Yoga holiday for Pakistanis at Hindu Kush Heights

ISLAMABAD: After a yoga camp in India helped her rediscover and cleanse herself, a young Pakistani practitioner is trying to organize similar camps in the relatively safe locales here.

Aisha Chapra, a Karachi-based yoga teacher, found solace in yoga as she was trying to tide over a bad patch. She was depressed, disoriented and directionless and yoga gave her peace.

But the real self-discovery came at a camp last year at Sivananda Kutir, on the banks of the river Ganga in Uttarkashi, where she was nicknamed “Sathya” by the “Mataji” in-charge of the ashram.

“We began with honoring Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles, and suffering, and then we honored Lord Vishnu, the preserver of our manifested universe,” she posted on her blog.

In the third week, with the full moon lunar eclipse close by, we offered flower, kum kum, and rice to the Divine Mother.

And in our last week we asked Lord Siva, the King of Dance, to pull us through the last of our blocks,” she wrote.

Chapra’s first “incredibly successful” yoga holiday in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region was shortly after her India visit. Now she is busy planning her second holiday in the picturesque Hindu Kush Heights.

The exclusive holiday planned for September 21-28 is open to only 10 people and will cost over a lakh Pakistani rupees.

Asked to describe the difficulties encountered in organizing her first camp, Chapra told PTI: “Well it wasn’t difficult at all! Chitral is safe to travel to, and most of the guests had been wanting to visit Northern Pakistan, especially Hindu Kush Heights at Chitral, but had not found a group of people to go with and doing yoga was a really big attraction for most of the guests.”

Chapra said, for her, the holiday was an “amazing learning experience as a yoga teacher”.

“We spent most of our days in Mastuj, a smaller village in upper Chitral, where we met lots of locals in our daily walks and practiced yoga on the beautiful grounds of the Mastuj Fort (Hindu Kush Hotel),” she said. . “The highlight of our trip was our visit to Shandur, the highest polo ground in the world, and as our day ended there it started to snow! For us coming from the summer heat in Karachi and Islamabad this was truly a blissful day!” Chapra said.

The first time round Chapra was rather low-key about the camp given the security situation in Pakistan. However, this time Chapra is upbeat and encouraging yoga fans to “feel free to share this information on your personal and professional networks”.

“The yoga we practiced was truly complemented by the stunning setting that we were in, and towards the end of the trip we were taking short silent walks as part of our yoga practice,” she said.

“The main hurdle we faced was unexpected rainy weather but despite that we were able to manage all our scheduled activities and eventually when the sun came out we were even more grateful for it,” Chapra added.

At the camp Chapra will train campers to practice an eclectic mix of traditional Hatha yoga with vinyasa and nature yoga — a “gentle and gentle and soothing practice that builds your core strength, flexibility and balance”.

Chapra is an Alliance certified teacher from Karachi and has made her mark by imparting yoga to woman prisoners. -PTI

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