UP CLOSE & PERSONAL WITH AQIL AMIN SATTAR

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ZOHA ISMAIL CHATS WITH THE TALENTED YOGA INSTRUCTOR AND ENTREPRENEUR BEHIND KARACHI’S MOST POPULAR YOGA CLASS, AQ POWER YOGA, ABOUT HIS MENTOR, LOVE OF SAMOSAS AND SKYROCKETING SUCCESS

How long have you been practicing Yoga?
I have been teaching Yoga for the last 5 years, and have been practicing Yoga for a little over six years now.

Did you always want to be a Yoga instructor?
No! Never thought I would even practice Yoga let alone teach. It all happened by chance. My sister introduced me to taking up Yoga, and then my instructor convinced me into teaching Yoga after sometime. My first class as a student was a disaster and my first class as a teacher was along the same lines but here I am six years later :).

Why did you decide to dedicate yourself to Yoga personally and professionally?
I started practicing and I saw a difference in myself. My back problems got sorted, and I was less anxious and stressed. I also lost 65 lbs throughYoga so to go from being fat to not so fat was a great feeling. As I mentioned earlier, my sister pushed me to take a Yoga class and then my teacher pushed me to teach. God has a plan for everyone and a purpose, so I went with the flow.

What type of Yoga do you teach?
I teach Ashtanga-Vinyasa style of Yoga. It is more of a Vinyasa Yoga since that let’s me be more creative and is personally more fun for me. I teach more arm balances, which are not only fun to do but also challenging. With Vinyasa Yoga you don’t have to follow a pattern of poses or repeat the same series.

Do you feel Yoga is more mental or physical?
Both. I believe physical practice leads to mental wellbeing.  When we get done with class, most of the people seem a little sleepy, which means they’re relaxed. Yoga plays a pretty big part in your mental wellbeing. You practice and you feel better and healthier so you make a conscious effort of eating healthier which results in better digestion, better hair and skin, etc. Power Yoga is also full of exercise if you look at it. VinyasaYoga is where you synchronize your breath with your movement. And meditation, in simple words “being present”, is when you’re in class and you’re flowing from one pose to another with proper breathing and focusing on dristhi (points you focus on).

How many classes a week do you teach?
I teach 10-11 classes a week, so nearly 50 classes a month. But at AQ Power Yoga we have about 100 classes running in a month.

Do you have a mentor?
I took classes here with a great teacher, Saima Khan, who taught me some of basics. A lot of it is self-taught and teachers abroad also, but it all started off with my teacher in Pakistan.

Lots of people joined your Yoga classes during Ramzan. How is Yoga beneficial for people who are fasting?
Ramzan classes are amazing. They’re fun and relaxed, and you don’t even feel the time go by in those last couple of hours that make your hungry and restless. A lot of yogis believe that Yoga done on an empty stomach makes a difference.

What’s your favourite pose?
Childs pose and then Vinyasa my way to butterfly.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I love teaching Yoga because it’s an outlet to my creative side. I think I’ve gotten the opportunity to help people, which gives me a great high. I don’t want to lose out on that opportunity. Teaching Yoga is like therapy for me. I’ve been blessed with good students who want to learn. When someone tells me how Yoga has helped him or her, I sleep better.

In your opinion, what are the health benefits that come with practicing Yoga?
There are so many benefits to power Yoga. It burns calories, increases stamina, strength, flexibility and tone, promotes blood circulation and boosts the immune system. Yoga also alleviates stress and tension and eliminates toxins through sweat.

What do you love most about living in Pakistan?
I love Pakistan. Even with all the current political problems and security situation, it’s home. I lived in USA for college and I don’t think I can live anywhere other than Karachi. You have your family and friends. Those samosas and chaat that give you stomach issues. You see people make a whole drama out of an accident on the streets and so many other things. Where do you get to see all that?

When you are not doing Yoga, you are…
I work on my other business, plan my trips, and the usual.

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