and breathing from the left nostril heats up the body. Meditation helps you calm your body down and develop patience. You have to patiently sit for long periods with your eyes closed.
“It just makes you realize that you need those few minutes a day to be with yourself. And not with anybody else. Just to reflect on how you’re feeling, how your body feels, how your mind feels. How you’re feeling towards another person (or situation),” Amafah explains.
All this work happens within, without input from people around you. This will decrease your anxiety and leave you feeling calmer. Amafah confesses that she used to be very anxious and fidgety, easily prone to anger. Meditation taught her patience and self-reflection has taught her that she needs to watch her reactions to other people. If she feels negatively towards someone, she’s learnt to take a step back and evaluate the situation before reacting. Meditation also involves prayer.
“I found God in the oddest places,” Amafah says with a chuckle,” I truly felt a connection with God (in Thailand). I would be praying all the time. I would feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude towards Him. I still feel that bond with a higher power.”
Learn yoga in Karachi
Amafah will be teaching hatha yoga which involves a lot of meditation. It also requires core strength, making it very effective for weight-loss and muscle toning. She will be teaching two separate classes for beginners and more seasoned veterans of the practice. Each class will be designed according to the level her students are at; beginners can take it slowly and those who’ve practiced yoga before can opt for a more fast-paced class.
Amafah plans on giving the required individual attention to beginners and will guide them extensively with their postures so there is very little risk of injury. Everyone is welcome in her class. It is not necessary to be perfectly toned and flexible to practice yoga effectively.
“I couldn’t touch my toes before I went to Thailand,” she confesses with a laugh.
Amafah’s Yogakore classes will be starting at MUV Base from 7th September. She will be teaching as per the following schedule:
Monday 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
Wednesday 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
Saturday 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
Sunday 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
For details or registration,
Email: [email protected]
Photocredits: Jav Arshad