|Written by Staff Writer|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 21:01|
What do you get when you combine Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity? How about Yoga for Muslims at a church!
Since February of this year, a group of Muslim women have been attending a specially designed -- and halal (Islamically permissible) -- version of Yoga classes intended to promote basic physical health and release stress inside the hall of a local church.
Afreen Shaikh, a mother of three, and an active community member organizes the weekly classes and spoke with The Muslim Link.
ML: Why did you decide to offer yoga to Muslim women in Kanata?
Kanata Muslim Association has been around for a while now but the activities were mostly for men; not many women were involved. The idea came for having an active women’s group for KMA sisters. We wanted to start off with something that would benefit all the women and so I thought a fitness program would be a good idea and therefore the Yoga program come in to being.
ML: Was there a particular story or experience that made you feel this would be beneficial?
When I decided to take my first yoga class two years ago, I knew it would help me to stretch and reduce stress. I was also aware of its health benefits. But at the end of two weeks I started to feel like a different person. Apart from increasing my strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance, I noticed benefits I never even realized were a possibility from doing a few guided stretches and breathing exercises. I felt very relaxed, much calmer, happier, and I felt full of energy right to the end of each day. My back pain was slowly subsiding and at the end of each session I felt like I had been in a spa. I saw so many benefits from it and wanted my KMA sisters to experience the same things. Also, it’s not a very strenuous type of exercise and can be easily done by beginners. Most of the sisters I knew had little kids and were very busy and stressed out and I thought it would help them a lot.
ML: What did you have to do to set it up and how challenging was that?
The only challenge for me was finding a good instructor, I placed an ad online and started asking around and finally found a very experienced instructor to teach us. The KMA arranged for the hall. We rent the same hall that is being used for KMA Friday prayers.
ML: How many women signed up?
We gave them an option of either signing up for the whole session, that is from Feb 2012 to June 2012, or participating on a monthly basis. In total I had 35 women registered; some for the whole session, and some on a monthly basis.
ML: How has the program been going?
The program is going very well; better than I expected. The sisters really like it. They wanted me to add another day and make it twice a week but we couldn't find a day that works for everyone. So maybe for the next session we will have it twice a week. Due to popular demand, I plan start the second session after Ramadan in September insha’Allah (God willing).
ML: What advice would you have for other Muslim women in the city who would like to set up similar activities?
I would like to tell all the sisters in the city who are planning to start something for the community to just go ahead and do it. Do not keep it for tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. In the beginning you might not get such a good response but do not get discouraged just keep doing what you are doing and people will follow. If your heart is pure Allah will help you. As the Quran says "And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah knows it.'' (Ch.2, v.197)
ML: Why is the yoga programme important to you?
Doing some thing for the community is important because you can't complain about something that you aren’t doing anything to change. You can't complain about all the trash on the streets without getting your hands dirty and picking it up. You should also help your community because our future generations insha Allah will see the example you are setting, and do the same.